Need Some Bunny Lo Love?
Having rabbits as companions (indoor pet rabbits that keep you company – like cats or dogs), is quite a new concept to most people, but the idea is becoming more popular every year.
Rescue centers around the world have commented that many adopters of their rescue rabbits are first-time house-rabbit people and of these most prefer to start with just one rabbit. If all goes well, they usually move on to adopting a second rabbit.
Unlike cats or dogs, the vast majority of rabbits crave the companionship of at least one of their own kind. So be prepared to love the idea and have a little indoor warren of your own!
Most breeds of rabbit make ideal companion pets but there are some breeds that stand out a little above the others, not just for their docile natures and companionship qualities but also for their compatibility as indoor rabbits.
It is only by letting your bunnies live with you, alongside you, in your home, that you will truly appreciate their individuality, personality, and most of all, their friendship.
Top 10 Companion Rabbits
This page will help you decide if companion rabbits are right for you and which breeds could make the best companions.
Are You Prepared For Companion Rabbits?
The information on this page is very important if you are just starting out with rabbits, slightly unsure of a few aspects, or just have no knowledge at all about keeping rabbits as pets, especially where companion rabbits in your home are concerned.
There are other aspects to consider too, such as house training, bonding two rabbits together so they have full-time companionship when you are not around and making sure children and other pets are addressed into the equation.
There’s a lot to consider!
Choose The Best Breed Of Rabbit For YOU!
10 Simple Ways to Choose
Yep, that’s right… the title does exactly what it says!
It will give you all the information you need to make that perfect choice.
This super-duper ‘cheat-sheet’ is the ideal way for anyone that is fairly new to raising rabbits to come up with their perfect bunny breed and variety!
Intelligence & Training
Having a rabbit as a companion in your home means a bit of training and that’s not just for the rabbits! You will need to be able to communicate with your rabbits in a way that they understand you., but this isn’t as difficult as you may think…
Rabbits have an amazing ability to learn a second language, meaning yours, so communicating with a rabbit is actually quite easy once you get to know their habits, noises, actions, and behavior triggers.
Of course, communication is better when it is a two-way connection and if you begin with the right training strategy, it will be a relatively quick process of learning on your rabbits part, before he understands what you are saying too!
Treat based clicker training is an ideal way to start training a rabbit. But you must find their most favorite treat because bunnies have a tendency to get bored quickly. (Just a few 5-minute training sessions a day is usually best).
If you think you have what it takes to train your clever bun, you’ll find much more on all aspects of rabbit training on this page…
Rabbits With Other Pets
Some say rabbits are more intelligent than cats and, with the right attention, bunnies can be trained, not only to go to the toilet in the right place but even jump over hurdles, come when called, stand up on command and other neat little tricks.
You try to get a cat to do that! Mind you, they probably could, they just don’t want to!
New Rabbit Checklist
Got Your Checklist? – Check!
Have you got everything you need to get started? Do you even know what you need? Perhaps you’ve even gone a bit overboard with your equipment, bedding, food etc, or maybe you just don’t know where to start.
Well, that’s OK because we have thought of everything for you already… right here…
Get started the right way with this detailed NEW RABBIT CHECKLIST
- Overwhelmed with too much information?
- Don’t know where to start?
- Something not working with your rabbits?
- Do you need to change something but are not sure what?
Top 10 Companion Rabbits
Ready? Set? Go!
If you are completely prepared for companion rabbits, there are some breeds that stand out above others, these are the breeds that come as close as you can get to ‘man’s best friend’…
1. Flemish Giant –
Weighing up to 50lbs this rabbit requires a strong owner. They are very docile and love attention, almost like a dog but they need frequent interaction. They are gentle, intelligent and have lovely personalities. Very well tempered, calm and very large so would prefer a dog basket or similar to sleep in!
2. Jersey Wooly –
These fluffy little rabbits don’t mind being handled, in fact, they love company. With their affectionate, playful and friendly personalities they range from being a laid-back lap bunny to outgoing explorers. Note though, they need a lot of grooming, and they get quite attached to one person!
3. Angoras –
All the Angoras; English, Giant, Satin, German & French make excellent companions if you are prepared for the grooming. They are active, playful and social, with lots of personality. They enjoy the attention of their owners and also love playing with toys.
