Bonding and Fighting Bunnies
Rabbits are territorial by nature and must be bonded
if they are to live together. However, they are also very social
and once bonded they will never want be far from one another. The
first step is having your bunny altered (neutered or spayed), otherwise
it will be impossible to bond two of the same sex, and putting together
two of the opposite sex, well, we all know how that will work out.
You will see several bunnies together in pet stores,
but that is because they are young and have not reached sexual maturity,
which occurs anywhere from 3-8 months. After that they will begin
to establish dominance by fighting and marking territory.
Bunnies will mark territory in a couple of ways.
They will leave some fecal pellets around areas they are claiming as
their own. These are dry, odorless and easy to clean up. They will also "chin" objects or people. They have scent
glands under their chin, and since we cannot smell the scent and it
doesn't show or stain you don't have to worry about that form of marking
either. Urine is more of a problem and they can use that to mark
territory as well.
The key to bonding is introducing them slowly.
You can begin by petting one and then the other to transfer scent.
Then try having them in separate cages side by side. Switch the
litterboxes and swap cages for them to get them accustomed to the
other's scent. Eventually they can be introduced in neutral
territory for a couple of minutes, for example on the kitchen table or
in a bath tub where they can also be easily controlled. You may
have to quickly separate them if they start fighting. If its still
not working you can try taking them for a car ride together because they
generally dislike being in vehicles so it can cause them turn to each
other for comfort. Putting them atop the washing machine in a cage
together is another idea. It can take weeks or even months, and a lot of
patience. Once bonded, your bunnies will be very happy with their
Having said all that, I am no expert on
bonding other than what I've heard other people do. I don't want
to discourage anyone from trying, but I can share my experiences.
There are lots of good websites on bonding bunnies. If you are
looking at bonding then check those out to see how its done
properly. What I'll tell you here is the other side of the
story. This is "when bonding goes bad".
We had two foster rabbits Mickey and
Tiny. They came to us bonded but a few months in they decided to
have a divorce. Both are female and it was likely a stress bond
that kept them together as they were rescued from a breeder that
released them out on a 80km/hour highway. We were sitting
downstairs watching TV and the bunnies were upstairs where they had free
roam of the top floor of our house. We heard thumps so loud it
seemed like they were coming through the floor. We ran upstairs to
see what happened and found a lot of fur pulled out and two very peeved
looking bunnies. The fights escalated to the point of both being
bit by the other a couple of times and requiring surgery and antibiotics.
At that point we had to separate them with baby gates and eventually
moved Tiny downstairs. Takara was also on that floor of the house
but we fenced off some for Tiny with some hope we could eventually bond
A few months after Tiny moved
downstairs, I came home and found the NIC fence moved. I looked at
Takara sitting there across the room from Tiny. Takara looks big
but is maybe about 5lbs of skinny rabbit under all the fur. Tiny
is a 9lb New Zealand and very solid. I checked both but found only
a small nip in Takara's nose. The first thing I said was,
"Takara you got off very lucky!" But then I noticed the
smallest tinge of red in her fur. Of course this had to be a
weekend night and emergency vets are not cheap. It was almost
$1000 to mend what turned out to be a huge rip in her neck from side to
side. It was a miracle she even lived through it.
Again, I don't want to discourage
anyone from trying to bond. Male/female are your best bet.
Same sex bunnies will be very difficult and sometimes impossible to bond
but it has been done. Never put two bunnies together without a
lengthy introduction as I first mentioned and other websites go into
more detail. There is a very good possibility one or both of the
bunnies will be injured or killed.
Whether your bunnies bond, which can
include two or more as many people have 3-way bonds, will depend on
several factors. The temperaments of each of the bunnies involved,
the sex of the bunnies, and especially how slowly and carefully you
introduce them. Bunnies do hold grudges so if they have a serious
fight it can set back the bonding process significantly or even make it
impossible. They will remember the bunny they fought with and hold
it against them. When bonding, try to ensure each time they meet
they leave on good terms.
Its a long road for most, though
sometimes you get lucky, the stars are aligned, there is a full moon or
whatever it is, the bunnies decide to cooperate and get along in a short
period of time. Either way, when you finally have them bonded,
enjoy watching your two little charmers in love.
Everything you ever wanted to know about
rabbits but were afraid to ask ...