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               My Secrets to Bonding My Bunnies

I am often asked how I bond so many of my bunnies together.  In order to keep from writing the same information over and over, I decided to create this page.  I can't guarantee that these steps will work for you but it is what has worked for me.

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I begin by placing the new bunny in a cage in the area of the bunnies that I want to bond the new bunny to.  This allows them to get to know each other through the cage and start mixing their scents with each other.  I leave the cage with the new bunny in the others bunnies area for several days and take the new bunny out of the cage and the area for some exercise time.

Once I have done the step above for a few days, its time to move on to the next step.  I spend several minutes rubbing and petting each bunny to get their scent on my hand.  I then go on and start petting and rubbing the next bunny to add the first bunny's scent and pick up the next ones scent.  I make sure to rub my fingers all the way through the fur down to the skin.  I continue doing this until I have rubbed all bunnies twice and mixing them together.

Now it is time for neutral territory.  I have used my bathtub if it is a small group but I prefer my dining room table.  It is high enough that they are not likely to jump down and I can be standing up to easily intervene.  When doing large groups, I usually use my husband and kids and we stand all around the table to break up any fights and to be sure that no one falls.

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If the session starts out with the bunnies ignoring each other, I know I will have success.  If they lay into each other immediately, it is still possible but will take longer.  When the bunnies are on the table, we stand there and just watch them.  If they start to tussle, I put a hand on each to separate them and loudly shout NO.  I continue to separate them each time they go back after each other.   Depending on how they are getting along determines how long I leave them up there.   If they are just sitting around and couldn't care less about the others, I leave them there for at least 30 minutes.  If they keep tussling with each other, I may only do it for 10 minutes the first time and then try to gradually increase the time.

Once the bunnies are getting along on the table, its time to work on joining them in there area.  I start out by cleaning all litter boxes, wipe everything down and wash the floor to remove as much of the scent as possible.  I leave the newest bunnies cage door open and let them all out in the area at the same time.   The existing bunnies will often go in the new bunnies cage to check it out.   At this point, you can expect them to start tussling again since a new bunny is in their territory. 

I continue to separate them any time they start to fight.  This is where most people give up and think that the bunnies will never get along.  It is very difficult to watch a bunny that you love fighting with another bunny.  Now is a good time to bring on their favorite treats.  I shake the bottle of papaya or get them their fresh salad or dried fruit and start giving it to them.  They suddenly stop any fighting and everyone happily eats.  Its ok to let them mount each other and do a little fighting and there may be some fur that flys.  I will allow them to do this for about 10 seconds at a time and then separate them.  It is important for them to establish who the dominant bunny is and see if the others give in.

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I would repeat the above steps until there is no more fighting and they all seem to be getting along.  In the meantime, I put the new bunny back in the cage for the night so that it can't get hurt while I am not there to watch.  Once everyone seems to be getting along during the day, then I will allow them to stay together at night.

This entire process usually takes me 2-3 weeks.  What I have noticed is that the larger the group of bunnies, the easier it is to add another one in.  I will generally have at least 1 or 2 bunnies who are mellow and laid back and will help to protect the new bunny from the dominant one until they are all getting along.

It is important to realize that with large groups of bunnies, they won't all be in love with each other.  You will notice that they find their favorites who they cuddle with the most but that doesn't mean they can't all get along.  If one bunny always seems to be left out, never cuddling with any other bunnies or is getting picked on, I strongly recommend trying to put that bunny in with a different group or trying to add a new bunny to the bunch.  It would be very sad for one bunny to have no other bunnies loving him/her and grooming him/her so you must watch the dynamics of the group and be sure that everyone is being accepted.

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My bunnies have gotten used to accepting new bunnies that it is usually very easy to add a new bunny to the group.  They have plenty of place to run around and play as well as get away from each other when they want to.  I certainly hope the steps that I use may help you to get your bunnies bonded together.

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Last Updated: August 11, 2005 01:31 PM