4. Cinnamon –
A laid-back, well-disposed rabbit with a naturally calm temperament that enjoys the attention. Likes plenty of room to exercise, various toys to chew on and plenty of quality time with its owner. Really enjoys human attention.
5. Rex Rabbits –
These rabbits are said to be one of the most intelligent breeds, and being gentle, playful and relaxed, they are often described as “cat-like”. They can easily be litter trained and can do a variety of tricks, such as coming when called and standing on command. An excellent choice for family households.
6. Silver Fox –
This is a truly wonderful rabbit. Although originally bred for its meat and fur, it’s quite rare now but very popular at shows. The gorgeous Silver Fox is a large, docile breed that known to be very friendly and actually enjoy lots of attention. They don’t mind being handled and make great companion rabbits.
7. Perlfee –
These rabbits are quite difficult to find but well worth the effort if you can. They are a relatively new breed but are growing in popularity because of their friendly, good-natured personalities. They love the company and if you like a lively companion these bunnies are perfect for you.
8. British Giant –
British Giants have the same calm, friendly temperament as the Flemish Giant. They are docile, not as active as the smaller breeds and love lazing around. They are generally very good-natured, excellent with children and other pets, and rarely aggressive.
9. Satin –
Classed as a medium to a large-sized rabbit, they are gentle, with good natures and calm temperaments. Curious, friendly and often comical, Satins have beautifully soft, shiny, unique coats that make them great show rabbits as well as lovely companions.
10. Thuringer –
A lovely breed that needs to be seen more often. If you like a cheeky companion that has a natural urge to run all over the house and climb on the furniture, especially for attention, then this beautiful, kind and playful rabbit is perfect for you.
A Note About The Top 10
If you still haven’t found the right bunny rabbit for you, then hop over and have a look at all the rabbit breeds in this extensive alphabetical list – there’s bound to be a breed there that you will fall in love with at first sight!
There Are Exceptions
The top 10 rabbits listed in the recommended selection above are only given as a guide and are not an exact science.
Please remember the following when considering bringing any new rabbit into your family:
- There are many other varieties of the rabbit that would be suitable, the breeds listed above are just an introduction to a few bunny breeds to get you started.
- Rabbits have their own individual personalities just like people. Not all of them are sweetness and light!
- One rabbit may be friendly and loving yet another rabbit of the same breed may be bad-tempered and bitey!
- Previous experiences like trauma, stress or bad handling may have affected their temperament.
- A rabbit that is docile friendly and loving with you or another rabbit might be anti-social, bossy, dominant or even timid and insecure with someone else or another rabbit.
- All rabbits need a great deal of care, the right diet and plenty of exercise and attention – no exceptions on this subject!
Making The Right Choice
Rabbits are all different.
Cats and dogs have their own unique personalities, rabbits do too.
Most domestic rabbit behavior is still linked to the ancestral habits of wild rabbits, but still, each rabbit retains its own “personality!”
A grouchy rabbit has a good reason for bad antics, a happy bunny, sad bun or even a depressed bunny can be read and understood if you recognize the signals and act accordingly.
Different Strokes – Not all rabbits are the same, they all have different personalities, but some breeds will be more suited to YOU.
Guys & Dolls
Knowing what sex you want when choosing ONE rabbit will narrow your choice by 50% straight away of course, but please note, if you are just starting out with rabbits then understand that rabbits prefer to live in pairs.
In fact, it’s a very poor shop/breeder/rescue center etc. indeed that doesn’t inform you of this when you are first starting out.
Domestic pet rabbits prefer to live in pairs or social groups, just like they do naturally in the wild.
Letting you go merrily on your way knowing you only will ever have one bunny, is negligence and is rather sad for the bunny that is to spend the rest of his or her days not being licked, snuggled and groomed by another bunny companion.
So, with that knowledge in hand, you’ll be needing two wonderful bunnies!
There’s an unwritten rule when it comes to bunny parings…
- Boy & Girl – Perfect
- Boy & Boy – OK
- Girl & Girl – Oh Dear!
Boys Vs Girls
One of each sex is ideal as rabbits prefer this scenario but if two of the same sex are together, it’s better that they are two boys rather than two girls.
Does (females) start ‘nesting’ habits as they get older and will dig, scratch, nibble, and tunnel at anything given the chance. This behavior is particularly bad if they haven’t been spayed as hormones rage to control, dominate and protect. This leads to territorial and aggressive behavior towards other rabbits and even us.
