Rabbit Bonding part 1

>>  Monday, February 06, 2017

After having kept the cages about 4 foot apart for 2 days, I moved them to about 3 inches apart. Close enough to be very close but not close enough to bite. I put all fresh food on the ground floor at the place where they would be closest to each other so they would be eating their favourite treats at the same time and almost together. Nothing like a carrot to keep a bunny occupied!

I kept this up for another 5 days and then brought them inside for a meet up.

I chose the bathroom which my existing rabbit, Florence, had never been in.  So it was a small, neutral space with a slippy floor.

They humped. Lots.  I wouldn't let them do this for longer than 5 seconds each time before breaking them up and if he (new Rabbit Jack) mounted Florence's head I broke them up immediately, just in case she nipped his manly parts.

They had 30 minutes of this and it all seemed fairly positive.

The next day I moved them to the hall with a few toys and it was all much easier.  Much less humping and hassling each other and more co-existing.  They did a lot of head to head pushing which is a sign of them trying to show who is boss.  I  mostly just let them get on with it.

There was a fair bit of 'talking' odd grunting noises and the odd foot thump but nothing drastic.

I did this again the second day, but to be honest I was fed up with sitting on the stairs.

So the next day I moved them to the kitchen extension.

The humping and chasing started again,  but only as bad as the first day in the hall, so I was fairly confident they would sort it out for themselves.

I found that clapping my hands when things got 'out of hand' was enough to stop it and had the upside of stressing them both so they ran together in a panic and sat together until they calmed down again.

On day 2 of being in the kitchen extension (each day I was just letting them have a few hours together) they calmed down again.

In the morning I brought them in, over lunch I took them back out but put them in the opposite cage they were normally in.  Jack was quite happy with this.  Florence was rather put out, but her normal cage is much bigger and she normally has access to an outside run.

In the afternoon I brought them back in again and after a few hours they really had settled into each others company and the washing each other started.

These pictures are bad quality because I was saying well out of the way and only making noise if they 'misbehaved' not actually getting involved physically.

They finally got to the point where they would just sit together (chairs on sides to stop them getting to wires)

and Jack was becoming rather needy rather than humpy

I continued to bring them inside every evening for the next week and left a pile of greens which they would eat from together.

Up to this point everything had been
completely neutral - the area, the toys they played with were new to both of them and only used at this together playtime.

So I brought in Florence's litter tray one evening.  And the humping and chasing started again.  After 5 nights of calm all hell broke loose,  I was having to closely supervise and clap again.
But on evening 2 they settled down again and decided they could just lie in a litter tray together.

Every night (and day) they are going back to their own cages but treat food is always put where they are eating close to each other.

I am also swapping their hay balls between cages each day (a wicker ball stuffed with hay that they demolish slowly) so they are cross scenting.
Then I took the huge step of putting them both in Florence's outside run.

I bought all new toys, mats, litter tray, tube, so there were lots of new things for her too.
They did chase each other and they also had a bit of a fight but again they settled down.

(I know the bottom mesh is not a good idea - I do plan to change this)
But it was incredibly cold out, too cold for me to supervise for longer than an hour or so, so I brought the new toys inside for them to sit alongside their old shared toys for an hour or two.

Fingers crossed this still seems to be going quite well.  Rabbits mate for life and are very choosy, you can't just dump two rabbits together and expect them to get on with it.  It's the equivalent of sticking a stranger in your house and saying "there you go, love them forever"

Rabbits are also very territorial, so you can't just stick a new rabbit into any other rabbit's cage and think that'll be fine, chances are they will have a vet bill worthy fight.

But so far with a lot of time and patience these two seem to be getting there.

I'll really nervous about when to finally put them into the same cage together.  I think they might be ready before I am.  Wish me (and them) luck!


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