As a rabbit owner, I know bunny care can be a fulfilling yet daunting experience. Unfortunately, many get a rabbit without understanding the responsibility of owning one.

To have a healthy pet rabbit, you must provide a safe environment, pay attention to your rabbit's diet, provide mental stimulation, and learn about their specific needs and behaviors. This includes selecting the right breed, creating a suitable living space, providing a balanced diet, and ensuring proper hygiene and grooming.

You can enjoy a long and happy relationship together by learning how to take care of a bunny. Read on to learn everything you need for your new pets.

how take care of a bunny

Understanding Pet Rabbits

In my opinion, one of the most important things you can do is understand the nature of rabbits. Rabbits are prey animals, which means they are naturally cautious and easily frightened. They have evolved to be alert and always on the lookout for potential danger.

As a result, they can be easily stressed by changes in their environment or routine or act frightened when you approach. It's important to provide them with a safe and secure living space where they can feel comfortable and relaxed.

There are many different breeds of domestic rabbits, each with their own unique characteristics. Some breeds are better suited to living indoors as house rabbits, while others are more suited to outdoor living.

It's important to research different breeds and choose one that fits your lifestyle and living situation. For example, some breeds are more active and require more space to run and play, while others are more docile and prefer a quieter, more relaxed environment.

Another thing to keep in mind is that pet rabbits are social animals and thrive on companionship. They enjoy spending time with other rabbits and can also form close bonds with their human caregivers. If you're considering getting a pet rabbit, providing them with a companion is important. This can be another rabbit (preferably) or even a cat or dog that is gentle and well-behaved around rabbits.

bunny rabbit, rabbits on carpet

Selecting The Right Rabbit

When it comes to selecting the right rabbit, there are a few things to keep in mind. You want to choose a rabbit that is healthy, the right breed for your lifestyle, and that you will be able to take care of properly. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice.

Choosing The Right Rabbit Breed

Knowing what breed you want is important before you start looking for a rabbit. There are many different breeds of rabbits, and each has its own unique characteristics.

Some breeds are better suited for families with children, while others are better for single people or couples. Some breeds have long hair, while others have short hair. It's important to choose a breed that fits your lifestyle and personality.

I would suggest a large rabbit for families with children. This can be a flemish giant, continental giant, chinchilla giganta, or any other large rabbit breed you can find. My reasoning behind this is that kids can't easily pick up these large bunnies, which means they are less likely to get hurt.

They are also large enough to be easily spotted and won't accidentally be sat on or squished. Giant breeds also have very gentle and calm temperaments, making them perfect for a house full of chaotic kids.

On the other hand, small rabbits like Netherland dwarf rabbits, Polish rabbits, and Dwarf Hotots are perfect for single people living in an apartment. These rabbits don't need that much space due to their size, but do make sure you bunny-proof everything before letting them loose in your apartment.

If you have a lot of time to spend with your pets, then long-haired rabbits like Angoras or Jersey Wooly's might be perfect for you. These bunnies need a lot of grooming due to their long fur coats, making them perfect for someone who can spend hours looking after their fluffy friends.

bunnies for seniors

Adopting From Breeders

Adopting from a breeder is often the better option. Breeders know the breed and can help you choose the right rabbit for your lifestyle. They also take care to ensure that their rabbits are healthy and well-socialized.

It's important to do your research and find a reputable breeder. Look for a breeder who is a member of a rabbit breed club or association, shows with rabbits, and has a good reputation in the community.

One of the benefits of adopting from a breeder is that you can often choose the sex of your rabbit. Male rabbits are generally more laid-back and affectionate, while female rabbits are more independent and outgoing. However, it's important to spay or neuter your rabbit, regardless of its sex, to prevent health issues and unwanted litters.

Adopting From Rescues

Adopting a rabbit from a rescue can be a rewarding experience for both you and your new furry friend. Not only are you providing a loving home for a rabbit in need, but you are also helping to free up space at the rescue for more rabbits to be saved.

When adopting from a rescue, you can expect to receive valuable information about the rabbit's history, personality, and specific needs. This can help you choose the right rabbit for your lifestyle and ensure you are prepared to care for them.

Additionally, most rescue rabbits have already been spayed or neutered, which can save you time and money. The rescue may also provide initial veterinary care, such as vaccinations and deworming, and may offer advice on ongoing care.

It's important to note that adopting a rabbit from a rescue is a commitment, and you should be prepared to provide a loving and stable home for the duration of their life, which can be up to 10 years or more. However, the love and joy that a rescue rabbit can bring into your life is immeasurable.

Buying From Pet Stores

This should be your absolute last resort. While buying from a pet store may seem like the easier option, there are some problems associated with it.

Most pet stores get their rabbits from breeding mills, which are often overcrowded and unsanitary. This can lead to health issues in the rabbits, which can be expensive to treat.

Pet shops also often sell rabbits way too young. Bunnies should only be separated from their mothers at eight weeks old.

If you decide to buy from a pet store, ask the staff about the rabbit's health history, age, and where it came from. Look for a rabbit that is active, alert, and has a shiny coat. Avoid rabbits that have discharge from their eyes or nose, sneeze, or are lethargic.

How To Take Care Of A Bunny

Bunny safe environment

Creating A Safe Environment

As a responsible bunny owner, creating a safe and comfortable environment for your furry friend is important. Here are some tips on how to set up your rabbit's enclosure and bunny-proof your living space.

Setting Up Rabbit Cages

Choosing the right rabbit cage or enclosure is crucial for your rabbit's well-being. The enclosure should be large enough for your rabbit to hop around and stand up on its hind legs without its ears touching the roof. A good rule of thumb is that the bunny should be able to hop three times in one direction without hitting the other wall of the enclosure.

A wire cage with a solid bottom is a good option as it provides good ventilation and is easy to clean. Make sure to line the bottom of the cage with soft bedding material such as grass hay, or straw to keep your bunny comfortable.

For an outdoor playpen or large outdoor rabbits enclosure, make sure to cover the bottom with wire or place the cage on a cement floor. The wire will stop the bunny from digging out but it should have large enough holes for your bunny to graze through. Also make sure the wire is flat on the ground to prevent it from hurting your rabbit's feet and hocks.

For large indoor enclosures, you can cover the floor with linoleum flooring or rubber chair mats to protect the floor. Make sure the ground cover sticks out about 15 cm (6 inches) on the outside of the cage since bunnies like to wee in corners.

Also, make sure there's ample space for your bunny to hide. Bunnies with a comfortable escape tend to be more relaxed and outgoing.

Bunny Proofing Your Home

Rabbits love to chew on things, and it's important to make sure your living space is safe for your bunny. Bunny-proof your home by keeping electrical cords and wires out of reach and covering them with cord protectors. Move house plants out of reach, as some plants can be toxic to rabbits. Use cardboard boxes and wooden chew toys to provide mental stimulation and prevent your bunny from chewing on furniture or other household items.

It's also important to rabbit-proof your home by blocking off areas where your bunny could get stuck or injured. Use baby gates or other barriers to keep your bunny in a safe area away from electrical cords, stairs, unsupervised toddlers, or other unfriendly pets.

Overall, creating a safe and comfortable environment for your bunny is essential for its health and happiness. With a little effort and attention to detail, you can ensure that your bunny has a happy and healthy life.

Rabbit on a coach

Feeding Your Rabbit

As a responsible rabbit owner, I understand that feeding my rabbit a healthy diet is crucial for its overall health and well-being. In this section, I will discuss the key components of a healthy rabbit's diet, including the importance of grass hay, fresh greens and vegetables, and fresh water.

