We all know the joy of having a rabbit hopping around the house, checking out the dust balls under the sofa and finding that perfect sunny spot to spend a lazy afternoon. If you think that one rabbit is a perfect companion, just wait until you try two. Companionship is a welfare requirement for social animals like rabbits and we believe no rabbit should be living solo. In fact, it’s illegal in many countries to keep single rabbits. We interview people all the time who are looking to pair their lone rabbits and we hear a number of the same questions and concerns over and over again. There is a lot of confusion and many questions, and we want to try to dispel as much of that confusion and answer as many questions as we can. Here are a few we hear all the time.

If I get a baby bunny for my rabbit her maternal instincts will kick in and she’ll accept the new rabbit easier.
Initially there may be no fighting if you try to pair your bunny with an immature rabbit, but once that baby reaches sexual maturity the adult will likely realize that there is another rabbit in the house and fighting may ensue. This same behavior occurs between siblings when they reach sexual maturity; one day you have a pair of brothers who love to lay around next to one another, and the next you have a fight for dominance. The social hierarchy is thicker than blood in the rabbit world.

I want a cuddly, cute bunny to pair with Thumper. Sometimes the cutest bunnies can be the most feisty and you may find that a less physically attractive rabbit gets along best with your bunny. Human beings have an aesthetic sense that is altogether different than that of our rabbits. It’s always best to let your rabbit choose who they want to live with.

Will my bunny still pay attention to me if I get a companion for her?
This is a real concern, of course. Who would want to find that the bunny who used to come sit beside us willingly is suddenly too busy with her new friend? We try to keep people from looking at the pairing as losing a bunny; what you’re really doing is getting a second little friend. If you spend time with both of the rabbits together, there’s little chance that they’ll become aloof. Sit on the floor with both rabbits, pet them both and give them both the usual treats. There is a tendency to assume that once your rabbit has a companion she won’t need as much attention from you; while this may be true, we often find that once bonded, all rabbits have an improved demeanor because all of their needs are being met. We also often find that “mean” bunnies turn into sweethearts once they have a friend who speaks their language.

Should I get a male or a female?
Sex is completely irrelevant when it comes to bonding. All that matters is that their personalities are compatible.

Will the new bunny teach my rabbit bad habits?
Shortly after a pairing it is possible that litter training will break down for a while as the two new
buddies get used to each other and settle into their new territory together. This is usually only a temporary condition and training tends to come back on its own; it might be necessary to limit their roaming room for a while to help this along, though. We haven’t noticed that one rabbit will teach another behavior like chewing or digging. In fact, many negative behaviors go away once bunnies are bonded because they have constant mental stimulation from their friend. Negative behaviors are most often caused by boredom. After pairing, a docile bunny may become more interested in exploring with the new friend if that new friend happens to be a more adventurous rabbit.

Can the rabbits share space?
Once the rabbits have gone through the bonding process and are fully bonded, they should never be separated.
Rabbits have a tremendously complex social structure, even when the entire society is occupied by only two rabbits. They communicate in ways that we can’t perceive, and it’s important that they be compatible. At the HRS Chicago we take care to make sure that the budding new friendship gets off to a good start: we will try many different rabbits with your bunny to find one who gets along as well as possible, we provide neutral territory for the initial encounter and, most of all, we are always here to help make the pairing work after you’ve taken the new couple home.

Now that you know a little more about rabbit match making, check out our adoptable rabbits and get your bun a companion!