Are rabbits social?
The wild relatives of our domesticated rabbits live in warrens of 20-40 rabbits. They're VERY social animals and can learn to socialize with species as different [from them] as humans but typically prefer the company of other rabbits.
What's special about bonded rabbits?
Why shouldn't I separate my bonded rabbits?
What will happen if my rabbit's mate passes?
Rabbits mourn in a variety of ways (not unlike other social creatures like humans, dolphins or elephants) ranging from anger to denial to depression. Some rabbits stop eating, others become aggressive or defensive and others start sleeping more than normal. Some seek attention from their humans, others stop socializing altogether. This rabbit sat vigil with her mate's body for hours and protested when her humans finally had to take him away. (thanks to DK and KJ for the image)
What if my bunny's mate just 'disappears'?
How can I help my rabbit mourn?
Let your rabbit spend some time with their mate's body. This rabbit is watching over his mate's body. This will help to reduce the time that a rabbit mourns after their mate passes as the surviving bunny will understand that his or her mate is really not going to return. Your rabbit might be aggressive or antisocial in the weeks after their mate has gone. Just be patient as they heal. (thanks to DK and KJ for the image)
What about vet visits?
If you board your rabbits when you travel or go to the vet, make sure that your bonded rabbits stay together. Separating bonded mates can result in resentment and fighting when they're reunited. Having their mate's emotional support during a car ride and in a strange place can reduce the amount of stress that both your rabbits experience.
Does my solo rabbit need a friend?
It is rare that a rabbit doesn't want company. Bonded rabbits are generally happier, healthier and less likely to get into trouble than their solo counterparts (i.e. they'll be too busy socializing to chew on your furniture). Boredom and loneliness are common causes of misbehavior in solo bunnies. If your solo bunny is having behavioral problems or other signs of loneliness or boredom, consider taking them to you local shelter for some speed dating.
Should I adopt one rabbit or two?
Is bonding rabbits hard?
How do I pick a mate for my rabbit?
What if I can't afford another rabbit?
Consider fostering a rabbit from your local shelter. Even if they can't interact directly, the initial scuffles that many rabbits display when meeting new rabbits are often followed by social interactions that can have many of the emotional and health benefits of being bonded. Just be aware that if your foster rabbits are adopted, being separated (even though these relationships aren't usually as strong as bonds between pairs) might cause depression in your solo rabbit.
How much will they miss their neighbor?
The strength of the less intense bonds that form between bunnies in neighboring pens shouldn't be underestimated. This bunny mourned the passing of his 'through the fence' friend to the point that his bunny parent worried he was ill. Once he made a new bunny friend, he sprang back to life. (thanks to RS for the image)
What if my vet says my rabbit shouldn't be bonded?
Some solo rabbits might not be bonded for physical or emotional reasons but this doesn't necessarily mean that they won't benefit from company. Being separated by mesh can make better neighbors while allowing them to have company whenever you're working or sleeping.
What about non-rabbit friends for my solo bunny?
Rabbits can form strong bonds with their human, dogs, cats, rats, horses and stuffed animals to name a few. While none of these can substitute for a bunny friend, these social interactions do make bunnies happier and healthier. Just watch predator species for signs of hunting instincts when making introductions. The stress of being hunted and batted around won't improve your rabbit's quality of life. Also, check with your vet for diseases that can be transmitted between species (deadly septicemia from cats, for example) to reduce risk of harming either animal.
Is bonding rabbits worth it?
Thank you Christie!!