Rabbits are adorable, wonderful companions, and you’re thinking of buying or adopting one. You can’t help but wonder if gender plays a role in how well-behaved your bunny will be. Do male or female rabbits make better pets?
Some rabbit experts believe male rabbits are the better choice for a pet. These rabbits may have more of a natural curiosity as well as act more affectionate and attentive towards their owners.
Does that mean you shouldn’t ever have a female rabbit as a pet? Are all males more affectionate than females? Keep reading, as we’ll address those questions in this article.
We do want to preface this section by mentioning that just because some male rabbits have a reputation of being sweeter doesn’t mean every single one will. As you know from this blog, rabbits are intelligent creatures with their own unique personalities. Some will show affection more or and others less regardless of gender.
What Makes Male Rabbits a Great Pet?
Let’s begin by talking about male rabbits and why you’d want them as a pet over females. As we mentioned in the intro, according to Australian breeder All Ears, males tend to have more of the traits we love in our pet bunnies. These include a curiosity for their surroundings that causes them to explore their environment.
Male rabbits may also show more affection towards their owners. Some people might be surprised by this, assuming females would be more lovey, but in rabbits, it’s often males.
Also, boy bunnies possess an attentiveness that makes them fun to be around. No pet owner likes to feel ignored by their furry, four-legged friend. With a male rabbit, that’s less likely.
If you have children, a male rabbit might still be the way to go. All Ears says males have more tolerance for handling than females, even if it’s children doing it.
…and a Not-So-Great Pet?
That’s not to say all male rabbits act like little angels. These bunnies can get sexual towards almost anything. They could hump people, toys, cushions, and other males or bucks.
Male rabbits also are also more likely to act aggressively than females, which can make owning one tough. Oh yes, and they spray, too. What’s spraying? This is where a rabbit marks their territory by well, spraying their urine around whatever’s nearby. That’s not so fun to clean up…at all.
What Makes Female Rabbits a Great Pet?
Female rabbits tend to display much less aggression compared to males, which is a nice perk. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever get nipped or scratched by a female, but it won’t happen out of sexual urges or frustrations. Also, some female rabbits will display the same affection, attentiveness, and curiosity as males. As we said before, it all depends on the rabbit’s personality.
…and a Not-So-Great Pet?
Female rabbit ownership has its downsides, too. These bunnies or does tend to get very protective over who and what they believe is their territory. If you have more than one rabbit, this issue can rear its ugly head in a big way.
Humans aren’t necessarily exempt, either. If you have a big family, a female rabbit may have a preference for one person over another and have no problem showing it. These rabbits are often likened to bullies, and for good reason. If you have other pets that aren’t rabbits, they might bore the brunt of a female bunny’s possessiveness as well.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between Male and Female Rabbits?
Now that you know more about the personalities of male and female rabbits, you may wonder how to tell the difference between the two genders. It’s not as easy as it is for cats or dogs, where you can look between the legs and get a pretty obvious clue about the animal’s gender.
Sometimes animal sanctuaries and pet stores can’t differentiate between male and female rabbits. That’s because rabbits have relatively hidden genitalia. Yes, even males.
You could look at your rabbit, assume their gender, and then discover months or years later that you were incorrect. Sadly, that may mean finding out the hard way when your rabbit reproduces and someone gets pregnant.
To avoid that situation, take your rabbit to the vet as soon as you get them. You should do this anyway for the health of your new pet. Even if you have a young rabbit, a trained veterinarian can determine whether your rabbit has male or female genitalia. Once you get confirmation of your rabbit’s gender, you can decide how you want to care for them.
Should You Spay/Neuter Your Rabbit?
Speaking of caring for a young rabbit, we strongly recommend getting them spayed or neutered early. We’ve written an in-depth guide on these surgeries on this blog, so read that post if you missed it. Spay/neuter surgery costs less than you expected and isn’t nearly as painful for the rabbit as you would have imagined.
If you have two rabbits living together and they’re opposite genders, you must spay/neuter at least one of them. This prevents unwanted pregnancies.
A pregnant bunny means you end up with tons of baby rabbits. A doe may have one rabbit, but that’s rare. Much more likely, you’ll end up with at least six rabbits. Sometimes, female rabbits can have up to 14 babies in a single litter.
You then have a choice to make. You could keep the babies and raise them yourself. This will cost you a lot of money. You’ll have vet bills multiplied by at least six rabbits, and you can’t forget the mama, either. She’ll need special care throughout her pregnancy and after giving birth.
Then there’s your other option, rehoming the rabbits. This presents risks, too. You could sell the rabbits off to a pet shop, but you never know who will take them. Sure, most shelters will accept your rabbits, but that’s only if they have the room. Once these shelters fill up, they often have no choice but to euthanize some pets to make space for more. It’s a sad but true reality.
If you have friends or family willing to accept the rabbits, that’s the best-case scenario. Still, how many rabbits will they take? Probably one, maybe two, tops. That leaves you with four or five other rabbits that need homes.
That’s why you should always spay/neuter your rabbits. If one or both rabbits of opposite genders have yet to receive the surgery, make sure they get it.
Another even better benefit to getting this surgery for your rabbit? Those sexually-driven behaviors that make your rabbit a not-so-fun companion are gone.
A rabbit’s aggression, humping, and spaying urine all stem from their sexual urges. Once they get a spay/neuter surgery, those urges go away. That means a female rabbit becomes just as viable a companion as a male one. Both genders can show the affection, love, and attentiveness you want.
Oh yeah, and if you’re not quite convinced, have we mentioned that rabbits that get spayed or neutered tend to live longer? It’s true. Without the drive to find a mate, rabbits are less likely to engage in risky behavior like fights with other bunnies. This gives them a better chance at a longer, healthier, happier life with you.
Can a Male and Female Live in the Same Enclosure?
As we mentioned in the last section, if you have a male and a female rabbit together in the same cage and neither are spayed/neutered, bad things will happen. The rabbits will undoubtedly reproduce at some point. Then one of your bunnies will get pregnant.
Even if you have two rabbits of opposite gender that you want to live together, consider spay/neuter surgery. Yes, it’s true these rabbits can’t get each other pregnant. Still, all the unwanted behavior an unspayed/unneutered rabbit may exhibit makes putting two rabbits together a risk. They could fight and hurt one another.
Again, you’re then looking at high vet bills to get your rabbits all patched up. Even once your rabbit receives professional treatment, if you put them back in the same enclosure, they’ll likely fight again and suffer more injuries.
We’re not saying rabbits won’t ever live together harmoniously. Spaying/neutering them drastically increases the chances of that happening, though.
If you care about having an affectionate, attentive rabbit, then most times, choose a male. They tend to exhibit kinder traits than female rabbits. Do keep in mind that all rabbits have different personalities, so that may not be universally true.
Rabbits of both genders can display some nasty behaviors. These include humping, spraying urine, and aggression. By getting your bunnies spayed/neutered, these sexually-driven behaviors disappear for good.
A rabbit makes for a great pet no matter the gender. By caring for the rabbit, preventing unwanted pregnancies, and giving them a nice environment, you can ensure you have a happy rabbit that loves being around you.