Rabbits can bond and be companions
To feel safe, it is important that rabbits always share a home with at least one another rabbit. Because they are social animals, they enjoy being with other Rabbits can bond and can also groom each other.
Being together will ensure that they have companionship. Even though rabbits enjoy being with people, they cannot be fed by their own company. Rabbits are active at night, dawn and dusk, so even if your rabbit is very affectionate, it will not be possible to keep them company.
Keep your rabbits close together
Rabbits can bond may live happily together.
- A neutered male and neutered female are often the best combination.
- Two litter-brothers or two litter-sisters – even though there is no chance of pregnancy, it’s important that you still neuter your litters as hormones can make them fight as they age.
- A compatible pair – although it’s possible for more than 2 rabbits to be kept together, bonding can become more complicated if the rabbits are not related or neutered in an early stage.
If they are introduced earlier (less than 12 weeks of age usually), unrelated same-sex bunnies will often get along well. They must be neutered in order to avoid them getting out of control as they age.
What if I have only one rabbit?
Even if you only have one rabbit, it is possible for them to form a bond with another rabbit.
A young rabbit, less than 12 weeks of age, can be easily bred to a new rabbit. It might take some time if your older rabbit is able to be introduced. Your rabbit will soon find a companion with patience and support.
Many rescue centres have both single and married rabbits that are looking for homes. Our experts can help you make sure your rabbits are safe.
Prepare to Introduce Rabbits
Rabbits can be very territorial and social. Introduces and ‘bonding rabbits should be done slowly and carefully. Failing to prepare two rabbits can lead to fighting that can escalate quickly.
It is important to ensure that your rabbits are properly neutered before you allow them to breed. This will stop them breeding (if you are pairing male and female rabbits), but it will also help to reduce aggression or harassment caused by hormones.
Important considerations when bonding rabbits
The easiest pairing to bond is a neutered male with a neutered woman
Although size and age don’t always matter, it is important to remember that a bigger rabbit can injure a smaller rabbit if they fight or squabble in the beginning stages.
Some rabbit introductions can be very simple (‘love at the first sight’), while others may take a lot longer (often months). Most are somewhere in between.
How long does it take for rabbit bonding to be complete?
The amount of space you have, the personalities and the time you spend on the bonding process will determine how long it takes.
It can take a lot of time to introduce rabbits, especially at the very beginning. In case of emergency, it is important to keep an eye on them.
How to introduce two rabbits
Start with two exercises
So that you can monitor their interactions throughout the day, start sessions early in your day. Place the runs on grass, if possible. This will keep the rabbits busy with grazing and help to create positive associations.
Place the two rabbits in separate runs. Then arrange them so they are within easy reach. This allows them to get to know each other slowly. You should make sure that the bars are kept closed so the rabbits can’t get in between each other. You should make sure each area has a hiding space so they can retreat if they feel the need.
The run ‘furniture” (litter tray, tunnels and bedding, carriers, etc.) can be exchanged throughout the day to help them get used each others’ scents. They can be stroked or brushed. By doing this, each rabbit will know a lot about the other before they meet.
Move the runs closer together
You will move the runs closer to each other over the next day or two, depending on your time and the behavior of the rabbits. You want the runs to eventually be next to each others. Do not rush, especially if one of the rabbits looks stressed.
Signs you are stressed in your rabbit
Hide away: Repeated attempts of one rabbit to get the other (biting or running forwards, looking agitated)
Any aggression (eg lunging forwards, grunting)
Positive behavior that indicates the rabbits have become more comfortable with each others are:
- Relaxed and comfortable, in the company of each other
- Comfortably eating together
Spread out tasty food to ensure that the rabbits eat close to the bars. Some rabbits might react defensively to this, but it is not something to worry about. When the rabbits become more comfortable with one another, this can be added later.
If both the rabbit and the owner are happy together, then you can move on to stage 2. This can take anywhere from a few days up to a full week depending on how far the rabbits have come and how long you have been there.
The territory where the actual introduction will take place should be neutral territory for both rabbits. The area should be large enough for the rabbits to avoid one another, but small enough that they cannot disappear completely from view. Other options include:
- You can enter easily into a large run if you have to intervene.
- Escape proof section of a garden, or room.
- A spare room
- A utility room
Reading rabbit behaviour
In the beginning, it is quite normal for rabbits not to approach each other. This happens before you notice any more ‘obvious’ behaviours. They’ll eventually come closer to each other and sniff. They might turn around and then reappear.
Concerning rabbit behaviours
Normal behavior is to nip, chase, circling and mounting. However, be ready to intervene when either rabbit becomes stressed or aggressive towards each other.
- Constant, fast circling (this may lead to a struggle)
- Excessive mounting and chasing
- Boxing: When both rabbits stand on the back legs of their opponent and “box” them
- lunging forward, grunting or ears flattened
Fur pulling excessive
These behaviors are normal in bonding. However, they can lead to fighting. It is better to interrupt them before things get out of control.