I get asked a lot, through my sales staff, from customers, how to bond bunnies so I thought I’d write a ‘How To’ guide.
Whilst this is a good method for bonding bunnies and has been successful for me in most cases the internet will give you many other versions of it, so, as with most things, learn as much as you can before trying.
1 Have 2 (or more, though more than 2 is going to be harder) bunnies you wish to bond. If you don’t have bunnies you’ve sort of failed at the first hurdle! Maybe try sock puppets?
2 Are your bunnies neutered and healed? If not, and if they’re over 6 months old, find a good vet and have your bunnies neutered. Give them time to heal separately, about 2-6 weeks, before attempting bonding.
3 Identify a neutral space in your home to try bonding. I recommend the kitchen or the bathroom (assuming that neither bunny has been in there and scented it) because these rooms typically have slippy floors. This means that if the rabbits fight they will find it harder. It also means if they create droppings or urinate it’s easy to deal with.
A. Put treats in the middle of the floor, these can include: Carrot tops, Kale, Cabbage, Broccoli, Sprouts, Fresh Grass, Dandelion Leaves or Food Nuggets. Ideally at least 2 or 3 different treats.
B. Do NOT put a litter tray in the area. During bonding, rabbits may fight over the litter tray as a territorial dispute. If you’re insistent on one (which I don’t recommend) get a massive shallow tray that could fit many rabbits in it.
C. Wear thick leather gloves, ideally motorbike ones that also cover your wrist. This is to protect you if a rabbit bites you if you have to separate a fight.
5. Introduce your bunnies. A helper is handy but alternatively 2 cardboard boxes or 2 bunny carry cases will be fine. Put them both in the middle of the room on either side of the treats. Stay close.
6. What will happen now? A few things may happen now. They may start eating. They may explore individually. They may take interest in each other. They probably won’t immediately fight but be alert. Look up online how to interpret bunny body language to understand what mood your bunnies are in. Are they content? Are they scared? Are they angry? Ear, tail position, stance can give an impression of this and the internet is a great source of info.
7. Perfect World: They cuddle up next to each other and start grooming each other. Unlikely, but possible. Realistically you may see some humping as they try to identify dominance. They may just eat (which is good). They may ignore each other (also good, it means they don’t see the other as a threat). They may chase each other (not great but if they’re not fighting it doesn’t matter). They may fight (break it up immediately, be thankful for the gloves). If they fight, decide if you want to keep trying, if you do, put them either side of the food again and be even more vigilant. If you don’t wish to continue look for a ‘Bunny Bonding’ rescue centre near you and call them asking to help.
8. Gently increase the time you let your 2 rabbits spend with each other until they’re happy lying with each other and grooming each other. At that point put them into their new ‘together’ home.
9. If you’re not putting them into a new home but into one of their old homes or a combination of the 2 previous homes you need to be aware this may cause problems with your newly bonded pair. Rabbits are very territorial and do not welcome ‘newbies’ into their area. Therefore, wash and scrub the old home/s before liberally spraying with strong vinegar (buy a garden sprayer for £1 and a couple of big bottle of vinegar). Spray all the wood that the rabbit/s could have ‘chinned’, scented, to saturate it with vinegar. This should neutralise a lot of the scent and reduce the likelihood of problems when you introduce the 2 rabbits to the one home. Let the vinegar soak in and wipe off excess so they don’t lick it.
10. Keep an eye on them for an hour or 2 in their new home to ensure they’re settling in. Be very vigilant for the next couple of weeks. Fur everywhere means problems and you may need to separate them and try again.
11. Not all rabbits can be bonded, but before giving up I would recommend trying a bonding centre first.
12. Also, please understand, this is a basic guide to bonding, there is a lot of information on the internet some of which at least you should read to get different takes on bonding. This method described is fairly typical and has worked for me but it has also failed a couple of times. Bunnies can literally kill and maim each other if they fight so do not take bonding lightly and learn as much as you can before trying. When you try it be confident, not nervous, around your rabbits. As with all things of this nature, we cannot be held responsible for any negative results from bonding, so consider this an introduction and beginning of a learning curve you need to go through before attempting bonding.
13. Good luck and remember, you’re doing a great thing, bonded pairs are so much happier than solitary rabbits, you will see a big positive difference in their behaviour and, whilst they can’t say it, they will be so grateful you’ve got them a friend!
Rabbits need to be neutered for their own health and happiness. Un-neutered rabbits would have to live alone if left un-neutered which is not fair on such as sociable animal. There are many reasons for this; to stop over breeding, aggression and to stop them getting cancer (although this is not guaranteed, it does reduce the chances). Once they are neutered and bonded, they can move into the Rabbitopia which will provide them with all the housing needs they could want, enriching their lives even further. For more on this amazing revolutionary new shelter and enclosure, visit our website www.dunsterhouse.co.uk/rabbitopia or call our sales team on 01234 272 445.