Bonding Multiple Rabbits
While rabbits are sociable animals who enjoy group living, they are territorial and protective due to their prey nature. For adopters who has rabbit/s and looking to adopt another, we will advise that their rabbits are certified healthy and sterilized prior to meeting new friends. The introduction process, known as ‘bonding’, can take months and can be stressful for both the rabbit and the owner. It is important both the animals and the humans are well prepared for the journey.
To select compatible rabbits, our volunteers will consider their age, sex, breed and personalities. We will invite adopters and their bunnies to our adoption drive and based on what we observe, we will identify a suitable match and advise them on how to continue the bonding in their own home.
Here are some recommendations we provide to adopters on bonding rabbits:
1. House the new rabbit in a playpen next to the resident rabbit/s so they can see each other all the time.
2. Place their litterbox and bowls facing each other to encourage more ‘face time’.
3. Switch litterboxes, toys or playpen so they can get used to each other’s smell.
4. Allow both rabbits to interact in a neutral space for 10-15 minutes daily. Gradually increase the time or frequency if you notice good interaction. (Tip: A good way to ‘neutralize’ a space is wiping it down with vinegar + water solution at least twice and rinse with water)
5. Typically, 2-3 weeks is enough for rabbits to be calmer around each other. When they are able to co-exist in the same space for over an hour, you can house them together overnight and observe.
6. Feed, pellets or even treats together to build ‘happy experience’. If any of the rabbits has food anxiety, it’s ok to feed using separate bowls to minimize stress.
7. If the rabbits do mount or chase, calm them down by head rubs and gently move them side by side to increase contact.
8. If the rabbits chase too much, place both of them in a top-open carrier and give head massage to calm them down. You can carry the carrier around the house or even the neighbourhood for 10-15 minutes to increase ‘adventures’ together.
Bonding is never overnight and do require owners to commit to the process. It should be done with love and patience to ensure a lasting relationship. We do not use stress bonding techniques such as shouting, loud music, or letting them ‘fight it out’ as that can lead to negative emotions. However, we try to control the environment with smaller space and close supervision to ensure safe interaction.
We do encourage all our adopters to conduct the bonding in the comfort of their own home. In event more experienced help is needed, we will recommend home boarders such as ‘My Happy Tales’ and Little Bobtail Resort’ to assist.