Understanding A Healthy Rabbit's Diet

Grass hay, fresh greens and vegetables, and fortified pellets in the right amounts are very important for a healthy bunny. As rabbits have sensitive digestive tracts, avoiding harmful foods, such as chocolate, avocado, and sugary treats, is important.

Monitoring your rabbit's body weight and adjusting its diet is also important. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, while underfeeding can result in malnutrition. Keep in mind that young rabbits and adult rabbits have different diets. Young rabbits need a lot of protein to grow, which means they thrive on alfalfa hay, while adult rabbits should only get a handful of this very calcium-rich hay once a week at most.

Young rabbits should not be introduced to green foods, such as broccoli, fruits, and other rich treats, until they are at least three to six months old to avoid digestive upsets.

Provide Unlimited Fresh Hay

Grass hay, such as timothy hay, erogrostis, and oat hay, should make up the majority of an adult rabbit's diet. Hay keeps a rabbit's teeth from becoming overgrown and provides essential fiber for a healthy digestive system.

Young rabbits can have a combination of grass hay and legume hay, such as alfalfa to keep them growing properly. Make sure to give your rabbit access to fresh hay daily, and remove any old or soiled hay from your rabbit's living area.

Rabbits eat almost consistently, so make sure they have enough hay to nibble on to keep their body weight up and teeth healthy.

Offer Fresh Water and Vegetables

Fresh water should always be available to your rabbit. Make sure to change your rabbit's water daily and provide it in a clean, spill-proof container.

In addition to eating hay, rabbits should be offered fresh green foods and vegetables daily. Some good options include carrot tops, kale, spinach, wheatgrass, and romaine lettuce.

Remember to introduce new foods slowly and monitor your rabbit's reaction. If your rabbit experiences diarrhea or other digestive issues, remove the new food from its diet.

A diet is essential for your rabbit's health and well-being. By providing fresh hay, fresh greens and vegetables, and fresh water, you can ensure your rabbit gets the nutrients it needs to thrive.

rabbit, rabbits healthy eating greens

Rabbit Health And Hygiene

One of the most important things you can do is monitor your rabbit's body weight and overall health. Here are a few things to check.

Monitoring Weight and Health

Regularly weighing your bunny and keeping track of any changes in weight can help detect health issues early on. If you notice any significant changes in your rabbit's weight, it is important to consult with a veterinarian.

In addition to weight monitoring, keeping an eye on your rabbit's overall health is important. Signs of a healthy rabbit include a shiny coat, bright eyes, and a clean nose. However, if you notice any changes in your rabbit's behavior, such as lethargy or loss of appetite, it is important to seek veterinary care.

Caring For A Rabbit's Feet and Nails

Rabbits' feet and hocks are particularly sensitive, and keeping them clean and dry is important to prevent infections. Trimming a rabbit's nails prevents overgrowth, which can lead to injuries, discomfort, and even health problems. If you are unsure how to trim your bunny's nails, consult with a veterinarian or a professional groomer.

I recommend swaddling your rabbit in a towel or blanket when it's time for nail trimming. Have someone hold your pet while you trim your rabbit's nails by exposing one paw at a time. Make sure to give your bunny lots of treats and green foods after to show them nail clipping leads to good things.

Understanding A Rabbit's Digestive System

Rabbits have sensitive digestive systems, and problems with their gut can lead to serious health problems and even death. A healthy rabbit diet should consist of hay, fresh vegetables, and a small amount of pellets to keep the gut going. It is important to avoid feeding rabbits foods that are high in sugar or fat, as this can lead to digestive issues.

If you feed your rabbit and notice a change in behavior, such as refusing the food, not eating at all, and not pooping, see a vet immediately!

Sterilization: Yes Or No?

Spaying and neutering for female and male rabbits can prevent unwanted litters and also provide health benefits. Female rabbits are at risk for developing uterine cancer, which can be prevented by spaying. Neutering male rabbits can reduce aggressive behavior, territorial marking, and prevent testicular cancer. It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of sterilization with a veterinarian before making a decision.

In addition to the above, it is also important to provide dental care and encourage proper chewing to prevent dental problems. Regular veterinary check-ups are also crucial to maintain your bunny's health.

you rabbits on the grass

Behavior And Boredom

Rabbits are not just cute and fluffy; they are intelligent and social creatures that thrive on interaction. Understanding their behavior and providing the right toys and activities are essential aspects of responsible rabbit ownership.

Provide Toys And Entertainment

  1. Cardboard Boxes: Believe it or not, a simple cardboard box can be a source of endless entertainment for your bunny. Rabbits tend to love exploring confined spaces, and a cardboard box castle will lead to endless entertainment. Cut some holes in the box for entry and exit points, and your rabbit will enjoy hours of hopping in and out.

  2. Chew Toys: Rabbits have continuously growing teeth and need to chew to keep them healthy. Wooden chew toys are perfect for this purpose. Make sure the toys are made from rabbit-safe, untreated wood. Your indoor pets will happily gnaw on them while keeping their dental health in check.

  3. Toilet Paper Rolls: Don't throw away those empty toilet paper rolls! House rabbits enjoy rolling them around and chewing on them. You can also stuff some hay inside to create a foraging challenge, providing both mental and physical stimulation. Don't worry if your rabbit ingests the cardboard, it is completely safe.

Understanding Rabbit Behavior

Rabbits, as prey animals, have unique behavior patterns. Understanding these patterns is crucial for their well-being and your sanity.

  1. Social Interaction: Rabbits need social interaction and often form strong bonds with their human companions. Spend quality time with your bunny daily, but allow them to run away from you without chasing or dragging them out of their hides. Petting, grooming, and talking to them can strengthen your bond and keep them emotionally healthy, but acting like a predator will only frighten them away.

  2. Recognizing Aggressive Behavior: Aggression in rabbits can be a sign of stress or discomfort. If your rabbit displays behaviors like biting, growling, or thumping its hind legs, it's essential to investigate the underlying cause. It could be due to fear, illness, or territorial issues. Consult with a rabbit-savvy veterinarian or an animal behaviorist to address the problem and create a harmonious environment for your pet.

  3. Provide Boredom Busters: To prevent boredom and encourage mental agility, engage your rabbit with puzzle and treat-dispensing toys. These toys entertain and stimulate their minds as they figure out how to access the hidden treats. You can also hide treats in your rabbit's hay to encourage natural foraging behavior.

white rabbit in the snow

Training Your Rabbit

Rabbit training is not only possible but highly beneficial for both you and your furry friend. This training encompasses various aspects, including litter training and safe handling.

Litter Training

The Importance of a Litter Box:

Litter box training is a significant step in allowing your rabbit to live harmoniously indoors. Most rabbits can be litter box trained quite effectively. The House Rabbit Society recommends using a large, shallow litter box or a specialized litter pan designed for rabbits.

In my experience, a deep, extra-large cat litter box works best. Rabbits like to dig, and having high sides contains the mess somewhat. I've also found that the specialized litter boxes are often too small for large breeds.

Litter Box Training Tips:

- Placement: Place the litter box in a quiet, easily accessible location. Rabbits tend to choose corners for their business, so keep this in mind.

- Litter Material: Use a rabbit-safe litter material, such as paper-based or compressed sawdust pellets. Avoid clumping cat litters, which can be harmful if ingested.

- Consistency: Rabbits thrive on routine. Encourage them to use the litter box after meals and upon waking up, as they are more likely to go at these times.

- Positive Reinforcement: Praise and offer a small treat when your rabbit uses the litter box correctly. Positive reinforcement helps reinforce good behavior.

