Rabbits are social animals; in the wild, they live together in a large group to be safe. You will see that rabbits are typically sold and kept in pairs because a single rabbit can become lonely and depressed. But can rabbits die of loneliness when their bonded partner dies?
I have seen many rabbit owners becoming devastated after losing two rabbits, one after another, within a very short period. Why does this happen? And how to limit a rabbit from feeling lonely? Keep scrolling till the end to find the answers.
10 Fun Facts About Rabbits
1) A male rabbit is called a buck, a female is called a doe, and a baby rabbit is called a kit.
2) Rabbits are social creatures and live in large groups.
3) They live in tunnels and rooms that they dig underground called warrens.
4) Rabbit teeth continue to grow. But as the rabbits feed on grasses, vegetables, and wildflowers, their teeth gradually wear down and never become excessively long.
5) Because a rabbit’s eyes are located on the sides of its head, it has a nearly 360-degree vision.
6) When rabbits are happy, they take an athletic leap called a ‘binky ‘, in which they twist and kick in the air!
7) Rabbits can jump up to 90 centimeters in one leap.
8) Similar to cats, contented bunnies purr when they are comfortable and content.
9) Rabbits can rotate their ears by 180 degrees, allowing them to be alert to predators.
10) You may think that carrots are rabbits’ favorite food to eat. However, carrots aren’t even a natural component of rabbits’ diet and, if consumed excessively, might upset a rabbit’s stomach.
Can Rabbits Die of Loneliness?
Yes, these lovely and content animals sometimes suffer from loneliness. If you look into it, you will find numerous instances of rabbits passing away only a few days after losing a close friend or bonded partner.
Because isolation or loneliness in rabbits can cause stress, depression, anxiety, and boredom, all of which contribute to a rapid decline in rabbits’ health and even cause them to die.
Stress is a massive health issue for small mammals like rabbits, and they get stressed easily whenever they feel lonely. Bunnies need other bunnies to be the happiest and to feel safe and stress-free.
Dying from loneliness is especially true when rabbits lose their bonded partners. Then they suffer massive amounts of stress, depression, and fear, eventually dying from many serious health issues.
A rabbit that has been living in a group or pair is unlikely to adapt to living alone no matter how much human attention and interaction it gets.
Exception : A rabbit that has been raised alone and with lots of human interaction can lead a happy and healthy life on their own. And did you know that rabbits and chickens can bond together?
Do Rabbits Grieve?
A rabbit typically grieves for the loss of a companion for a few weeks. They will appear depressed and be quieter than normal.
Because rabbits are sociable creatures, they can intensively mourn for a bonded partner, just like humans.
It’s normal for rabbits to become deeply depressed and fall sick from grief. That’s why rabbit owners should take specific steps to limit this grief as soon as possible.
Can Bunnies Live Alone?
Rabbits are social animals. However, they can live alone without any partner, but not in solitude. If you want to keep only one rabbit, you can, but you will need to give the same care that a bonded rabbit mate would give—attention, companionship, grooming, petting, playing, exercise, and enrichment.
So, you have to give your bunny daily attention and socialize with them. You can make your single rabbit a house pet, and that way, it will be able to spend much time with human companions. However, if you can’t give your bunny enough attention, it is recommended to keep rabbits in pairs. You must let it bond with other rabbits; otherwise, it will be lonely, stressed, and depressed.
Interesting Fact : Some rabbits actively like to live alone. Female rabbits are more likely to prefer it as female rabbits are more independent. Another reason behind preferring to live alone can be having a terrible shared experience.
Can a Rabbit Die of a Broken Heart?
Rabbits are known to pass away from a broken heart following losing their bonded mate, being abandoned by their owner, or when neglected for a long time.
Stress and depression are the main contributors to a rabbit’s broken heart death. Depressed and stressed rabbits can suffer from many kinds of serious digestive conditions like diarrhea, fatty liver disease, and GI stasis. These diseases can be fatal if left untreated.
How to Tell If Your Rabbit Is Lonely?
If your rabbit’s partner dies suddenly or you pet a single rabbit, your rabbit will definitely feel lonely. To find out if your rabbit is lonely, check it closely to see whether it’s displaying any of the following behaviors:
1. Don’t Want to Interact
Lonely rabbits usually feel anxious, stressed, and afraid, and as a result, they can become aggressive or exhibit territorial behavior. A lonely rabbit will show no interest in its owner’s presence and refuse to interact with its owner. It can even kick, nip, or bite when picked up.
2. Seek More Attention
Sometimes lonely rabbits may display opposite behavior and become needier and attention-seekers. They may want to spend more time with you, may not let you put them down, may kick or bite you if you try to put them down, and may prod you repeatedly to draw your attention.
3. Loss of Appetite
When rabbits feel lonely, stressed, and anxious, they tend to eat less or stop eating entirely. Feeding a lonely rabbit can be very challenging. As a result, they can suffer from several health problems.
