QUESTION: Hi, you helped us before when our rabbit Cookie was having teeth problems, unfortunately she died last week. My daughter was devastated and our remaining rabbit Kinder was out of sorts, not wanting to go into her cage ( they are house rabbits, with a cage in the utility room and ready access to a safe enclosed garden). She appeared to just lie in the dining room. We went yesterday with the intention of adopting a neutered older male rabbit and came home with a 11 week old female, who my daughter fell in love with. We were advised there was no reason to assume there would be any problems and 2 females sometimes get on better.
I have made an enclosed area in the kitchen where Kinder can see her but not get in. They were introduced in a neutral room were there was sniffing and grooming by Kinder. The bunny Hershey didnt move. I removered the guard in the kitchen and there was more sniffing, they shared the bunnies food and existed together ok for 15 mins, Kinder chased her towards the end but I squirted a
little water and it stopped.
This morning however Kinder went in and chased her straight away and Im not sure what would have happened had I not been there. We have been told we can return the bunny if things dont go well.
Please advise have I made a bad decision. I appreciate it will take a while to bond the rabbits but is an older rabbit with a bunny unlikely to work and are there any tips you can offer?
Hello! I'm sorry for your loss but I'm glad you came back to me for advise. I can tell you that you were misinformed in regards to the pairing. Unless the two females were from the same litter, it's easier to pair up a male/female combo. The other concern is that this new bun may not be fixed, so this will lead to territory issues (if Hershey is not fixed, please make sure to do so asap if you're keeping her). Did you get this bun from a rescue? Any rescue worth its salt will let you do "bunny speed dating" to find the right match, and it's better to try and pair up with Kinder along to give you her input.
Age is not as much of an issue, so I wouldn't concern myself with that. If you want to stick with trying to pair Kinder with Hershey, let them live in enclosures next to each other so they can get used to each other's smell. Feeding times are the times when it's easier to bond - putting their food bowls and hay pile close to the other bun's cage, and feeding them treats in sight of each other is a way to get them closer to each other. You can try neutral meetings in the bathtub where it's a small space and easily monitored - and ALWAYS supervise. You can also try a stress bonding - take the buns and put them in a carrier on top of the dryer - running with shoes or something in it to give it a rumble. You can also take them on a car ride together, making sure to bring a passenger that can separate any fighting.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: What age can we have her neutered, shes only 11 weeks. Would you expect territory issues
even at this age. The kids would hate to give the bunny back but we're all agreed its whatever works
best for Kinder and I wouldnt want to cause everyone stre
ss if its unlikely to work
6 months or so - that way she's fully grown, and yes, territory issues can happen any time a non-altered bun is brought into the picture. Make sure to get a blood test before any surgery. Also, if they're bonded by this point, make sure to bring them to the vet together so that whatever smells she picks up, they both pick it up and it doesn't break the bond.
For bonding... I'd go one of two ways if I were you. Either separate living areas (so they have down time) and supervise bathtub meeting time, or living spaces within 1" of each other so they can see and smell but not get to each other. It all depends on what will work best for you.
It can take a long time - I've heard it can take up to a year. If you're willing to put in the work I believe it can be done, and I think it would be a great way to teach your kids the investment of a pet as well - bonus!