Rabbit in colony setup


Apr 26, 2016
Hi, I'm wondering if it would be OK to room a male rabbit with 2 does and 9, 10 week old, kits? The space of the room they're in (not cage room) is at least 8x10.
One doe has already been mated with (2 days ago).
I could keep the poor guy in a cage but if I have the space I want him to be more free.
Floor is concrete but I've put top soil, shavings and hay up to 3 inches.


Crossing the Road
7 Years
Jun 23, 2013
The Big Island/Hawaii
Is there a way to section off a space for the male? I wouldn't unless you don't mind having another pregnant doe plus any female kits. If my memory serves me right, a doe will breed a month after she kindles & a female kit is "mature" to breed at 3 - 6 months. It's been years (many years) so I maybe wrong but you'll be happier sectioning off a portion of the room for your buck. He has company and no unplanned litters.


POOF Goes the Pooka
11 Years
Nov 27, 2009
Wilmington, NC
The buck will most likely try it on with anything he can reach - and that will mean the young males, as well. That generally means fights, during which both can get seriously injured.

Does usually become fertile again immediately after kindling; if a doe is kept with a buck, she often will breed and give birth about once a month.


9 Years
Apr 27, 2011
Capital District, NY
I never understood the whole colony breeding thing.

They really don't enjoy living with each other. It's also a great way to spread disease, quickly. Your buck will over breed the does, and attempt to breed the kits as well.


12 Years
Mar 19, 2009
Nobody asked me and I should stay out of this, but from what I have seen, raising rabbits in a colony is not only asking for trouble, it is sitting up and begging for it. Rabbits are not social animals.


Apr 26, 2016
Yep did some more research, it's much better for them to be caged. Now i'll have to make some good cages.


The Moonshiner

I'm Kind Of A Big Deal
Premium Feather Member
Nov 17, 2016
We have had rabbits living in colonies for almost three years now.
Ive raised rabbits on and off for decades and until these i always did the cage thing. I do remember times when we housed a couple does together without issues but i always thought they couldnt get along. Id seen many a fights when two rabbits were put together.
The whole colony thing wasnt on purpose for us. At least in the beginning. The plan was the same old cage system and we do have some that are cage raised now.
My kids had been wanting some so we got some cages setup and everything ready to go. We went to a small animal auction and they had a ton of rabbits for auction.
Well they werent hardly selling so they started stacking them together to even get bids. We went home with twenty something rabbits. Planned to keep some and take the others back to auction the next month.
Buying more then i was set up to house was the first of many mistakes or bad judgement on my part. I threw most of them together in an extra large chicken grow out pen. Its 6' chain link attached to a large lean to shelter. All grass so after a few squabbles they seem to co exsist and just ran around eating grass and lounging around. Worried about fighting since there were probably half males and ive never known males to not try to kill each other. I think the large amount of room and plenty of hiding places helped keep the peace the first couple days as I scrambled to get pens set up. Well by the night of day two i guess they had had enough of that set up because they burrowed under the fence in two places and we woke to almost all of them loose. I started trying to box trap them and was able to capture about half in about a week. We skirted a smaller pen and put them in it. That night they tunneled more then three feet under the skirting and were on the run again.
I set up two smaller areas in our barn and skirted one by digging two feet down and adding wire. The other i completely burried chainlink about six inches under the dirt.
We now had some caged individually. Some in each of the smaller pens and some still running loose. By now i had noticed that the females and younger ones were getting along or at least not tearing each other up. Males were still fighting and some had damaged ears. My concern now was getting the males separated. We did the colony thing with about four or five females with one male. They got along but yes the males were breeding everything in sight. The males on the loose started spreading out and setting up territories. They scuffled every now and again and the females moved from one males area to the next and went any where they wanted. Again tbe males breed everything they could.
Most that were loose stayed loose they were getting to smart to fall for the traps by now. I decide those were now our free range rabbits and let them do as they pleased. I did the cage set up to be able to selective breed the ones we wanted and worked on thinning the ones in the colony pens down and removed all males.
Fast forward and we started have a lot of babies. The colony does had babies all together. We did loose litters. A couple eat their own but for the most part we lost the litters to snakes and rats and such. The colony set ups kept going the same way. We did eventually leave one male with them at all times for months and months. After the colony was set up and after the first couple litters they quit breeding so much. That first year we averaged four litters a year per doe. Very seldom did they have litters in the winter but we did loose some to the cold and continued to loose babies in their first week or two to predators. Everything seems to want to eat rabbits. To stop the predators they would need to be fully enclosed with hardware mesh which meant a ton of cash or smaller pens. My conclusion is they have done great as far as living together in a colony. As far as raising rabbits in a colony that didnt work out so great. They are like most anything if you add a new member there are fights for a few days but then they relax when the pecking order is straightened out.
Now for the free range group. They have done the best. We did loose some adults to predators. Acually the first year we lost quite a few. They had several litters and same issue with losing litters to predators but on average more made it to adult age then the penned ones in our barn did. Its our third year now and we still have many free ranging. Some completely wild out in the pastures and some spend time in the pastues and barn. Many of them are fairly tame and could be caught.
At dusk and dawn our yard is littered with rabbits playing and eating grass. As ive watched them over time they are very social. Of course there are still males that cant stand any other males but theres many males that have gotten along and do spend all their time together.
They remind me of praire dogs. Some will stand tall and be look out while others eat and play. When a threat comes they will stomp their feet and everyone scatters. They groom each other, play together and share burrows. The free range seem the happiest and healthest. Our caged rabbits mostly just lay around.
Im hoping to soon have some larger completely enclosed pens set up and do the colony thing and eliminate all the smaller cages. If I can keep everything from getting to the babies i believe the colony set up will produce the same results with breeding as individual housed caged breeding does.
As for diseases it my opinion that wont be a concern. Ive not had any issue as of now and believe disease issues would be my fault from poor husbandry if itndid happen and nothing to do with colony raising. Ive seen meat rabbit operations where the rabbits were racked and stacked, crap piled 6" deep under cages, poorly lite sheds with hardly any air flow. Thats where disease issues come from. Poor management not the numbers in one enclosure.
I have to completely disagree with some of the info about how colony raising wont work. For us its been like about every other animal. Some just dont want to get along. Most do fine once pecking order is set. Intact males with other intact males around females can create problems. Changing the members of a group to often can cause stress and fights.
As of today i would agree cage set ups are the best for breeding and vetting the most kits. Im hoping to prove colony set ups will do just as well once i can correct our predator problems.
As for health, happiness etc. I believe colonies do a lot better then cage systems. Theres ups and downs with any set ups and all will work with the right management and common sense. Honestly ive lacked in management and common sense at times and have still not had the issues some claim. I know the biggest reason ive been as lucky as I have been is mostly owed to the fact that ive used larger areas. My cages are about three times the recommended sizes. My colony pens are spacious with hiding places and the free rangers have all the space they decide they want. I can image over crowding would not work as well with colonies but it doesnt work well with caged rabbits either.
Im not telling anyone to go to colony raising because its better or that cage raising is wrong in any way for others. This is just my story of our rabbit adventures these last few years.
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The Moonshiner

I'm Kind Of A Big Deal
Premium Feather Member
Nov 17, 2016

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