Tips For Socializing Pet Rabbits
Besides being affectionate pets that are easy to care for, rabbits are also social animals that develop complex social networks in the wild. Therefore, if your pet has a companion, both animals will enjoy greater development on a psychological and physical level. But to make this possible and avoid territorial conflicts, there are certain steps you need to take. Below, we’ll offer advice on socializing pet rabbits:
Make sure your animal is healthy
Before initiating contact between two rabbits, you should take both animals to the veterinarian. That way, you can make sure both of them are healthy and don’t carry any contagious illnesses. It would be very irresponsible to skip over this important step, as it can put the health of both of your pet rabbits at risk.
Spaying and neutering; essential for the socialization of pet rabbits
Besides the obvious reasons for sterilization (rabbits reproduce quickly and easily), spaying and neutering are also an essential part of socialization. These interventions reduce territorial behaviors and aggression in males.
What’s more, you should wait several weeks after surgery before initiating contact. This will allow your rabbit to heal properly. What’s more, don’t forget that there’s still a chance of fertility during the first month after your rabbit’s operation.
As for females, besides the physical repercussions, no longer going into heat can also cause psychological changes. Therefore, it’s still important to wait for at least a month after surgery to introduce your rabbit to a new friend.
How to choose the right companion
Although different possibilities exist, experts recommend choosing a rabbit that’s close in age to the one you already have. What’s more, you should choose a rabbit of the opposite sex. Of course, as we mentioned, both should be spayed or neutered previously.
Rabbits tend to be monogamous and establish complex social networks with their “romantic” partners. In fact, it’s likely for the first contact between pets to take on a sexual nature, even if both have undergone sterilization.
Make sure that the environment is neutral
Ideally, although we know it isn’t easy, both rabbits should enter your home at the same time. In other words, neither should invade the other rabbit’s territory, especially the female’s territory. This is because female rabbits are more territorial than males.
The methods and phases of socializing pet rabbits
- Place your rabbits in separate spaces, but allow them to see one another and sense one another’s scent. It’s important to observe their reactions to unfamiliar scents in order to see if one rabbit sees the other as an enemy.
- Exchange toys and food bowls between one space and the other. That way, neither of your pet rabbits will identify any objects as their own. Rather, both will understand that there’s another rabbit that uses the same objects.
- Feed both of your rabbits well before initiating contact between them. This is because a full stomach produces less conflict and competitive behavior over food.
- Use a neutral area as the setting for initial contact. Ideally, you should find a spot where neither of the rabbits has been before. If that’s not feasible, then you should choose an area with little furniture and disinfect it with vinegar and lemon beforehand.
The importance of space
The first direct contact between your rabbits should take place in an area with plenty of space. In other words, they should be able to explore, meet one another, and even hide if they want. Although you don’t want a place that’s too big either, or they may just end up ignoring one another. That would only make the process take even longer.
It’s important to point out an interesting option. For example, you can leave each rabbit in a closed bedroom, and let the first contact take place in the hallway that connects them.
Patient and time will be your biggest allies
At all times, remember that this process requires patience. Keep a spray bottle of water with you and keep a close eye on your rabbits and how they behave towards one another. You should also make a point to spend time with them and put a stop to any aggression by using your spray bottle.
In the same way, make sure that both of your rabbits have plenty of food and toys to play with. This is another way to prevent any unnecessary disputes between pet rabbits.
The nerves caused by the first encounters between your pet rabbits may lead to stress and even diarrhea. Therefore, hygiene during the first few days may be a problem, although the situation will soon correct itself.