Bucks (males) that have not been neutered can be hyper and spray a lot. They can also be quite sexually aggressive towards females. But generally neutered bucks are much more laid back.
NOTE: Not all rabbits get these behaviors. Some rabbits will never show any aggression, spraying or territorial behavior at all whether neutered or not.
If you neuter your rabbits, most of these unwanted behaviors and problems will disappear as they are caused by the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone.
Be aware also that some rabbits like the Dwarf Lop (Mini Lop), Cashmere Lop, Holland Lop, and American Chinchilla don’t have bad spraying habits but they do like a good degree of courtship behavior (circling and chin rubbing.)
If you wait to give your rabbits neutering surgery after these bad displays of aggression have started, then the surgery may be successful in some cases but not in all, as enough time will have passed to let the behavior become a habit.
That “Je ne sais quoi” – “I don’t know what,” is that uncertain something that all pets have, that draws them to you.
It’s knowing that little bunny is your perfect friend and will listen to your every blithering word.
It’s something admirable in that big round show bunny you just love and burst with pride over.
It’s that look from bedraggled, helpless rescue rabbit that you can’t help acting on when you look deep into their pleading eyes.
LIKE attracts LIKE. Two subconscious things connect between you, and sometimes an instant bond is formed, right there and then.
It’s the Attractor Factor!
When it happens, you just can’t miss it or ignore it.
If you are lucky enough to come across ‘it’ when seeking your perfect bunny, sometimes the Universe letting you know that it has done all the decision making for you already.
Grasp the offering with both hands and love it for as long as you can!
Children and Rabbits as Pets
Are YOUR CHILDREN Prepared For A Rabbit?
Some families, that perhaps have never even had a pet cat or dog, think that rabbits as pets would be the easier option.
However, the fact is that a rabbit takes more looking after than a cat or a dog!
Let’s think about that for a minute…
A cat just needs a few streets, fields or gardens to roam around in (peeing and pooping in all but their own garden), a bowl of food at a regular time of day (provided by anyone that will give it) and a warm place to sleep (sofa, bed, laundry bin, sock drawer – they really don’t care).
A dog might need a 20-minute walk twice a day or a large garden to romp about in (pooping whenever and wherever, with you trailing behind their back-end with a pooper-scooper), a tin of dog food once a day, (which, as long as it’s a dead animal they’ll eat) and a smelly old blanket, (or smelly dog basket) to sleep on, let off gas in, lick their genitals in, etc. – Bit unfair, I love dogs!
A rabbit, however, needs a safe, secure and clean exercise area with at least 30 minutes twice a day, (early morning & dusk). They also need ‘bonding’ time with their owners for petting, grooming and general social interaction, (they get depressed and lonely when left on their own). They need constant access to grass and hay (with quality food pellets on a consistent basis). They also need a covered, clean, dark place to sleep and call their own which they’ll use consistently, (no other place will do once it is established). Their home, living area, toilet area, and exercise area need to be clean, tidy and safe EVERY DAY. This all adds up to a MINIMUM of 3 hours of dedicated attention per day.
OK, so this might be simplifying and exaggerating it slightly to make a point, but you get the gist!
Your child will need to understand the above and A LOT more besides:
- General Care & Grooming
- Healthy Diet & Exercise
- Secure, Suitable Play Area & Bed
- Correct Handling
- Two-Way Communication
- Understanding Behavior
- Monetary / Time Costs
Children keeping rabbits as pets is a BIG responsibility and shouldn’t be a passing whim or phase.
Teaching children responsibility is a great lesson in life for a child but make sure the homework has been done first
Rabbits live a surprisingly long time. Some breeds live for over 15 years. If a child has sole responsibility, they will need to work out when they intend leaving school, starting university, leaving the parental home, etc. and what will happen to the rabbits in those cases.
Rabbits don’t like to be separated from their loved ones – their owners. They will be depressed and suffer loneliness, stress and sometimes die from a broken heart!
Marks Out of 10?
A test is always a good idea…
Keeping rabbits as pets with children in mind should be very carefully considered.
When I rescued my rabbits from the HRS, they were very interested in who they were intended for, checking that I wasn’t getting them for a young child.
They were for me of course, but I still got the third degree and tested on my capabilities and understanding of keeping rabbits as pets before “Kisses” & “Cuddles” were allowed to come home with me.
