If you are a part of the rabbit care community, you must have come across the controversial topic of keeping a single rabbit as a pet.
While some argue your bunny will be too lonely, others argue human companionship solves the issue of loneliness.
Anyone getting a bunny for the first time will rethink when they hear a single rabbit might not survive, especially if taking care of a bonded pair is a bit too much for you.
This post answers whether it’s OK to keep a single bunny if it gets lonely and other related questions.
Read on to learn everything about keeping one rabbit.
Keeping one rabbit: Can it survive?
So many rabbit owners start with a single bunny, and they survive.
This topic is highly divisive in the rabbit community. I understand rabbits are social animals and need company to thrive. But must it be the company of their kind?
Generally, it depends on the rabbit and your living situation. Check out these two scenarios:
Rabbit owner A owns a single bunny and ensures she is very comfortable. We can even say she is spoiled because she has lots of toys, occasional fruit treats, more than enough food, and spends several hours out of her cage.
Besides, the cage is in the living room, where the owner and her two kids spend most of their time, especially since she works from home. She also owns two dogs who are always around, not to mention the kids are always playing with the pets when they are around.
Rabbit Owner B also owns one rabbit and has no other pets in the house. However, the bunny is comfortable with everything he needs and even owns toys to play with.
His cage is in the living room, but the owner lives alone and is away at work for about eight hours a day. He ensures the rabbit has everything he needs before going out, but unfortunately, there is no time outside the cage due to the nature of his work.
You understand he can’t leave the bunny outside his cage as he might get destructive around the house.
The living situation in the two scenarios is very different. In this case, it would be fair to assume the rabbit in the second scenario gets lonely.
But if you ask me, though she is the only bunny in the house, the bunny in the first scenario is perfectly fine. To start with, she is not the only pet in the house, and the owner spends most of her time in the house.
This means she has more than enough company, so loneliness is a vocabulary in her world.
What happens if a rabbit is kept alone?
People assume every rabbit kept alone is lonely. Well, this is not always the case. As I said, it depends on your living situation.
My friend owns a bunny and calls him Billy. She got Billy a year ago and has lived with him ever since. Billy was two months old when she got him and lived alone until he was five months old.
Though he was the only pet, Billy had his owner’s attention, and I would say he was never lonely. He was spoiled because he had more than enough toys, treats, and his owner’s companionship.
At five months, the owner decided to get another bunny to accompany Billy. That was the beginning of chaos, as Billy would never let the other bunny near him. He was so territorial and was always fighting the new bunny until my friend decided to get rid of it.
Bunnies get territorial when they are kept alone. Like in the case of Billy, some get extreme and can’t allow other bunnies around them.
We also can’t ignore that a bunny can get lonely when kept alone. Sometimes the loneliness is so great that your bunny is no longer happy. However, this happens when the bunny is deprived of companionship in all ways.
Specifically, the owner doesn’t dedicate time to bonding with the bunny; the bunny is the only pet in the house.
Do rabbits get lonely when kept alone?
They do; rabbits are social creatures and thrive in the company of their kind.
Keeping a rabbit alone can lead to loneliness. This is especially true if the owner is always away and there is no other pet around the house.
A lonely bunny is never happy, so watch out for lonely rabbit behavior.
Lonely rabbit behavior: How to tell your bunny is lonely
If you are keen, you will notice changes in your rabbit’s behavior that show she is lonely. Common lonely rabbit behavior includes:
- Craving your attention: Your rabbit will try to catch your attention by nipping or walking around you when you are stationary.
- Flipping her food bowl and scattering everything shows frustration and trying to take it out of the bowl.
- Destroying things in the house like your carpet: Destructive behavior can signify loneliness, especially if she was not destructive at first.
- Too much energy: She may be more playful when she has too much energy. She may want to play with you to share her energy with you.
- Withdrawn: if nothing she is doing seems to work, she may be withdrawn from everything and ignore you when you call her. Some even refuse to eat or drink.
Can rabbits die of loneliness?
Though not directly, a rabbit can die from loneliness. Of course, the autopsy report won’t read “straight-up loneliness.”
Loneliness affects your rabbit’s health in general. For instance, when depressed, she will withdraw from her habits, including eating, so her health will deteriorate.
She may also refuse to play, leading to boredom, which makes her state worse. Loneliness can cause stress, and like in humans, stress is not good for your bunny.
Too much stress may cause cardiac arrest, especially since a bunny’s heart is so frail. As a result, you may lose your bunny, and though the cause of death won’t be loneliness, it will have started from there.
Can a single rabbit be happy?
“To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.”
This applies to all social animals, including bunnies. Your bunny needs someone to share her joy with so she can experience the full value of it.
However, that someone doesn’t have to be another rabbit. It can be a human, provided a bond and genuine connection exist.
Therefore, a single rabbit in the company of other social beings is likely to be happy. Though it’s advised to get a bonded pair, some rabbits live perfectly well alone, provided they have company elsewhere.
A good example is Billy’s case. According to my friend, he was better off living alone than living with another bunny. He seemed contented and was all about zoomies, which signifies happiness.
A single bunny can be happy, provided it’s not lonely. And to avoid loneliness, make sure you bond with your rabbit and always interact with it. You can also spend time with him outside his cage and pet him often.
Can I count on other animals to keep my bunny company?
If you can, go for a bonded pair of rabbits so they can have each other in the house. Even in the wild, rabbits walk in pairs and are always spending time together. Since the best way to raise a bunny is to mimic its natural state, a pair of bunnies would be better than one.
However, sometimes the situation doesn’t allow it. Apart from the cost, taking care of one bunny is already hard work, let alone caring for two.
The good thing is, if your bunny can’t have other rabbits around, he will adapt to the surroundings, so it will be fine if there are other animals around. By animals, I mean pets like cats and dogs.
I know a cat can’t bond perfectly with a bunny, but companionship is better than living alone. Besides, some bunnies bond perfectly with other animals, especially if they grew up together.
That said, try to bond your bunny with other pets at a young age. If you can, let them grow together and have some time outside the cage to interact.
It may seem impossible at first, as you may notice them staring at each other from a distance. But with time, they get used to each other and start interacting. Babies are easier to bond with than adult rabbits as they are less territorial.
So, before your bunny starts marking her territory and familiarizing herself with the environment, let her make new friends with other animals so you can count on them to keep her company.
A single bunny can survive if she is not lonely. The argument against keeping a single rabbit is that she may get lonely. But if she has company from humans or other animals, she will be a happy bunny.
If you know you won’t have time for her and there won’t be other animals in the house, you should get two of them. Actually, a bonded pair saves you time because you won’t have to worry about her being lonely.