With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we hope you’re snuggled up close to someone special in this chilly February weather. And while love is in the air this week, we want to highlight one very special type of love connection.
Many species of animals form close bonds to one another, ranging from fish all the way to large mammals. Dogs and cats are species that we regularly see bonding, but one species that forms exceptionally close relationships is bunnies!
Love and the Bunny Dating Game
By nature, rabbits like to have companionship of their own kind. Like humans, rabbits can form a close connection with someone who they consider to be “the one.” This connection fulfills their desire for a close bond that cannot even be satisfied by a close relationship with a human. In addition to keeping each other company, bonded pairs of rabbits groom, protect, comfort and support each other. A bonded bunny provides a joyful and secure life for its partner.
Despite this, at a first introduction, rabbits can often appear aggressive and unfriendly to a prospective sweetheart. With patience and proper and safe “bunny dating,” these naturally social animals may begin to show affection for one another by nipping, grooming and even cuddling.
Playing Bunny Matchmaker
Although male and female bonds are the most common and easiest to form, looks do not matter! Prior to introducing a possible match, it is imperative that both rabbits are either spayed or neutered and in good health. All bonding should be supervised, because even the sweetest little fur babies can become aggressive at first introduction.
Introductions can be very easy for some rabbits, but it can also be very stressful. For this reason, here are some of the steps we recommend in order to make meeting fun for your bunnies:
- Bunnies should only be introduced if they are deemed compatible companions. Many shelters will allow you to introduce the bunnies prior to adoption to ensure they are compatible.
- During the bonding process, keep both rabbits in separate living spaces.
- Introduce bunnies away from their homes so that neither becomes territorial. Amy Nieto, AWA’s resident bunny expert, recommends allowing them to meet in an empty bathtub. This space is contained enough that you are able to control the situation.
- Spend at least 20 minutes a day trying to bond your rabbits in different spaces (i.e. a new room of the house, etc.). This takes patience, and may go on anywhere from a week to a few months.
- Try to recognize aggressive behavior before a fight begins. Signs of aggressive behavior include ears back, lunging, scratching, circling and more. If a fight breaks out, use a spray bottle filled with water or a towel to break it up.
- Although your bunnies should be kept separate during the bonding process, placing their cages next to each other can allow them to become used to being near each other.
- Recognize when it is time to call it quits. If you have been continuously trying to get your bunnies to bond to no avail, it might be the right decision to stop, for the health and safety of your bunnies.
Hop on Over to AWA
If you’re considering making a rabbit part of your family, take a look at our adoptable bunnies. AWA is the only shelter in the area that has an adoption program for rabbits and small animals. All of our rabbits are spayed or neutered prior to adoption.
Post your bunny bonding questions in the comments section below and we’ll be “hoppy” to answer them! Click here for more rabbit resources!