4. Develop Hyperactivity
Rats usually move around a lot. As a result of having no one to share their energy with, lone rabbits develop hyperactivity.
5. Become More Destructive
Because of their growing irritation, frustration, and surplus energy, lonely rabbits can act more destructive.
They can tear up their bedding, rip their enclosure, mess up their water and food bowls and even take out their frustration on your furniture and belongings.
If your rabbit shows any of these signs, visit a veterinarian or take steps to keep it from feeling lonely.
How to Prevent Your Rabbit from Feeling Lonely?
If you think your rabbit is feeling lonely, you should take action as soon as possible. To prevent it from being lonely and calm down a stressed rabbit, you should-
1. Introduce At Least a New Companion
You must introduce a new partner to your rabbit who has just lost its partner suddenly. You need to do this step as soon as possible, and at the same time to do it correctly, you will need to keep patience.
When introducing a new companion, keep in mind that lonely rabbits tend to be more hostile. It is advised that you introduce a rabbit of the opposite gender or, better yet, two or three additional rabbits to prevent aggression fueled by territorial pride.
You must keep an eye out, especially during the bonding stages. Look to see whether your rabbit is attempting to hurt his new companion.
2. Spend More Time with Your Rabbit
Spending more time on your habit to save it from loneliness is also very effective. Dedicate a fixed time daily to play with it and make it feel that you care for it. Doing this will make your rabbit feel happier again.
You should also give your rabbit more space to explore and allow it to spend a few hours outside its enclosure. Because when rabbits are kept in their cages alone for many months or years, this is one of their main causes of loneliness. It’s important to make them feel free and safe. However, rabbits are pros at escaping, so be careful when you let them play outside.
3. Get Close to the Floor and Pet Them
If you want to bond with your rabbit, the best thing you can do is get closer to the ground while communicating with it. Because when the owner goes to the rabbits’ level to approach them, rabbits feel less threatened and more secure.
But your pet starts to growl, don’t push it; instead, take a step back and wait for them to come closer to you. It’s better to warm up your shy rabbit before trying to bond with it.
You can also provide your rabbit with new toys and play together to become closer.
4. Consult with a Veterinarian
If you believe your rabbit has grown lonely, you must see the vet immediately. Because rabbits’ loneliness can result in various illnesses and health issues, contacting veterinarians is a wise step you can take.
However, you must make sure that you first review the credentials and reputation of the vet before you start to trust them. Check to see if they are truly qualified to offer treatment and advice to prevent the loneliness of your rabbit.
5. Join Rabbits Community
Whether online or local, Rabbit communities are a great place to ask for advice and suggestions from awesome people who are always happy to help other hobbyists or enthusiasts. You can ask these people any question you have. They always try to reply if they know the answer. You can learn more about how to take good care of your lonely rabbit by listening to other experts.
However, you should also respond to their inquiries if you know the answers to their questions.
How to Tell If Your Rabbit Doesn’t Like You
Nothing can be more disappointing and saddening than giving your pet all love and lavish attention only to be cared less and disliked by it. If you feel your rabbit doesn’t want to be around you or doesn’t like you, you can be almost sure if it exhibits any of the following behaviors:
- If your rabbit doesn’t want you as friends, it will give you the cold shoulder and behave antisocially with you. For example, when you try to draw it out of the cage, it will retreat into its cage and lashes back at you.
- Another sign that your bunny doesn’t like you is that it doesn’t want you, your food, or anything you offer. It approaches you only to sniff it and run away whenever you offer something. You will understand whenever your rabbit avoids you.
- Rabbits can read their owner pretty well. It can tell that you want to brush, tickle, or pick it up. If your rabbit likes you, it will come closer to you. However, if your rabbit dislikes you and doesn’t enjoy being picked up or brushed, it will keep scampering away from you.
- If your beloved bunny doesn’t want to be around you, it will keep its ears tightly flat against its body. If it does that when you are around, it means it’s stressed and anxious to be around you.
- Another strong sign that your rabbit is unhappy with you is it appears to freeze when it sees you. It will be quiet, tucking its chin in and keeping its nose still. And the moment it turns from you, it will try to run and hide from you.
Rabbits get sensitive when they become alone, especially after losing their companion. Their loneliness makes them feel fear, stressed, and depressed, and eventually, their health starts to deteriorate. And if the pet owner doesn’t take the necessary steps sooner to treat his rabbit’s illness and make it feel less lonely, chances are that the rabbit will die within a very short time.
That’s why it’s a crucial responsibility for the owner to take immediate action whenever he feels that his beloved rabbit isn’t well and is feeling intensely lonely.
As an animal lover since childhood, Paul has an excessive amount of kindness for animals and really feels about them. Feeding stray dogs and passing time with them is one of the things Paul loves to do in his free time.
Paul studied Veterinary Medicine at Murdoch University. He is a Speaker who talks about animal welfare at various events. You will find him sharing here his valuable knowledge as well as experience.
Currently, Paul is working on his first book to publish where you will see the reflection of his 10 years of experience with animals and pet psychology.