Basics of Bunny Introductions
The very best way to find a friend for your rabbit is to let your rabbit choose. Many rabbit people come to HRS when looking for a second rabbit because of several advantages we offer. First and foremost, adopting a rabbit from HRS allows us to rescue another rabbit waiting at a local shelter and thus saves a life. All our foster rabbits are already spayed and neutered. This makes it possible to let your rabbit interact with a number of potential mates. If your rabbit is not already spayed/neutered, we advise you to have this surgery taken care at least 2 weeks before scheduling a “date”. This is crucial, not only for obvious reproductive health reasons, but because unspayed or un-neutered rabbits can be very territorial and are far less likely to accept a new bunny friend.
The Big Date:
For the first “date” the adopters bring their rabbits to one of our foster homes. We gather as many of our fosterers and foster rabbits together for these events as we can. Because this usually involves at least a one hour drive for the fosterers not in the immediate vicinity, we need adopters to be patient while we juggle multiple schedules to find the date most convenient for everyone.
The rabbit is then introduced to a series of prospective partners, one at a time, in neutral territory. Fosterers supervise and separate rabbits when necessary. It’s interesting to see the very different reactions a particular rabbit may display to each potential match. He may ignore bachelorette #1, chase bachelorette #2, but let bachelorette #3 mount him. Opposite sex usually works best but same sex matches are not ruled out. After these initial introductions, fosterers then give their opinions on who they think will be the best and easiest match. Sometimes there is only one likely candidate and sometimes several. That is determined solely by the adopter’s rabbit.
Once the adopter and her rabbit have agreed upon a suitor, a date is set for the actual bonding. Although an experienced rabbit person may choose to handle this part themselves, we find that most people are relieved to have one of our fosterers do it for them. The fosterer supervises the rabbits in neutral territory until she feels they are ready to go home. Peaceful co-existence is usually achieved by the end of the week, although some bunnymoons may take a bit longer. After the newlyweds are returned home, the adopter is usually advised to keep the rabbits in a neutral area at home for about another week to be on the safe side. The fosterer keeps in close contact with the adopter to smooth the way to happiness.
If you think you are ready to take the plunge, please fill out our on-line adoption application. Click here
So you took the plunge and on impulse got your bunny a friend, to find out it’s not that simple–they HATE each other….
- First and foremost, both rabbits MUST be spayed or neutered to greatly diminish any territorial tendencies.
- Find a neutral part of your home for the introductions. Even spayed/neutered rabbits can be quite territorial, so this is important.
- If the rabbits are showing a lot of sexual interest (humping for example) don’t stop it–this is a lot better than aggression and it will subside as the bunnies get acquainted. Don’t be surprised to see a female rabbit humping a male (or another female)–this behavior is in part a dominance behavior, and sometimes the female is the top bun. Closely supervise this and stop any circling behavior. Males might pull hair from females during this phase–don’t worry as long as the bunnies aren’t upset. A water sprayer can come in quite handy here to fend off aggression with a quick squirt to the aggressor.
- A great way to get 2 buns used to being close is to put them in a cat-style carrier. Put the carrier on top of a running washing machine, or take the rabbits for a car ride! They will be upset about being in the carrier and will huddle together for comfort. It does wonders for getting them used to being close. After the carrier session, let them out together again for a short time. Immediately stop any aggression and call it quits for that session. Short positive sessions are the most effective with rabbits that really don’t like each other.
- Leave one rabbit in a cage in the same room as the other, uncaged rabbit. Sometimes it works to swap cages for a while. Eventually the rabbits will get used to having the other around.
- Just remember, with patience, they WILL eventually become friends.
- For an interesting article with lot’s of bonding tips, check out www.mybunnies.com/bonding.htm
- For more info, Check out http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/introductions.html