You never see a rabbit on its own in the wild; they always have a few friends nearby, and many more hidden away where we can’t see them. Rabbits are part of an extensive community and rely on that community for stimulation and survival. Domestic rabbits aren’t really any different form their wild cousins and it’s by observing how they operate in their natural environment that we can get a better idea of how to meet their needs in a domestic situation.
Pet rabbits are incredibly intelligent, sociable creatures that need to be with other rabbits. In winter, they share their body heat; they keep each other well groomed and rely on each other for support during difficult situations for example vet visits. They have a natural “safety in numbers” instinct and so feel more confident when they live in a pair or group. Single rabbits quickly become bored and depressed and even develop aggressive behaviour towards its owner. Rabbits kept in pairs are healthier than those who are kept alone. A partner will help to groom those hard to reach parts like eyes and are therefore less prone to infection.
People often argue “But I spend many hours a day with my bunny! They follow me around and come for cuddles and nose rubs!” This may be lovely for the owner, but while the rabbits certainly adores his human partner, but is undoubtedly suffering when they leave to go to work, or even just to bed! Recent studies have shown that a bonded rabbit will spend around 90% of its time in full body contact with its partner and will seek out companionship, even over food!