Solo, Paired, or Grouped: Can Rabbits Live Alone or Do They Need Same-Species Companionship?

by Lindsay Pereira
can rabbits live alone

In this post, we’ll explore the question of companionship in rabbits. Is it okay for a bunny to live on their own, or is it better for them to live in pairs or groups? 

In the wild, rabbits are very social creatures, much like humans. Typically, they live in large communities where they follow a complex social hierarchy. As such, they need other bunnies to play and bond with, thus allowing them to thrive. And so, companionship is indeed an essential, integral part of healthy bunny living. Keeping bunnies in pairs or groups greatly increases the chance of happiness and well-being in your pets, lessening the likelihood of stress and illness due to loneliness. 

Why do rabbits need a companion (or a few)?

When it comes down to it, rabbits that have companionship – be it with another bunny or a group of them – are generally much happier than those who are solo. Rabbits who are on their own tend to become depressed, destructive or bored. 

For a moment, image what it’s like to be a rabbit, a species that has an inherent need to eat in groups, groom fellow bunnies, and play together. Not only are they capable of reading signals from one another, but they also grow to understand their fellow rabbits’ moods and become attuned to the group. 

Now, imagine being this very social creature, but with one critical difference: you’re all alone. No one to communicate with, share food with, or snuggle up to. Doesn’t sound so appealing, now, does it? 

Companionship in the rabbit world is more of a necessity rather than an option. And, considering how little the extra cost would be to add another bunny to your family, as well as the long list of advantages for your solo pet, you may want to seriously consider doing so if you haven’t already.

Human interaction: Am I enough company for my solo bunny?

Having a single rabbit as a pet

A bunny is always happiest when they are living with at least one other companion of the same species. However, human companionship is certainly welcome to a rabbit that’s on their own. Having said this, it’s important to keep in mind that, as the human pet parent, you’ll need to provide a considerable amount of company to equal the constant companionship your pet would get from another rabbit. 

And, what about the long hours you spend at work or out of the house? What about when you’re on vacation and need a pet sitter? The truth is, as loving and nice as you are, nothing can quite compare to another rabbit being by their side, night and day, communicating, bonding, and growing with them. 

If you happen to have a strong bond already with your bunny, adding another rabbit won’t weaken this relationship. Rather, it will help them stay happy, healthy, and entertained, so you won’t feel overwhelmed about being your rabbit’s only contact. 

The advantages of adding extra furry friends

When rabbits are paired or grouped, they spend their time happily interacting with each other all day long. From grooming to eating, playing to sleeping, bunnies seek each other out for nearly all activities. Truthfully, this same-species contact is simply something we humans can’t replace. That’s why the best situation for your pet is to have them in a pair or group of rabbits.

A bonded pair

Having a bonded pair of rabbits is something that’s positively adorable to watch. Simply put, they look like they’re in love, cuddling and sleeping nose-to-nose, not to mention getting into mischief together. When your bunny is bonded, you’ll never have to worry about them being lonely, even when you’re away for the day. However, once bonded, should their partner pass away, the single bunny will have considerable difficulties adjusting to being alone again.

A group

In a group of three or more, your pet will have a fun time interacting with various fellow rabbits. In time, you’ll see distinct relationships form and different methods of interaction. In this type of living situation, however, the key to peace and happiness is to ensure there’s enough space for everyone to have their own territory. When introducing rabbits to a new group setting, introduce them all at once to a habitat that is new for all. This ensures each rabbit starts afresh and there’s little to no arguments over territory.

Problems caused by lack of companionship

While loneliness typically presents as depression in rabbits who live alone, boredom often appears as destructive behavior. Self-destructive behavior is yet another problem caused by lack of companionship, normally related to a combination of both depression and boredom. Biting cage bars and damaging teeth, overeating, and fur-pulling are all signs of self-destructive behavior. Excessive chewing of carpets and wood trim, as well, are also signs your pet is sad and lonely. These indicators may show up when a single bunny doesn’t get enough companionship from their human. 

Which rabbits work best together?

Bonded pet rabbits

The easiest way to form a bonded pair is to choose young from the same litter. As long as you ensure to spay and/or neuter them, you can select two pets of any gender. Another option is to pick two bunnies from different litters, though you’ll want to keep them around the same age. Again, younger rabbits – usually between 8 and 10 weeks of age – are easier to match. 

Signs your rabbit is lonely

Do you believe your pet is feeling lonely? Read through the following signs to determine if your rabbit feels isolated and should have a fellow bunny companion. 

  • Overeating and fur-pulling are common signs your rabbit is lonely.
  • Anger and hyperactivity are often signs of unwanted solitude, which are connected with destructive behaviors like chewing furniture and gnawing on carpeting. 
  • Withdrawal from human interaction, being responsive to interaction or refusing to play with their owner are strong signs of loneliness and depression. 
  • On the other hand, if your bunny wants lots of attention from you, sometimes coupled with repeated digging and soft biting, this can also be signs of isolation. 

What to do if you don’t want another rabbit

If for whatever reason your preference is to not get another rabbit for companionship, you can help ease your pet’s loneliness, but it will require more of your attention.

  • Take your bunny out each day for at least 2 hours. You may need to increase this time if your rabbit doesn’t seem happy with this amount.
  • During their out-of-the-cage time, place your rabbit on the floor in a safe area and interact with them. Bunnies are very clever, and they enjoy being engaged mentally and physically. 
  • Purchase or make rabbit-friendly toys that stimulate them while they’re in their habitat to engage them when you’re not around.
  • Aside from daily floor time, visit their cage regularly throughout the day to pet them, interact with them, and talk to them so they know they’re not alone. 

When advanced age is a factor in choosing a companion

Lastly, I wanted to add a small section on older bunnies and how their advanced age can play a significant role in choosing a companion for them. I’ve mentioned my sister’s rabbit, Codie, several times before, but I don’t quite recall if I ever mentioned she’s a 10-year-old senior bunny. At this point in time, they’ve decided against finding a companion for her, not just because of her age, but also because they’re worried the process will stress her out too much. 

Therefore, my sister’s focus right now is keeping Codie happy and healthy, by spending lots of time with her. As a free-range bunny most of the day, she’s happy to do her own thing, seeking out company whenever she pleases. It works out very well since my sister and her husband work from home, with older kids who love spending time with their cherished rabbit. 

So, if you were to ask if Codie was lonely, I’d have to say, with her particular living conditions, she is indeed content, calm, and confident.

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