Last Updated on July 25, 2021 by Rei
While loneliness would not directly kill a rabbit, the symptoms of loneliness could kill a rabbit. Loss of appetite is one of the symptoms of loneliness. This in turn could lead to a condition like GI stasis, which is caused when a rabbit is not getting fiber.
That’s why it’s important to prevent your rabbit from getting lonely. You’re in luck though, rabbits are simple creatures. All you have to do to prevent loneliness is to provide them a companion, food, adequate exercise, and some form of enrichment like toys.
Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail why rabbits can die of loneliness:
How to know if your rabbit is lonely?
The first step in preventing your rabbits from getting lonely is to know its symptoms:
- Withdrawn. Rabbits that are lonely would refuse to bond with their owners.
- Destructive. Rabbits that are lonely would likely show destructive behaviors like biting, kicking, and spraying.
- Attention seeking. Because rabbits are social creatures, their first instinct when they’re lonely is to bond/interact with their peers. Attention-seeking behaviors could be in the form of nudging or softly biting their owners.
- Hyperactivity. Hyperactivity could also be a symptom of loneliness in rabbits. A lonely rabbit would show signs of frustration due to its current condition, which in turn could lead to hyperactive behaviors like running around, biting, and other destructive behaviors.
- Loss of appetite. The most dangerous symptom of loneliness in rabbits is the loss of appetite. A rabbit that’s not eating would eventually lead to GI stasis. Bring you’re rabbit to a veterinarian if you notice that it’s not eating properly.
Reasons for rabbit’s loneliness.
Now that you know the symptoms of loneliness, its time to discuss the possible reasons why rabbits gets lonely:
The number one reason why rabbits gets lonely is due to the lack of social interaction with another rabbit. Rabbits in the wild live in large colonies. It’s instinctual for them to socialize because they instinctively know that there is strength in numbers.
The same instinct is true for pet rabbits. That’s why every reputable rabbit breeder or seller recommends that you get two rabbits. Two rabbits can keep each others company while you’re at work.
Death of a companion.
Another reason why rabbits gets lonely is due to the death of their companion. Rabbits can form extreme bonds with each other that oftentimes when the companion died, the other rabbit would also die a few days later.
That’s why it’s often recommended that you must first leave the body of the deceased rabbit in their cage for a few hours. Rabbits are long believed to have some understanding of death.
Making your rabbit see that its partner is already dead will aid its grieving process. You can then consider getting your rabbit another companion to ease its loneliness.
What to do following a death of a companion:
- Don’t remove the body. You must let the remaining rabbit see that its partner is dead so that they’ll know they have not been separated forcefully. If your rabbit died at the vet’s office, you can request to get the body for the other rabbits to see. You only need to leave the body for a few hours or until you see the remaining rabbit sleeping next to the deceased rabbit.
- Interact with your rabbit. For the next few weeks, you need to increase the amount of time you interact with your rabbit. Show them that they’re not alone. Show them that you’re still here and that you love them.
- Provide treats. Treats can be a great motivator for rabbits because they’re a sucker for anything sweet. Just make sure that you’re rabbit is at least 7 months old before you give one. You should also limit the amount you give them to lessen the chance of triggering a bout of digestive problems.
- Keep a close eye. You must keep a closer eye on your rabbit for the next few weeks to make sure its eating right. You should also look for any signs of depression because it can be dangerous if not dealt with. Bring your rabbit to a veterinarian if you notice anything odd.
Lack of excercise.
You must give your rabbits adequate exercise each day to prevent the frustration that could lead to loneliness. You could also let your rabbit free-roam around the house and ditch the cage altogether.
But if you must cage your rabbits, make sure that they’re getting at least 3 hours of exercise each day.
What can you do to prevent loneliness?
Now that you know the reasons why rabbits gets lonely, it’s time to talk about ways to prevent it. Here are some things you can do to prevent or to cheer up an already lonely rabbit:
Provide a rabbit companion.
Rabbits have different personalities. Some are more trusting than others. If your rabbits are naturally untrusting of humans, you must get your rabbit another rabbit as a companion.
Also, if you’re always away for work and you’re not giving adequate social interaction with your rabbit, consider getting another rabbit so that your rabbits can keep each others company while you’re away.
While any pairings can work if both rabbits are neutered, the best pairing of rabbits is male and female. Two males or two female pairings are prone to fighting.
Play and interact with your rabbit.
If you can’t get your rabbit a companion, you must interact and play with your rabbit for a few hours per day. While a bond with another rabbit is preferable, rabbits can also form a bond with their owner.
That’s why it’s you’re responsibility to play and interact with your rabbit every day because as I said earlier, rabbits are extremely social with whomever they bonded with. A bonded rabbits are inseparable.
Give your rabbits some healthy treats.
You can provide treats to your rabbits from time to time to ease their loneliness. Just make sure that your rabbit is at least 7 months old before you give one and limit it to 2 times per week in small amounts.
If all else fail, visit a vet.
If you’ve tried everything on this list and your rabbits still show signs of loneliness, then it’s time for a vet visit. Your rabbit might be suffering from conditions that only a trained veterinarian could spot.
The symptoms of loneliness are so vague and can easily fit the symptoms of other medical conditions. So it’s always better to consult a veterinarian just to be on the safe side.
Loneliness would not directly kill a rabbit but its symptoms could. One of the symptoms of loneliness is the lack of appetite. A rabbit that’s not eating would eventually develop some kind of digestive problem that can be fatal if not treated.
Cite this article:
Sources and further reading
- Gastrointestinal stasis and obstructive Ileus in the rabbit
- Neutering of pet rabbits