Keeping the Litter Box Clean:

Regularly clean the litter box to maintain a hygienic living environment for your rabbit. Most rabbits are meticulous about cleanliness, and a dirty litter box can discourage them from using it.

Remove soiled bedding daily and replace it entirely every few days. Wash the litter box with mild soap and water during bedding changes to eliminate odors.

Handling Your Rabbit Safely

1. Understanding Rabbit Behavior: Understanding rabbit behavior is crucial for safe handling. Many rabbits are naturally skittish and may become stressed if not handled gently. Approach your rabbit calmly and speak softly to avoid startling them. Let them come to you.

2. Proper Techniques: To pick up your rabbit safely, place one hand under its chest, supporting its front legs, and the other hand under its hindquarters. Lift gently, keeping their body close to your chest for security. NEVER pick a rabbit up by it's ears or the scruff of it's neck.

3. Respect Boundaries: Always respect your rabbit's boundaries. Give them space if they show signs of distress or discomfort, such as growling or thumping their hind legs. Rabbits are individuals, and their comfort levels with handling can vary.

proper rabbit handling

Common Misconceptions About Owning a Pet Rabbit

Owning a pet rabbit can be a rewarding experience, but it's essential to dispel some common misconceptions to ensure the health and happiness of your furry friend. Here are a few misunderstandings about rabbit care that need clarification:

1. Rabbits Are Like Guinea Pigs:

- The Misconception: Some people assume that rabbits and guinea pigs are similar in terms of care. While they share some dietary and environmental requirements, it's important to keep in mind that keeping a guinea pig is not the same as keeping a rabbit.

- The Reality: Rabbits and guinea pigs belong to different species with unique behaviors and dietary preferences. Guinea pigs are herbivores, like rabbits, but their nutritional requirements differ. It's crucial to research each species separately to provide proper care.

2. Rabbit Teeth Don't Require Attention:

- The Misconception: Many believe that a pet bunny's teeth will naturally stay healthy, so there's no need for dental care.

- The Reality: A bunny's teeth grow continuously, and dental problems are common. To prevent issues like overgrown teeth, provide a diet rich in hay, which promotes natural tooth wear. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for detecting and addressing dental problems.

3. Rabbits Thrive in Extreme Temperatures:

- The Misconception: Some think rabbits can withstand extreme cold or heat because they have fur.

- The Reality: Rabbits are sensitive to temperature extremes. They can suffer from heatstroke in hot weather and hypothermia in the cold. It is, however, true that rabbits do a lot better in the cold than in the heat of summer. If allowed to grow thick fur coats, they are okay in temperatures as low as minus six (21.2ºF) as long as they have a dry, draft-free shelter with lots of bedding to nest in.

4. Rabbits Prefer Collard Greens Over Hay:

- The Misconception: Some believe that collard greens or other leafy greens should be the primary diet for rabbits.

- The Reality: While leafy greens are a valuable part of a rabbit's diet, they should not replace hay. Hay is essential for proper digestion and maintaining healthy teeth. Leafy greens should be provided in moderation as a supplement.

5. Limited Access to Rabbit's Cage/Enclosure:

- The Misconception: People often restrict a rabbit's access to their cage or enclosure, thinking they need less space.

- The Reality: Rabbits are active animals that need ample space to hop and explore. The cage should be a safe resting place, but bunnies need regular access to a larger area for exercise.

Safe rabbit enclosure


In summary, caring for a pet bunny requires attention to its specific needs, from a well-balanced diet rich in hay to providing boredom relief through toys and activities. Recognizing and addressing aggressive behavior and ensuring proper handling are essential aspects of responsible rabbit ownership.

As prospective rabbit owners, it's crucial to do thorough research, consult experts, and be prepared for the commitment of caring for these delightful yet unique animals. Responsible rabbit ownership not only ensures the health and happiness of your furry friend but also enriches your life with the joys of companionship from these charming and sensitive creatures.

So, embark on this journey with care, dedication, and the knowledge that your pet bunny will reward you with boundless affection and warmth.

Key Takeaways

Frequently Asked Questions

Lop rabbit breed

What are some common rabbit breeds?

There are numerous rabbit breeds, each with its unique characteristics. Some common breeds include the Holland Lop, Netherland Dwarf, Mini Rex, Lionhead, Flemish Giant, and Dutch Rabbit. Researching different breeds can help you find one that suits your preferences and living situation.

How can I take care of a rabbit in an apartment?

Caring for a rabbit in an apartment requires providing them with a clean and secure living space, such as a large indoor cage or pen. Ensure they have plenty of room to hop around, offer a litter box for easy waste management, and rabbit-proof your apartment by protecting wires and removing hazards. Regular interaction, a balanced diet, and toys are also essential for apartment-dwelling rabbits.

What are the daily care requirements for rabbits?

Daily rabbit care involves providing fresh hay and water, monitoring their health and behavior, cleaning their living area, and offering a variety of fresh vegetables. Social interaction, exercise, and mental stimulation are also crucial. Additionally, grooming may be needed, depending on the rabbit's coat type.

How can I care for a rabbit outdoors?

Outdoor rabbit care requires a secure hutch or enclosure to protect them from predators and extreme temperatures. Ensure they have a sheltered, draft-free area, fresh water, and access to shade during hot weather. Regularly clean their living space and provide social interaction and mental stimulation.

What do rabbits need in their cage?

In a rabbit's cage or enclosure, they need essentials like fresh hay, a clean water source, a litter box, and a comfortable place to rest. Chew toys and items that challenge their mental capacity are also essential to prevent boredom and dental problems. Ensure the cage is spacious enough for the rabbit to move around and stretch out comfortably.

Do rabbits like to be cuddled?

Not all rabbits enjoy being cuddled or held. Rabbits are prey animals, and their comfort with handling varies from one individual to another. Some rabbits may tolerate cuddling, while others prefer minimal handling. It's essential to respect your rabbit's preferences and build trust through gentle interactions, allowing them to come to you on their terms.


There are different rabbit bonding stages with different expected behaviors. To bond rabbits properly, you must understand what they’re going through. Here’s what I experienced while bonding rabbits.

Rabbit bonding stages

Bunny Bonding Stage One: Understanding the Initial Encounter

The first thing that you should keep in mind is that bunnies are incredibly territorial (especially the females). For them to accept a friend into their space takes time, effort, and incredible patience from the owner.

Warning: Be prepared for a lot of new gray hairs. Rabbit bonding is unbelievably stressful.

Secondly, let your bunny help choose their new friend. A lot of rescues and breeders allow bunny dates. During these speed dates, you’ll see which bunny personality gets along with yours the best, making bonding so much easier.

There are a few positive signs and behaviors you can look for during this initial introduction that can point toward an easier bunny bonding experience. These are:

  • Curiosity instead of aggression
  • Immediate submission
  • Laying down in the vicinity of the other rabbit
  • Mirroring each other’s behavior
  • Grazing close together
  • Grooming
  • More interested in their surroundings than their new friend
  • Chasing where both bunnies get a turn to be the chaser
  • Mounting
  • Nipping
  • Marking
  • Bowing that leads to grooming
  • Grunting while moving in large, excited circles around the other bunny

There are also a few red-flag behaviors to watch out for. Keep in mind that they don’t mean your bunnies can’t bond, but it will take a bit longer for them to get along and a lot more effort from you.

