So today I thought I would take a bit of time to cover off bonding your bunnies!
This is something I have had a lot of personal experience with and was the hardest challenge for me as an owner.
I would always recommend keeping rabbits in a pair- once you see how happy a bonded pair is and how much time they actually spend together (mine follow each other to the toilet..) it's really clear to see the benefits of having company.
..Won't my single rabbit love me less?
The answer is of course no! My two boys give each other loads of extra things only another rabbit can do but Snoop will still happily spend time with me and the bond has brought Stampy (my very shy boy) out of his shell alot more. Two rabbits don't really cost much more than one either in my personal experience.
Great so what do I do?
Firstly you have to make sure your rabbits are neutered. This will prevent unwanted pregnancy in a m/f mix, reduce hormones in a m/m mix and female rabbits who are spayed are at significantly less risk of uterine cancer. So all round neutering is a good idea! Do wait 6-8 weeks after neutering however to add a new friend so the hormones have died down.. males can remain fertile this long too!
Mixed sex pairs usually work best. My two boys took a very long time to bond, but the results are super worth it when you get a happy pair.
..my two always try and stay touching when relaxing!
The best advice I can give is patience and ignore the old tips and tricks you might see online. The bathtub method is not really a good idea- it's stressful plus its slippery too.
I would actually not recommend any sort of stress bonding - things like putting them in a carrier and going in the car or ontop of a washing machine. Stress bonding not only gives me severe anxiety about stasis- it also just isn't the best way to meet someone. Imagine you were in a really stressful situation with a total stranger- you'd find ways to cope together to navigate past the danger so it would seem you would get on fine..but then imagine you had to live with them straight after- now the danger has passed your real personality comes out and actually you might not get on with them at all!
The RWAF recommends contacting a rescue to help bonding if you have never done it before- you never know you might be able to adopt a pre bonded pair!
With mine I took my time and had them in separate enclosures for a long time, then moved the enclosures next to each other and slowly slowly introduced them for short periods on neutral territory. Only when I saw consistent day in day out relaxed behaviour ie lying down together did I move them in together. Having two boys it was vital (as in any pair) that they worked out who was dominant. It's important to recognise normal behaviour they do to establish this from a full on fight, one may mount the other but the submissive rabbit will accept it and this is part of the ritual. Rabbits are vicious fighters so you must be ready to separate immediately if something goes wrong! Wear shoes and have a towel handy.
..it's lovely to have a nap buddy!
I love seeing all the quirky things my boys get up to since they have been best friends. Snoop now gets protective over Stampy.. If I give Stampy head rubs Snoop gets very jealous that I am fussing over his friend and will move his head in the way so I rub him instead. The best bit is when they find a joint project.. At the moment I have a large box in my lounge for a radiator and the boys got straight to work bunstructing it, Snoop taking one side, Stampy another to try and pull it and chew it. Snoop will often also lie totally ontop of Stampy to get comfortable but Stamp never seems to mind. When Snoop had stasis Stampy came to the vets too (don't split a bonded pair!) and when Snoop came home after he had been poorly the entire day and Stamp lay next to him giving kisses. They really are best friends.
..watching the world go by in the garden!
If you need any help or advice on bunny bonding please get in touch!