SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

How to bond rabbits

Rabbits are very sociable and will crave the companionship of their own kind. Having a bonded pair or group of rabbits is a recipe for happiness.

Rabbits should not be kept alone, as even time spent with humans cannot fill the void of a companion of the same species. Even if you intend to and can spend lots of time with your rabbit, you should get a suitable rabbit companion for your companion. A desexed rabbit friend is essential for your rabbit from a welfare, behaviour, and health perspective.

Rabbits form powerful bonds with other rabbits.

  • The loss of a bonded companion can cause depression and illness. Please get advice and consider rehoming another suitable rabbit as a friend if a bereavement means that one of your rabbits is left without a companion long-term.
  • Encouraging rabbits to bond may take patience, time, and commitment from you.
  • Rabbits who are unknown to one another will need separate housing until they are successfully bonded.
  • Both rabbits must be desexed to avoid breeding, fighting, and other behavioural problems.
  • For a pair, the best match is often considered to be a male and female who are both desexed.

Introducing New Rabbits

Rabbits who are new to each other must be carefully and gradually introduced, as rabbits can initially be territorial and they may hurt one another or be scared. Introductions between new rabbits should be carried out slowly and is expected to take a couple of weeks.

  • First, get the rabbits acquainted by sight and smell. Keep the rabbits in separate homes and allow them access to a large run with mesh separating them. This allows them to get used to each other’s scent and company without being able to fight.
  • When both rabbits become relaxed in each other’s company remove the mesh divider and allow them to share a space for short periods of time under your close supervision.
  • After a few days or weeks of successful interactions you can then allow the rabbits to live together. If fighting occurs, separate the rabbits and begin the introduction process again.
  • Rabbits who are not fully bonded need to be kept separate when you are not with them.

Rabbits form a bond for life. Once the rabbits have bonded they should not be separated, as this would cause a great deal of psychological trauma to them both. It is recommended that both rabbits are taken to the veterinarian if one needs to attend. This prevents stress and aids recovery. If the rabbits are kept apart and one comes back with a different smell or a change in health, they may reject each other and begin fighting. If this happens the introduction process will need to be carried out.

Download our Rabbit Care Brochure (PDF)

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