"Should I get a friend for my bunny?" "Will my bunny be lonely without another bunny to keep him/her company? Can two bunnies get along?
These are questions I am often asked, and while the answer isn't a clear-cut "yes" or "no," I usually suggest starting with one bunny and then adding a second later if desired. There are certainly pros and cons of owning a single bunny compared to two more more.
Examples of Good Bunny Buddies:
The first pair of bunnies (far left) consists of my orange buck Sunny Jim and his girlfriend (one of them) Envy. Neither is spayed/neutered, but after an hour of chasing each other and breeding, they were best friends. Obviously, they would never share a cage and this scenario wouldn't work for those keeping pet bunnies, but I am fully confident that these two could be permanent playmates if spayed/neutered. Both have pleasant personalities, and Sunny is never aggressive.
The middle photo is from a customer (Eleanor M.) who purchased a chocolate tort buck, got him neutered, and then sought a female companion who would be spayed when old enough. The female, Mimi, immediately took to Mochi (after first having to show him that she wouldn't tolerate mounting), and two are good friends the last I knew. She will most likely begin to show displeasure at sharing a cage with Mochi upon maturity and will need to be spayed, but they have a great chance at long-term bonding.
Examples of Bad Bunny Buddies:
At left is Cocoa and her baby Henrietta. Henrietta was the runt and needed to stay with Cocoa past the normal eight weeks, and the pair became thoroughly bonded. I sold them to a wonderful family who wanted to keep both bunnies together. Well, long story short, Henrietta was really Henry (bucks can have a split penis when little, which makes them look like does initially - totally my fault, but tough to differentiate) and needed to be neutered. After surgery and a few weeks for the hormones to subside, re-introduction didn't go smoothly, and the pair had to be separated from playing together. Cocoa would likely stop mounting her son if she was spayed, but that is a risk possibly not worth taking on a doe who is already several years old. This seemed like a good match but ultimately was not.
The last two pictures are my breeding does Luna and Mable. On nice days, there are several does who I am able to let play together with no altercations at all, but one day, things went terribly wrong. In hindsight, Luna was pregnant, so I should not have let them out together, but it was a cold winter day, and I was inside the bunny barn with them as they played. Luna began to chase Mable and instigate all sorts of trouble. Before I could grab either, there was a scuffle, fur went flying, and then I saw Luna's bloody ear. Mable not only nipped Luna's ear, she bit half-way to the center. Luna had a ragged flap of ear dangling pitifully. I couldn't believe what had transpired in less than a minute together!
After my initial panic, I decided to clean the wound with iodine and Vetericyn spray and they try to use Gorilla Glue to suture the wound like they do in the hospital. For a week, it seemed to do the trick, and the ear appeared to heal. Until one day, the glue began to crack (likely due to Luna's grooming), and the ear became red and the flap dangled once again. This time, I knew a trip to the veterinarian was warranted.
I loaded Luna into the travel carrier and took her to West Park Animal Hospital in Cleveland, OH to see Dr. Kari Swedenborg, who specializes in "pocket pets" such as bunnies. Dr. Kari is a wonderfully knowledgeable and kind veterinarian with a warm bedside manner. I felt ashamed of my failed efforts to help Luna, but she never criticized. She agreed that the part of the ear that was loose and flapping needed to be removed to prevent being caught and tearing more. The wound was then cauterized and the bleeding quite minimal. As a side note, the doctor performed an ultrasound to confirm whether Luna was pregnant (which determined the anesthetic that could be used) and saw two wiggly babies! Amazingly, the bill was only $70, and Luna appears to be healing, though she will always have a permanent chunk of ear missing to serve as a reminder to me to be extremely cautious about letting two bunnies play together. If it ever happens again, I will seek veterinary care immediately. FYI - Gorilla Glue is not the same as skin adhesive that surgeons use, which may be why it didn't hold well on her ear.
In summary, it is possible to have two bunnies become companions to one another, but there are a lot of variables and expenses that make it a risk. If this is a risk you accept, be prepared to spay/neuter both bunnies as soon as possible as well as have separate cages. They may be able to play together during the day but will likely always want their own spaces for sleeping (which isn't always at night). Ultimately, a lot depends on the individual personalities of the bunnies after they reach maturity and post-surgery.
**Updated April 2018
Though it may sound simple, determining the exact color of a Holland Lop is actually a bit tricky at times, and this is something that I am slowly learning myself and wanted to share in order to help others. Some colors look similar to an untrained eye, and then there's the added confusion of things like smut, rufus modifiers, and other colors in the bunny's pedigree that can further alter the hue just enough to make it difficult to ascertain. If you're getting into breeding Holland Lops, I highly recommend the book About Bunny Colors by Ellyn Eddy.
