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Bonding rabbits

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Miva13

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Hi all
I have a 7mth old male minilop and yesterday we bought home a 1 yr old female from our local rescue centre. Both are desexed. They have spent the night together in their own pens right next to each other & this morning I let my boy out as he is used to free roaming. I’ve noticed that he has been going up to her pen and they have been sniffing at each other and showing no signs of aggression. My boy has the whole house to go in but he’s been sleeping about 2 feet from her cage. My question is when should I start the bunny dating? I’m going to take them both to our bathroom (Ben is not allowed in there so it’s neutral territory). I’ll give them 15-30 mins together then slowly build up the time depending on how they go. I just don’t know if I should start now or give her a few more days as she only got her yesterday. She is eating and drinking fine and pooping lots. She is actually a super relaxed bun.
 

TheSketchyBunnies

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I honestly would wait at least a few days(or a week or two). The only reason for saying that is because I think it is very important for you to bond with your new girl before she bonds with your boi. I recommend maybe not (unless it seems comforting to her) letting your boi out right outside of her cage because you don’t want to add extra stress to her new life. (I don’t know your buns or circumstances so do whatever you please! These are just some of my recommendations.) You might want to bond with her before bonding them as a pair so she feels more comfortable around you. She will know that you were her first friend so you two have a bond. (My first bun I got at three weeks old and he knows that I was his first true friend) But.. I did this and still my buns try and make me the third wheel 🤣🤣.... That is just how rabbits are, they love each other a lot more than humans most of the time.. So this is your chance to bond with her before she is bonded. So I wouldn’t start bunny dating quite yet. :)
 

Miva13

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TheSketchyBunnies - Thanks for replying- ok I will wait a few more days before I let them meet in their neutral area. I have been trying to bond with her by sitting in her pen and hand feeding her pellets which she loves. She is so friendly and calm and I adore her already. I guess I’m wanting to speed thing up as I feel sorry for her in the pen all the time. Do you think it would be alright if I put my boy in the front part of the house for an hour (which he is used to anyway) and then let her out for a quick run around in the front room where her pen is?
 

Miva13

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Do you mean you would let them out at the same time?
Yes but my boy will be in the back lounge with the door shut and I’ll let the girl out in the area she is already in so she can hop in and out of her pen, Also with the door shut to that room so they don’t have access to each other - just for an hour or so a couple of times a day so she can have some exercise. My boy likes to hang in the back lounge so he won’t mind. What do you think?!?
 

Nuage

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Wait! You have only had her for a day, so you should wait for a long time (3-8 weeks) before even attempting to bond!
Also, are you bonded with her? If not, make sure you are bonded with her, then attempt to bond her to him!
 

Miva13

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Sorry and I meant the back room fir my boy- I just re read my post - so they are in seperate rooms.
 

Miva13

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Wait! You have only had her for a day, so you should wait for a long time (3-8 weeks) before even attempting to bond!
Also, are you bonded with her? If not, make sure you are bonded with her, then attempt to bond her to him!
Ohh ok, sorry there is so much mixed suggestions on bonding that’s why I’m on here to get help. Yes I’m trying to bond with her and so far it’s all going really well. Was just wondering is I put the buns in seperate rooms can I let the girl out for a run around as I feel sorry for her being in the pen all the time.
 

Miva13

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Make sure they have smelled each other through cage bars, BEFORE bonding!
Yes they sniff each other all the time and my boy who is free roam sits next to her cage during the day even though he has the whole house to be in.
 

TheSketchyBunnies

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I think it would be fine for you to let her out in his area as long as he can not get into that area whatsoever while she is out. You don’t want them to start their relationship in one’s territory. I just want to let you know that she might try and mark that area because it smells like him. That is a common thing among rabbits.
 

Blue eyes

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Uhmm... I'm not sure where the idea came from that one should not let a potential bondmate even be housed in the same room before bonding. In fact, if you intend to bond the two, then they should be living in side-by-side pens for several weeks. They should not be able to touch each other, but should be side-by-side and able to see and smell each other. This is a vital part of the pre-bonding process.

If you have one rabbit in a cage and the other is used to running free, you must give each rabbit equal time in the two areas, otherwise the rabbit with the most freedom will consider himself “the winner” and will develop an air of arrogance that can be very difficult to undo!

Since your boy currently has the entire house, I'd limit his roaming to the room the pens will be in. She needs to be able to roam also in the same area (but at different times). It wouldn't be fair to provide the entire house to her all at once as this would be unsettling to her. She's new and so her roaming area should be limited. That means limiting his to the same extent as hers.

So, to clarify... they should both be living in the same room/area but separated by each being in their own pen or cage. They should each be let out separately for equal play time. That play area should be the same for both buns.

Any personal bonding time with one of the buns can be done during the individual roaming time of each bun.
 

Miva13

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Thanks blue eyes. I have both their pens right next to each other. I will let them out individually in the same area for the next few weeks until they are use to each other. I do spoil my boy but will restrict him to the same room as her for their exercise so she doesn’t get jealous and he doesn’t think he has one up on her. I’m sitting in the floor while she is running around me and he is in his pen looking very unimpressed 🤣. I’ll give him extra cuddles when I let him out later for his turn.
 

