BUNNY BONDING BASICS
- Be patient
You’re facilitating a relationship between two creatures, so try to remember that it’s a marathon not a sprint. Patience and consistency are key. Bonding is more stressful for us than for the bunnies, and it is one of the hardest parts of being a bunny parent.
- End every interaction on a positive note
Bunnies hold grudges (queue the side eye), and if they end an interaction while fighting, they will remember the fight and pick up exactly where they left off. It becomes a downward spiral for the relationship.
Try to have a positive experience during the bonding session surrounded. Examples of positive experiences are eating snacks, veggies, or hay near each other. As they get more comfortable, they can share the food as well.
Bonding sessions can be very short—15 to 30 minutes—because bonding continues through the exercise pens. Bonding sessions are also called “supervised playtime.” After the bonding session, place the bunnies back in their respective areas (next to each other) and give them a veggie treat—this becomes a positive association.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, ignoring each other is a positive sign. We look for any kind of behavior that shows vulnerability, such as grooming oneself, laying down, eating, etc. This shows the bunny is comfortable around the other bunny.
- Bond in neutral space
This can be done in the bathtub, kitchen floor, etc. Have the bonding occur in an enclosed area where you can readily intervene if needed. Place bunnies’ side by side and pet them with wet hands. This will encourage them to groom the other rabbit.
- Nipping, chasing, mounting are all signs of communicating
True fighting is when buns roll on their sides and kick and bite. They will circle each other before so intervene when you see them circling each other. DO NOT separate the rabbits unless they are truly fighting. In order to get the bonding back on track and end on a positive note, place the bunnies next to each other, quickly give some pets and positive words of encouragement, and then separate them into their respective areas. Remember the rabbits are trying to establish who the dominate rabbit is.
- Online Resources
There is a wealth of knowledge and videos about bonding on the House Rabbit Society. Bonding Bunnies