Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy Bunday - Bonding

Last week I mentioned that I would write a post on how I bonded my bunnies. Bonding (for those of you with no rabbits) is a process where your rabbits go from not knowing each other at all to bunny dating and then finally and hopefully blissful bunny love.

In hindsight, bonding my bunnies was like introducing two tigers into a small space. But like any other naive first time bonder, we started out with the hope of this taking about a month. We were very, very wrong.

Bunny dating - yip, I hate to tell you its real and you have to do it. I had Berry for about a year before we got Ninja, so she had the run of certain rooms in our house and we assumed that she would defend these places. So we followed all the normal rules of bonding. We set up a gate in our sitting room and let the two bunnies meet each other for the first time and by the end of the session we had a complete success. Each bunny was so excited to see another rabbit that there was lots of binkys, smelling and positive signals.By the end of the session this is how they looked:

Their first meeting
We kept this up for about a week and we did some bathtub sessions where they could smell and hopefully groom each other. Everything was going so well we couldn't believe it. Then we went away for 10 days (there was nothing we could do about this) and we came back to 2 bunnies who hated the sight of each other. We had to start at the very beginning with the room divider, bathtub sessions and about 30 minute introductions. 

They would not stop fighting. I can't describe what it was like to live with. I have a day by day document of my life at that time over on and reading back over it now to write this post I have no idea how we still have buns. Our lives where a ritual of bonding sessions, cage times and coaxing treats. I tried every documented bonding I could get my hands on. In the end after 4 months (yip, 4) which included 3 vet visits, I managed to get the buns into the same cage for a night. 

Ninja's first grooming of Berry
The bonding that worked was space. Any bunny owner will tell you that space during bonding is a no no. This is because rabbits fight like tigers and they are lightening quick. They can go into death spirals nipping at each others tails or necks and rabbits skin is paper thin and their teeth are incredibly sharp so if they fight at the other end of the space away from you, injuries will happen. However in my case at the end of my sanity (and wallet!!) I decided to give my buns space. It was like 2 different rabbits where in my house. Ninja needed to be able to feel like he could flee from Berry, he was comfortable in the hall with lots of running room. This allowed him to settle down and not attack Ber every time she came over to smell him. Berry was very patient during these bonding sessions and she would only move to strike Ninja after his behaviour irritated her (this is apparently normal). We followed the  social bunny rules of placing their hay and food together and had one large litter tray so that they had to share. 

The buns first night in the same cage was spent like.... well I imagine like most people are when a newborn has been brought home for the first time, sleepless. We had a torch just in case they would fight and we jumped at any noise but there was just some scuffles and settling. From here our buns just settled into a routine with each other and over time the space between them when they flopped out closed, until we ended up with the two bunnies in love that you guys see every week. 

I am trying to keep this post short but if there is anyone who wants to read the detailed day to day posts you can find them over on and you will need to register to read the forums. 

Till next week

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