  • Instant aggression: The tail will be up, and the ears go down to a 45º angle. They might also growl at the other rabbit. This happens just before lunging to either scare off or hurt the other rabbit. 
  • Lunging: This means exactly what you think. The aggressive bunny will literally lunge itself at the other to either scare it off or draw blood. This is not a play behavior.
  • Biting: If the aggressive rabbit gets a hold of the other, it will attempt to bite and draw blood. This can end with a severely injured bunny and several balls of fluff floating around from hair-pulling during failed biting attempts.  
  • Circling: If your bunnies start to circle each other in very tight, fast-moving circles with almost no space between them, stop this behavior immediately. The next step is a full-blown fight in which you and both bunnies will get injured. This is a rabbit standoff that you don’t want to be involved in.  
  • Cage biting: If your bunnies are housed close together before the initial introduction, keep an eye on their behavior. If one consistently digs and bites the bars to get to the other, you will have a difficult time bonding, so be prepared. 

prevent fighting during bonding stages

Here are a few pre-bonding tips: 

  • House you’re bunnies next to each other for a few weeks before the official introduction. 
  • Swap cage accessories to get them used to the other’s smell in their area
  • Feed them next to each other in their own cages to encourage bonding even before they officially meet.
  • Make sure there’s a space between the cages so they can’t interact and bite each other through the bars.

bonding stages

Things You Need To Do Before Bonding Rabbits

There are a few must-do’s before you attempt bunny bonding. If you’re not sure how to get started, take a look at the list below.

Get your bunnies fixed.

Introducing rabbits is stressful enough without getting hormones involved. Getting your bunnies neutered (if you have males) and spayed (if you have a female rabbit) takes the unpredictability of hormones out of the mix. Wait at least eight weeks after getting these procedures done before you attempt bonding two rabbits.

Why? It can take around eight weeks for the hormones to settle down after your bunny gets fixed. In some cases, they become even more hormonal for a few weeks before settling. A lot of aggressive behavior might be seen during this time.

Getting your rabbits fixed can be very beneficial for your beloved pets. You won’t need to worry about unplanned pregnancies, uncalled-for aggression, phantom pregnancies, hormone-related behavioral issues, and cancer of the reproductive tract.

In the case of bonding, taking hormones out of the mix means you’ll see less aggression and territorial behaviors than before. That means less chasing, humping, charging, and full-on attacking. The whole process is just so much easier, and the bunnies accept each other much faster.

It’s especially important to fix male rabbits. They run the risk of having their testicles bit off if not fixed before bonding. They also spray urine everywhere during marking, which can create quite a smelly mess.

Female rabbits can be fixed when they are around 4-6 months old. Generally, dwarf female rabbits can be fixed at four months, while giant breeds need to wait until they are six months old. This is due to dwarf and giant female rabbits maturing at different rates.

Male rabbits can be fixed when they are around 3-4 months old. Again, take the size of the breed into account. Giant breeds mature much slower than dwarf breeds.

hormones affect behaviour

What if I can’t fix my bunny?

Don’t stress. It’s still possible to bond rabbits that are not spayed or neutered. Some rabbits can’t be spayed or neutered due to a health issue or are simply too old (7+ years). For this to work, however, you need a huge area to get them to coexist peacefully.

You also need to make sure the sickly or older rabbit won't get injured by the new friend. If the health issue is very serious, rather keep them separated.

Prepare a neutral space

While you’re waiting for those pesky hormones to calm down, you can start to prepare a neutral space. This is an area neither bunnies have been allowed in for at least a week. Make sure the area is free from any rabbit-related smells.

If your existing cotton-tailed friend is a free-roam bun, you will need to restrict access to a part of your home for at least a full week before bonding starts. This means using a baby gate, exercise pen, or door to restrict access to the soon-to-be neutral areas.

If you’re existing bun had access to the area before, you can spray or wipe down the restricted area with white vinegar to remove any residual bunny smells. If you’re bonding outside, simply spray some white vinegar on the grass to remove any unwanted smells.

Make sure the bonding area is big enough. You will start with a very small neutral pen, but as the bonding progresses to the next stage, you will need to be able to expand the bonding area. Every time you reach the next stage, expand a bit more until your neutral pen reaches at least 2 by 2 meters (6.6 x 6.6 feet).

Neutral bonding space

By Benny Mazur

Prepare yourself

You will need some things to keep yourself safe as well. Make sure you get thick gloves to separate your bunnies in case of a fight. Something like ski gloves or thick leather gloves work best.

You will also need a dustpan to separate aggressive bonding rabbits without getting yourself bitten. Once you have all that, get something like a puppy pad to place under the cage for absorbing wee. You will also need an exercise pen or something similar to restrict the space.

Bonding rabbits is a very intense experience for everyone. Make sure you are mentally prepared and act quickly when any unwanted behaviors are noticed.

Prepare Your Rabbits

You can start the bonding process before your rabbits officially meet. House rabbits separately near other rabbits in the same room. Put the other rabbit pens next to your original pen with a double fence and a bit of space between them to prevent biting through the divide. This way, they can smell other rabbits but cannot physically interact with them. Do this for a few days.

Make sure to feed your rabbit right next to the fence, as close to the other rabbits as possible. Eating together is a way of starting the bonding process without introducing rabbits. Keep in mind that most bunnies can jump 1.5 meters high. Your pens need to be high enough so that they cannot get into each other's pens and go into full attack mode.  

Rabbit meeting

Stage 2: Rabbit Behavior During Bonding - What To Expect

Different rabbits may behave differently during each rabbit bonding stage. Some behaviors need to be stopped immediately, and others need to be allowed, no matter how stressful they are to watch. Let’s take a closer look at rabbit behavior when bonding.

Behaviors you should allow:

  • Nipping

Nipping is a dominance behavior. You’ll usually see this occur around the face, eyes, and bum. The nipped bunny will jump in the air or pull away really quickly.

You might also notice nipping during grooming. Just hang in there. This behavior will lessen as the bond between your bunnies becomes more established.

  • Fur pulling

Seeing clumps of fur flying everywhere can be quite stressful. This usually happens when one bunny takes hold of the other to either hold it in place or to mount it during humping. 

When the second rabbit pulls away, some fur will inevitably be lost. 

    • Mounting

    Mounting is more than a sexual behavior. It’s also a way to show dominance. Allow mounting as long as the bunnies take turns doing it, and never allow them to mount from the head to avoid a nip down below. 

    • Chasing

    Chasing can be highly stressful to watch, but as long as both rabbits seem comfortable and relaxed, let them do it. If one starts getting defensive and aggressive, stop the chasing immediately. 

    Behaviors you should stop immediately:

    • Fighting

    Full-blown fighting is rare. During a fight, the bunnies stand up on their hind legs and start scratching at each other with their front paws in the air. 

    This can lead to eventually rolling around on the floor and biting. In many cases, one rabbit might end up screaming in fear or pain. This is highly stressful and will be a significant setback if you don’t stop the behavior in time.

    Keep in mind that all bunnies are capable of fighting, and it doesn’t mean they can't bond. It only means the bonding process will take a lot longer.

    • Lunging

    Rabbits usually lunge out of fear or feeling trapped. Make sure to intercept the lunge or, better yet, prevent it from happening in the first place by redirecting your rabbit’s attention elsewhere. 

    • Biting

    Biting to draw blood should never be allowed. Small nips are okay. If you notice your bunny standing in an aggressive posture, be ready to intercept an incoming bite. Like a lunge, it’s better to distract. 

    • Circling

    If your bunnies circle each other in close-knit circles, separate them by forcing them to move around an obstacle, which can be either you or something you’re holding.

Rabbit Bonding Stage 3: Are Your Rabbits Bonded?

