Rabbits are very social creatures that don’t like to be alone. Yet it can be quite challenging to get two (or more) rabbits to bond and live together peacefully, because they are also quite territorial. We collected actual bonding stories for this article.
Vicky S: It took about 3 weeks for Big’s and Tux to “love” each other. And yes, big changes for me. Lots more cleaning, and not just the extra litter box. Tux loves to dig really big holes, Big’s never did that. He chews up her boxes, eats the food out of “her” bowl, and sometimes pees on the hay. But we love him just the same. Because they have so much fun running around together and sleeping together, even using the litter boxes at the same time! Big’s came to our house first. Someone dropped her off at the animal shelter in a box during the night. She was about 8 weeks old. I was going to foster her for The Children’s Educational Farm at the shelter. We all know how that goes – it’s been 3 years! She did live indoors for the first year. I would take her outside every day for some romping time. More and more she didn’t want to come in at the end of the day. The shelter bought a large outdoor hutch and I got a large fence and today Big’s is a happy outdoor bun. Anyway, about 6 months ago I noticed a mammory lump and took Big’s to see the shelter vet. It was determined to be a cancer. The only way to stop it was a spay and removal of several teats. After her recovery, I thought now is the time, since she is now spayed, to see if she would like a friend. At the shelter she is always hopping around the bunny room. Seemed to have a thing for Tux. He was there for a couple weeks. Took him home for a trial and did the through the fence thing for a few minutes at a time. It went ok. Putting them together, well Tux, being intact, just wanted to do the humpty-hump the whole time. But there was no biting.That is a good sign. The vet offered to do a neuter for me, couldn’t pass that up. After Tux’s healing, we did the fence thing again and gradually introduced them over about 2 weeks for longer and longer periods until they had a sleepover. I can safely say they have never had a fight! They have been together for about 4 months now. I think Tux is about 3 years old. But it doesn’t always happen that way. I have seen some nasty bunny fights. Bunnies can make some noises you have never heard before. When they are across the room from each other and charge it is not a pretty sight! Every story is different. I have a different one for my bunnies that live indoors. I have bonded buns several times and be aware that it doesn’t always work. Sometimes they just don’t like each other. Bunny fights are not a pretty sight. And sometimes it will take 2 people to get them apart. It shouldn’t get to that point!
Jennifer K: Indoor buns. Hobbes (tri-colour mixed breed) was a 2(ish) year old rescue bun when we got Indy at 8 weeks (blue otter mini lop). At first there was nipping through the cages. I bonded them when we’d had her 3 months and she was big enough. The first attempt was unsuccessful, he was nipping and pulling fur, then ignoring her. Unfortunately, I didnt have the time to see that through. On the 2nd occasion I sat with them for 6 hours on a piece of carpet in our kitchen. There was fur pulling and nipping on his part and submissive behaviour from her. At the end of the evening they were eating and being civilized. She seemed to have more social skills than him. I moved them to a small pen during the night, the next day they were fine and they’ve been together ever since. Although she was submissive to start with, Indy is now more dominant than Hobbes. He is so much more chilled out and happy since we got Indy. They are always up to mischief.
Maggie T: Betsy was the sweetest of my rabbits, but skittish. So I assumed bonding her would help her gain confidence. I attempted to bond her to one male, Bean (I would not subject her to the cruelness of Bella or Bambii), but that did not end so well. I attempted putting them together in a ‘neutral’ room, placing food in the room to distract them. Nothing worked, she just feared him (all 2 pounds of him). Then we received Beau, a lop. Reluctant to put Betsy through that turmoil again, I let it go, but one day a mix up occurred and both were let out for their free time at the same time. They avoided each other like the plague. Seeing this as an okay sign, I began to allow their free time to cross over for first 10, then 20, then 30 minutes. Again, I placed food down to distract and was always on the floor with them so one or the other could run to me if they felt threatened. It took about a month of this, and each time, Beau would try and procreate with Betsy (both being fixed). I would either distract him or she would run off. After that month, they would clean one another and wherever she went, he would follow. He ‘protected’ her from the cat (and us owners) and when he would get scared, he would run and hide his head under her tail. Bonded they became. ♥ Beau is now ill with E.Cuniculi, but on the mend. Betsy passed away a few days ago. They had not seen one another since Beau became ill in late April.
Diane R: I had one male bunny, but someone dumped another male bunny at my vet’s office and he ended up coming home with me. I tried the traditional way: get into the pen with them and let them interact, but be there to get between them if they fight. I tried this several times, but all they wanted to do was kill each other. Finally, I could stand it no longer (after at least two months) and so I placed them together in the traveling case and drove around for about 45 minutes. By the end of this trip, the two were cowering together for protection from the unknown. That was it. They got along after this well enough that they could be left alone without incident.
