The Challenges of Keeping Multiple Rabbits That No One Tells You About

Rabbits are social animals and can benefit tremendously from the companionship of their own kind. The joy of watching them interact and form bonds is undeniable. Yet, the decision to expand your rabbit family should not be made lightly, as it comes with its own set of hurdles.

From proper introductions to balancing their individual needs, and managing their space requirements, you need to make sure you are prepared for the additional complexities that multiple rabbits inevitably bring. 

Just as with any pet, the welfare and happiness of your rabbits should be at the forefront of your decision-making. Taking on the role of a multi-rabbit caretaker means dedicating time to understand each rabbit’s personality and needs, as well as being prepared for the extra financial and emotional investment. A well-considered approach to expanding your rabbit family will set you, and your bunnies, up for a harmonious life together.

two rabbits in an ex-pet
Setting up your rabbits in a large ex-pen in an unfamiliar room can be one way to create a neutral territory for bonding.

1. Bonding rabbits is hard

Bonding rabbits is a complicated process that requires a lot of patience. Forcing an unnatural bond could lead to persistent stress and anxiety (especially for a more submissive rabbit), which are detrimental to their health.

Initially, your rabbits will need to live separately as they gradually get accustomed to each other. Introductions must be made on neutral territory to avoid territorial disputes, since rabbits can be naturally inclined to defend their space. During bonding you will need to continuously monitor their interactions for signs of aggression, since these behaviors can result in injured rabbits if not swiftly addressed.

In some cases, your rabbits may not be compatible and they will not end up bonding at all. If that happens, you will need to be prepared to keep the rabbits in two separate spaces, while ensuring that they both continue to get enough attention and exercise.

2. It’s harder to keep track of your rabbit’s health with multiple rabbits

It’s important to watch your rabbit’s behavior for unusual eating and pooping patterns since these can be signs of health problems. When you have multiple rabbits, monitoring each one’s health becomes more complex. Identifying individual health issues based on how much they’re eating and how much they’re pooping gets quite challenging. 

Unless you’re watching them as they use the litter box, distinguishing which droppings belong to which rabbit is nearly impossible. If you notice something unusual, such as poop that’s too small or poops that are linked together with fur, you’ll need to monitor and pay for vet appointments for both rabbits (which can get quite expensive).

3. Some rabbits are food aggressive

Some rabbits that are paired together get along just fine right up until there is food involved. This is called food aggression. This behavior is typically characterized by a rabbit that aggressively guards or consumes food, potentially leading to conflict with its companions.

Even if neither rabbit is actively aggressive, sometimes the food distribution between a pair of rabbits is very lopsided. One rabbit is more food motivated and eats a bigger portion right awy. The other rabbit might prefer to eat a little bit slowly over time, only to come back and fine the food is all gone.

If either of these situations describe your rabbits, you may need to separate them for feeding time to ensure each has a chance to eat without feeling threatened. This can prevent potential fighting and allows you to monitor each rabbit’s food intake closely.

4. You’ll need to rabbit proof your home again

Your new rabbit will have different habits than the first and get into different kinds of trouble. Because of this, you’ll need to observe their behavior and make the home safe for your second rabbit too, going through the whole process of bunny proofing your home for a second time. Never assume that the precautions you have in place for one bunny will be good enough for another rabbit too.

This means initially keeping your second rabbit in a pen or enclosed space with supervised time out to explore. As you get to know their habits, you can rabbit proof anything that your new rabbit gets into and over time give them more freedom to explore.

Rabbits scatter their poop around to claim territory. It is most common the first time they explore a new area.

5. Expect more urine marking and scattered poop

When you introduce multiple rabbits to each other, territorial behaviors often emerge and they are not always aggressive. Your rabbits will probably start to pee more in areas outside their litter box and scatter poop around their territory, especially in the first few days and weeks. This is a natural way for rabbits to communicate boundaries and establish hierarchy within their new group.

Typically, this behavior reduces as they become more familiar with one another and feel secure in their environment. But be prepared to do a lot more cleaning than usual for the introductory period. Sometimes, the increased pooping and spraying doesn’t entirely go away either. In these cases, you’ll just need to use pee pads effectively and clean a little more often.

6. Getting two rabbits in a carrier can be a pain

You thought getting one rabbit into a carrier was hard? Try getting two in together. It’s not uncommon for you to wrangle one rabbit into the carrier only for them to hop out as soon as you open it to get the second one inside. 

This can be incredibly frustrating, since catching pet rabbits is never easy. Be sure to plan a little bit of extra time before you need to head out to a vet appointment so that you don’t end up running late when you inevitably struggle to get your rabbits ready to go.

rabbit pees outside the litter box
A rabbit who is litter trained may pee outside the litter box if they are spraying to claim their territory or protesting an unclean litter box.

7. The mess is exponential!

When you begin your journey with a single rabbit, cleaning tasks are generally manageable, but as you add more rabbits to your home, you might notice that the resulting mess is not simply additive—it multiplies. Each rabbit contributes its share of hay, fur, and waste, and these culminate in a surprisingly large volume of mess.

Hay is notorious for getting strewn about as rabbits search for the tastiest pieces. Multiple rabbits means more hay piles—and more opportunities for hay to scatter beyond designated eating areas.

Fur also finds its way into every nook and cranny. Rabbits shed a lot, especially during molting seasons. Multiply the fur you see now by the number of rabbits, and you will notice that fur accumulation seems endless, sticking to fabrics and floating through the air.

Poop, a natural and frequent byproduct of rabbits, will also greatly increase with each rabbit you add. Although rabbits can be litter trained, multiple rabbits often result in more accidental droppings and soiled bedding, especially if any territorial disputes occur. The volume of this waste can escalate quickly, necessitating a more vigilant cleaning regimen.

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Amy Pratt

Amy Pratt is a lifelong rabbit owner who has been specializing with rabbits at the Humane Rescue Alliance. She helps to socialize the rabbits and educate volunteers on the care and behavior of these small mammals.

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