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Rabbit bonding: good fences make good neighbors

rabbit bonding: good fences

You've chosen a great rabbit to join the family, and done all the prep.  Your new bun is home!  Now what?

Your rabbits begin their relationship in your home by being great neighbors. They can hear each other, see each other, even chat together. Perhaps most importantly, they learn each other’s smell. But they do so from their own spaces.

Rabbits are, as we’ve said, are usually very territorial. Wild rabbits do live in groups, and they have their own place within that group. It is all sorted out over time. When we take house rabbits and put them together, we have to allow them time to form that same kind of trust relationship, and sort out their relationship.

Rabbits can and will fight viciously to establish rules and dominance…and house rabbit pushed into cohabitation too quickly can do great harm. Even rabbit who seemed to like each other quite well in neutral territory can become aggressive when “home” in their own space.

Make sure your rabbits are close, but not so close that they can “fence-fight”. They should not be able to touch noses, reach through bars with paws. They shouldn’t be able to touch at all, even if they try really hard.

Allowing the two rabbits to get to know each other from their own safe spaces, their territories, gets the ball rolling for total acceptance. Little by little, however, we are going to “invade” these separate spaces with the scent and presence of the other rabbit.

If your first rabbit had free roam of the house, then the above process for duplex living can be adjusted to look more like this exercise time: one rabbit out, one rabbit in a pen with guards to prevent fighting between cage bars. The swapping of toys, bowls, litter boxes, etc happens the same way, with one rabbit out in the home and one in the pen. THE BONDING DATES WILL STILL NEED TO HAPPEN IN THE DESIGNATED NUETRAL TERRITORY.

Next step: swapping spaces.

Many thanks to Edie Sayeg of the Georgia House Rabbit Society for contributing to this series!

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