If you’ve been bonding for a while, you might be wondering if the end is in sight. Answer the following questions to make your call:

  • Do your rabbits sleep next to each other?
  • When last did you need to intervene in a tense situation?
  • Do your bunnies eat together?
  • Are there any bedding, toys, areas, or litter boxes one or more bunnies are protective over?
  • Do you feel confident leaving them together without supervision?

complete bonding stages

If you answered yes to all these questions, go ahead and move them into their new home. Keep in mind that you’ll need to supervise for the first 48 hours to make sure they don’t regress. 

A change in environment can trigger unwanted behaviors. This is especially true if one of your bunnies lived in the area before. 

Get ready to sleep next to their cage one last time (hopefully) to make sure all is well. 

Congratulations! You now have bonded rabbits!

Rabbit Bonding Tips And Tricks

  • Lower your expectations

Never expect too much from your first few bonding sessions. The bunnies need time to get to know each other and relax before any kind of bond can form. Trust is earned, not just given in a day.

You might see a lot of aggressive behavior and mistrust at first, but these should reduce as they get to know each other and progress through the different rabbit bonding stages.

  • Grooming wars

Not all bunnies do this, but some take grooming to the extreme. Grooming is a coping mechanism and a way to show submission. Very dominant bunnies may want to avoid grooming the others.

If you have two dominant bunnies, you might see them bowing and pressing their heads together, refusing to give in. If one doesn’t give in after about 10 seconds, break them up since it can lead to fighting.

Whoever gets groomed first will usually be the more dominant rabbit in a pair.

grooming war bonding stages

  • Grunting

Despite what you believe, most rabbits can be extremely vocal, especially during bonding. Grunting can mean many things, so be ready to intervene if you hear one or both grunt. It's one of the signs of aggression, after all.

Grunting can be a warning before an attack, a way to express excitement, a way to express fear, or it can even be sexual.

Often, this behavior is due to aggression or fear when heard while bonding. As long as you don’t allow any fighting, the grunting should reduce as the bunnies start to trust each other.

  • Spray bottles

If you’re confident in your ability to read your rabbit’s body language, you can use a water spray bottle to break up fights and prevent unwanted behaviors. 

Keep in mind that your timing needs to be perfect for this to work. Rabbits learn quickly, so you may only need to do this a few times.

You have to spray at the exact moment the behavior takes place. The behavior you’re looking for after a spray is for the offender to stop and wash itself. If you don’t get this reaction, you need to find a new way to intervene.

Use this method sparingly! Bunnies get used to it quickly and stop caring.

  • Get “Calm your pet” products

There are many variations of products that can do this. Depending on your country, you might find it in the form of a spray or wipe. This product is often used to reduce stress when transporting animals.

You only need this if you have very aggressive bunnies. It should calm them enough to prevent fighting. Keep in mind that it’s only there to take the edge off and won’t stop all bad behavior.

If you’re unsure if such a product exists in your country, ask your vet for advice.

  • Professional rabbit bonding service

If you don’t have the time to bond with your pets, or if you’re too nervous to try it yourself, you can always get a professional to do it for you. Make sure you do your research, however, since there are lots of scammers out there.

Ask your local rabbit rescue or vets in your area to recommend someone for the task. Keep in mind they only do the groundwork for you, so they won’t be fully bonded rabbits when you get them back. It’s up to you to finish the bonding process.

  • Do the 48-hour test

Do the 48-hour test if you feel your bunnies went through all the rabbit bonding stages and are now a pair. Sleeping near their cage is essential during the test and once moved to their new home.

The change in environment might trigger some unwanted behaviors, especially if one of your buns owned this new space before. 

If you’re having a lot of problems bonding, check out this Facebook group for more rabbit bonding advice. 

Small bonding pen

By Wolf Gordon Clifton / Animal People, Inc. - Own work, CC BY 4.0

Rabbit Bonding Problems

Pairing rabbits can sometimes be extremely difficult. Bonding comes with a host of different problems. You can also easily make mistakes in any of the rabbit bonding stages. Here’s how to avoid them. 

  • DON’T allow unwanted behaviors 

If you allow unwanted behaviors, you might end up with one rabbit fearing the other. You might also have to deal with some severe injuries, so make sure to supervise and intervene when required. 

  • Don’t expand the bonding cage too quickly

If you expand before your bunnies are ready, you will do more harm than good. If unwanted behaviors haven't disappeared completely, don’t expand the cage. 

Expanding often leads to an escalation of unwanted behaviors. One rabbit might try to claim the neutral space, which can lead to fighting. 

  • Create a neutral area

If the area smells like one of the bunnies, you might notice territorial behavior and a lot of fighting. It's best to clean the area with white vinegar and prevent any bunnies from going in there for at least a week before you start bonding. 

  • Avoid intervention at the wrong time 

If you intervene at the wrong time, you can cause more harm than good. Make sure you know which behaviors to stop and which are okay. Some behaviors may appear extreme but are necessary for them to form a bond. 

  • Stress bonding 

Only do stress bonding if nothing else works. It’s very rarely required and must be done by a professional. 

NOTE: Stress bonding temporarily stops fighting. It doesn't bond bunnies permanently. 

Stress bonding is something you should only do as an absolute last resort. You can place your bunnies in a crate together and take them on a car ride to do stress bonding. Alternatively, you can place the crate on a washing machine that's on its spinning cycle. 

Another way is to turn on a vacuum cleaner right next to the crate or put them in a stroller and take them on a bumpy walk. You can also carry the carrier and bounce it around slightly. 

This is very stressful for them, and they will seek comfort from the only companion available. Once done, they might bond easier, or you can create the opposite result, and they now hate each other since they associate the other bun with a negative experience, which can delay bonding.

  • Bathtub bonding

This is another form of stress bonding since the slippery surface causes the bunnies to feel insecure. I advise against this method since it may lead to injuries. 

The fact that they also can’t see what is around them might also heighten their fear response. This is not a great way to keep your rabbit healthy during bonding. 

If you use this method, you’ll also need to change bonding areas since you cannot expand the bathtub. This may lead to a regression in all the progress you made. 

Stress bonding alternative 

If you’re having a very hard time bonding your bunnies, you can try forced cuddling. Place the bunnies on the floor or sofa together and pet their head together. Do this for a minimum of 10-15 minutes at a time. Make sure to wear thick gloves just in case of a nip or bite. 

Do this multiple times a day, every day, until they get used to each other. Don't do forced cuddling in the bonding area. It’s only there to create a good memory to make it easier for them to accept each other. 

bonding stage 1

By Tjflex2


How can I know if my rabbits are bonded?

Bonded rabbits get along peacefully, groom each other, and there’s a noticeable absence of unwanted behavior. A good way to tell is by letting them spend 48 hours together. Any unwanted behaviors like chasing, nipping, fighting, or biting mean they're not ready.  

There are many different ways of bonding with rabbits. What is your standard method, and what is your standard process for bonding?

The best method to introduce rabbits is by using a bonding pen. Allow them to spend 4-12 hours in this pen under supervision. Once fighting and other unwanted behaviors cease, slowly expand the pen until it’s 2x2 meters (6.6x6.6 feet). Let your bunnies spend 48 hours together in the pen, then move them to their new home.

How do I know if my rabbits have successfully bonded with each other?

Let your bonded rabbits spend 48 hours in the same pen. They’re bonded when there is no unwanted behavior, such as chasing, biting, and fighting in their time together. If there's fighting, go back a step. 

Can I bond my rabbit to another animal?