Most rabbit rescue centers or rabbit adoption homes will allow you to foster your choice of rabbits first. This is a great way of testing your children’s understanding and abilities before you commit. You’ll be amazed at the little problems that occur in the first few weeks. Rabbits will:
- Dash madly about & squeeze behind furniture to avoid being picked up.
- Chew skirting boards, doors, beds, rugs, wires, and shoes to clear a path to retreat.
- Bite if approached too quickly or too loudly.
- Kick, scratch and claw if held incorrectly (and possibly break their back if dropped).
- Get sick very easily through stress or poor diet
Test your children on their abilities in the first week.
Their reward for high scores is, of course, rabbits!
Teach by Example
“It is not easy to manage young humans and animals, but when parents find solutions, rather than dispose of an animal for convenience’s sake, an important concept is communicated to the child. This is alive. This is valuable. You don’t throw it away.” – Marinell Harriman, Importance of Permanence
OK, So why have rabbits as pets then?
Having said all that, I’m not trying to put anyone off here, in fact, I love the idea of rabbits being part of family life as much as cats and dogs.
- can learn near-perfect litter box habits.
- are fun and interesting to watch.
- have different personalities and can be just as individual as dogs and cats can.
- don’t need a garden if given plenty of indoor, sunlit exercise space.
Rabbits are social animals that need the companionship of humans (or other animals like cats and dogs) but your family must have patience, understanding and an acceptance of individual differences to earn their trust.
Adults & Rabbits
Are YOU Prepared For A Rabbit?
As the responsible adult, you may have to resign yourself to the fact that your children just aren’t ready for any type of serious commitment or dedication to tasks and lack the fundamentals of a caring and compassionate attitude.
Wow, a bit disheartening I know, but it just means they’re not quite there yet, they will be.
Are you prepared to share your life with rabbits?
The responsibility of rabbits as pets will then fall down to you, but be aware rabbits are very sensitive to changes to their feeding, cleaning, and exercise routines. Changes are stressful and may lead to illness. Symptoms of illness are often subtle changes in appetite, behavior and/or droppings.
It is unreasonable to expect a child of any age to take full responsibility for the care of a rabbit (or any pet). The rabbit and your children, as well as the family peace, will benefit greatly from you accepting this notion.
Unless the adults of the household are enthusiastic, informed, and committed about the work involved, a stuffed rabbit is probably a better choice!
Prepared For The Years Ahead?
Rabbits can live from 5 years, for the larger giant breeds, to over 18 years for popular breeds such as the Jersey Wooly and the smaller lop-eared rabbits such as the mini lop.
Are you prepared for many years ahead of care, nurture, training, plus keeping supplies and equipment in stock, up to date and in working order?
Are you prepared to dedicate lots of time and energy to tasks such as cleaning, repairs to housing, and grooming?
Are You Prepared To Share Your Home?
A Hutch is NOT Enough
In order for a family and a rabbit to get to know each other (and for the rabbit’s best health), a domestic rabbit is better being an indoor pet, with as much out-of-cage time with the family as possible.
If you relegate your rabbit to an outdoor hutch (or even to an indoor cage for most of the day), your family will miss getting to know the special personality of the rabbit.
You wouldn’t cage your dog all day, you wouldn’t cage your cat all day. Just get out of the habit of thinking that rabbits should be in a hutch and all will be well!
Where to Get Your Rabbit
The Two Best Places
Rabbit Rescue Centers / Breeders
- Adoption & Re-homing Centers
Rescuing a rabbit from a shelter or charity is by far the best way to find your perfect rabbit pal.
There are adoption and rescue centers worldwide, so you should be able to find one near you.
Here you will find a list of all the rabbit rescue centers in the US.
I’m sure you’ll find your perfect home companions just waiting for you there.
And you’ll “just know” when you see them too!
- Registered, Reputable Breeders
If you wish to breed your rabbits to protect the line of a rare breed or you wish to show your rabbits at exhibitions etc, then sourcing from a reputable, recommended breeder is the way to go.
There are many good breeders listed in the Rabbit Association, Rabbit Council or Rabbit Authority for your country.
A Note About Pet Shops
Please don’t buy a rabbit from a pet shop.
The reasons are disturbing.
There is no exception to this rule, adhered to by all rabbit lovers.
There is no evidence thus far to make it safe to remove this statement.