What's the next step in bonding my male rabbits?

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Oct 14, 2018
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Hello everyone! I'm sure most of y'all do not know me or remember me since it has been months since I have been on the forum, but hopefully, you can help me. So much has happened since I last posted, one of which is I adopted a new bunny!
I posted back in May asking if I should attempt to bond my current rabbit Theo with a family friends bunny Jack (who is now named Will). Long story short, my parents did not want me to get another rabbit, but the family that owned Will was doing an awful job taking care of him - to the point that it was almost animal abuse/neglect - so I was allowed to take him on one condition. That condition was that Theo and Will had to bond, and if they did not bond Will would have to be re-homed.

I took all the necessary precautions before adopting Will because I was determined that this was going to work. Theo went to visit Will to make sure they got along, and the meeting went great! When we got home from the visit Theo was confined in a playpen in my room for several weeks before bringing Will home so there would be somewhat neutral territory in my room. I cleaned my entire room with vinegar, replaced all the rugs and carpets I could, washed all the blankets and pillows, and bought lots of new stuff for Will so he wouldn't feel threatened entering Theo's territory. I set up bonding pens in my room and after giving Will some time to settle in I begin swapping the bunnies from pen to pen every day. Swapping the bunnies went well until Theo got territorial of his pen and after being moved he would start running back and forth in his pen chasing Will who was in the opposite pen (he was never actually able to get to him because of the playpens). Another thing that concerned me was whenever I would clean their playpens Theo would bite Will through the cage bars. Normally, the playpens were separated by 3 inches, but when I was cleaning, the bunny whose pen was being cleaned would free-roam in my room.

I swapped the bunnies every day for 3 weeks before putting them together in a laundry basket in neutral territory. BTW I was always watching them, ready to split up a fight and prevent them from hurting one another. First, it was just constant nipping from Theo. He was never breaking the skin, but constantly nipping Will! They would be sitting there quietly and calm and then suddenly Theo would turn on him and bite him. Will wouldn't react, and I would use a gloved hand to block the bites. After 5 bonding sessions of this, Will started getting annoyed and would thump and try to nip Theo back, which of course I would not allow. To finish every bonding session on a good note I would force them to cuddle and once they were in their playpens they would receive a treat. At this point, I decided to take a break from the bonding sessions for a week because it was stressing me out and I had a lot of school.

After the break, I tried another bonding session and this time nothing happened. They sat there for 15 minutes not moving! I shook the basket lightly to see what they would do and they looked and hopped around, but completely ignored each other. That was my last bonding session because I honestly don't know what to do next! I think they want to be friends because they are always looking at each other and flopping by each other, but the nipping is what scares me. I really don't want either of them to get hurt and I know one of them will if I continue the bonding process. Since they have been doing good should I go the next step and give them more room? And I read that as long as they are not hurting each other it is ok for them to nip each other since it will just pull out a little fur? I don't know about that though, that just seems wrong.
Hopefully, someone with experience with this can just tell me what to do since I can't make up my mind?

Sorry this is so long! I've included some pictures of the bunnies to apologize (ignore the crazy molt patterns! Theo is a mini rex and after trying more brushes than I can count he still sheds like crazy😅) Thanks in advance!
-Mariam, Theo, and Will


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