February 21, 2018

Adopting or Maintaining Bonded Rabbit Pairs

 

2015-10-19 14.00.16

Congratulations on adopting your bonded pair of rabbits or on bonding your single rabbits! As you know, rabbits are very social creatures and live happiest with another (neutered) bunny. They are also territorial creatures and occasionally they will spat (just like human relationships in which two live very close). Below are some tips to help you understand their behaviors and keep them happy.

1. Bonded bunnies should live in a spacious exercise pen that is open topped (if possible) or a room of their own. They need to have enough room and a hidey box so they can run into it and de-escalate any spats. Bonded pairs should never live in a closed up cage where there is nowhere to go should one get feisty or upset over something.

Occasional chasing, humping and minor fur pulling is quite normal and redirecting by clapping hands or presenting a treat should be enough to change the mood. Do not separate unless there is biting, circling or boxing. If the latter behaviors happen then just separate for 24 hours then put them back in their pen together when you have time to keep watch and supervise them for a day.

2. Exercise in the house is important and they should get 4 hours of out-of-pen exercise per day to explore, dance (binky!) and spend time with the family. However, start slow with limited space (maybe one room). TOO MUCH space at one time can overwhelm them and cause them to spat. If this happens with too much space put them in their pen right away where they feel safer and calmer. Let them out at a later time with a more limited area.

3. Bonded pairs should ALWAYS travel together in the same carrier. If one has a vet appointment, the other should go along for the ride. Most vets understand this and sometimes, depending on the circumstances and nature of the treatment, most vet hospitals will let the bonded partner stay in the hospital with the other. If not, visitation is usually allowed if the stay is extended. Bring the bonded partner with you for the visit.

4. Bonded rabbit pairs use the same litter box and bowls. Make sure the litter box is big enough to fit both of them. They like to eat together so either one big bowl for pellets (and water) or two smaller bowls side by side is recommended. One big pile of greens on one plate is best.

5. Rabbits grieve very deeply for their bonded partners when they pass away. Many people let the surviving rabbit stay with the body for a bit of time for closure. Life after that can be lonely for the surviving bunny. Provide him/her with a stuffed animal to lean on and groom. When you are ready, consider another partner as soon as possible for the surviving bunny.

6. It’s rare, but sometimes a bonded pair will unbond. If the bunnies unbond and you cannot get them back together without them fighting consistently take them on some car rides. One person should drive with another person sitting in the back with the bunnies. Take them out in a carrier and put them in a padded laundry basket in the back seat. Have your driver drive around for about a half hour, turning corners a bit fast. After the car ride, put them in a carrier to bring into the house and take them to a neutral space for about 10-20 minutes. Doing this every day for about a week should help get them back on track.

 

©House Rabbit Society of Chicago

Rev. 10/15