After 2 months, my bunnies are finally bonded, it took us longer than others, but we wanted Sumomo (the grey bunny) to settle down before bonding, as Aibon was scared and ran away from her, so we didn’t want to force the situation before she was used to living with us.
Luckily as you read in my previous post she’s a very sweet and friendly bunny and she adjusted very quickly to our family.
I also wanted to share my story as I couldn’t find any advice in bonding young bunnies (not sexually mature yet) from different moms.
Also as I previously mention I would advice you to adopt bunnies that are already bond from shelters as it’s easier, they are already spayed/neuter and you don’t have to worry about bonding them, or bunnies from the same kit.
But that wasn’t an option for us when we adopted Aibon, as the lady who gave us her was moving to a smaller house and she couldn’t keep all her bunnies, and Aibon was the only bunny left for adoption. Please if you are interested in knowing more why we decided to get another bunny and bond them, read my previous post for more in-depth.
Now to how we bond our bunnies, there’s many techniques, videos and advises, I can’t say for sure exactly which one to use as we had to adapt the methods to our bunnies dynamic and how good or bad they interact with each other.
These are the techniques and the implemented order:
♥︎ Living in individual cages close to each other
♥︎ Bonding sessions in a neutral territory
♥︎Feeding them together.
♥︎ Living in individual cages close to each other: What helped them get used to each other was having 2 cages for them, just close enough that they could see, smell and greet each other. I would say this is a Key step and should be implemented as step one, my bunnies relationship improved after they got used to seeing each other everyday through the cage. Have them this way for a couple of days before starting the bonding or stress bonding sessions.
♥︎ Stress bonding: which we tried to use, either is making loud noises or putting the bunnies in a pet carrier and taking them for a ride or walking with them making the carrier move, and that would force the bunnies to get close to each other without being aggressive.
Putting them in a bathtub/shower and have a dust pan ready to separate them if there’s nipping, circling or chasing.
The bathtub sessions were the worst, even though our bunnies never fighting or had to separate them as bad as in some YouTube videos we saw.
Thick gloves are also needed as we got nipped and scratch by accident when separating them as Aibon was so nervous and snappy when Sumomo tried to get close to her too soon in several occasions and she would react by nipping her or chasing her.
This was my less liked technique as a dust pan and or spray bottle is used to separated them in case of aggressive behaviour.
You have to be careful of not accidentally hitting any of the bunnies with the dust pan when separating them or using too much pressure and wetting the bunnies too much or getting water inside their ears.
Having them in a pet carrier or box and walk with them making sure there was a person grabbing the box firmly and other checking if they had to be separated. Was a better fit for our rabbits.
At first this was the only way of having them close to each other without problem.
♥︎Bonding sessions in a neutral territory: After the stress bonding we started having them together in a small non claimed or inhabit place by any of the rabbits and slowly increasing the space. We would vacuum in the room next to where they were bonding or just putting YouTube vacuum sounds and then decreasing the amount of time with noises as the dynamic improves.
♥︎Feeding them together: I wouldn’t recommend putting toys unless they are new so, we just used treats, Aibon is a Cookie Monster and would care more about finding yummy snacks and ignore Sumomo making it more relax for both of them, plus she would associate snacks and spending time together. For this to work make sure to give both rabbits their favourite food in moderation of course, only when bonding. But make sure non of the bunnies are territorial when it comes to food, this was just what clicked for us.
We would extend the bonding session more and more till we didn’t have to be all the time looking after them, we knew we were making process when they would lay down showing they were calm enough to be close by or just eating really close to each other and later own grooming.
Bunny body language is tricky Sumomo would squish her head between Aibon chin and the floor, we thought she was showing submission by doing this, but actually she was saying something like: I’m the boss so groom me. 😅 Aibon would ignore her so Sumomo would start grooming her instead. Aibon would first freak out thinking the other bunny would nip her and tried to nip back. So we had to make a shhh noise/snap or fingers or clap and she would back off.
Aibon is a bunny who loves to be pet by me and specially my husband so what work for us but only because she is a very calm baby was to put her on or lap and pet her, while the other person would put Sumomo on their own lap and pet her and gradually putting them together while petting, so Aibon would think/associate, if Sumomo is around I get pet and snacks 😊.
We would always pet her head in a way be could make sure if she turned around to nip Sumomo we would be able to put our hand in between them as a shield or while hugging her. I don’t recommend doing this if you are not sure if your bunny would nip back or during a stressful situation, I had got bitten and scratch many times by my other pets and I didn’t mind if she nip me as she gradually stop doing it or nipping hard.
This worked for us because Aibon is not territorial she was being defensive over Sumomo because she was nervous around her, petting her helped by calming her when the other bunny was around, if your bunny is teritorial by any means do not try this, as he or she would get aggressive defending his territory
Be prepare for the next stage of bonding! That is deciding who is the dominant bunny.
Even though we have female non sexually mature bunnies we had experience humping from both of them since they officially bonded and started living together.
Surprisingly for us as we didn’t understand that by asking the other bunny to be groom, is a sign of dominance. The first to hump was Sumomo and that Aibon would let her do so.
During this last part of the bonding process humping and grooming is ok, as long as there’s no circling or nipping, and of course if they start humping the face as this could lead the other bunny to bitting the private parts of the one humping and this is extremely dangerous you need to stop it immediately!.
When the boss has been decided 😂, the nipping and any aggressive behaviour is over, prepare a place where they can eat, poop, sleep and play together but still neutral.
I advice to have individual plates, hay and litter trays. So there no fights for claiming ownership over anything.
Give them plenty of toys so they can relax and enjoy their time together!
We let them spend afternoons together in a guarded place under the stairs as we had an empty space perfect for them to play, while we would sit down and watch a movie while checking everything was in order.
The night they first spend together we make sure to stay awake as long as we could to make sure they were ready and calm enough and be close by to listen the slightest disturbance.
Even though almost a month past since they bonded and live together, they still have a funny relationship as Aibon is a more calm grumpy bunny preferring peace and quietness compare to our super friendly hyper Sumomo.
We carefully choose a partner with a personality suitable for our first bunny, as Sumomo is so noble and friendly who follows Aibon like a duckling to her mom and would never act scared or snappy even though Aibon wasn’t the friendliest to her at the beginning she stay as happy and nice to her as ever and never aggressive towards her.
They have different personalities and can’t get along 24/7, still they are doing great only some snack snatching and Aibon been a little bit annoyed and grumpy when Sumomo followers her around all the time and is a little bit too hyper when she tries to sleep or the occasion when she confused hay with Aibon whiskers and chew them 🤣.
But all the hard work and patients paid off when we see them grooming each other, sleeping cuddling together and playing around. They groom each other and still hump one another even though we thought the boss was already decided, they switch turns I guess and there’s no fighting, nipping or chasing anymore. 😥
Sorry for the super long story, but I thought it was necessary to describe in detail the process and how our bunnies reacted to each stage of the bonding and the different techniques we used.
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♥︎Thanks for reading us♥︎
Love Eden, Aibon & Sumomo