Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Does your bunny need a friend?
Yes! - You!
In the wild, rabbits are social animals and enjoy the company of their families. In captivity, rabbits usually do not have the space required to be housed together.
Rabbits are very territorial by nature and require their own living space. There are ways to alter their natural behavior. If you spay or neuter your rabbit, there is a fair chance that you will be able to bond the rabbit with another one. It does n0t work 100% of the time, but if both rabbits are altered the chances are good.
Sometimes two unspayed does from the same litter or two does bonded at a very young age (less than 8 weeks) will remain close enough that they will share a living space. Two dominant does will not. If you separate the does for even a short time that may be enough to break the bond. It will be impossible to predict the compatibility of two does until they are full grown.
Two bonded rabbits are very cute to see, but understand that this is not usually natural. They usually have to be spayed/neutered to remain together and even then there may be some fighting. The cost can be pretty high as well. It can cost $400+ to have 2 rabbits altered.
Rabbits can be just as happy bonded to you. This way they can have their own living space full of toys to play with and still have you as a friend to play with from time to time. Since they are territorial, bunnies are quite happy to live in their own space provided they are given plenty of play toys to keep them from boredom. If you do have two bonded rabbits, they will not look forward to spending as much time with you, because they will already have a friend.
Do not expect that your rabbit will always easily accept you as their friend. It may still be best to spay/neuter your rabbit to allow them to easily bond with you. However, it is easier for your rabbit to bond with you than with another rabbit. With a little patience, you will end up being your bunny's best friend.
I have been very lucky with breeding my rabbits. When I first started breeding rabbits, I think my luck was purely accidental. I have learned much since then and realize the importance of heat and light if you want to have an easy time breeding rabbits year round.
Rabbits naturally breed in the Spring when the days get longer and the weather warms up. I have found that by giving my rabbits 14+ hours of artificial light and keeping the temperature between 55-7o degrees my rabbits are willing to breed 99% of the time.
Keeping the bucks and does in the same room also helps to keep the does willing. I think they can communicate to each other in their own way.
Many breeders have troubles getting their rabbits bred at some point. There are many people who think rabbits will breed anytime, but conditions have to be favorable. If you try to set up your rabbitry so that it is always springtime you shouldn't have any troubles.
You should also be sure to breed does as soon as they have stopped growing and are mature (usually between 5-8 months of age). If you wait any longer, I've found they are less likely to be good breeders. All of my best brood does had their first litter when they were 6-7 months old and all of my worst ones were later starters (first litter around 7-10 months of age). They must have their first litter before they are 1 year old or they could have troubles kindling.