Playing Matchmaker Takes Time, But It's Worth It!
much as we love our bunnies, we cannot be with them 24 hours a day.
Nor are we well qualified to lick their ears in just the right way,
or to play a good game of shred the newspaper. This is why getting
your rabbit a friend of his/her own may be a good idea! Rabbits
are extremely social animals. The European wild rabbits from which
our domestic rabbits are derived live in groups, and our long-eared
friends still retain this need for same-species companionship. Rabbits
tend to be happier, more active, and as a consequence, healthier
when they have a bonded companion. Bonded rabbits are also just
as affectionate with their humans as single rabbits; just as adding
another pet to your family would not diminish your love for the
first animal, bunnies have plenty of room in their hearts for many
sort of bunny companion would be perfect for your existing rabbit?
We at Zooh Corner have worked with many bunny matches and have found
that opposite sex pairs of neutered rabbits generally work best.
Similarity in age can also help the bonding process. Don't lose
hope, however, if you already have 2 bunnies who don't meet these
guidelines. The bonding process may require more time and patience
on your part, but other combinations of rabbits can become bonded
friends. Some people prefer to allow their rabbit to choose his/her
partner by bringing their (health-checked) rabbit to the shelter
and arranging a series of bunny dates. Allowing your bunny to choose
its companion may facilitate the process of bonding the rabbits,
but a rabbits need for same-species companionship is so strong that
arranged marriages can also work quite well.
the arranged route myself, and picked out Pepper, an adorable lop
from Zooh Corner, to be the companion of my Shadow. It was hate
at first sight. Pepper seemed rather interested in Shadow, but poor
Shadow was extremely upset at the presence of an intruder in her
home. This is actually a common scenario. Although rabbits generally
flourish when they have a companion, they are also quite territorial.
Meeting a strange rabbit is usually a stressful experience, especially
for the first rabbit who may see the intruder as a threat. To allow
Shadow and Pepper to become accustomed to each others scent and
presence, I placed their cages about 2 inches apart, just far enough
apart to prevent them from fighting through the cage. During this
period, my sweet Shadow became a little monster, rattling her cage
bars whenever Pepper was out and leaving a circle of fecal pellets
around his cage when it was her turn to play. She was expressing
her outrage over his presence in the only way she could. The best
way to treat all occurrences of bad behavior is with a firm (not
angry) "no!" and extra attention for the insecure rabbit. When Shadow's
misbehavior began to subside, I decided that they were ready to
a friend's bathroom as the neutral area in which to introduce Shadow
and Pepper. It is small, has a slippery floor which makes fighting
more difficult, and most importantly, it is an area in which neither
had ever been. Using neutral territory for rabbit introductions
is vital because rabbits will be much more likely to fight in an
area they identify as their own. I worked with them every day and
kept the first introductions extremely short, about 5 minutes at
a time. During the first several introductions, it is normal to
see a fair amount of chasing and mounting because the rabbits need
to establish their dominance hierarchy. The submissive rabbit will
put its head down for grooming and will groom the dominant rabbit
in turn or get a little nip! I always kept a spray water bottle
on hand during introductions so that aggressive interactions could
be broken up before a fight occurred. True fights must be stopped
immediately with a loud "No!" and human intervention.
Shadow and Pepper became less tense in each others presence, I gradually
increased the amount of time and space for the introductions. Eventually
the introduction sessions took place in a large room and occurred
for 2-6 hours at a time. When rabbits begin to groom each other
and lay or play together for several hours at a time, they are well
on their way to becoming good friends, and may be ready to move
on to the next step. Shadow and Pepper now have bonding sessions
in non-neutral territory, the room where both have their individual
play time. At this stage, each bonding session can be as long as
possible, providing there is no aggression. If the situation does
become too tense, then the rabbits should be brought [back] to neutral
territory so that each bonding session ends on a good note.
after the rabbits can spend many happy hours at a time together
in non-neutral territory, as well as cuddle together in an open
cage may they be housed together. At this point, they are bonded
companions! They will share the rest of their lives together and
should never be kept separate. [Most rabbit vets will allow a rabbit's
partner to come for tedious day-stays or over night visits. Ask
your vet if this is possible. Ed.]
bonding process may take a long time yet should never be rushed.
It is sometimes hard to determine when to move on to the next stage:
if you have any doubt, don't. When I first tried to introduce Shadow
and Pepper in non-neutral territory, their relationship was set
back for several weeks because they got into a fight and I had to
bring them back to neutral territory.
the bonding process may take a while, it is important that a person
have good living accommodations and plenty of individual time and
attention to offer both rabbits. Each rabbit requires his own special
play and cuddle time throughout the bonding process; bonding is
a stressful process, but extra attention from you will calm and
reassure them. It
is possible that two rabbits simply will not become friends, however,
most neutered, opposite sex rabbits will bond eventually. Bonding
takes time, effort, and patienceóbut your rabbit will thank you!
If you would you like a friend for your bunny please contact
us for a visit!