Jaimeh761

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Thanks blue eyes. I have both their pens right next to each other. I will let them out individually in the same area for the next few weeks until they are use to each other. I do spoil my boy but will restrict him to the same room as her for their exercise so she doesn’t get jealous and he doesn’t think he has one up on her. I’m sitting in the floor while she is running around me and he is in his pen looking very unimpressed 🤣. I’ll give him extra cuddles when I let him out later for his turn.
I have been going through the exact same scenario. My boy was so mad when i brought home our new bunny. He got depressed then insecure and wanted constantly to be picked up and loved.
They live side by side in our laundry room now with a gate between them. Everyday we swap them between the two spaces. This really helped to get them used to each other's smell and reinforce they don't own their space and had to use each other's food bowls and litter boxes. At 2 1/2 weeks i tried to bond them in our bathroom and they fought. I did a little stress bonding after that by taking them for a walk twice in our pet stroller. That worked really well for us just to stop the agression our boy was exhibiting. Our boy was free roam too. So now we are at a point that 3 weeks in they are more curious and comfortable around each other. They are still separated but I feel we are getting closer to starting some more bonding attempts. We just started letting our boy free roam again. What we have been doing is we move our new girl from the laundry to our loft that we close off entry with a baby gate, and let our boy run free. Then the next day we switch them and he gets the loft and she gets to explore her new home. Again i don't know if that is recommended practice but it what works for us. The loft used to be our boy's home base and we would like it to continue to be once they're hopefully bonded. Would also want them to be free roaming so for us i think it has helped that they've been getting used to seeing and smelling each other in spaces all over the house. Our boy was VERY territorial at first but by doing what we have done and by basically having them switch roles daily, he is slowly coming to terms that she isnt going anywhere and she isn't his enemy. I even catch them laying side by side in the laundry room at night touching noses or sharing hay through their divide. This bonding process is something else! Three weeks in and I have gone from excited, to frustrated, to feeling hopeless, to tears, to ambitious, to starting to see change and progress, to hopeful again, to satisfied with where we are at the moment. And with all this i know when i attempt a bonding session again hopefully this week it may go great, or it may not and I'll find myself back at square one again. But time and patience are key.
 

Miva13

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I have been going through the exact same scenario. My boy was so mad when i brought home our new bunny. He got depressed then insecure and wanted constantly to be picked up and loved.
They live side by side in our laundry room now with a gate between them. Everyday we swap them between the two spaces. This really helped to get them used to each other's smell and reinforce they don't own their space and had to use each other's food bowls and litter boxes. At 2 1/2 weeks i tried to bond them in our bathroom and they fought. I did a little stress bonding after that by taking them for a walk twice in our pet stroller. That worked really well for us just to stop the agression our boy was exhibiting. Our boy was free roam too. So now we are at a point that 3 weeks in they are more curious and comfortable around each other. They are still separated but I feel we are getting closer to starting some more bonding attempts. We just started letting our boy free roam again. What we have been doing is we move our new girl from the laundry to our loft that we close off entry with a baby gate, and let our boy run free. Then the next day we switch them and he gets the loft and she gets to explore her new home. Again i don't know if that is recommended practice but it what works for us. The loft used to be our boy's home base and we would like it to continue to be once they're hopefully bonded. Would also want them to be free roaming so for us i think it has helped that they've been getting used to seeing and smelling each other in spaces all over the house. Our boy was VERY territorial at first but by doing what we have done and by basically having them switch roles daily, he is slowly coming to terms that she isnt going anywhere and she isn't his enemy. I even catch them laying side by side in the laundry room at night touching noses or sharing hay through their divide. This bonding process is something else! Three weeks in and I have gone from excited, to frustrated, to feeling hopeless, to tears, to ambitious, to starting to see change and progress, to hopeful again, to satisfied with where we are at the moment. And with all this i know when i attempt a bonding session again hopefully this week it may go great, or it may not and I'll find myself back at square one again. But time and patience are key.
Thanks for replying! I haven’t swapped pens with them but I may try that today and put him in hers as it’s slightly bigger and get him used her scent then when I put her back and he’s out his scent will be there too. I’ve put stuffed toys in their pens then swap them daily so their scent is on them . They are constantly sniffing each other though the pens and have so far showed no signs of aggression. They also lie near each other’s pens when they are allowed out which I’m taking as a good sign. I’ll wait a few more weeks before I let them meet & I’ll update here how I go. Please keep me updated on how you go - good luck!!
 

Jenny Durling

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Interesting! We got Natasha FOR Rocky, not for us so we started bonding them right away. It took about 2.5 weeks of daily meeting etc. It didn't take long to bond with her after they bonded with each other and I actually think my bond with Rocky helped Natasha bond with me easier. To each his own I guess?
 

Miva13

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Hi again, ok so my two buns have been living side by side in their pens for 3 weeks. So far all good, lots of sniffing and lying next to each other. I’m going to give them their first face to face date in our bathroom which is a neutral area next Monday. I’ve done alot of research but I’m confused if I should put them on the bathroom floor with some apple branches to nibble on or in the bathtub with no treats? I’m leaning toward the apple branches as I want to make it a positive experience- what do you all think??
 

Jenny Durling

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I think the reason to try the bathtub is to give the rabbits an uncomfortable situation so that they may look to each other for comfort. I know that is why they tell you to put them in a box together and drive them around in the car or put them on top of the dryer. We did all 3 of these things. I also set up the ex-pen and sat inside with them so I could separate them if they chased or fought. If you do this, or put them in the tub together, make sure to wear oven mitts to protect yourself! If you haven't already, you might consider switching bunnies into each other's huts. We did that every day during the 2.5 weeks of bonding so they got used to each other's scent.
 

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