The exceptions would be two sisters from the same litter who are likely to be already bonded (though they may become territorial if not spayed promptly when they mature) or for a senior/baby pair where the senior is already fixed and the baby showing no interest in displaying dominance or territorial behaviors. Even if you have two young rabbits who appear bonded, things can quickly go south when the hormones begin to influence behavior, and then separation and re-bonding may be necessary. This is why adopting two bunnies at once can prove especially tricky. Does this sound complicated yet? We're only getting started!
Rabbit Bonding: Tips & Tricks
Is bonding rabbits always successful? No. But the majority of failures are due to giving up too soon and rushing the process or bonding attempts in a non-neutral area. Some bunnies just click and bond nearly instantaneously, such as with Mochi and Mimi below (photo from owner Eleanor M.). Mochi was neutered and immediately took to Mimi when she joined him when she was about two months of age (and was later spayed). The three does (Anna, Ruby, & Fizz Pop) pictured above were not spayed but played together nicely in neutral territory since they grew up together. Senior doe Emmy & young Snowflake (also a female) got along well because Emmy was incredibly mellow and Snowflake was very young. They did not share living quarters, as this would have created territorial problems in unspayed rabbits. These blissful interaction would undoubtedly not last with the hormones in play, but it is further evidence that some bunnies have less aggression and territorial instinct than others. Mothers and their female babies are often great options for bonding as well as two sisters from the same litter. Bucks (males) have the most tendency to fight, but I have seen bonds form, especially with two brothers (though separation until neutering is necessary). Buck/doe combinations are also great, but it is usually best to have one spayed/neutered and then acquire a second bunny (younger is better unless the new bunny is already spayed/neutered).
This is a loaded question, and the answer really depends on a multitude of factors. I will say, however, that one of the biggest mistakes parents can do regarding first pets is to make a hasty decision to buy a bunny for their young children (toddler/preschool/young elementary age), especially when they assure me, "My child is ready to learn responsibility." Well, what happens a few weeks into the "responsibility lesson" when your child loses interest or discovers that bunnies don't like held or carried like a kitten might tolerate? Someone else ends up taking over the responsibility, and the bunny may end up neglected, seen as a nuisance, or even worse, surrendered to a shelter.
I am certainly not here to point fingers, as I have been in this situation myself when purchasing my first Holland lop as a 4-H project for my 9-year-old son and a second bunny for my 6-year-old son. Of course, they loved their bunnies and did an excellent job providing daily care - for a while. Soon, however, school began again, and getting up ten minutes early for morning feeding/cleaning and finding time for daily interaction became an issue for them. Eventually, we ended up selling both bunnies to new homes (at a monetary loss of course) and learning an important lesson: bunnies require a lot of time and effort and need to be a family decision - and that children sometimes aren't ready for additional responsibility. Household chores are a much better way to teach such a quality.
Before getting your child a pet, it's a wise idea to ask your child to do a simple chore daily for a couple weeks with only minimal reminders (such as feeding a fish, filling a bird feeder, or watering a plant - where another living thing depends on their responsible actions). You'll know pretty quickly whether they're ready for their own pet, and if not, then start with something smaller and simpler like a hamster, guinea pig, or even a cat - unless your entire household is on board with getting a bunny FOR THE FAMILY.
What Should I Know Before Getting My Child a Bunny?
Ultimately, the answer is YES, bunnies CAN be good pets for children - in the correct situations. I generally don't recommend that children under 10 have a rabbit as a pet. It takes maturity to understand how to interact with and care for a bunny. Unless you are content with ending up as the sole caregiver for the bunny and can provide daily attention and exercise, then please carefully reconsider your pet choice. :)
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.