Monday, January 18, 2016

Bonding Part 2: They've Met, Now What?

So, an expert bunny bonder has helped you and your rabbit choose a partner. Now what?

Well, now the real work begins.

Part of the bonding process is the drive home. Bring a carrier that can be opened from the top and an extra person who can break up possible squabbles on the way home. Don’t miss this opportunity.

They’ve just met. NOW is the time to safely and mildly traumatize them. The purpose is you want them to cuddle together in slight terror and seek comfort from each other. The longer the ride the better. Up to 3 to 4 hours is fine. When you get them home put them in the bathtub together and let them decompress with some hay or greens. Let them sit there for 25 to 30 minutes or until their breathing slows and they start to explore. After they catch their breath place them in their separate enclosures.


The couple should be housed in separate X-Pens four-to-six inches apart. The pens should not be able to be pushed together by a loving, or suddenly angry rabbit. I use a cardboard roll about 5 inches in circumference that I got from purchasing outdoor carpeting at Wal-Mart. But, you can also use tall paving bricks, old shoe boxes with weight inside or anything that is safe for the rabbits to bite, but won’t move when jostled violently by grumpy bunnies. They need to be able to see, smell and even taste the same air as their new friend. This means NO hidey huts. We don't want "out of sight out of mind." If you visually separate them, then you will have to start from square one, each time. If the X-pens are  too close, a fight could break out that leads to torn lips, noses, eyelids, pulled hair, removed toes, etc. At this stage of the courtship, the relationship is still very fragile. All interactions need to be monitored carefully.


Take them out for a date, lasting 15 minutes to 30 minutes depending on how things are progressing. The number of times you do this is up to your schedule, but the more the better. 15-minute dates every hour are wonderful. But, after each date do not put them back in the pen they were previously in. Put them in the other rabbit’s area. So Rabbit A was in area A and Rabbit B was in area B. You take them out and have them sit in the tub for 15 minutes where they ignored each other, groomed themselves and peacefully ate off the same hay pile. When you’re done with the bonding session but rabbit A in area B and rabbit B in area A. Don’t move anything that was in the other rabbits area, leave them for the new rabbit. This means:
·         DO NOT move the litter pans.
·         DO NOT move the water container.
·         DO NOT move or touch the toys.
·         DO NOT move the hay rack.

If everything is going well, increase the length of the date by five-to-ten minutes every day. In our next bunny bonding blog, we will share what to have on hand during a date; just in case someone says something rude and a scuffle breaks out…Until next time…binky on!

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