Rabbits are social creatures. In the wild, rabbits live with a whole group of rabbits living in networks of tunnels together. They are hardwired to have social needs and can quickly become lonely and even fall into a depression if those needs are not met.
The best way to help our rabbits and meet their needs is to bond them with another rabbit. However, this is not always possible. Since rabbits will often fight when they first meet, bonding is a complex process that requires a lot of dedication.
Bonded rabbits take the same amount of care as a solo rabbit—they just use a bit more in supplies. They share the same pen space, litter box, food dish, water dish, and toys. Whether you are looking for a companion for your existing rabbit or looking for assistance bonding two (or more) rabbits currently in your care, Archie's Angels Rabbit Rescue can help!
Bonding should only be attempted between rabbits that have each been spayed/neutered due to concerns that arise with hormones.
**Our bonding services are only provided for neutered males and females!**
Once rabbits are bonded, they must never be separated! Attached rabbits who lose their companion become stressed/depressed and may stop eating. In the case of a bonded rabbit whose companion passes away, we recommend re-bonding as soon as possible.
6 Signs of Loneliness in Rabbits (see Bunny Lady article here for more info!):
Attention-seeking behaviors, such thumping, nipping, digging on you, and destructive behaviors.
Persistent destructive behaviors
Depression/loss of interest
Lack of appetite
Note: There is a difference between baby bunnies and adult rabbits. Baby buns bond easily with each other! That is, until their hormones come in around 2-3 months of age. Then there are frequently such behaviors as aggression and humping. We highly recommend separating baby rabbits from each other between 2-3 months of age for a few reasons:
They can hurt each other.
They can impregnate each other. It is very difficult to tell the sex of baby rabbits. There is always the potential that rabbits have been sexed inaccurately. Biological relationship doesn't matter to rabbits: brothers will impregnate sisters and sons will impregnate mothers. If you purchased your bunnies from a breeder or a pet store, we highly recommend having the sex double-checked by an exotic vet or a rescue (we are happy to do so!).
*Babies should not be separated from their mother until 8-10 weeks of age. Baby gender should be checked FREQUENTLY starting 8 weeks of age.
Once your rabbits have healed from being spayed or neutered, and their hormone levels have had a chance to recede, they can be re-bonded to each other.
The Bonding Process
We highly recommend "speed dating" rabbits before committing to the bonding process in order to find the most suitable partner for your rabbit (discussed more in the next section). The process of bonding rabbits can take only a few days (we call these easy bonds!) or it can take months of monitoring. The first 3 days require nearly 24/7 supervision in a scent-neutral arena where there are no potential territory triggers (litter box, toys, etc.). Bonding behaviors that are watched for are: chasing, biting, lunging, fur pulling, guarding, and humping. (Humping is a completely normal way for rabbits to establish hierarchy.) Soon enough, the only behaviors you will see will be mutual grooming and snuggling!
Archie's Angels Rabbit Rescue's bonding service covers the first 4-14 days of the bonding process, which is typically the most difficult period. The average length is 8 days, but the exact number of days depends completely on the rabbit dynamic, which is why speed dating different rabbits is highly recommended (see next section). Bonding starts with a very small pen, some hay, and a water bowl. As the rabbits demonstrate tolerable behavior, the pen size is increased. Eventually a litter box will be introduced, then additional neutral items, such as cardboard for chewing. If behavior regresses, items are removed and the pen is made smaller again. Once the pen is up to full size and the rabbit behavior is deemed acceptable, the bunnies are ready to go home. Don't forget that more bunnies = larger carrier for pick-up!
**Please note that our bonders cannot give daily updates!**
While bunnies are in bonding care, you have homework to do! Any area that was occupied by your solo bunny (or bunnies) before, as well as any toys, will need to be neutralized or replaced. You will be given instructions for this at the beginning of the bonding process. Click this link to access the BONDING HOMEWORK INFORMATION.
There are crucial transition guidelines that need to be followed once you arrive home with your newly-bonded rabbits. The size of their space will need to be limited for several weeks, growing slowly towards their maximum. This may be difficult to enforce (we want our buns to have space!), but it is only temporary and for the sake of solidifying the bond in their neutralized area. Should there be post-bonding difficulties, rest assured that your bonder will continue coaching you. If necessary, the rabbits will be taken back into care to be "re-bonded." Prompt communication with your bonder is critical!!
