Rabbits Living With Rabbits

Information pulled from the House Rabbit Connection’s rabbit care guide.

Rabbits thrive on social interaction with humans and other species. In most cases, your rabbit would also enjoy sharing with another rabbit. Introducing one rabbit to another is known as bonding and is a process that requires commitment, time and patience.

Increasing the success of the bond:

  • Make sure that both rabbits have been spayed/neutered.
  • Consider personality type – two dominant personalities are difficult to bond.
  • Consider gender – male-female pairs are generally easier to bond.
  • Consider age – older rabbits are less energetic than youngsters.
  • Use neutral territory – this will eliminate territorial behavior during bonding dates.
  • Be patient – don’t rush the process. Your rabbit’s body language will guide you.
  • Be consistent – start with 20 minutes a day, add 5 minutes each day, don’t skip a day, once bonded never separate even when going to the vet.

Step One: The First Date

Positive signs to watch for include:

  • Sniffing and snuggling (indicates the possibility of love at first sight)
  • One rabbit chasing and/or attempting to mount, and the other rabbit running away (indicates dominant/submissive match)
  • Both rabbits pretending to have no interest in each other (indicates a personality “match” and the likelihood of an easy bond)

Warning signs:

  • Both rabbits attacking each other
  • One rabbit attempts to attack the other

Step Two: Getting Used to Each Other’s Presence

  • Set up each rabbit’s “home base” so the rabbits can be near each other with the wall of the crate, screen, or animal gate in between.
  • Watch for positive signs like grooming and lying side by side on opposite sides of the barrier.
  • This stage of the process can be as short as a few days or as lengthy as several months.
  • Do not move on to step three until you see the rabbits exhibiting these positive behaviors.

Step Three: Supervised Visits

Neutral territory, where neither rabbit “owns” the space, will reduce the sense of territorialism that may result in aggressive behaviors. Use a hallway or area that is “new” to both rabbits. Use a pen to close off bedroom doorways to make sure both stay close enough so that you can quickly intervene if necessary.

Be as consistent as possible:

  • Hold daily supervised visits
  • Begin with short dates of 5 minutes
  • Increase the length of the dates by 5-10 minutes daily
  • Try to end visits BEFORE a rabbit is nipped by the other

Expect to see:

  • Mounting and/or chasing behaviors
  • Some fur flying as the rabbit mounting the other may latch on by grabbing the scruff of the other rabbit with teeth
  • Be vigilant to ensure that no actual fighting occurs

Prepare to intervene quickly if necessary:

  • Wear oven mitts or gardening gloves to protect your hands if you need to reach in between two excited rabbits.
  • Separate your rabbits if they face off and begin biting, begin circling each other with tails up, or if the passive rabbit cannot get away and becomes trapped.

Encourage grooming:

  • If the supervised visits are lasting 30-40 minutes without grooming, encourage the behavior by putting a dab of banana or jarred baby food (fruit) on the bridge of each rabbit’s nose.
  • You are ready to move on once your rabbits begin grooming and snuggling during supervised visits.

Step Four: Sharing Living Quarters

Your rabbits are almost bonded! The final step in the process requires just a little more of your time and supervision to ensure that your bunnies accept their shared living arrangements.

  • Set aside a 24-hour time period where you can work on projects, nap or engage in some activity that allows you to remain close to your rabbit’s new home base.
  • Put the rabbits into the confined area you selected.
  • Remain in close range in case you need to intervene.
  • Once your rabbits have spent a peaceful 24 hours together sharing space, your work is done.

Forced Bonding

Forced bonding techniques like taking your rabbits on car rides together are not as effective as gradual bonding and are quick to deteriorate when the dynamics of the pair’s relationship changes. Forced bonding is not recommended.


 

Rabbits Living With Rabbits

Connecticut Humane Society

701 Russell Road, Newington, CT 06111
800-452-0114 | FAX 860-665-1478   info@cthumane.org 
The Connecticut Humane Society is a 501(c)(3)
non-profit organization. EIN: 06-0667605
Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society

Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society