Rabbits/new rabbit

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Question
I am considering getting another rabbit. At the moment i have a lonely,4.5 pound,8 moth old Holland lop(un-neutered male) I'm aiming for a dwarf, but will my lop kill him, since dwarfs are so small. I watch my bunny all the time so i will be able to stop a fight if it breaks out,i let my bunny loose pretty much all day long in my house (he wears diapers), which gives the bunny plenty of room to run along. At night, my bunny stays in his playpen. I can't deal with two cages, so they will have to share room in the playpen. In it, is his open cage and some room for him to hop around. I was thinking if they can't stay together that maybe i can keep the dwarf in the cage, with a towel covering it, so that they will be no secret fighting and my bunny in the open space   (with some boxes and stuff for shelter). Can i keep an un-neutered male and a neutered male like that? If i have to neuter my bunny will it change is personality completely? Will it be painful for him? My house is big enough that it will be unlikely that they will start fighting at all since they probably wouldn't be able to find each other. Also there will be plenty of space for the bunnies to mark their own territories. Will it work? My biggest issue is will they fight to death and my bunny is big enough to easily hurt him. Please help!

Answer
Dear Rose,

Before you start any sort of bonding procedure, it is pretty much imperative that your bunny be neutered.  Unspayed females can be bonded to other rabbits, though it is not advisable because of the high risk of uterine cancer.  But intact males will almost always either fight viciously or try to mate unceasingly, generating fights.

Yes, his personality might be a little different:  he will be calmer, and his sex-hormone based behaviors will change.  He will be less likely to be aggressive, to circle your feet while "buzzing" his little love song, etc.  But he will also be calm enough to bond to another rabbit, preferably a spayed female.

If you absolutely cannot stand the idea of neutering him, then I would really not pursue the idea of another rabbit.  The ONLY way it might work is to have a female who undergoes a hysterectomy, but not an ovariectomy:  remove the uterus (to prevent cancer) but keep the ovaries.  This would keep her sexually receptive, and they would bond pretty easily.  The problem is that both bunnies would still engage in sex-related behaviors, such as spraying, false pregnancies for her, etc.

As you can see, it is not an easy situation.  

My recommendation would be to have your boy neutered, let him calm down for a month or two, and then seek some "blind dates" with spayed females from a local rabbit rescuer.  Careful, patient bonding and play dates are the key to long-term success.  You can find good tips for this here:

http://search.atomz.com/search/?sp-a=00062824-sp00000000&sp-q=bonding

I hope this will help you make the right decision.

Good luck!

Dana

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:
THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.


RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.

Experience

I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Organizations
Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Publications
Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Education/Credentials
Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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