If you see a rabbit in the wild, it’s unlikely to be alone. Rabbits travel in pairs and large groups, protecting each other from predators. While rabbits do need time on their own occasionally, they dislike being alone. This is why rabbits are so often sold and kept in bonded pairs.
Rabbits are social animals, so a single rabbit is likely to feel lonely and depressed. Rabbits can live alone, but you’ll need to provide your pet with the attention (company, petting, grooming, exercise, playing, and enrichment) that a bonded rabbit partner would provide.
It’s always advisable to keep rabbits in pairs. If you can find a pair of rabbits that are already bonded, so much the better. These rabbits should not be separated, and they’ll keep each other company. Keeping two bonded rabbits will cost more, but it’ll half your responsibilities.
Do Rabbits Get Lonely Without Another Rabbit?
Your rabbit will likely become lonely without the company of another rabbit. Rabbits are hardwired to be social. Wild rabbits live in large colonies, so the species instinctively seeks company.
Part of this is due to survival instinct. Wild rabbits understand that there is safety in numbers. The more rabbits live together, the higher the likelihood of predator being spotted.
Your domesticated rabbit will be kept safe from predators. All the same, unless your pet is a rare antisocial rabbit, she will desire company. Keeping her alone will likely make her lonely.
How Do I Know if My Rabbit is Lonely?
Lonely rabbit behavior includes the following:
- Wants more attention. This could involve nudging, nipping, and biting you.
- Hyperactivity. She has so much energy and nobody to share it with.
- Destructive behavior. She is frustrated and lonely, taking it out on furniture and belongings.
- Withdrawn and depressed. She will stop responding when called. She may even lose interest in eating and drinking.
Can Rabbits Die of Loneliness?
No vet will write, “loneliness” as the cause of death following a rabbit autopsy. Loneliness can kill a rabbit, albeit indirectly. Isolation in rabbits leads to boredom. Rabbits want to play, and to interact. Your pet will do this with you if she must. She would prefer it to be with a fellow rabbit, though.
When a rabbit becomes stressed, her health will deteriorate. A rabbit’s heart is as frail as her delicate skeleton. Stress can cause cardiac arrest, or accelerate other health problems.
Stress and loneliness can be linked to bereavement in rabbits. If your pet had a bonded partner that suddenly disappears, it’s stressful. Your pet misses her friend and wonders if she’ll be next.
What Happens if One of My Rabbits Dies?
When two rabbits bond, they usually do so for life, but this doesn’t mean they’ll live forever. Typically, one rabbit will outlive a partner. Rabbits are believed to have some understanding of death. If your pet sees the corpse of a partner, she will not be traumatized. It will aid her understanding.
As BunnyHugga explains, your rabbit may even seem jolly at first. She will perform a form of dance over the body of her partner. This is your rabbit saying goodbye to her treasured friend. Just like in humans, grief does strange things to rabbits.
Eventually, you’ll need to consider a new, second rabbit. Once a rabbit gets used to living as a pair, she’ll rarely cope with being alone. The bonding process may take time as it’s not easy to replace a bonded partner. Just don’t rush the bonding process.
Can Rabbits Live Alone Happily?
Rabbits can live alone, and may even thrive with a solitary lifestyle. You will need to be more actively involved, though. This means not leaving your rabbit alone for a prolonged period of time.
If you work long hours, a single rabbit is not an option for you. The only way this could work is if you hire a pet sitter. This way, at least somebody will keep your rabbit company.
Let your rabbit run free around the home if she is a solo pet. Life alone in a hutch can be very lonely. This will be compounded by the fact that rabbits keep a different schedule to humans. Let’s take a look at a typical day in the life of a rabbit:
|Daybreak||Your rabbit will wake up at dawn. She’ll have a snack, use her litter tray, and seek entertainment. In her hutch, this would involve toys. She’ll wake you up for attention.|
|Early Morning to Mid-Morning||This is the time that your rabbit will be most active. She’ll want to run, jump, and play. Ensure that she can enjoy outside time at this point.|
|Mid-Morning to Late Afternoon||After a while, your rabbit will exhaust herself. She may well fall asleep. If she has a hutch, return her for a nap. If she runs free, place your pet somewhere quiet and comfy.|
|Late Afternoon to Early Evening||Your rabbit will wake up from her afternoon nap feeling refreshed. She’ll eat, use her litter tray, and groom herself. She will then expect attention again.|
|Early Evening to (Human) Bedtime||After an initial flurry of activity, your rabbit will calm down. Don’t be surprised if your rabbit sits in your lap.|
|Human Bedtime||Rabbits tend to active after humans retire for the night. Your pet is unlikely to want to return to her hutch alone. She’ll want to sleep on your bed.|
My Rabbit Likes Living Alone
It’s rare, but sometimes rabbits actively prefer to live alone. This will be more prevalent in female rabbits. The female of this species tends to be more independent.
Most often, this will be because the rabbit had a miserable shared experience previously. Also, rabbits are territorial. Your pet may struggle with the idea of sharing space and food.
If your rabbit appears antisocial with her own species, you’ll need to consider alternatives. A rabbit that does not like other rabbits will still dislike being alone for too long.
This leaves you with two options. Dedicate more of your own time to your rabbit, or pair her with a different pet. Rabbits can forge unlikely friendships with animals of different species.
Can Other Animals Keep a Rabbit Company?
You could consider housing your pet with a different animal. Rabbits and chickens can live together. If you have a sizable outdoor space, this could be an ideal solution for both animals. They’ll keep each company, and with the right safety protocols, live harmoniously.
Some people house rabbits with guinea pigs. While similar in theory, these small animals have several differences. They eat different diets and have different play styles. This can result in miscommunication, injury, and health concerns.
If you have a cat or dog, you should ensure your rabbit is kept separate from them. They can get along, but cats and dogs have hunting instincts. Remember that rabbits are a prey species.
Rabbits are unique animals. With this in mind, they should be housed with fellow rabbits. If you keep two bonded rabbits together, both will be completely content.