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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-18-2008, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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Group housing

Does anyone have experience with group housing for rabbits? I am considering taking in 3 more rabbits into my rabbitat. I wouldn't be doing this until spring because it is too close to winter. A pair of spayed females are already in the rabbitat. I would be adding another bonded pair, the parents of the two I already have, and another sibling, a neutered male. I have not tried this before and am not sure what the best way to go about this would be. All rabbits are rescues, mom and dad were found as strays.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-18-2008, 09:35 PM
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It's best to keep rabbits separate unless you are trying to bond them all together. If you put a bunch of rabbits together, their territorial nature will come out and they will fight - especially females, they are very territorial and dominant.

Bonding bunnies takes much time and patience and must be done properly. I'd post a link with more info but I am too new to do this yet, sorry....but if you go to www dot rabbit dot org and search "bonding" you will get a lot of useful information.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-18-2008, 09:46 PM
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http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/introductions.html

That might help. I only have experience with bonding two rabbits together, but I have heard of people having large bonded groups so it is possable.


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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-18-2008, 10:33 PM
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sounds too cute!! if only i could bond my girls then i could only dream of having a Rabbitat!! good luck!
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-19-2008, 06:24 AM
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I started with a bonded pair of neutered males and then tried to add another neutered male to the pair but they wouldnt have it! I tried bonding through the proper channels for months and it just didnt happen so now i have the pair of bonded males living together and i bought my other neutered male a girlfriend so that he too has a play mate!!!! Good luck trying to get a group together!!! xx

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-19-2008, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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I know there was someone on this board that worked for a rescue that kept several rabbits together, but I don't remember who that was. I have bonded pairs before, but never put a group together.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-19-2008, 08:43 PM
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it depends on the size of the space i imagine as well.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-19-2008, 09:39 PM
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It's doable, but it's probably going to take months and months of bonding and a lot of patience and an enormous cage!

We are as gods to the beasts of the fields. We order the time o' their birth and the time o' their death. Between times, we ha' a duty. - Terry Pratchett.

"Men have forgotten this truth", said the fox, "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-20-2008, 12:14 AM Thread Starter
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The rabbitat is 18' x 24' and the shelter (hutch) is 8' long x 3' deep and 6' high. It has two main levels, not counting the area under the hutch. There are two ramps, one at each end with a shelf and landing, sort of a third floor.


I know Best Friends was giving out directions for rabbitats when they were trying to find homes for around 1,000 rabbits a couple years ago. They were putting 10 rabbits to a rabbitat, but I didn't pay much attention to how big the rabbitats were as I already had built my own.


I was thinking of blocking off the hutch area until all were bonded. I thought about setting up some portable dog kennels for cages, and bonding the rabbits in the main part of the rabbitat. I suspect I would have to send the two rabbits I have now away for a couple of weeks and then bring them back to establish the rabbitat as neutral territory. I have all winter to think about this and look for supplies. Any ideas would be greatly appreaciated.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-20-2008, 02:11 AM
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That's probably not going to be big enough for 5 rabbits to coexist peacefully. The bare minimum recommended for 2 rabbits is roughly 2'x5' (or 10 square feet) with more like 16 square feet (the size of a dog exercise pen) being ideal. The bigger you go of any type of grouping colony of animal, the more room you generally need to allow all of those animals to escape from each other if they're getting annoyed.

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"Men have forgotten this truth", said the fox, "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2008, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your input. I have had 4 rabbits in my rabbitat before with no problem, however I put them in two pairs and split the rabbitat and shelter in half with fence. I designed my shelter so that a rabbit need not feel trapped, they just need to run accross the floor to a exit at either end, but I am not sure if that would work for 5 rabbits. The Animal Welfare Institute has done extensive research on group housing and kept more rabbits in a smaller area than mine, however they did have a different setup. I do have room to expand my rabbitat, but I will have to give that more thought.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2008, 05:50 AM
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Splitting the habitat would give them each 12 square feet. However, larger groups need more space in order to get away from each other to reduce the incidences of territoriality and defensiveness.

The AWI seems to focus on lab animals and farm animals? Very confusing.

We are as gods to the beasts of the fields. We order the time o' their birth and the time o' their death. Between times, we ha' a duty. - Terry Pratchett.

"Men have forgotten this truth", said the fox, "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-22-2008, 12:42 AM Thread Starter
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Do lab and farm rabbits have different personalities? My rabbits would come under "farm animals" since they are a commercial breed used for hide and meat.


Where I live there are many medical companies, which has sparked an interest in me. I would like to see lab animals lead better lives. To not have lab animals is just unrealistic, and I would like to work on something where I may be able to make a difference, and not waste my energy on the unattainable. It is part of why I want to try group housing, to see how difficult it would be. I tend to believe facts by organization like the AWI over the HRS because I can't even begin to tell you of all the hate emails I got when I was inquiring about rabbit behavior, once they found out my buns were outside.


I don't consider myself an abuser, and if the members of house rabbit organizations can jump to such conclusions, I can only wonder "what else might not be true?" That is why I don't believe their "facts". I think too many facts are manipulated to support their claims. I could go on and on, but enough said.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-22-2008, 06:01 AM
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No, but lab and farm animals are typically slaughtered after around a year, so they don't generally have to worry about long-term effects of smaller housing on them. Various studies have shown that the stress of living in too small areas in social animals can take a toll on health after many years. Your average pet owner generally aims to have their rabbits for 10 years or more. The AWI is NOT a bad organization, and their research is NOT false (I never said that it was). But the two categories of animals are extremely different and have different considerations, and the two organizations hope to achieve and entirely different goal.

It's kind of like people in dorm rooms -- most people would be fine sharing a dorm room for a few years when they went to college, but would probably go nuts if they had to live there for 10+ years.

I never called you an animal abuser, and I certainly don't think you are. Unfortunately, I can't relieve you of your paranoia about the house rabbit folks. I'm not sure what they would have to gain by "manipulating facts to support their claims". They're a nonprofit organization that doesn't even sell rabbit products. Whether you keep your rabbit in a mansion or in a 1'x1'x1' cage, it doesn't really affect them at all. But it does affect your rabbits.

I can only speak from my personal experience, which matches what they say overall. I don't agree with every single thing on their site, but I agree with the majority of it. I've got two senior rabbits, and they're staying in a 13 square foot cage, which is enormous. But when I got in litterboxes, toys, etc, I really felt like it wasn't big enough. They free roam a room in our house throughout the day now, with access to their cage at all times. But I would still have a hard time imagining 4 rabbits ranging that room, because it would seem very cramped.

At any rate, I was simply offering advice based on what I've read, what I've personally observed, and based on the people I know with 4+ rabbits living in big warrens. Good luck with your new bunnies.

We are as gods to the beasts of the fields. We order the time o' their birth and the time o' their death. Between times, we ha' a duty. - Terry Pratchett.

"Men have forgotten this truth", said the fox, "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-22-2008, 05:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purple-Hops View Post
sounds too cute!! if only i could bond my girls then i could only dream of having a Rabbitat!! good luck!
Acacia and Akina don't get along? For some reason I thought they did.
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