Do male and female rabbits have different personalities? What are the key differences between them? And which one is better to have?
In reality, it’s not fair to say that one gender is better than the other when every rabbit has its own personality. But males and females have differences that make owning each a slightly varied experience. Today, we’ll look at those differences, not to see which one is better per se, but to help you understand rabbit behaviour so you can bond with your female or male rabbit.
Before we start, I want to point out that this is generalized. Again, I don’t think it’s right to say one is better than the other. I’d also like to point out that it’s common to have a rabbit that totally defies gender stereotypes. I’ve had male rabbits that would fit the “female personality” and vice-versa, and some who fit the stereotypes.
So, while you can use this as a guide, remember to look at a rabbit’s personality on an individual level. With all that said, let’s get into the differences between male and female rabbits.
Male vs Female Rabbits: Physical Differences
Size differences between male and female rabbits vary by breed, but there are typically little to no physical differences, obviously besides genitalia. In wild rabbits and some domestic breeds, males are slightly stockier, but this is minimal.
Do Male and Female Rabbits Both Have Dewlaps?
Dewlaps are balls of skin and fat located under a rabbit’s chin. Both male and female rabbits get dewlaps, although they tend to be larger on females than on males. Though not proven, it has been said that this is for better access to fur for nesting purposes.
Male vs Female Rabbits: Personality
The most important thing to remember is that every rabbit, whether male or female, has a different personality. Of course, some personality traits are inherent. But often, most of how your rabbit acts comes down to how well you look after them or if there are past traumas or present issues, like illness. As I said before, this is only a generalized view of each gender and the differences between the two.
Male rabbits tend to be more easygoing than females. Generally, they’re less aggressive toward humans (unless threatened) and are typically friendly. They will be quicker to come out and explore their surroundings. However, they are known to be territorial, and if placed with a male they aren’t bonded to or threatened, they will likely fight.
Female rabbits are a little more cautious and protective, so it can take longer to form a bond with them. But, they are very loving once they bond and very affectionate. Once they are comfortable, they will become the queens of their households. They’ll be adventurous, but only when they want to. Because of their defensive nature, they can be a little quicker to aggression than males.
Are Male or Female Rabbits Friendlier?
Male rabbits are generally more extroverted than female rabbits, often preferring to be curious and interact with humans and other pets (if it’s safe to do so). They are typically easier and quicker to bond with and can form bonds with everyone in the house.
Females are very loving when they do bond. They’re adventurous and very affectionate with their chosen person. The closest bond I’ve ever had with a rabbit was with a female named Butterscotch. It was like love at first sight (for me, anyway), and we bonded quite fast, despite stereotypical defensiveness.
Are Male or Female Rabbits More Aggressive?
Unfortunately, females have a reputation for being more aggressive or quicker to lash out. But if you take a deeper look, you’ll realize that it’s not aggression at all. Females are hard-wired to protect themselves, the nest, and their babies.
So, that protective instinct makes them less tolerant of threats and more likely to stay and fight rather than run. This behaviour is more apparent in pregnant and nursing rabbits but can also occur in spayed females, though it’s not as common.
Males, on the other hand, are a little more on the self-preserving end of things. They don’t have the protective instincts of a female, so they’re more likely to run away from a threat than to fight it. However, when they do show aggression, male rabbits use more force. Also, note that unfixed males are typically more aggressive than neutered males.
Are Male or Female Rabbits Cleaner?
Male rabbits, when not neutered, will spray to mark territory and emit a musky odour when they want to mate. Females are generally cleaner, but their digging tendencies can create quite a mess if they’re digging up their bedding or hay. In my experience, neutered males tend to be the cleanest.
Are Male or Female Rabbits Easier to Litter Train?
Personally, I’ve never noticed a difference, but females are said to be easier to litter train because of their cleaner tendencies. That isn’t to say that males are hard to litter train by any means, especially when fixed. But, because of their territorial nature, females prefer to go in one spot, whereas males need a little more convincing.
Pros and Cons of Owning Female and Male Rabbits
It’s said that male rabbits are better for first-time rabbit owners, but my first was a female, and to this day, is the best I’ve ever had. However, nothing in this life is perfect, not even our precious little buns. Here are the pros and cons of owning female and male rabbits.
Pros & Cons of Having a Male Rabbit
- Outgoing and comfortable around people
- More relaxed around people
- Quicker to form bonds
- Less aggressive
- A bit more rambunctious
- Will spray, if not neutered
- Can do a lot of damage when aggressive
- Tendency to chew
Pros & Cons of Having a Female Rabbit
- Forms strong bonds
- Very affectionate when bonded
- Slightly cleaner
- Adventurous and entertaining
- Take longer to bond
- Less tolerant, quicker to aggression when threatened
- Territorial over small areas, like the cage, litter box
- Tendency to dig
How to Identify Male and Female Rabbits
You can identify a rabbit’s gender at 12 weeks old. Before that, it‘s very hard to tell which is which. When it’s time, you can identify them by simply looking at their “private parts.”
Hold your rabbit securely, facing belly up (if your rabbit allows it), separate the hair around their genitals, and apply gentle pressure. If you see a V-shaped mound with a slit, it’s a female.
Males are more obvious to identify, as you may be able to see the testicles right away. If the rabbits are younger and haven’t reached sexual maturity yet (meaning the testes haven’t descended yet), you can still identify a male by the presence of the penis that will emerge when you apply gentle pressure.
RSPCA website has a detailed guide on sexing rabbits.
Conclusion: Is It Better to Get Female or Male Bunnies?
In truth, there’s no saying definitively whether males are better than females or vice-versa. They’re all loveable and capable of companionship and affection. I know that they say that male rabbits are better for first-time rabbit owners, but my first rabbit was female, and to this day, she remains my favourite, even though she’s passed on now.
So, I can’t really say that I agree with that statement. What I CAN say is that if you’re willing to put in the time and effort into bonding, and you get them neutered, and care for them properly, male and female rabbits have equal potential to be an excellent pet.