Brandon: My girlfriend and I bonded our two buns, Bunnard and Lyra, using a few methods. During the day, Lyra was kept in her own section of the living room (We had Bunnard for almost a year before adopting Lyra. Bunnard was a free range rabbit at this point as he proved to be very well behaved and trustworthy). This allowed them to see one another but not risk them harming each other. Everyday, we would switch one potties and a towel from one bun to the other. We would also lock one bun in the bedroom to allow the other one time to explore the others space. (Bunnard got the short end of that deal since we had to give Lyra more time to stretch her legs and get exercise). The idea behind these tactics were the same: get them use to the other’s scent/presence. At night, we had bunny dates in the bathtub. For the first week, the dates were 15 minutes. Second week, 30 minutes. Then the 3rd week, 45 minutes. At first, the ignored each other. Then the humping for dominance and the demands for grooming started. They never really fought, thankfully, but they were both very stubborn about who was going to be top bun! Eventually, Lyra won that contest, which is funny because of the two, she is the most skittish and timid! Today, they are totally in love with one another! Lyra also turned out to be an even better behaved bun and is free range. She even goes into the kitchen. Bunnard won’t even consider it, lol.
Josie S: Our male was food aggressive prior to being bonded with our girl. Now he shares food, hay, veggies, and treats with her. No problems. He has also stopped nipping at our hands at feeding time. Definitely a plus! On the negative side our female became quite defensive of her territory when the bonding process first began. She would nip at Bonham (the male) and chase him away from her favorite spots. She grew out of it as the bonding went on and now she shares her favorite places with him and wouldn’t have it differently. I guess I should say that we had Otis (the female) first, so I can understand why she may have acted like she did. It took us about a week and a half with our two to even be able to let them in the same room without fighting. Now they share everything!
Judy K: Put a touch of vanilla on their noses to mask scents. Put them together in a cage for a car ride and rub their fur together. Make sure you start in neutral space that has no scent of either to put them in. Start out slowly then increase the time spent together. These are some of the things BunnyLuv Shelter in Van Nuys had me do when we tried bonding bunnies. I volunteered there when I was working at UCLA. Oh, two older males usually were the most difficult. Male and female and young worked best, but I have 4 boys that got along well and all were introduced later in life.
Amber R: We bonded a rescue male to our female rabbit and there were no negatives! In fact it was beyond positive. Our female knew how to use the litter box, but refused to do so. She preferred to pee on our couch or anything else plush and soft. Yikes! We tried EVERYTHING to break her habit; Blocking off the couch, putting her in the litterbox after x amount of time. Finally we just got used to covering our couch with plastic mattress covers and sheets, thinking she was never going to change and this was just something we would have to put up with. When we adopted our little guy, he had great litter habits and only used the litter box. We were so worried he’d pick up her bad habit, but luckily it was just the opposite! Surprisingly, within a month he had taught our little girl how to use the litterbox! We have been couch pee free since then! It is truly remarkable how they teach each other!! Oh and not mention they are so much happier now that they have company.
Diana M: Let them look at each other, but be separated for awhile. Then supervise them, so they can’t attack or misbehave. Feeding them together, but at a safe distance, is a good way to get them comfortable. Some suggest play dates to see if two bunnies are compatible personality wise. If there is no fighting, it is always a good sign.
Racheal K: Since my bunny now has a buddy, no more cord chewing and no more carpet digging, because he no longer gets bored!
My girlfriend and I bonded our two buns, Bunnard and Lyra, using a few methods. During the day, Lyra was kept in her own section of the living room (We had Bunnard for almost a year before adopting Lyra. Bunnard was a free range rabbit at this point as he proved to be very well behaved and trustworthy). This allowed them to see one another but not risk them harming each other. Everyday, we would switch one potties and a towel from one bun to the other. We would also lock one bun in the bedroom to allow the other one time to explore the others space. (Bunnard got the short end of that deal since we had to give Lyra more time to stretch her legs and get exercise). The idea behind these tactics were the same: get them use to the other’s scent/presence. At night, we had bunny dates in the bathtub. For the first week, the dates were 15 minutes. Second week, 30 minutes. Then the 3rd week, 45 minutes. At first, the ignored each other. Then the humping for dominance and the demands for grooming started. They never really fought, thankfully, but they were both very stubborn about who was going to be top bun! Eventually, Lyra won that contest, which is funny because of the two, she is the most skittish and timid! Today, they are totally in love with one another! Lyra also turned out to be an even better behaved bun and is free range. She even goes into the kitchen. Bunnard won’t even consider it, lol.
Thank you for this great story! Added it to the post! It makes me feel good, because Bunny is going to get a female as well and he’s a well-behaved free-range bunny as well.
(Beau and Betsy)
I have two male bunnies (brothers), Boromir and Faramir, who we adopted from a Canadian rescue as babies. Right after they were neutered, they had an awful falling-out; Faramir kept attacking his brother, while Boromir cowered in the corner. Luckily, we own a bunny condo, so we separated each to a different floor when this happened, to prevent any serious injuries from occurring.
We purchased a new bunny play-pen and established this as neutral territory for playtime. I spent 2 weeks at home with them, armed with a spray bottle, sitting nearby during all scheduled play dates. If Faramir started to get nasty, he would get a little spray. I would put a little bit of peanut butter or banana on their foreheads, which encouraged them to groom each other. Gradually, they were able to spend more and more playtime together, and after 3 weeks they were re-bonded. Our house is peaceful again, and they are inseparable and snuggle together all the time!
Faramir (left) and Boromir (right): https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/399271_10152365307910455_659307152_n.jpg
They are beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story with us!