Rabbits can get along with other pets but don't expect bonding on the same level as bunny-to-bunny bonding. The process will also take a lot longer since you’ll be bonding with different species.

bond my rabbit to another animal

By Stamatisclan - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

How do you move your rabbits in together after bonding successfully?

Clean the whole area with white vinegar to remove any smells. Do the same with any items or toys going into the new enclosure.

Put them together in the same carrier to move them to their new rabbit home and let them explore. This way, they are less likely to claim the neutral territory as their own.

Keep an eye on them for 48 hours to make sure no unwanted rabbits' behavior resurfaces. If the area is huge, limit the space and slowly increase once you're sure they're getting along. 

Is gender important When bonding rabbits?

No, it doesn’t matter if you use the same gender or a mix. All that matters is that you do the bonding process properly and get them fixed before introducing them for the first time. 

How to clean your rabbit’s territorial space?

Make sure to wipe everything down with white vinegar in your rabbit's personal space before introducing a second rabbit. This will remove any smells and create a neutral territory. 

What are the easiest rabbits to bond with?

Allow bunnies to choose their new friends to make bonding easier even before you bring a second rabbit home. You can do this by taking your existing bunny to the shelter and letting them interact with bunnies there for a short time as a first date. 

You can also adopt an already bonded pair. Choosing a new friend is simple if you take personality into account. 

Does a difference in size matter when pairing bunnies?

No, as long as you keep a close eye and make sure the bigger rabbit doesn’t injure the other smaller rabbit while humping. Everything's going well — hang in there. They'll be getting along in no time. 

What to expect from a bonded pair of bunnies?

Bonded bunnies do everything with one another. These bonded rabbits groom each other, eat together, lay down together, and even play together. It's a beautiful thing to watch.

Stress bonding stages

Are you ready?

Now that you know a bit more about bonding, it’s time to try it for yourself. Make sure you’re well prepared, know some rabbit body language, and know which behaviors to look out for. Let me know in the comments below if you need any help and which method worked best for you. 

Happy bunny bonding!

Rabbit behaviour can be confusing even though we've been keeping rabbits as pets for over 1500 years. Although this may seem to be a long time, it is significantly less time than we have been keeping dogs and cats as pets, and as any cat or dog pet owner can tell you, their pet's behaviour can be weird and wacky sometimes. 

Getting your first bunny may seem scary but here are some tips to help you understand your pet rabbit better. 

Rabbit Behaviour - HOW Do Baby Rabbits Behave?

Baby rabbits are called kits or kittens, and unlike their cousins, hares and leverets (baby hares), kits are born undeveloped, with no fur and closed eyes. They are therefore vulnerable and need special care and attention

At this age, they are completely dependent on their mother, but as they mature, by about four to five weeks old, they become playful and lively. Regular handling at this age is important in order to socialise the kit with humans. Doing so will result in a happier and more relaxed rabbit when they mature.

When a kit is relaxed and happy, the following behaviour can be seen:

  • Relaxed body posture

The rabbit's body will be relaxed. A nervous kit will often freeze in place, and stare to the point of being watchful of everything. The body will be hunched and the ears will be pointed back, held flat against the body. A nervous rabbit will also be aggressive towards other rabbits and humans, especially when being handled.

Holding baby bunny

  • Curiosity

A relaxed and happy kit will show curiosity. They will hop about and explore their environment.

  • A twitching nose

Twitching of the nose is also a sign of calmness. It also means your bunny is very content in its current circumstances. 

  • Eating

If a kit isn’t eating, it could be a sign that it’s distressed. Make sure to take action immediately since refusal to eat can lead to serious health problems and even death. 

As the kit matures and becomes an adult a wide range of other behaviour can be noticed. Being attentive to the needs and desires of your rabbit will help you create a happy home for your pet. 

What Is Positive Rabbit Behaviour?

As adults, mature rabbits will show some of the same signs they did as kits. They also have a range of other behaviours you should pay attention to. Here’s what to look out for:

Body Posture

A rabbit's posture when lying down is worth paying attention to.Watching rabbit behaviour during rest will tell you how relaxed your bunny is. Lying down with the legs tucked under will signify that the rabbit feels relatively safe, but is still alert and ready to flee. A very relaxed rabbit will lie down with its body fully extended and its legs splayed out behind it.

brown bunny near green grass during daytime


Hopping excitedly, often referred to as binkying, is a rabbit behaviour that shows extreme hapiness. A binky is a vigorous hop where the rabbit leaps up into the air, lifting all four paws off the ground. The rabbit will also twist its body in mid-air before returning to the ground.


When excited, a rabbit may run around very fast, as though it is being chased. This rabbit behaviour is often referred to as zoomies. This might be because they are happy to see you, or they're expecting their favourite treat. If the rabbit is circling, however, it may mean something different.


The bunny flop is a sign of your rabbit being completely happy and content.

Negative Rabbit Behaviour And What To Do About It

Rabbits are naturally anxious animals and can show a number of signs that they are stressed. There are many situations that may cause a rabbit to feel distressed.


Rabbits who stomp or thump their feet do so out of anger and annoyance. They may want to be let out of their cage, or perhaps they want another rabbit's toy. The reasons are numerous, and as all rabbits are individuals, some rabbits may do this more often than others. 


Aggressive rabbits might kick or bite. Be careful when handling such rabbits, as their bites can be painful, and they have very powerful legs. Bunnies can cause some serious damage when they lash out. 


Hiding is a rabbit behaviour that indicates fear. It may mean that the rabbit is scared and not comfortable with its surroundings or the people and/or rabbits around them.

Signs Of Stress

When your rabbit is stressed, you can expect to see the following signs: rapid breathing, excessive grooming or refusal to groom at all, not eating, panting, pulling fur out, ears held back against the head, bulging eyes, and repetitive behaviour such as biting their cage bars or head bobbing. 

person holding white rabbit


In the wild, rabbits teeth wear constantly against each other and are therefore kept trim. In captivity, this is not the case. A pet rabbit will feel the need to chew things in order to keep its teeth trimmed, as well as to alleviate boredom. 

Chewing can be a major problem in that rabbits will think nothing of biting through your exposed electrical wiring. As such, it is necessary to rabbit-proof your house. Bitter spray can be found at vet shops and will stop the rabbit from destroying things you do not want them to chew. 

It is also helpful to make sure that they have plenty of things that they can chew to prevent this natural rabbit behaviour from becoming a problem. Get them a few chew toys and make sure to always have one laying around.

What Causes Rabbits Stress?

Sudden changes in a rabbit's environment can cause stress. Introduce changes to their environment gradually. 

Introducing them to a new cage, for example, should be done over the space of a few days. Leave the rabbit in the same room as the cage, with the cage door open. This will allow the rabbit to explore and get used to the new surroundings on its own terms. 

It also helps to use a few familiar things when introducing your rabbit to a new environment. Used bedding and favourite toys will help them to find comfort in a strange place.

Rabbits can also be very active animals, and thus it is necessary to give them a fair amount of freedom. Keeping them locked in their cage will leave them feeling bored and confined, which will lead to stress. 

It is also useful to bear in mind that rabbits have a sharper sense of hearing than we do. For this reason, loud noises are very likely to be a cause of stress. Unfamiliar smells and sudden, fast movements can also put them on edge. The best home for a rabbit is one that is quiet and sheltered with good ventilation.

Other Rabbit Behaviours

Some rabbit behaviour is neither positive nor negative. Understanding these behavioural activities can be useful for the owner to understand their pet better. THis will help you to alleviate your own worries about activities that may seem destructive, but are, in fact, completely normal.


