Rabbits will try to associate themselves with an existing warren and consequently create pheromone conditions which support social frictions. This pheromonal behavior adversely affects a proportion of the population, usually the subordinate animals. Conditions in any warren, while detri- mental to some individuals, are beneficial to the species by acting as a density regulating mechanism. Imprinting to the odor of its own species is undoubtedly a factor attracting an individual to an area occupied by conspecifics.
Odor associated with the space occupied by animals can be perceived even by man. It is not difficult to detect rat or mouse infested premises from the pheromone odors or to tell a horse stable from a dairy shed. These ‘odors are derived from the spontaneously deposited metabolic products as well as from deliberate space marking activities. Different patterns of spatial distribution of sympatric genetically related species, capable of breeding under laboratory conditions, assist speciation. Young rabbits still at nestling stage, when given the choice between artificial nests with and without rabbit odor, display apreference for the nests which had the scent of their own species (Gambale and Dudzinski, unpublished) according to http://hartch25.weebly.com/our-marketing-blog/if-you-believe-in-the-pheromones-hype
Specic odor of a social pheromone
There is ample evidence that when animals enter the area of a strange population they can detect it because of its characteristic pheromone odor.
Many people claim that they can distinguish the smell of different colonies of mice or rats. The pheromone odors are both intrinsic and extrinsic in origin. The intrinsic odor may be affected by food. Thus rats inhabiting a pig-sty smell differently from those living in a cold store, which carry the scent of trimethylamine or from a sh curing room, which smell of buccoline (Steinbrecher 1962)
The behavior of a rabbit entering the home range of a strange colony suggests that it is reacting to olfactory cues. It adopts a characteristic body posture, moves cautiously, exploring olfactorily the surroundings. It suspends eating and marking, displays a submissive posture to all permanent residents of the ground and is ready to withdraw at the slightest aggressive provocation. In the course of an experimental study of the aggressive behavior of adult female rabbits towards immature individuals, it has been demonstrated that kittens born within a strange colony were more severely attacked than kittens born to members of the same group.
When the adult females were blindfolded it became clear that olfactory identification was involved (Mykytowycz and Dudzinsky 1972). Considering the high level of aggression of adult females to the kittens born to members of strange groups, it is important for the young rabbits early in their lives to recognize the characteristic odor of their own groups so that they can confine their movements to the area in which they remain protected from attacks by strange does and individuals of their own age (Mykytowycz and Ward 1971; Mykytowycz and Dudzinski 1972).
Formation of group odors has been discussed elsewhere (Mykytowycz 1973) and it has been suggested that in the rabbit as in other species, e.g. sugar glider, Petaurus breviceps papuanus Thomas (Schultze-Westrum 1969), all members of a group add towards the characteristic odor, but that the dominant males are the most important contributors as they are the best equipped to produce scent and are most actively engaged in its pheromonal distribution.