Bonding

Rabbits Need Friends Too!


Rabbits, like people, enjoy the company of others. Companionship helps to fill the hours while owners are away at work or out of the home. A bored rabbit may get into more mischief than a rabbit focusing attention on a companion.

Rabbit to Rabbit

Lean on me

The first thing you will need to do is find a companion for your rabbit. Male with female pairs seem to work the best for compatibility but female to female can also work. Male rabbits seldom get along with other male rabbits unless started as littermates. All rabbits should be spayed or neutered before introductions begin.

Start the bonding process before the rabbits are allowed to interact. Place the rabbits in separate cages in sight of each other. Let them get used to the presence of another rabbit for several days before actually letting them meet.

Rabbit introductions should be done in a neutral territory. This is a place the existing rabbit has never entered. The room should be large enough for the rabbits to move around yet small enough so the rabbits can interact.

Newly introduced rabbits may go beyond hand shaking; they may fight. You should have a water spray bottle and towels handy to break up any fighting. Do not break up fighting with your bare hands, as the rabbit may not differentiate whom he is attacking. Discontinue bonding session before bites result in injury. Rabbits may chase and show dominance behavior (mounting) during the introductions. These are normal activities to determine which rabbit will be the leader.

It is very rare for the rabbits to start grooming or lying together during the first bonding session. The bonding should be limited to 20-30 minutes the first few sessions. If all is going well you can extend the time spent together and increase the space. Some bondings may take a few days and others may take weeks or even months. One or two litter boxes should be available in the bonding space. The rabbits may mark territory with fecal pellets at first but once the leader is determined this should lessen or subside.

Once the rabbits are comfortable with each other and no fighting occurs you may want to let them explore one another's cages. Keep them separated at night until you are sure they will not fight. When both rabbits are comfortable with each other they can be kept in the same cage and your bonding is complete. The rabbits may occasionally show dominance behavior even though they are successfully bonded.

Rabbit to Cat

Rabbits and cats can become friends in your home. Kittens may be more difficult than adult cats to introduce to your rabbit. As long as your cat is not a hunter they should get along. Rabbits and cats tend to play different games than rabbits play together. Some will play chasing games with the leader switching several times. Many cats and rabbits will groom each other and cuddle next to each other. Supervise all interactions until you're sure the pair will tolerate each other. Be sure to keep your cat's nails trimmed.

Rabbit to Dog

Rabbit to dog introductions need more supervision than with other house pets. It is important to know your dog and determine if the pair will be compatible. Dogs should be obedience trained to ease the introduction. If your dog does not do well with cats he may be difficult to introduce to a rabbit. Rabbits like to run and some dogs like to chase.

Puppy love

Start out with the dog on a leash lying down next to you and let the rabbit explore the area. Keep the dog lying down while the rabbit investigates. Try this for five minutes. Put the rabbit away and praise the dog. Try these short introductions for several days. Let the dog have a little more freedom while still on the leash. If the dog lunges or the rabbit gets spooked discontinue the introduction for that day. You may want to try with the dog lying down again. If the interactions are progressing, you may want to continue for several days and gradually increase the time spent together. If the dog is behaving you may want to try introductions without the leash. Always be prepared to control the dog if necessary.

During the first month after you have completed the introductions do not leave the dog and rabbit together without supervision. Some dogs may never reach the point where they can be left unattended with a rabbit. Err on the side of caution because in a bad situation your rabbit will always lose.

Rabbit to Other

Rabbits are able to live with other species as well as cats and dogs. Supervision is always necessary when introducing new pets to your rabbit.

Guinea Pigs
They have slightly different dietary requirements but can live together peacefully. Guinea pigs need Vitamin C in their diet but rabbits do not. Both need grass hay and vegetables. Rabbits can carry Bordetella bacteria which is harmful to Guinea pigs. Guinea pigs can be vaccinated for this and then are able to live in the same environment as the rabbit.

Chinchillas
They have similar dietary needs. Chinchillas like to climb so a tall cage is necessary.