Is it safe to mix male and female rabbits? If you’re a new rabbit owner or looking to get a companion for your rabbit, you may be curious about this. Luckily for you, the answer is yes, mixing male and female rabbits is a great idea.
However, don’t stop reading here. There are important considerations to be made when pairing rabbits of the opposite sex, which we will go into in this article.
Regardless of sex, if you’re pairing up your rabbits, you need to make sure they get along, especially if they are in confined spaces, such as rabbit hutches.
The 3 Things to Know About Mixing Male & Female Rabbits:
1. Reproduction and Sexual Maturity
It’s important to consider the young age at which rabbits can start breeding. This can sometimes be as early as 3 months old for males. For most breeds, they continue to grow and mature even after reaching full sexual maturity.
If female rabbits reproduce at an early age, their growth can be affected. In some cases, female rabbits that have reproduced very early have not reached their maximum adult size. It’s worth noting that this wouldn’t affect their offspring size.
What we are trying to emphasize here is that rabbits can start breeding really early. This means that if you have a male and a female rabbit, this is the first obvious concern. The only real way to prevent this from happening is neutering.
2. Desexing, Neutering or Spaying
The RSPCA strongly recommends desexing pet rabbits. Neutering and spaying them can cut the risk of diseases targeted to rabbits’ reproductive organs, such as cancers.
Along with the potential health benefits, desexing your rabbits will benefit them as companions.
Neuter the Male
Mixing male and female rabbits can lead to great partnerships. However, this is providing that both rabbits have been desexed. This is especially true in males specifically. Unwarranted aggression and sexual activity are likely to be a result if you choose not to neuter the male.
It’s important to consider that males can sustain their fertility for several weeks after being neutered. This will be the case for approximately a month or two after your little guy has been neutered. These are ballpark figures, which can depend on your breed of rabbit.
If you’ve decided not to spay the female rabbit, you will need to keep your male and female separated for at least 6 weeks after the male has been neutered. This can be a challenge for you as an owner if you have an enclosure that was designed to keep both rabbits together because you will need to keep them separated for at least 6 weeks. This can be difficult to manage especially if they’re house rabbits.
If you are still pondering and haven’t actually purchased two rabbits yet, the best plan is to wait. When you’re introducing your male rabbit to a new female, wait until 6 weeks have passed since your rabbit was neutered.
If you’re introducing a female to a new male, make sure that the male has been neutered and that you know exactly when. This will allow you to wait for the “cool off” period to finish before introducing them.
For more information on neutering, check out our rabbit neutering infographic!
Consider Spaying The Female
We share the RSPCA view that you should alter both your male and female rabbits if putting them together. The risks of reproductive cancers faced by female rabbits, such as the prevalent uterine cancer, are removed entirely when spayed.
Another factor to consider is aggression between your rabbits. Neutered rabbits tend to be less aggressive and often lose their territorial instinct. So, when the time comes to introduce your rabbit to their new friend, it’s a lot more likely they’re going to get along. Introducing two neutered rabbits means they are less likely to perceive each other as competition, enabling them to get off on the right paw.
Neutering and Spaying Will Make Them Better Companions
If you choose to have both sexes treated, you are likely to find they get along better. They will be more calm, affectionate, and trustworthy. Without the mating urge, your male and female rabbits will be able to develop a really strong bond.
Along with positive traits, you will avoid negative behaviors. Altered rabbits will be less destructive and less likely to chase and mount or engage in excessive digging. They will also have less aggression brought on from mating urges and therefore, be less likely to fight.
Neutering your male rabbits will stop them from spraying. Undesired behaviors are less likely to remain as habits the earlier a rabbit is desexed, as once a behavior is learned, it is harder to extinguish. Both sexes will be much easier to train after they have been altered. So, not only does it benefit your rabbits, but it also benefits you as an owner in your training efforts.
Do note that while desexing greatly reduces the levels of testosterone and estrogen in the rabbits’ bodies, these hormones are not totally eliminated. It is normal for rabbits to experience what is known as “spring mode.” This is when warmer temperatures and longer days trigger a surge in reproductive hormones in rabbits, and even desexed ones can display a few hormone-linked behaviors.
3. Prevention of Overbreeding
Millions of unwanted animals are born every year, so not breeding your rabbits means you are helping prevent overbreeding.
Many pet rabbits are often left abandoned to fend for themselves, which can often lead to starvation, sickness, and death. Even if you gave your bred rabbits to a pet store or a shelter, you can’t be sure they will go to loving homes.
Male and female rabbits can make great companions, but you need to make sure that you take precautionary steps to prevent them from reproducing. Neutering your male and spaying the female is our recommended option. This will allow them to love one another with affection, without any reproduction risks or bad behavior brought on from mating urges.
For more guidance on introducing rabbits, check out this great RSPCA guide.
Featured Image Credit: Rebekka D, Pixabay