All rabbits deserve to be happy. Loving your rabbit and learning to understand their needs will help you identify the things you must do to prevent your rabbit feeling worried, upset, frightened and stressed. By doing these things, you will be providing your rabbit freedom from fear and distress.
Did you know that there is a special law protecting animals?
It says that your animal has five groups of welfare needs. These are five groups of things that animals need to be healthy and happy. These five welfare needs are called the Five Freedoms.
Under the Animal Welfare Act all animal guardians (owners) need to provide these five things for their animals. One of these Five Freedoms is: Freedom from Fear and Distress. In this section you will learn about this freedom and how you can make sure your rabbits are receiving the love, understanding and companionship they need to be free from fear and distress.
Absolutely! It's one of the best things you can do to make your rabbit’s life a happy and fulfilled one.
Rabbits in the wild live in big groups and are very sociable animals, so it makes sense that they should live with at least one other rabbit friend!
Once you have witnessed a bonded pair of rabbits interact together, it's unlikely you would ever want to keep a rabbit on their own.
While rabbits do enjoy human company, it does not replace the fact another rabbit will be the best companion for them. They can talk the same language, understand each other's body signals and play, groom, relax, eat together and look out for each other.
The best and easiest pairing is a neutered male and a spayed female. It is possible to have any pairing of males and females, especially if they've been brought up together from babies, but a male and female is the most likely to get along. Even if you have two girls or two boys, they should both be neutered/spayed in order to make them a healthier and more relaxed pair. Same with a mixed pair – don’t just get one neutered/spayed.
In the wild, rabbits in groups all trust each other, but those from other groups (e.g. from neighbouring areas), may fight with rabbits that they don't recognise. It's the same with domestic (pet) rabbits - they all need to learn to trust each other.
Bonding is where you teach the rabbits to trust each other and get them used to each other. RSPCA staff can help you with this or introduce you to an already bonded pair to adopt.
If you are like most of us here at RSPCA, falling in love with an adorable rabbit is easy. Adopting a rabbit, however, is a big decision. Rabbits are living beings with needs, wants and feelings, just like you and I. They require a considerable amount of time, money and commitment.
Owning a rabbit can be a wonderful experience and very rewarding, but only if you think through your decision very carefully.
Your family needs to be confident that they can provide your rabbit with all five freedoms before you adopt. If you can only afford one rabbit, then you shouldn't really adopt one at all. It is becoming more widely known that rabbits that live in groups or pairs are so much happier – those that live alone can easily become bored, lonely and depressed. Imagine sitting on your own all day with no other humans to talk to for the rest of your life - you'd wish you had at least one friend to talk to!
Very occasionally you will get a rabbit that just won't bond with another rabbit.
Don't give up straight away as sometimes it can take a few months to bond a pair of rabbits! The hard work is worth it so try and persevere through the tough times.
RSPCA staff are always there to help and advise! Ensure both of your rabbits are neutered/spayed. Please don't assume your rabbit doesn't want a buddy.
If after trying hard (and your rabbit just isn't happy with any another rabbits), then you'll have to give him or her even more attention! Keeping your single rabbit indoors as a house rabbit will help them get the company and interaction bunnies need. Whatever happens, rabbits need lots of love and company, whether it be from another rabbit or a human.
If you take the time to handle your rabbits regularly, they will learn to see you as a friend and companion, so be sure to handle them gently every day from an early age. To hold your rabbits correctly, you should pick them up gently but firmly: