Have you ever wondered how to socialise your rabbit, Marie Pavaday-Pillay explains how...

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How do I socialise my rabbit with other rabbits?

Marie says: If you find yourself with a single rabbit, it is always advisable to consider mixing them with a companion rabbit. Firstly, it is important to ensure both rabbits are neutered and, typically, the best pairing is a neutered male and female. Leaving them entire runs the risk of unwanted pregnancies and hormonal aggression during mixing or later in the year.

Once both rabbits are neutered, you can prepare the mixing area. This needs to be neutral territory, meaning it has no smell from either rabbit. It also needs to be a spacious area of around 10ft by 5ft to allow the rabbits to freely move, choose when to interact be undisturbed for at least a week. Enrichment should be kept simple to reduce any risk of injuries or territorial behaviour – a few large trays filled with fluffy hay and some large open-ended boxes work well. You should put plenty of fresh forage down, such as bramble leaf and hand-picked grass, to encourage mutual feeding.

When you’re ready to mix your rabbits, place both of them down at the same time then step back to allow them to explore and interact. An average mix will take three days. Day one will include mounting, minor fur-pulling, minor chasing, sniffing, ignoring each other and mostly eating alone. By day two, they should be sitting closer together and possibly face-grooming one another, but mounting and a little bit of chasing may still be present. Day three should involve very positive behaviour, with the rabbits choosing to be close to one another, with lots of mutual and selfgrooming with plenty of time spent grazing on food together.

Poor behaviour that would indicate that the mix has been unsuccessful would include immediate fighting when introduced, attacking each other, kicking each other’s stomach, screaming, injuries, one rabbit actively seeking the other out to fight or lots of fur-pulling. Many rehoming charities across the UK, including Wood Green, The Animals Charity, offer a mixing service whereby they can help find and match the perfect companion for your rabbit. The benefit of taking on a rescue rabbit is that, in most cases, they will have already been neutered, vaccinated and you will have expert advice on hand.

Marie Pavaday-Pillay – Behaviour & Training Specialist – Small and Field Animals at Wood Green, The Animals Charity


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