Rabbits are social animals and would benefit from companionship, especially if you, the owner, is not able to be around often.
The number of rabbits that you can keep in a single cage depends primarily on the size of the cage. It’s best to provide 12 square feet of living space per rabbit, but bigger is better.
Rabbits naturally live in large groups, so if they are introduced and provided for properly, you can have as many rabbits as you see fit. Two rabbits are the perfect amount for a family looking for a lovable pet, but it is up to you to have however many you’d like.
First and foremost, more pets always equal more work. Not to mention the doubling in food, care, and veterinarian expenses. Nevertheless, having multiple rabbits can be an enriching experience for both your family and your rabbits.
There are 5 things that are key to correctly housing multiple rabbits:
- Food and water
- Appropriate separation
- Calm introductions
Rabbits need lots of space to stretch, exercise and remain happy and healthy. On average, about twelve square feet is an acceptable amount of living space for a rabbit. However, the bigger your rabbit gets, the more space you’ll need.
Some breeds have a maximum weight of two and a half pounds, while others can weigh up to 22 pounds. The amount of space you have available should influence the kind of rabbits you consider keeping. Two Netherland Dwarves are much easier to maintain and provide for than two Flemish Giants.
Only you can know how much space is available in your home.
Cages and Containers
The pens and cages that rabbit owners prefer differ from person to person and home to home, but the most popular ones are:
- Hutches—two-room wooden structures that act as an all-inclusive rabbit house.
- Cages—these can be similar to hutches in construction, but are typically more metallic and simple
- Pens—owners recommend dog pens and baby gates, as they can isolate a rabbit, while still providing them with ample hopping space
When picking out a place to house your rabbit(s), remember that bigger is better. A rabbit will be happier with the more space it has, and if it has to share a space with one or more other rabbits, it needs even more area to feel calm and safe. If you are limited on space, then multi-level cages might be something you’ll want to consider. Check out my article Are Multi-Level Cages Good For Rabbits here. It will give you great tips like what materials work best and even list predatorial considerations for rabbits living outdoors.
In this regard, pens will provide the largest area, cages are more efficient, and hutches are the most visually pleasing in a home. Again, it is up to you to decide exactly how you want to house your rabbit.
Food and Water
Another element of caring for multiple rabbits is making sure they have plenty of food and water.
As long as your rabbits stay well-fed and watered, they should not feel territorial or competitive for resources. This will also help them stay friendly and comfortable with each other.
If you notice that your rabbits are growing competitive and hostile toward each other, or that one rabbit is expressing dominance over another, consider separating their food to different cages or areas of their pen. With this, there are fewer opportunities for hostility and dominance.
Typically, one can get by only cleaning their rabbit’s cage and litter box once a week, but if there are multiple rabbits, once a week will need to become almost every day. There are certain things you’ll need to check on daily (like making sure your rabbit has freshwater) and certain things that only need to be done once a week (such as washing the inside of the cage).
I have made a list of tips from my own personal experience that will probably save you literally hours each week in my article How to Keep Rabbits’ Cage Clean: 5 Tips That Work here. These ideas will make your life just so much easier!
Of course, providing and cleaning for one or two rabbits is very different than five or six. In that case, you might develop a living system that is more efficient for maintenance, such as establishing an outdoor community for your rabbits.
Cleaning a rabbit’s space is important so it stays healthy, but also so it stays happy. If a rabbit is not stressed by its environment, it will get along better with its companions. And the happier a rabbit is with its friends, the less likely it will be that they’ll need to be split up.
There are a few reasons why you would need to separate your rabbits:
- They are not spayed/neutered
- They become territorial or hostile
- They are introduced too suddenly and enthusiastically
Separated by Gender
Rabbits are known for their rapid rates of reproduction. A female rabbit can have a litter of nine bunnies once a month. This is possible and likely, but not healthy or very safe.
To prevent excessive breeding, or breeding at all, keep males and females separated as much as possible. Of course, if you are trying to become a breeder, they need to be together often, but, for their safety, should not be together all the time.
PRO TIP: When considering what type of spacing to put between your male and female rabbits, you might be curious, Can Rabbits Mate Through a Cage or Fence? Take the two gender’s separation seriously if you don’t want a rabbit farm!
Spaying and neutering rabbits is suggested not only for the negation of reproduction but also because it mellows out a rabbit, making it more friendly and docile with other rabbits. It is especially a good idea if you are just hoping to have a fluffy house pet and nothing else.