There are a number of reasons a rabbit can engage in circling. This is when they run around other rabbits, or around your feet. Initially, it comes from courtship instinct, but in neutered rabbits, it could be from a desire to establish dominance.

Other reasons for this rabbit behaviour may include your bunny seeking attention, boredom, wanting you to get out of their way, as a way of showing affection or wanting to play. Rabbits are individuals, so it can be a challenge to figure out the exact reason for your pet’s behaviour.


By Olga1969 - Own work, CC BY 4.0,

Territorial Rabbit Behaviour

Rabbits are very territorial animals. You will often see them chinning things around the house, including their owner. Rabbits have scent glands on their chins which they use to mark their territory. The scent is completely safe, undetectable to human noses, and doesn't leave stains. 

Licking And Grooming

Licking and grooming is a natural activity that rabbits do to keep themselves and others clean. Attention should be given, however, if there is excessive grooming or no grooming at all, as this can indicate a sick rabbit. 


Rabbits nip to get your attention. It is gentler than a bite. Nipping can also mean that the rabbit is irritated and wants you to get out of its way. 


Rabbits will also nudge you or other rabbits in a bid for attention. It may be a sign of bossiness, and if they don't get the attention they're seeking, the nudge may be followed by a gentle nip.

white and black rabbit on gray floor


Rabbits are instinctive diggers and will do this for fun. Excessive digging, however, can be a sign of stress or boredom. Pet rabbits will also dig at their owner's feet as a way to get attention. This rabbit behaviour is normal even when they annoy you by digging up your garden.


Unneutered males and unspayed females will spray to mark their territory. This includes the marking of other rabbits. Spraying can smell pretty bad and leave nasty stains on your walls, floors and furniture. It is a good idea to get your rabbits fixed to avoid this problem. Unfortunatly, even house trained rabbits will participate in this behaviour. 

Eating Poop

A rabbit behaviour you might find quite disturbing is eating poop. Rabbits produce something called a cecotrope before their normal droppings. This special poop contains a lot of nutrients such as vitamin B that your rabbit needs to stay healthy. If your bunny doesn’t eat this poop, it may suffer from malnutrition. 

Rabbit Vocalisations And What They Mean

This may come as a surprise to you, but rabbits can be extremely vocal. If you’re wondering what kinds of sounds bunnies make, read on.


A rabbit emitting a shrill scream or squeal is serious. The rabbit is hurt or dying and needs immediate medical attention. Get them to the vet immediately!


Grunting is common amongst rabbits, and it generally indicates a positive emotional state. They may grunt when they are excited and ready to play, or when their owner comes home.


Grunting in a negative sense is called growling. This type of grunting may be a sign of displeasure. If you are rearranging and cleaning the cage and your rabbit is growling, it may be followed by a nip to show displeasure at having its stuff moved. 

Growling sounds like a purring noise. Being a rabbit owner means that you will eventually be able to tell the difference between a grunt and a growl.

Before growling, a rabbit might snort as well.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding usually indicates that the rabbit is in pain or very upset. This may mean simply being very unhappy with its environment or it may be in physical pain. 

Relocate your bunny to a more comfortable space to see if the teeth grinding stops. If it doesn't, it might indicate that the rabbit is in physical distress. In this case, get advice from your vet.


If your rabbit is making a muttering sound, you can draw the same conclusion as you can with humans: your bunny is grumpy! This may mean that it doesn’t want to go indoors yet, hasn’t been fed fast enough or didn’t get the attention it wants. Its best to leave your bunny be for the time being. 


Rabbits can also emit a hissing sound just like cats. And it means the same thing. It is extremely aggressive behaviour brought on by fear, and you should keep your distance.


Rabbits often release a deep exhale just like a sigh in humans. Sighing is a sign of contentment and a relaxed bunny. 

Wheezing Or Sniffling

If your rabbit sounds like it is wheezing or sniffing, it means that they are having trouble breathing. Veterinary advice should be sought immediately. Bunnies are obligated nasal breathers which means it can become serious pretty quickly if the nose get’s blocked.

rabbit on polka-dot fabric

Whimpers Or Whining

A distressed rabbit may whimper or whine when they encounter a situation that they don't like. They may do this when being handled against their will or when put into a cage with another rabbit that they don't like. A female rabbit may make this sound if a male rabbit is making unwanted advances towards her. 


A humming or buzzing sound is usually made by an unneutered male rabbit who is in the mood for love. This sound is usually accompanied by circling. 


Female rabbits make a clucking noise like a chicken when they are feeding their kits. Any rabbit, however, can make this sound and it is a sign of contentment.

Final Thoughts

As with all animals, pet rabbits can be a lot more complex than new pet owners often expect. As can be seen here, the list of behavioural actions is extensive. Those new to looking after rabbits can be pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised at the level of intricacy of behavioural activities and the emotions that looking after rabbits entails. 

Being attentive to these behavioural activities is key to creating a rewarding and happy environment for your pet rabbit, and ultimately creating a happier home for the owner as well. 

If you don't have a pet rabbit yet, consider reading our article on how to choose your first bunny


Are there any pets that don't go well with rabbits?

In short, yes. Ferrets are not good friends for rabbits due to their carnivorous nature. Guinea pigs can become extremely agitated when your bunny is hopping about and being active. 

Cats and dogs can be dangerous depending on their individual temperament. A calm cat or dog may easily become best friends with a rabbit, so it is best to assess the situation based on the individual animal.

When can I expect my pet rabbit to be most active?

Rabbits are crepuscular. This means they are most active at dawn and dusk. As a result, rabbits eyesight is most acclimatised to dim light. 

What is the best bed for a pet rabbit?

Hay. It is natural and has a familiar smell for the rabbit. It is also soft, and the rabbit can play with it. 

How long can I leave my rabbit alone?

Two to four days, depending on the individual rabbit. Make sure your rabbit has plenty of food and water, as well as things around to keep them happy and entertained. Organise reliable pet care if you're planning on being away for longer.

Are rabbits nocturnal animals? If you haven't been paying attention to your pet bunny, you may think all your cotton-tailed friend does during the day is sleep. This is something I believed for a long time before I had my own rabbits. At first, my belief came mostly from seeing hares out at night. 

The truth, however, is that a rabbit is not a nocturnal animal. Rabbits are crepuscular. This means they are most active at dawn and dusk. However, many rabbits adapt somewhat to our human schedules, so you might notice them up and about during feeding time, free roam time, and when you're busy around the house.  

Keep reading to learn more about pet bunnies and their nightly rabbit habits.  

Are Rabbits Nocturnal?

The answer is no, pet rabbits are NOT nocturnal (meaning active at night), but they aren’t diurnal (active during the day) either, so what are they?

Pet bunnies are something in-between called crepuscular, which means that they are very active just after sunset and before sunrise. This doesn't mean that healthy bunnies won't be active in the day or the middle of the night (I'm sure you know by now how noisy they can be when you're trying to sleep). They're just primarily active during twilight.

Why Are Rabbits Crepuscular And Not Nocturnal?

are rabbits nocturnal

Rabbits (scientifically known as Lagomorphs) are prey animals. Being active early in the morning, just before sunrise, and just after sunset naturally gives them some reprieve from diurnal and nocturnal predators. The exception to this rule is cats.

Cats, being the sneaky predators they are, also like to be out and about during twilight. Their eyes are adapted to see in this kind of light, giving them a distinct advantage over many animals.

Many people who own both a pet bunny and a cat will tell you they become super playful when the sun goes down. You might also have a problem with them waking you up for playtime just as the sky lights up in the morning. 