For additional information on bonding:
This article from The Bunny Lady is fairly inclusive; however, we do not necessarily follow nor promote all of her suggestions/advice.
If you have an existing solo rabbit that you are interested in finding a friend for, we highly recommend speed dating! You will be asked to bring your rabbit to one of our intake houses, and we will "test" your bunny with several potential partners (we can start with your favorites from the Adoptees page). You are welcome to participate (it's fun to watch!), but it is not necessary. Bonding is usually easiest between members of the opposite sex, but rabbits are not always limited to this. We have a range of experience with opposite-sex, same-sex, trio, and fluffle bonding. Similar age is also a consideration.
We prefer to do speed dating in conjunction with your bonding booking, if applicable, so that the bonding process can be started with that first positive interaction.
NOTE: Rabbits come in all shapes and sizes, as well as personality characteristics! Do not assume that your rabbit will "choose" a companion that is the same as what you are used to. Some rabbits are social with humans, some rabbits are timid. Some rabbits are tidy, some rabbits are not. Some rabbits are relaxed/lazy, some are high energy/feisty. If this is a concern for you, please consult Archie's Angels prior to speed dating/bonding. Bonded pairs can never be separated; therefore, you must be 100% ready to accept your new bun(s) along with your current bun(s). With this in mind, the Adoption Contract must be completed and the adoption fee must be paid at the onset of the bonding process.
$ Bonding Service Pricing $
Archie's Angels Rabbit Rescue provides everything for the bonding process, including their food. The one exception is greens/veggies—you may bring these, if desired.
If you are bonding to a rabbit from our rescue, the bonding service is provided for free, though we greatly appreciate donations! We are 100% volunteer-based and 100% of donations go to the rescue. There will still be a fee associated with adoption (ie. solo rabbit with no additional supplies = $75).
If your rabbits are from outside our rescue, the cost is $30/day with an estimate of 8-14 days in care.
If you just wish to consult our rescue regarding bonding advice, there is no associated cost; however, donations are always appreciated.
Due to the nature of animals and bonding, there is always the possibility of pet injury. While any minor injuries will be treated by our experienced rabbit custodians, medical emergencies will be treated by a veterinarian at the expense of the rabbit owner. Your application releases us from all liability.
After trying to bond our rabbits ourselves, and having them fight each other, we were very upset that they could not free roam and had to be kept in seperate pens. After a few weeks with Natasha and Chantelle, they are now completely bonded! They kept us in the loop with lots of updates, photos, calls and we'd highly encourage anybody to use this service. We drove out from Calgary, and even if it's a trip longer than that to make it out to Lethbridge, know that Archie's will definitely bond your rabbits.
-Naaz and Dylan Collier-Vanborn
In September 2022 I had decided to bond my single bunny, Pusheen, with a friend. I took the advice of AARR as they encouraged speed dating. It was amazing to see how the male bunny Pusheen picked out were instantly attracted to each other and they never left each others side from that moment on. I followed all the instructions given me when they were ready to come home in just 4 1/2 days!
On March 1st, 2023 my dear Pusheen passed away, and I was worried about Sebastion being on his own. But because I again followed guidance given to me, we let Sebastian stay by her side after she passed so that he could know that she was gone. It took a few more days for him not to look out for her when he got home. He began life as a singe bunny again, and I knew he would need to be bonded again, so in tears I filled out a bonding request form, so Sebastian could be fit into the busy bonding schedule AARR has. A month later Sebastian had his speed dating, sooner that I thought, but was happy for Sebastian.
Again I followed the council of the AARR Bonding team, and Sebastian picked a Dwarf and Havana cross . She has a very different personality from Pusheen, and can be a sweet little spitfire that loves to thump and honk. I am so happy for Sebastian and for Lacey, because they have each other now, though his bonding did take a little longer this second time around, but only 8 days.
Again, I highly recommend the Bonding Services of AARR, and to follow their guidance.
- Sabrina Radeck
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