How to spot a lonely rabbit

April 14, 2023

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As a general rule, most rabbits do better in pairs – read on to find out why …

Working out if your rabbit could be lonely

Rabbits are social animals. Wild rabbits live in large social groups that meet both their safety and companionship needs. They appreciate constant companionship (you rarely find a rabbit alone in the wild.)

As companionship is so important to rabbits, it is always a good idea to keep your pet rabbit with a friend to avoid them feeling lonely and unhappy.

Our Vet Patrick von Heimendahl advises that if you notice any of the below in your single rabbit, it may be time to think about introducing them to a new companion.

  • Lonely rabbits may overeat, pull at their fur, or become hyperactive and/or angry. Signs of this could be them chewing at rugs or carpets, gnawing furniture, or destroying toys in their hutch.
  • If you notice your rabbit biting you, nudging you, or attempting to dig on you, these are other signs that they could be feeling isolated and want more attention.
  • On the other hand, if they start to act withdrawn and do not respond as normal when you attempt to interact with them, this is also a sign they may feel lonely.

Remember: if you are worried your rabbit may not be feeling themselves, it is always worth seeking the opinion of your vet so they can rule out any underlying medical conditions.

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What to know about getting a companion rabbit

The vet nurses at our Cambridge practice recommend matching your rabbit with another of the same age and approximately the same size. Rabbits also like to be paired with a member of the opposite sex but remember to make sure at least one of the pair are neutered, or you could end up with a few more rabbits than you bargained for! Rescue organisations sometimes have older rabbits looking for new homes so could be a good place to start your search for a rabbit companion.

When you introduce two rabbits, try to do it somewhere neutral so your original rabbit will not get territorial. This will help to avoid fighting. It is essential that you do not try to rush this step; just take your time and allow your animals to adjust at their own pace. Follow the link below for more detailed information on how best to introduce rabbits.

If you spot them snuggling each other, nuzzling, and rubbing noses, this is a good sign that they have bonded and will be happy to live together full time.

If your rabbits are chasing or fighting one another, Patrick says this is a sign they are struggling to bond. Try changing their environment, providing lots of toys and hiding dens during the introduction, and petting them simultaneously for up to 15 minutes. If you are still struggling to encourage them to bond, then chat to one of our vet nurses who can advise further.

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What if I can’t have another rabbit?

Although our vet nurses believe the best companion for a rabbit is another rabbit, plenty of pet owners simply do not have the time, space, or budget for a second animal. With the correct care and attention, it is possible to keep just one rabbit. Here are some tips recommended by our vet nurses to ensure your rabbit is happy and doesn’t feel lonely:

  • Show your rabbit plenty of affection with soft rubs on their back, cheek, and forehead.
  • If your single rabbit is currently living outside, consider training them to be a house rabbit, so they can be part of the family and benefit from extra company.
  • Make sure they’ve always got plenty of fresh food, water, and enrichment toys to chew or scratch.
  • Rabbits need at least one hour a day out of their hutch – why not set up a run with plenty of space and toys in the garden or set up an indoor rabbit play pen. Rabbits love to play so get down to their level and help them to dig, knock things over, toss things in the air, or even invest in a rabbit safe ball pit or sand box.

For more advice on rabbit health and companionship, don’t hesitate to contact our vet nurses who will be happy to answer your questions.

Ask our vet nurses about rabbit care

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