Separated by Territory
By their nature, rabbits are territorial animals. It is not likely that your rabbits will not warm up to each other, but the possibility is not obsolete.
If you have properly introduced your rabbits, separated their eating places, and they are still hostile, keep them apart as much as possible. At that point, the rabbits don’t want to be with each other, and it is safest to keep them away from each other.
There is little explanation for that behavior other than animal instincts, however, there are a few other causes (and some good techniques for stopping the fights) that I talk about in my article Five Reasons Pet Rabbits Fight and How to Stop Them.
It can be difficult to predict if that will happen with your pets, but here are some methods for reducing the chances that you’ll have issues:
A Proper Introduction
When you are first introducing two or more unfamiliar rabbits, it is best to take the process slowly (the suggested amount of time is about three weeks). Because they are territorial and nervous creatures, do your best to ease them into a relationship. The best process for this is as follows:
- Make the introduction on neutral ground: If the rabbits are both in a place where they don’t feel they are in charge, they are more likely to be welcoming to the newcomer.
- Create a calm environment for them to meet each other: Rabbits are more comfortable when they feel safe.
- For the first physical interaction, keep them apart: This may seem counterintuitive, but if both rabbits are on a leash or divided by a gate, they can familiarize themselves with the scent and presence of another rabbit but are protected from attacking each other.
It is important to be patient with this process. And it’s better to take a long time and do it correctly than to rush into something and jeopardize your rabbit. When acquainting new rabbits, be aware of their body language and reactions to each other. If you notice signs of hostility, gently intervene, and try another approach later.
If your rabbits have properly adjusted to each other and seem to be getting along, it is safe to let them coexist. They can eat, sleep, and play together, and will eventually establish a relationship known as a “bonded” relationship.
Another way to increase the chances of a good relationship between your rabbits is to get them from the same litter.
If you know up front that you want more than one rabbit, consider adopting them all from the same litter. They are more likely to get along and feel comfortable with each other. Do Rabbits Know and Recognize Their Siblings? is an article I wrote from my personal experience in this situation. It’s a great read if you are considering adopting from the same litter!
If you are wanting to stagger when you get your rabbits, think about getting ones of the same breed. They won’t be as inclined to companionship as siblings, but the chances are still high that the introduction will go well.
Rabbits thrive in the outdoors. If you decide that you want to keep your pets outside or allow them to spend considerable time outdoors, you can recreate their natural habitat.
Groups of rabbits are called colonies, and they live in a network of burrows called a warren. You can build a warren outside by connecting their cages, hutches, or pens with tunnels. This will allow your rabbits to use their instincts for navigation and companionship, which will in turn foster a better environment for your rabbits to live like and function in a community.
A man-made warren is an especially good idea for groups of rabbits, i.e. more than two or three.
If all the rabbits are outside, they have plenty of space to play and stretch themselves, and naturally feel more comfortable in their ancestral habitat.
One thing to be wary of is their exposure outside. It is important for rabbits to have some sun, but too much can be harmful to them. Additionally, no shade or coverage will leave them vulnerable to predators. Having places to hide will keep your rabbit active and safe.
PLANNING ON KEEPING YOUR PET RABBIT OUTDOORS?
Is it safe to keep a rabbit outside where you live? Rabbits need plenty of socialization and the proper care no matter what environment they’re in. What about extreme heat or cold temperatures? You’ll need to provide protection against harsh weather conditions. There are things you can do to make living outside a success for your rabbit. Learn about them in my article How to Keep a Rabbit Outside: A Complete Guide.
Life With Your Rabbit
Once your rabbits have adapted to living a life with more of their kind, it will be rewarding to watch them grow and bond together.
Bonded rabbits are less stressed, more playful, and generally happier!
Other Helpful Resources
- Can Two Rabbits Share a Litter Box? An Owner’s Guide – Age pairing and gender pairing are considerations most people don’t take into account, but they are great things to think about if your rabbits will be sharing a litter box.
- Owner’s Guide: Are Rabbits Hard to Care For? – If you’re still on the search for a rabbit, you’ll want to check out this article I wrote from my own personal experience. I think you’ll find it enlightening!
- Checklist: What You Need to Buy For a New Pet Rabbit – If you are planning to get a new pet rabbit or maybe recently did bring home a new furry family member, you’ll want to take a look at this list of recommended items to make your life just a whole lot easier. These are absolute must-haves for your pet rabbit.