top of page

Different Habits for Different Rabbits

I recently posted on one of my homestead Facebook groups that my basil has all been killed off by an unexpected frost, so I'd fed it to my rabbits.

It was one of my lower-response rates that day, and the only comment I got was a gentleman who mentioned that he rabbits hated basil and he thought it was strange mine enjoyed it.

This got me thinking about the various tastes my animals seem to have for...well... everything. I always joke that out San Clemente Island goats are animals of exception. None of them climb... except one. None of them chew... except one. And so forth.

Their tastes are very different as well. Most of my goats turn their noses up at cattails until they are really desperate. Two of them, however, will bypass grain to jump the fence and go wading for the green yummies!

My rabbits too have different preferences, and my favorite observation has been that those tastes vary - not by individual - but by colony. Throw a pile of thistle into The Mob, and it will be investigated and then ignored. It will be ignored by Every. Single. Rabbit.

Throw the exact same pile into Wednesday's pen and it will be devoured in minutes. They can't get enough of it, and even the most submissive rabbits will be sniffing the ground looking for leftover scraps once the buffet it done. I don't meant to imply here that one rabbit begins to eat it and then others joined in. They all jumped in (pardon the pun) and began chowing down as soon as it hit the ground.

It isn't just food either. The females in my colonies have very definite preferences for bucks. We rotate the boys between the colonies to keep things from stagnating, and certain colonies seem to enjoy the company of certain bucks far more than others. In some cases they will actively pursue the male's attentions and in others they will run themselves ragged trying to avoid being mated. In other people's experience, the females won't allow the males to be present at all and often beat them up just for being around!

We used to think this was because some of the boys were just ruder than others. However, watching them for several years now, the boys also seems to have different preferences for the ladies! The does they enjoy spending time with they will approach gently, wash her ears, and cuddle her after. Other females they just want to be in-and-out!

Again, this varies by colony, not by individual. However, most of the colonies are made up of related rabbits at this point, meaning similar genetics between the does involved. Our guess (and it's a very lose, informal guess indeed!) is that both genders can smell compatibility with the others and have a preference for the "nice smells." We know this is true in humans, so why not in rabbits? All we can say for sure is that we do certainly get bigger and healthier litters from the pairs that enjoy spending time together than we do otherwise. In the future we hope to modify our breeding around this idea.

Weather is another example of differences in preference. The Wednesday colony will often be found out in all sort of precipitation, getting undercover in only the bitterest of cold. Our "Trio" pen, however, gets undercover the moment a brisk wind blows!

There is some individual differences here, though it's more gender than anything else - the boys almost never get in the boxes no matter what, though they will take advantage of a lean-to, tunnel or other shelter.

What differences do you notice between your rabbits? What foods do some like that others don't? Is it based on gender? Individual taste? Colony mob mentality? We'd love to hear your observations!

43 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page