On the Bunny Bonding Trail, uh Trial

Tigger & Shadow in a quiet momentOkay, I freely admit right up front that when it comes to bonding bunnies, we did almost everything possible wrong. We had always seen bunnies snuggling together and had no idea you couldn’t just put two of them together. We got Tigger first, realized she was lonely, and brought Shadow home a couple of months later as a companion.

The only thing we did right was to keep to separate cages and run times until they were altered. We didn’t believe the vet was correct that we had two females. Thank heavens for our gut feeling, since little Shadow was hiding his male status quite well. During the month we were housing them side by side with separate play times, we realized that getting them together was going to be harder than we thought.

Tigger had lost that lonely feeling, now she had a purpose in life. Unfortunately, her new mission meant trouble for Shadow’s well-being.  That rabbit had invaded her space and she would patrol the perimeter of his cage and try to nip him if he came too close to the bars.  Shadow was smart and stayed away.

I thought I would get them used to seeing each other while feeling somewhat protected.  So, I tried holding Shadow while Tigger was out running.  However, Shadow surprised me and decided to take the offensive.  He dived out of my arms making a beeline for Tigger.  She was quite ready to meet this challenger head on.  I grabbed Shadow right before they reached each other and got the bite he intended for Tigger.  I told Blaine about my foolishness and suggested we needed to regroup and find a game plan.  Blaine decided when I wasn’t there to repeat my experiment and got the same results, except the bite he got came from Tigger.

We needed help.  Being admitted computer geeks, we went online and found the House Rabbit Society. We read all the bonding material and talked to local people and knew the road ahead was going to be a bumpy one. We now had altered bunnies, so hormones were fading and that was good.  However, we weren’t starting out with great snuggle bunny personalities, we had alpha rabbits. 

We started real slow with just five-minute dates in neutral territory in a bathroom and adjoining hallway.  At first they really didn’t even want to be in the same room together.  Sometimes we would end up with a rabbit flopped along the bathroom wall with  the other flopped along the hallway wall with just their heads out together in the open doorway so that we could pet them jointly.  They clearly weren’t very trusting of each other.

We built up their time together over three long months. Gradually, we introduced them to their shared space and then had a beautiful bonded couple 24/7 who shared their cage and runtime.  As the picture shows, we had a success!  Yeah, well sort of, the rest of the story later today.  What we didn’t realize is that we had the Liz Taylor and Richard Burton of the bunny world …

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