By Anne McBride, Ph.D.
Cioli and Hunnicutt/BowTie Studio
Providing the right environment for an introduction can help make rabbit introductions more successful.
Sometimes all is not peaceful in the rabbit world: arguments and even fights can erupt over what seems like nothing. This is especially true when introducing new rabbits to each other.
The best pairing is a neutered male rabbit and spayed female rabbit. Where same-sex pairings are attempted, it may take weeks or even months for the rabbits to accept each other. Sometimes, rabbits that we would like to live together are simply incompatible — a fact we just have to accept.
Introducing rabbits to each other needs to be done carefully if fighting is to be avoided. Rabbits can be kept in cages side-by-side, so they can see and smell each other. After a few days they will become used to each other’s smell, and then a series of supervised introductions can take place. These are best done in neutral territory — a place that neither rabbit usually goes. Provide some hiding places (such as cardboard boxes) and several small piles of hay and treats, such as fresh herbs.
Expect the rabbits to engage in some chasing and mounting behavior, and even some pulling of each other’s fur. Any behavior more than this is a signal that fighting may be on their bunny agenda, so immediately stop this introduction session. Try again later.
Early introduction sessions may only last a couple of minutes, but, as the rabbits get used to each other — even if this means they basically ignore each other — the sessions can be extended. Do not try and rush things, a single fight between the rabbits can set the whole process back by weeks.