While many people raise rabbits individually in cages, I’ve decided to raise my rabbits in colony. This means that my rabbits all live together – male, female, and kits – in a single, large habitat. I call it the rabbitat, because awesome.
This post is an overview of the how-to of raising rabbits in colony. Plus tons of cute pics of my bunnies, so stay for that!
- Rabbits in colony need about 10 square feet per adult rabbit. I have 240 square feet for my two does, one buck, and a variable number of kits moving through.
- They need protection from escaping, predators, and the weather. My rabbitat is made from wire cube shelving pieces places high enough to keep them in, and they have plenty of places to hide and get out of the weather.
- Rabbits need both places to hide under/in and places to jump on top of. In a colony this is especially important so they can all get away from one another if they like.
- Multiple feeding and watering spots to prevent fighting over food/water.
- Use multiple litter boxes, deep bedding, or regular bedding mucking to keep.
When you first set up your colony, you’ll need to take some care in how you introduce the rabbits to it. Rabbits can be territorial before they learn to be a family. You should only have one buck in your colony. Males younger than 12 weeks are fine but not multiple adult bucks.
If your rabbits are currently in individual cages, move the cages right next to one another. Feed your rabbits at adjacent spots of their cages so that they get used to being close and eating together.
If you have a buck, you may want to add him to the colony first since he is less likely to be territorial than does. Give him a day to make himself at home.
You can add all your does at once. If you have one doe that you know is more aggressive than others, add her last. Watch for any fighting, which you might notice only by seeing the injuries later. Most fighting will sort itself out in a day, as long as you have adequate climbing and hiding places for your rabbits.
When living in colony, the rabbits take care of their breeding cycles on their own. You can keep the buck in his own cage if you want more control, but I leave my buck in the colony. The does will find their own spots to have their litters. If you have trouble telling whose litter belongs to who, you can feel for the doe whose milk is in.
- Some people consider unrestrained breeding a drawback. I, however, love having different ages of kits at all times. You can always separate your buck into his own space if you want more control of the timing.
- A rabbitat can be a big, complicated space. It’s not portable like smaller cages or easy to move around your land if you decide you want to do that.
- The rabbits can be a little wilder if you’re not handling them all at feeding time like you might be able to do by feeding them one by one in individual cages.
- The rabbits are not isolated.
- They can have more space. Colony living typically gives a rabbit much more freedom of movement than if they were in a single cage.
- They obviously love it. My rabbits sleep together in a pile and groom each other. They behave very much like a small family. My buck is very gentle and playful with new kits, which is a delight to see.
- You get to offer your rabbits a more rabbit-y life. I get a lot of satisfaction from that.
What else would you like to know about raising rabbits in colony?