To make bonding more likely between two rabbits, it is recommended that both rabbits be spayed/neutered. Bonding between males and females is often more successful. The same is true for waiting until the rabbits are mature before you try bonding them. When they reach adolescence, hormonal changes can cause even litter mates to change personalities and turn on each other.
Once you've chosen the bunnies you hope will bond. You need to introduce them slowly. Keep them in separate habitats at first and introduce them on neutral territory for short periods of time to gauge their reaction. Never leave them alone during the early stages. One thing that can help with the bonding process is to place a pile of vegetables in the center of a neutral area. Place a rabbit on either side facing each other and allow them to share the food. Bonding over food is often the easiest.
Play Vs. Fighting
Rabbits hold grudges. For this reason, it is best to avoid allowing them to get in an all-out fight. You need to determine, however, whether their behavior is actually fighting or playing as some of the behaviors overlap.
Rabbits will nip at each other to get the other's attention. They won't draw blood and often they will nip and run. This is playing. They will also groom each other with little nips. Rabbits also live in a pecking order society. When they first meet, one will most likely want to show dominance. This is done by mounting. Allow this behavior for maybe 30 seconds, while petting the submissive bunny, then take the dominant one off. If the submissive bunny seems stressed, however, remove the offender immediately and separate the rabbits until another time. If the rabbit wanting to dominate is accepted by the other, this mounting should cease in about a week.
If The Bonded Pair Actually Fight
One rabbit chasing the other endlessly, biting to draw blood or ripping out fur, and otherwise being aggressive can break their bond. You need to separate the rabbits immediately and try to figure out what has caused this sudden change in behavior. Some reasons might be:
- One bunny is ill and doesn't want to be bothered.
- One is ill and the other is taking advantage of the weakness.
- There isn't enough food or water to share.
- The habitat may be too small to allow each enough personal space.
- Moving to a new home or adding a new family member.
It may be necessary to go through the bonding process again. After making sure they are both okay, give them time to calm and then try putting them together. It might help to put some banana on each rabbit's nose. The other bunny will lick it off and they will see it as being groomed. If this doesn't work because one or both is holding a grudge, go back to the very beginning of the bonding process.
The process shouldn't take as long the second time around. In some cases, however, you may have to resort to placing a divider in the habitat. Sometimes the two will snuggle together through the divider.
Happy, Healthy Rabbits
Rabbits that are correctly bonded are often happier than lone bunnies. One of the best things you can do to keep your rabbits happy is to feed them a diet of quality hay and veggies that keeps them healthy. Make sure there is plenty for both.