When it comes to your pets, all that you want is for them to be happy. Spending time with your rabbit is the best feeling in the world, but leaving them can be difficult. When they look at you with those big, beautiful eyes, it can make it hard to walk away, and you might find yourself wondering if you should buy your rabbit a friend.
Animals are all different. Some animals are very solitary, while others really struggle when they are left on their own. If you are new to owning a rabbit, then you might not know much about these magnificent creatures. You can research animals before you bring them home, but you actually learn the most about them when you have them as part of your family.
So are rabbits solitary animals, or do they prefer living in groups? And more importantly, can rabbits die of loneliness? In this guide, we’ll be answering these questions and taking a look at whether, or not, it is okay to have just one rabbit.
Do Rabbits Get Lonely?
First things first, let’s take a look at whether, or not, rabbits get lonely. Yes, rabbits do get lonely. This is mainly because in the wild, rabbits live in large ‘family’ groups, and spend their time with one another. In the wild, rabbits spend hours playing with their family, grooming each other, and generally spending time with one another. Even though domestic rabbits are different to wild rabbits, they still have the ability to get lonely because of the genetic link between these two types of rabbit.
If your rabbit is a solitary rabbit, then it is unlikely that they will get ‘lonely’ in the traditional sense. Your rabbit has probably only ever known their solitary life, so they will not be lonely because they miss other rabbits. Instead, they will get lonely out of boredom. In the wild, rabbits are very active creatures, but domestic rabbits are a lot more limited with what they can do, simply because of a lack of space and mental simulation. So, yes, rabbits can get lonely.
Can Rabbits Die of Loneliness?
So, yes, rabbits can get lonely. But, you might be wondering just how serious this loneliness is. As we have said, loneliness in rabbits is often linked with boredom. So, if you give your rabbit plenty of toys to stimulate them, then they shouldn’t become lonely. However, it is possible for rabbits to die of loneliness, and this isn’t as rare as you might expect. But, there are very specific scenarios that have led this to happen.
There are several cases of rabbits dying of reported loneliness. But, all of these cases have one thing in common, and that is the context that has led to their death. In these cases, the rabbits have not died of loneliness caused by boredom. Instead, they have all died of loneliness that has been caused by their bonded partner passing away.
In order for this to happen, you must start out with more than one rabbit. In hutches with more than one rabbit, the rabbits tend to form an incredibly tight bond and become friends or bonded-partners. When a rabbit loses their friend or bonded-partner, then they can become severely depressed, just like human beings would, and they will grieve that partner.
In some situations, this depression can become so intense that it can actually cause a rabbit to pass away from a broken heart. Of course, the rabbit’s heart does not actually break in this situation, but the death of their friend has directly caused their death. So, yes, it is possible for rabbits to die of loneliness.
What Happens When a Rabbit is Lonely?
Whether you have a rabbit whose friend has recently passed away, or your rabbit has always been on their own, it is always best to keep an eye out for signs of loneliness. As we have just seen, loneliness can be fatal in rabbits, so it is best to catch any signs of loneliness as early as possible.
The main sign that your rabbit is lonely is a rapid increase in ‘attention-seeking’ behavior. These behaviors can demonstrate themselves in lots of different ways, and will include things such as nipping, thumping, and destructive behavior. This destructive behavior could be aimed at the rabbit’s cage, you (their owner), or themselves. Alternatively, your rabbit might become withdrawn or aggressive in response to this loneliness.
If you do find that your rabbit is showing signs of loneliness, it is best to take steps to avoid this becoming detrimental to their health. To solve this issue, you should consider buying another rabbit as a companion, spending more time with your rabbit, or giving it more time outside its cage. This should help your rabbit feel less lonely.
So, Is It Okay to Have Just One Rabbit?
As we have established, rabbits can suffer from loneliness. This might come as a shock to some people, as many people have just one rabbit as a pet. But, in general, it is best to have more than one rabbit because they are social creatures, and if they lead solitary lives this can cause them to become depressed. However, this will depend on the lifestyle that your rabbit leads.
You might have a single rabbit, and it might be happy and show no signs of loneliness, it really does depend on the rabbit. Generally, rabbits that are happy to live alone spend a lot of time with their humans, and have a large amount of space to live in. These rabbits usually always live alone, and will never have lived with a partner. So, if your rabbit is happy to live alone, then it is okay to have just one rabbit.
But, if your rabbit has previously had a partner, and that partner has passed away, then it is possible for them to pass away from loneliness. So, you should definitely consider getting a new rabbit to reduce this loneliness, and make them happy again.