The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Anyone who has owned a rabbit before knows that these small creatures, as small as they might be compared to the iconic dog, have just as much of a personality.
Owning and caring for rabbits can be just as enjoyable as caring for any other pet, but as with pet ownership, you need to make sure that you know what you are getting into.
For instance, many people know that it can be hard to house animals of the same sex together. For reasons that are not always understood, animals of the same sex tend to have more rivalries and have more issues with territory and boundaries.
This can even be seen in litters of animals that are raised together and bonded from birth.
With that being said, if you are planning on adopting two pets of the same sex, you will want to make sure that you know what you are in for. There are going to be a few different steps and approaches to take to fully protect and care for your pets, and these steps are going to vary depending on what animal you are working with.
An animal that is known for being territorial, such as a rabbit, is going to be more difficult to work with. If you are dead-set on adopting two female rabbits, there are some preparations you need to make.
However, before you can make these preparations, you will first need to gauge the situation you are in. You will have to take different steps to bond your two female rabbits depending on their age, health, and how they were raised.
First things first, you will want to begin with your rabbits’ health.
Helping Your Rabbits Medically
While there are some people out there who are against the idea of spaying animals in the first place, there are more reasons to do this than just to prevent unwanted litters of rabbits.
In some cases, it is even more important that you spay both of the female rabbits if they are going to be housed together, even if they will be inside, and even if they will have no contact with a male rabbit.
This is because, just as in humans, a rabbit’s uterus will produce hormones cyclically. When a rabbit is in heat, it will likely become even more aggressive, territorial, and more likely to pick a fight with the other rabbit on its property.
This goes for the other rabbit as well, and one can only imagine the chaos that would follow when two female rabbits who are not bonded are in heat.
It is best to spay your female rabbits as early as possible, especially if they are littermates. If you do not spay your rabbits before they become “adults” (sexually mature), then there’s a much higher chance that the female rabbits will start fights, and those fights will break whatever familial bond the two rabbits had.
There is also a considerable amount of research that has shown that spaying animals can lead to a calmer temperament. This is something that you are going to want, especially when you are housing two female rabbits together, as females tend to be extremely territorial and aggressive to stranger rabbits.
Choose Your Rabbit Wisely
When it comes time for you to choose a second female rabbit for your current rabbit, or when you are choosing which pair of rabbits to take home, you are going to need to put a lot of thought into which rabbits are going to fare well at your home.
In a best-case scenario, you would want to adopt two female rabbits that are young and from the same litter. The youth of the rabbit will not only mean a longer life with you, but it will also mean that it will be able to better adapt to its new environment once it is adopted.
When the two rabbits come from the same litter, then this means that there is a much better chance that they will inherently get along.
After all, when the rabbit senses the other rabbit as its littermate, it is not going to see that rabbit as a stranger coming to take over the property. Instead, it will simply be a relocation. You will also want to do your best to adopt two rabbits at once, rather than introduce one rabbit to another rabbit later on in life.
While many people will do this, there is an increased risk for the rabbit who has been yours for the longest will see itself as the protector of your territory, and may instigate fights or try to dominate the other rabbit.
If this is your only option, then being aware of these changes is going to be incredibly important for you to do. If you are in a worst-case scenario and you are adopting two female rabbits that are not from the same litter, you will have two choices.
You can either decide to come back another time to consider rabbits that are from the same litter, or you can prepare for the fact that you are going to have to do a lot of monitoring and assisting to ensure that the two stranger rabbits will be able to get along when brought to a completely new territory.
In these cases, if you still decide to go through with the rabbit adoption, you should spend some time with the two rabbits alone, if your adoption center allows this. This will help you gauge how well these stranger rabbits get along with each other.
It may not be the most accurate indicator of how long they will stay friendly in months to come, but it will allow you to see if there are any immediate problems.
Finally, you will want to try and adopt rabbits that are similar in age first. If you are adopting another female companion for an older rabbit that you already own, it is often easier to purchase a younger rabbit in these situations.
Older rabbits are often harder to relocate and home, meaning that the additional stress could turn an already territorial animal incredibly aggressive.
