You've read our last post, and are all up to speed, right? So now, lets take a look at rabbit bonding: before you start the process and jump in to any blind dates, there are some things that should be done.
The very first thing you will need to do to even begin the process is to get your rabbit spayed or neutered. This is a necessary step, and cannot be skipped. Most Rabbits are very territorial animals, and will fight to support their “patch”. Rabbits who are not spayed or neutered also will do quite a bit of spraying, pooping, and general claiming of territory, a very destructive scenario for a house.
Once your rabbit is all healed, you can begin looking for a local speed-dating or bunny blind date event. Local shelters and rescues often hold these fun events, but don’t just pack up your rabbit, head off the event, and arrive with an expectation of bringing a new family member home that day! Call ahead, talk to someone at the organization. Find out who leads the actual introductions, and have a chat with that person. Are all the rabbits just loose in the room? Are one-on-one introductions done? Who will be there to help you interpret your rabbit’s reactions to different rabbits? What are the “rules”?
Some organizations, like the Georgia House Rabbit Society, have class requirements. Don’t resist – the information you gain from these classes will not only help with the possible bonding ahead, but will give you a better understanding of how to think like a rabbit, and you will form a closer relationship with your rabbit as a result. Besides…you will meet other rabbit people, and rabbit people are great!
Yup…what matters is YOUR RABBIT’S REACTION TO ANOTHER RABBIT. Not yours. You don’t choose a new family member by color or cuteness or size. Your rabbit chooses the new bond-mate. This is super super important! Regardless of how adorable that little black Lionhead with the helicopter ears may be, your rabbit may choose the Flemish Giant, or the Rex with the torn ear. No matter how much you may adore the heart shaped marking on that little Jersey Wooly, your rabbit may go right over to the mini-lop and say “THIS ONE!”. This is a decision between the two rabbits, and we must respect that.
Don’t be surprised if your tiny bunny chooses a large rabbit, or vice-versa. Most often, the best bond is between a male and female, however, girl rabbits sometimes choose other girls, boys may choose boys. It is more about the personality, and who your rabbit feels most comfortable around. It might be that your rabbit is laid back, and wants to hang around a similarly laid back rabbit. Maybe your rabbit is timid, and is afraid of a very dominant personality. Possibly your rabbit is timid and needs a strong rabbit around! The possibilities are endless, just like they are for people when we choose mates.
NOTE: good advice and support is a huge help.
The internet is a wonderful thing, and we appreciate every day how it can help bring people together and spread information. The thing is this: not all information is good information. There is much advice out there about bonding rabbits and some of it may work, however, it is the right way, the most humane way – that is the question to keep in mind. Relying on blind searches and forum posts, you can be advised to do some dangerous and harmful things. The most current and up-to-date studies show that force and fear and not nearly as effective as gentleness and patience. So…sure, do your research. But remember keep your critical thinking cap on, and question the validity of the sources.
If you are in doubt, a good place to start looking for info is with the House Rabbit Society. You may be lucky enough to have a terrific rescue in your area, and they may offer some support or education. (FYI, there are good and not so good rescues, so apply all that above advice about the internet to any organization too.)
Many thanks to Edie Sayeg of the Georgia House Rabbit Society for contributing to this series!