Rabbit Bonding 

All about Rabbit Bonding and how to successfully do it! 

Our Recommended bonding process:

  • First, get the rabbits acquainted by sight and smell. Keep the rabbits in their own separate homes and allow them access to a large run with mesh or a divider (you can use 2 puppy play pen panels) separating them or put them in nearby enclosures, where they can sniff each other through the wire. This allows them to get used to each other’s scent and company without being able to fight. To help this you can also swap their litter trays over or rub a cloth over one rabbit and then the other (to get them used to each other’s scents).
  • When both rabbits become relaxed in each other’s company and are used to the sight and smell of each other, start putting them together for very short periods of time in strictly neutral territory where neither rabbit has been before. This must only take place under constant close supervision. This can be done in a basket or on a table with a thick blanket or towel and the rabbits can sit bottom to bottom. Once they are sitting comfortably without tension you can then sit them side by side while you stroke them to calm them and desensitize them. Manage their movements gently with your arms and hands. Do not allow them to get aggressive or hump. Briefly stop every so often staying with them so they can sniff each other and groom each other. Once this is done and they feel comfortable you can move to the next step.
  • They can now be placed in a small neutral zone together. Make sure you put lots of distractions in with them in their neutral territory, such as several piles of hay, herbs, cardboard boxes and a tunnel, as this will help them immensely. Rabbits are very territorial and any competition for resources might cause tension, so ensure that you have at least two feeding and watering stations and hiding places. At any sign of tension, separate the rabbits (using a towel to intervene to prevent injury) try to calm them as much as possible reassuring them that it’s calming and relaxing to be in each other’s company. Rabbits hold grudges so you want to avoid stressful situations or aggression at any time by supervising and patting them to calm them as any sign of undesirable behavior. Its best to have 2 people in the room to help you with this step. 10 minute intervals 10 times a day is a good starting point.
  • Try again the next day, gradually increasing the time the rabbits spend together. Always supervise them and separate the rabbits at the first sign of a fight. Repeat this until the rabbits are relaxed in each other’s company.
  • After a few days or weeks of successful interactions, when the rabbits are happy to groom each other and lie together, they can be left together unsupervised. If negative behaviour occurs, separate the rabbits and begin the introduction process again. Rabbits who repeatedly fight are unlikely to be able to bond and different companions should be sought for them.
  • The whole process can take from a couple of hours to a couple of months. The better the rabbits get on at their first meeting, the quicker they will bond. In addition, putting the rabbits together for very brief periods (e.g. 10 minutes) every day means that they will get used to each other far more quickly than if you do it less often.
  • Rabbits who are not fully bonded must be kept separately when you are not with them.
  • It is natural that one rabbit will be dominant over the other, however, there should not be aggressive behaviour. The subordinate rabbit shows their acceptance of the other’s dominance by licking them. The rabbit that puts their head down to be licked is claiming top spot, and by licking them, the partner is accepting that the other rabbit is boss.

Rabbits can bite in the bonding process to its best to wear gloves or use a towel to separate undesired behavior.

Rabbits form a bond for life. Once the rabbits have bonded they should not be separated, as this would cause a great deal of psychological trauma to them both. It is recommended that both rabbits are taken to the veterinarian if one needs to attend. This prevents stress and aids recovery. If the rabbits are kept apart and one comes back with a different smell or a change in health, they may reject each other and begin fighting. If this happens the introduction process will need to be carried out again.