February is adopt a rescue rabbit month so we are encouraging owners of single rabbits to go out and find a companion for their rabbit.
Rabbits are social animals and should be kept with a companion but unfortunately many spend their lives in solitary confinement stuck at the end of the garden in a hutch lonely, bored and ignored once the novelty of the new pet has worn off! Rabbits are often recommended as good pets for children when in fact they are not as they can be difficult to handle and kick out with their large, powerful back legs resulting in the rabbit being dropped and injury to the animal. Its always best to interact with your rabbit on ground level and leave the handling for important health checks, grooming, nail clipping and vet visits.
Rabbits love to snuggle together, groom each other, run and binky (a joyful leap into the air, with a twist of the body) together. A lot of rabbits are denied these social interactions.
Rabbits are social and inquisitive animals that should have much more than a hutch to live in. The minimum requirement for two rabbits is a 6x2x2 hutch with an 8×4 run but garden sheds and play houses are often much better as they are much more spacious. Unfortunately many pet shops sell accommodation way too small and many rabbits become obese and develop health problems due to lack of exercise and stimulation in these ‘prisons’.
Rescue centres are full of rabbits looking to find loving homes and rabbits from a good rescue centre will already come neutered and vaccinated. In 2012 the statistics stood at 67,000 rabbits passed through rescue in the UK. This problem comes from the casual breeding of rabbits by owners, breeders and some pet shops.
You should never attempt to introduce two rabbits that are not neutered and the introduction should be done on neutral territory with supervision and a male/ female combination is best. Rescue centres will normally help with the bonding process as it can be difficult.
Bluebell and Beau are a great example of two lone rabbits that have found friendship with each other. Beau came to us from the RSPCA, he was a stray bunny who had probably been abandoned or escaped from someone’s garden. Introducing bunnies can be a difficult process but with Bluebell and Beau it was pretty much love at first sight. Both Bluebell and Beau were neutered before the introduction which was done on a neutral territory as this stops the rabbits wanting to defend their own territory. After a little bit of chasing each other round Bluebell and Beau seemed to accept each other’s company and become firm friends. It’s great to see them snuggled up together and enjoying each other’s company. It’s important to mention though that not all introductions go this successfully and can take a lot longer, that is why it’s important to seek advice before attempting it.
Reaseheath College supports the neutering and vaccinating of rabbits and does not support the casual breeding of rabbits. For further information about rabbit care email Emma Hunt on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your nearest animal rescue centre