Diurnal predators, like foxes, dogs, and people, find it hard to see in low light. Nocturnal predators, like owls, find dusk and dawn too bright for their night vision to work properly, making it the safest time for our cotton-tailed friends to be out and about. 

In some cases, your rabbits will decide they want to be nocturnal animals. This is not a bad thing (I'm sure your sleep-deprived brain doesn't agree). Rabbits are nocturnal only when they feel safe. Being in climate-controlled houses away from nocturnal predators means extra playtime for them.

This is another reason why many people think rabbits are primarily nocturnal animals.  

How Does This Affect Rabbit Owners?

Pet rabbits are very adaptable and can adjust their circadian rhythms based on outside influences. As a caring rabbit owner, this means you don’t have to adjust your daily routine to suit your animal companions. Pretty cool, right?

Despite your pet rabbit's crepuscular nature, it will adapt readily to active times and play time that suits us.  Rabbits quickly learn that being active during human times means more treats and attention. They are very social, after all. That's why always having at least two rabbits at a time is recommended.

One thing to remember is that pet bunnies get bored very quickly. Having other rabbits and other animals around is a good idea if you don't want to play at midnight. Please pay close attention to your pets to ensure they get along well before you leave them alone together. 

Another thing, if you don't want your pets to keep you up all night rattling their cage for free roam time and thumping in displeasure, make sure you have a large enough enclosure to accommodate running, jumping, play fighting, chasing, and unique personality expression. It's important as pet rabbit owners to allow our bunnies to express their natural behaviors and unique personalities even when safely closed up.

House rabbits, being prey animals, also rely on us to help them feel safe even though they are indoors. Fortunately, the only dangers in our homes are electric cables, dogs, and other crepuscular animals like cats and ferrets. If you own other animals like cats, dogs, and ferrets, make sure they can't get into your rabbit enclosure when you're not watching, and please hide those cables somewhere out of reach. 

If you have outdoor buns or allow your pets to play outdoors, make sure you build predator-proof animal shelters. This shelter should have a hideaway and a roof to keep out predatory birds and other nasty critters.

Also, consider only taking your bunny out to play at dawn and dusk. Being crepuscular animals means this is the time they feel safest and will be most active. Just make sure to offer plenty of timothy hay and clean water since rabbits rarely stop eating.  

safe rabbit run

By Eltpics

How Flexible Are Rabbits In Their Sleep Schedule?

It's common for domesticated pet companions to be active at the same intervals as their humans, even during daylight hours. Mostly, however, rabbits sleep during the day when we're at work. If you're worried, however, try to interact with your rabbit during dawn and dusk. The best time to play is usually in the evening when you are relaxed and not in a rush to get to work. 

You'll also be surprised by how schedule-orientated a pet bunny is. If you play with or feed your fluffy friend at 11 a.m. every morning, chances are that your bunny will be awake and waiting for you (quite impatiently, might I add). They love things to be very predictable. Try to do things the same way every day if possible and leave their space the same. 

I've noticed my bunnies making grunting sounds at me for rearranging the cage while adding hay or cleaning up their mess. A territorial bunny can be surprisingly vocal and quite violent.

However, the best sound you'll ever hear is a rabbits purr. This sounds very similar to a cat purring but is produced by light chomping of their teeth. Just an interesting fact: a rabbit's teeth never stop growing!

If you ever stray from your normal pattern, your buns will let you know by causing a ruckus in their enclosures. This is especially true if you’re late feeding or letting them out for some fun and exercise. 

If they have wooden toys or bowls in their cage, you might see them throwing these items around to get your attention. A pet bunny is great at making noise! It's super surprising for a critter that's supposed to be quiet. 

Despite adapting to being diurnal animals sometimes, rabbits are crepuscular through and through.

rabbit toys

Bunny in a box by Fren Chartres

Which Animals Are Primarily Active During The Day?

There are quite a few critters that prefer daylight over any other time. These diurnal animals include:

  • Chickens
  • Some rodents
  • Ducks
  • Foxes
  • Most birds (There are a few exceptions)

Which Animals Prefer The Dark?

Just like daytime animals, there are also quite a few that prefer nighttime. Here are a few examples:

  • Owls
  • Caracals (These sneaky predators might come out at dusk already since they are part of the cat family.)
  • Brown rats
  • Black rats
  • Jackals

When do female rabbits feed their young?

Mother rabbits usually use the twilight hours to feed their young to prevent leading predators to the nest site. The only danger they face during this time is being followed by cats.

Unlike most animal babies, baby bunnies only need to be fed once or twice daily. This allows the mother to return to the nest when safest during the twilight hours. It's very common for female bunnies to be most active during dawn around the nest. This is because their main predators have either gone to sleep or aren't awake enough to interfere with their crepuscular activity.

Rabbits may also be active at different times, which is more common in domestic bunnies. If you have a mother pet bunny, give her lots of timothy hay, round pellets, and other treats to chomp on from the moment her eyes open. Rabbits eat almost continuously, and she'll need all the energy she can get.

Also, remove your buck (male rabbit) if you don't want a second round of babies any time soon.

If your pet bunny is potty trained, you also want to remove the nest box as soon as the babies are old enough. Potty-trained rabbits may start using the nest as a litter box if it stays in their enclosure longer than the babies need.

Sleeping Bunny. Flopping.

By Michelle Spaulding

Why A Pet Bunny Is A Great Pet For Working People

Consider a pet bunny or two if you want a pet but work long hours. Bunnies adapt to human schedules. This means they'll be ready to give you lots of bunny love when you get home in the evening or early morning.

If you're worried about your pet bunny getting bored while you're away, get a rabbit-safe toy or two. You can also make your own by stuffing a toilet roll with Timothy hay to entertain your pet bunny. Wooden toys that they can chew on are best, however. It helps to keep the teeth in good condition and your furniture safe.

Remember that rabbits aren't Easter gifts unless you're willing to put in the time and effort to care for them. They need their litter boxes and enclosures cleaned regularly and need quite a bit of attention. This is especially important if you have only one pet bunny.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know that rabbits are crepuscular, you're ready to go out there and prove all the non-believers wrong. The next question you might want to research is if rabbits are rodents. This is another subject many people argue over. Don't worry I've got you covered.

For the answer to that question, click here → Are Rabbits Rodents? (An Animal Identity Crisis)

When are rabbits most active in your experience? Tell me in the comments below.

Happy Hopping!

Rabbit FAQ’s

Sleeping rabbit

How many hours a day does a rabbit sleep?

Between 8 and 11 hours. Most of your fur babies' sleeping is done during midday and midnight hours, but you might see them flop at any point during the day. 

Are wild rabbits nocturnal?

Wild rabbits are also crepuscular. They will occasionally be out under the cover of darkness because they feel safer, but they are by far the most active during twilight hours in their natural habitats.

Where do rabbits go for a snooze?

A domestic bunny will flop just about anywhere it feels safe. Wild rabbits will retire to their burrows during the times of the day when some shut-eye is required. Hares you'll find snoozing away in the middle of a thick bush or thicket that hides them from the outside world. 

How to improve your rabbit’s quality of sleep?

Offer hideaways to retreat to. If your cotton-tailed friends show signs of stress, check the environment around your cages first. Rabbits won’t nap if there’s too much noise and light or if they feel threatened. Moving your bun to a dark, quiet spot will improve their rest.

What other animals are crepuscular?

Legamorphs aren't the only critters active in half-light conditions. Here are some other species you can expect to be out and about as well:

  • Hamsters
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Guinea pigs
  • Cats
  • Chinchillas
  • Ferrets
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