RAW 2014: Busting Bonding Myths

As part of Rabbit Awareness Week, our Facebook followers asked for some tips & hints on bonding.

We thought we’d start by dispelling some common Bonding Myths, then later in the week we’ll offer additional bonding advice.

Same-Sex Rabbits Cannot Be Bonded
Simply not true.  Assuming that all rabbits in the group are neutered, same-sex groups can be bonded quite happily, for life.  It is a little harder than a male-female bond, but not a definite no!

Male-Male Bonds Will Result In Death
I’ve heard many people say that male-male bonds can’t work, because male rabbits will fight each other to the death.

There is a little bit of truth in this, but only a little bit!  Unneutered males are very aggressive to each other, and they will fight for dominance.  There are true stories of rabbits killing each other during this process, and more common is the situation where they do serious physical harm to each other – including castrating their opposition with their teeth to assert their dominance.

However, neutered males will generally not do this.  Neutering removes the excess hormones that cause this territorial behaviour, and allows male-male bonds to exist in perfect happiness.

Speed Dating or “”Love At First Sight”” Meetings are the best way to bond
In my experience, this is not the case.  We find that the love at first sight effect is the least effective, with most rabbits not following this “”perfect”” example.

I have also been asked on numerous occasions to help people with bonding their rabbits after an apparent love at first sight bond has broken with days or a couple of weeks from bringing a new rabbit home.

What we find is often happening in these cases is that the rabbits are initially tolerating each other (appearing to be instantly accepting each other), then after an initial period will follow the typical bonding behaviour exhibited in almost every bond.

You can just throw rabbits into the same hutch and leave them to it
Absolutely not!  It is really important that you supervise the early stages of bonding, and it is beneficial for you to include a number of exercise and tricks to help them get used to each other too.

I put the rabbits together and they were fine, so I can just leave them now
Not necessarily – delayed fighting is possible, so its important to follow the bonding technique even if it looks initially to be going very well.  You want to be confident they will be safe together, not ‘hope’ they will be ok.

Bonded rabbits need to be the same size and/or breed and/or age
Simply not the case.

My personal pet groups currently each have one giant, one cross-bred and one miniature breed in each bonded group, and are all of differing ages as they were adopted from the rescue service at different stages.

My rabbit is too old to be paired with another rabbit now
In most cases, this isn’t true.  The desire for company is so high, regardless of their age, that it is still important to consider getting a new partner even for our elderly bunnies.

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