If you simply want to see pictures of the different colors, scroll to the bottom or check out our BUNNY COLOR CHART page for gorgeous Holland lop photos taken by yours truly. :)
According to the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) and their 2016-2020 Standard of Perfection (SOP), Holland Lops are divided into the following 8 color groups:
Agouti, Wide Band, Self, Shaded. Tan Pattern, Ticked, Pointed White, Broken
Within each group is a collection of similar genotypes (genetic code), but the phenotypes (observable features, such as color) can appear to vary widely. In an effort to make it a bit easier to understand, know that every bunny color is either BLACK (B), BLUE (B_ dd), CHOCOLATE (bb), or LILAC based (bb dd). Blue is the diluted form of black, and lilac is the diluted form of chocolate. Diluted colors as well as chocolate are more difficult to achieve than black varieties since these are recessive traits (a recessive gene has to come from each parent in order to be visible, so the mom and the dad would have to give the baby a dilute "d" gene to make it "dd" and/or a chocolate "b" gene to make it "bb" and appear chocolate). Take a look at the following table listing SOME of the colors within each of the 8 Holland Lop groups and whether they are black/blue/chocolate/lilac based.
*Fawn is simply an orange with a reduced amount of rufus modifiers to make it appear a more pale orange. This color was deleted from ARBA's Standard of Perfection in the 2016 amendment.
Are you totally confused yet? Because of the four color bases, there are SO many different actual rabbit colors, though which colors are officially recognized by ARBA varies by breed.
Let's look at some photo examples of some of these colors.
Remember the 8 different Holland Lop color groups:
Agouti, Wide Band, Self, Shaded
Tan Pattern, Ticked, Pointed White, Broken
Here at Hook's Hollands - Ohio Holland Lops, we work mostly with the Wide Band group colors of orange, cream, and frosty as well as chinchilla (agouti group). Wide Band colors are technically Agouti (A) with the non-extension gene (ee) that doesn't allow the black or dark colors to show. We also work with a bit of self and shaded colors as well as broken patterns of each group.
Below are some photos of our Holland Lops (or from fellow breeders with permission) within the color groups we work.
The Agouti group includes chestnut, opal, chocolate chestnut, lynx, chinchilla, squirrel, chocolate chinchilla, and lilac chinchilla. These bunnies may resemble "wild rabbits" due to the bands of color and dark ticking on their fur. The fur has rings of color when blown into. They have white around their eyes, nose, mouth, bellies, inside ears, and under tail. *Broken variations are included but are actually their own group.
This group is my absolute favorite but is a bit confusing because these bunnies have the Agouti markings (white around eyes/nose/mouth/inside ears/bellies) but don't have the dark ticking at the tips of their fur. This is due to the non-extension (ee) gene not allowing the black to extend such as in chestnuts and chinchillas. Instead, they have a wide band of color, usually orange or cream. Basically, these colors are Agoutis without the black color extension (non-extension Agoutis).
To further complicate things, oranges in particular can have "smut" or dark ticking, which are faults if showing these rabbits. Finally, oranges, fawns, and reds are genetically nearly identical (fawn was actually deleted from the ARBA SOP in an early 2016 amendment); it is the amount of rufus modifiers that make the orange color appear saturated or muted. A true red bunny will have a darker tummy and actually has the wide band gene instead of merely non-extension of black. Cream is the diluted form of red/orange/fawn, and a frosty is basically an orange with the chinchilla gene.
Includes red, orange, cream, and frosty.
*Broken variations are included but are actually their own group.
Self-colored rabbits have one solid color on their bodies. Includes black, blue, chocolate, lilac, ruby-eyed white (REW), blue-eyed white (BEW). Whites are actually tricky to work with for several reasons. REWs are albinos, but they are masking their true color identity with the "cc" recessive gene. Breed a REW to a bunny that doesn't carry the "c" gene to find out its true color group. BEWs get their white coat and gorgeous blue eyes due to the recessive Vienna "vv" gene. If you want to breed BEWs, make sure to do your research, as they can ruin a line if careful records are not kept.
Includes black tort, blue tort, chocolate tort, lilac tort, siamese sable, seal, smoke pearl, sable point. Shaded bunnies have darker coloring on their head, ears, feet, and tail.
*Broken variations are included but are actually their own group.
The Broken group can include any of the colors in conjunction with white. Tri-colors are also listed in this category. As you can see, the amount of visible color can vary widely, and in order to be shown, the bunny must have at least 10% but not more than 70% of its body showing color, including around the eyes, both ears, and on the nose. Bunnies having less than 10% color are known as "Charlies" and those with more than 70% are "booted."
Tan pattern showable colors include black otter, blue otter, chocolate otter, and lilac otter. Other very interesting variations of the tan gene exist but are not showable in Holland Lops.
photo credit: Hickory Ridge Hollands
Ticked, Pointed White
Need sample photos! Please email if you have any photos you are willing to provide!
Please understand that this Holland Lop color guide is a result of my months of research and personal experience breeding Hollands. It is a learning process, so this guide is a fluid project - please check back for updates and feel free to consult other sources for more in-depth genetic information about rabbit colors. Again, I highly recommend the book About Bunny Colors, which can be purchased online from Animal Smarties, and if you're going to breed or show rabbits, the ARBA Standard of Perfection booklet is a necessity to help guide you.
Hook's Hollands is a small hobby rabbitry on our Ohio farm and is operated by me (Diane) with the help of my family. We have a small herd of Holland Lop rabbits and focus on raising colorful bunnies with the best type and temperament possible.
This blog serves to spotlight various bunny care topics and share a bit about my experiences raising bunnies.