These are just a few of the things to consider when looking into what you need to do to make housing two female rabbits together something that will work out for you in the end.
Once you have settled on a rabbit, or a pair of rabbits, to take home, you will want to begin preparing the area for the rabbits.
Establishing a Safe Area
When you are bringing a new rabbit home for your current female rabbit to get along with, you are going to need to make sure that you provide a good environment for introductions.
You will want to have an area where both the rabbits will feel relatively safe investigating the other, but you will also want to make sure that your current rabbit does not feel out of place in your home.
Introducing two female rabbits to each other is a delicate process. Two female rabbits have a higher chance of fighting with each other, but once they eventually pass the unfamiliarity phase, they will be able to fully bond quicker than two male rabbits would.
The trick to allowing two female rabbits to meet each other safely is going to be to take things slowly and carefully, ready to break up any disputes before they begin.
When you bring each rabbit home, or if you are bringing a single new rabbit home, you will want to have a temporary home set up for it. This doesn’t have to be a multi-story hutch outside the house, but it should be a place where the new rabbit can safely adjust to its new environment. This new, temporary home, should be kept a fair distance away from the current rabbit you have.
The reason for this is that it will help your new rabbit get used to its new home, so that when it comes time to introduce the two rabbits, they will be able to investigate each other without the added stress of one of the rabbits knowing nothing about its surroundings.
As your new rabbit is adjusting to its temporary home, you will want to start swapping blankets that have been in each rabbit’s cage with something else that has the other rabbit’s scent on it.
Scent is one of the most prominent ways that rabbits communicate with each other, so doing this will allow the two rabbits to “meet” and get to know each other before even seeing the other. The smells of the rabbit will carry varying amounts of information as well, so each rabbit will have a sense of the other’s personality and mood.
To allow the rabbits to truly meet, you will want to move to a room that is escape proof but also a room that neither of the rabbits have either entered. This will act as a neutral territory for each rabbit to meet on.
You will want to organize the room so that there are hiding spaces, but not items that would be defendable. An example of a good addition would be open-ended boxes, or plastic tubes.
These will allow for the nervous rabbits to get away from each other if it is necessary, but it will not provide something so important that the naturally territorial rabbit will begin picking a fight over with the other rabbit.
You will want to scatter various treats and other items that would be very interesting to the rabbits (such as hay, or a favorite food) around the room. These will provide a positive, reward-fueled distraction for what will be a stressful experience for the rabbits.
It will also help the rabbits to associate this event with positive emotions, at least for a time, and it may be something that the rabbits will eventually “meet” each other over.
From here you will want to place each rabbit at opposite ends of the room and let them begin roaming at their own pace. In an unfamiliar, unnatural territory, it may take some time for the rabbits to eventually meet each other.
Normal behavior during this process includes circling, chasing, and sometimes even mounting, but if these behaviors turn to aggression and panic, you will have to intervene.
Positive signs during this are going to be if the rabbits groom each other, if they eat together (another purpose for the treats around the room), and if they lie down with each other.
Depending on both of the rabbits, the rabbits may successfully bond over the full course of the day. Other rabbits may take one or two more sessions of this process before they are fully bonded and able to be housed together overnight.
When housing these new rabbits together, the best option will be to choose a new hutch that does not smell of either of the rabbits, but if this is not an option, you will have to take heavy care to completely wash away the other rabbit’s scent from the hutch.
The Bottom Line
Rabbits, much like people, are naturally very social creatures. They desire being able to have a buddy to spend the time with, but because of the naturally territorial nature of female rabbits, this can prove to be a troublesome process.
With enough time and patience put into caring for both the rabbits, selecting them out, and giving them the time they need to bond and meet each other, you can absolutely house two female rabbits together.
Keep in mind that the bonding process takes time and should never, ever be rushed. You need to let the rabbits go at their own pace, even if this means that it takes a couple days of bonding exercises.
When you put the effort into creating a positive experience for the two female rabbits to bond over, you can feel confident knowing that you will have two very happy female rabbits living together very soon.
Even if housing two female rabbits in the same hutch is more problematic because of the female rabbit’s personality, it is something that your rabbits will eventually thrive from, even if they do not enjoy the process at first.