Rabbit Bonding: The Process
The Beginning step.
Now that you know the basics on Bunny bonding, lets talk about the steps and what you will expect with the process.
• For the first two weeks start by having two cages or pens side by side, one for each bunny. Make sure the cages/pens are at least 3" apart (so they can't touch noses to prevent any biting) By doing this step, each bunny can see and smell each other without fighting. It would be best to have their food bowls in the same corner (but different pen) so they are eating while looking at each other.
Each, or every other day switch out the bunnies litter boxes, but don't clean prior to switching. You can also switch pens so each bunny is living in a different pen, with the other bunny's scent. Of course you will need to clean the pens/cages each week (can't have a dirty cage!).
After a few days try to move the pens or cage closer to each other. If the bunnies try to nip through the bars, move the pens/cages back. But if they try to groom each other, or lay next to each other you may begin the next step.
Introductions or Bonding Steps
• Before you introduce both bunnies, pick an neutral territory where neither bunny has been. This may be a bath tub, a laundry room, living room etc.
It is recommended to have a towel, a dust pan or a spray bottle of water near by in case of any attacking from either bunny. Start 10 minutes each day, and increase or decrease depending how your bunnies act. If the bunnies do attack each other, you will need to separate the bunnies and go back to step 1.
• It is common for one bunny to be the dominate one. This bunny will try to tell the other bunny who's the boss by mounting (humping). Mounting shouldn't be longer than a minute long as this can annoy the other bunny. Gently push away the top bunny if the mounting continues pass a minute. Do not allow any mounting on the head, this can result in fights.
• There may be hair pulling and chasing from the dominate bunny, this is normal behavior, but you don't want excessive chasing. You may have a spray bottle handy (only with water) and spray the dominate bunny to try and redirect. (When I did this my dominate bunny stopped to groom himself)
• There are different types of bonding. Bunny dating (speed bonding) and Stress bonding.
Bunny dating happens when you take your current neutered or spayed bunny to your Rabbit rescue where they let your bunny choose their own partner from meeting different types of bunnies, big or small. This may be the easiest way to bond as you're not picking the bunny. Rescues will watch how your bunny acts around each bunny, and try to bond your bunny matching his or her personality.
Stress bonding is when you put both bunnies in a small area (like a laundry basket) and go for a 15-20 minute car ride each day (best to have someone with you to watch the bunnies), keep them in moving motion, putting the basket on top of a moving washer or dryer etc. I tend to like stress bonding as it helps the bunnies get "closer" wanting each others support.
Once I feel comfortable how the bunnies act with each other during their neutral bonding steps. I expand the neutral space they are in. This can be a small play pen. This may take days, or weeks of daily bonding sessions. Each week expand the area and provide some tasty veggies to distract, or hay to munch on.
When I bonded my two boy bunnies, I moved the bonding sessions in different areas, such as outside or in the living room while the humans watch tv.
When can you trust the bunnies to be alone? When the bunnies start ignoring each other, laying close or near, or grooming each other you may begin the next and final step.
Final Step- living together
Once you can trust your bunnies without any supervision, or redirecting one of the bunnies. You may put the bunnies in their permanent living space. Before you do this their pen or cage must be thoroughly cleaned with white vinegar water mix and rearrange so it's "new" with clean fleece blankets or rugs. This helps so the pen does not have an scent, with territory.
If they get along just fine in their area, I consider them bonded. For the first night you would want to supervise in case of any fight outbreak
Have any questions or bonding stories? We would love to hear feedback!
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