A bonded pair of rabbits is often a joy to watch. They groom each other, play and snooze together. Truly bonded bunnies should spend the rest of their lives with each other. The best pairs are generally opposite sex rabbits of about the same age. While that doesn't mean that same-sex and baby and adult bunnies can't bond, it can take more time and effort for the pairing to succeed.
Spayed or Neutered
Before attempting to introduce a baby bunny to an adult, make sure the grown rabbit is spayed or neutered. Trying to bond a baby with an intact adult rabbit is just asking for trouble. If the baby is too young for neutering or spaying -- younger than the age of 3 months for males and 4 months for females -- have the procedure done as soon as possible. Once an intact baby bunny hits puberty, he or she can undergo serious behavioral changes and make life difficult for the older rabbit.
Take It Slowly
Don't just stick a baby rabbit into the older bunny's cage and hope for the best. That's a recipe for disaster. Introduce the two animals on neutral territory -- not placing either into the cage of the other one. Start by putting each in a cage and placing them side by side. This way, they can smell and see each other and become accustomed to the other rabbit's presence. Leave them in adjacent cages for at least a few days, until they appear used to each other.
In the Same Territory
For best results, let the bunnies first have physical contact with each other not only in a neutral area, but in a large space. A room in your house or a stall in a barn can work, if it's escape-proof. Leave out some food and tasty treats for the rabbits, then let them out of their respective cages or carriers at the same time. Watch them carefully. Some chasing, especially by the adult after the baby, is to be expected. Just make sure the baby doesn't get hurt. Let them settle down and hang out for a while. Ignoring each other is fine -- fighting is not. If all goes well, repeat the procedure again for a couple of days before putting them in the same cage.
Home, Sweet Home
Once the two rabbits get along well in neutral territory, it's time to put them together in a cage. If possible, purchase a new, larger cage so it's neutral territory for both. Put new toys and food in the cage. After placing both rabbits in the cage simultaneously, assess their behavior carefully. If the adult rabbit attacks the baby, remove the little guy. This pairing might not work. If they appear to get along, keep a careful eye on them for the next several days in case problems arise. Once bonded behavior appears, such as mutual grooming, they should be fine.
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Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.