Some animals live in groups while some choose to remain alone. There are different names for a group of animals. A group of bats is called a colony, a group of bees is a swarm while a group of crows is a murder. But how about for rabbits, what is their group called?
A quick answer
There are different ways to call a group of rabbits. According to the House Rabbit Society, a group of rabbits is a “herd” which is similar to the name for a group of cattle.
Meanwhile, according to Fun Trivia, a group of rabbits is called “bury” or a “nest” if you’re referring to baby rabbits in their nest.
Rabbits are social animals and these animals relate to each other differently. It’s very interesting to observe rabbits as they communicate and relate to each other. These animals have some kind of a “pecking order” and even if there are only two rabbits, these may create an order that includes other humans in the house. Rabbit relationships in a group may vary depending on the age, gender, and personality of the individual.
Rabbits that live in colonies are usually able to get along well within their group. However, rabbits must be neutered or spayed since these can cause problems within their groups. Also, courtship behaviors and territorial behaviors are the most common reasons for rabbit bonding. It’s important to introduce a new member of the colony in a gradual period like a month or more. This should also be done after the rabbits have been de-sexed to allow their hormones to subside.
The ideal, most straightforward relationship in rabbits is one involving a spayed female and a neutered male. In the case of wild rabbits, these animals must pair with and live as a couple in a larger hierarchy of their warren. This is the ideal, most natural way wild and domestic rabbits can pair as well.
Like children, new rabbits that are introduced to the colony can quickly learn the behavior of the group through copying. Sometimes it’s unnecessary to train a new rabbit or a baby rabbit because an older one will likely become its mentor. A new rabbit will immediately know where to eat, where to rest and where to play. Also, it will copy how other rabbits interact with you, their owner. If a new rabbit sees you petting a senior, it will likely come over and ask for the same thing.
Rabbits that have bonded together in a colony will likely spend the entire day together. The colony will check out the litter tray at the same time, will eat together at the same time and will even groom each other at the same time.
Usually, they would spend the remainder of the day snuggled up together or sleeping. A colony of rabbits may also become competitive and will demand attention from their owner at the same time. If one member of the colony thinks that you’re giving the other member food then it will likely come over and demand food as well.
This behavior also extends during playtime. You’ll find the colony playing a single toy, tearing up newspapers, digging holes and jumping in the air at the same time. A sure sign that a group of rabbits has bonded together is they are grooming each other. This is also a way to find out their hierarchy.
The top rabbit is the one getting the most grooming from other rabbits and also from its human or its owners. The way rabbits ask to be groomed is by placing their head on the ground or by nudging under the chin of another rabbit. The recipient of this action responds by licking or nibbling the rabbit,
Hierarchies in a colony are important to keep peace especially if a warren is large. Domesticated rabbits usually take to their owners this hierarchy. Females are very bossy and the highest female may nip at you or jump on your lap if it needs your attention.
In the wild and also in domesticated conditions, female rabbits are more territorial compared to male rabbits. It is usually easier to introduce a female rabbit in a male rabbit’s territory than vice versa because males are not territorial. Once a female is settled, she will designate hierarchy. Any male that is introduced in the colony will have to be submissive to the dominant female or he can be her equal.
Taking a break
Domesticated rabbits may sometimes do things separately. Sometimes they may spend a few hours apart sleeping, or playing in separate areas. This is a natural behavior among domesticated rabbits and will reduce the possibility of fighting.
Take note that captive rabbits must have a large enclosure or cage where the rabbits can enjoy their own spaces. You must place tunnels, boxes, or containers where the rabbits can stay and be with their selves. Also, you must provide several food and water dishes, toys and accessories inside the cage to discourage fights.
Communication between rabbits in a group
Do rabbits communicate with each other? Although rabbits don’t make a sound, a colony speak to each other and communicate through verbal and non-verbal cues. Members of a colony usually communicate with each other using body language. Bunnies usually tell their companions what they want by staying quiet. It may seem strange to us but this makes very good sense to rabbits.
Grunting is a common way that rabbits communicate. Grunting is similar to a pig’s grunt and a rabbit may produce this sound when it disapproves of something like cleaning their cages. A grunt can also mean it wants the other individual to back off. Bunnies may be territorial and grunting is a way to tell the other rabbit that he is in his territory. If the other rabbit does not move away, a fight will surely happen.
If you see and hear two rabbits grunting at each other then you should never let the two share a hutch. If you allow the two to share then a terrible fight may ensure.
Another sound that rabbits make is honking. This is another verbal cue that usually starts small and may become louder especially in bunnies that have not been neutered or spayed. Honking is a way for a rabbit to look for a suitable mate. Honking is a sound to tell other rabbits that it is interested in an individual of the opposite sex. If the other rabbit honks back then the formalities are overlooked and mating may happen. If the honk is not returned, the rabbit will do all it can to get the approval of the other. This is a rabbit’s way of courting the other.
In rabbit body language, the ears of the animal are the most expressive. If a rabbit is frozen to a spot with its ears straight up, they are interested in something. They are also in the process of deciding if the thing is a threat or not.
Rabbits thumping their foot after being frozen for a longer period could signal that they are frightened. Thumping is a part of inter-rabbit communication and in the wild, rabbits may thump their feet to warn others of any danger.
You can also easily tell which rabbit ranks higher, by the way, the two lies down. The rabbit with its head up while lying down is the alpha while the other one with the head bowed to the ground is lower in the hierarchy. However, the alpha may also assume this position as when it demands to be groomed. If an alpha asks to be groomed, this should start immediately.
When two rabbits have found their place, there’s no confusion between the two and they will easily get along. If this does not happen then the two must not live together because they will only be battling for supremacy and will continue to assert each other’s dominance.
How do rabbits instill dominance? Rabbits may mount each other without honking and this move is not about mating. This is about establishing dominance. How rabbits respond to mounting is important. Some accept and just go on with their lives while some do not and continue to struggle for dominance.
Some rabbits will fight back and will often result in a fight to the death. If you see your pets being very territorial that fights are happening within the colony then there’s no reason to keep the two together. You should only keep together rabbits that are happy together and are working, living and grooming together.
To find out which rabbits are perfect for a colony, set up a playpen or a large cage and place the rabbits in. This territory must be neutral territory which means neither one has claimed territory over it. If you see positive interactions like sitting side by side, lying next to each other or eating together then this is a good sign.