Bringing home a new bunny buddy for your beloved free roam rabbit is an exciting but delicate process! Bonding rabbits can be unpredictable with peaceful moments and disagreements. Your rabbits may seem like foes at first, but with proper techniques they can become fast friends. This guide will walk you through each step of introducing rabbits – from separated housing to shared territory. With patience and persistence, you can help even territorial rabbits live in perfect harmony! Get ready for double the cuddles and cuteness once your new duo bonds. Follow these tips to safely turn your solo bunny into a dynamic rabbit duo living their best life throughout your home.
How to keep your two rabbits separate
When bringing a new rabbit into your home with an existing free roam rabbit, it's important to keep the two rabbits separate initially. This allows them to get used to each other's scents and sounds without direct interaction that could lead to fighting. Here are some tips for keeping your rabbits safely apart:
Start by housing your new rabbit in a separate room with the door closed. Make sure the room is properly rabbit-proofed to prevent chewing of baseboards or carpet. You'll want to place the new rabbit's litter box, food and water bowls, toys, and housing in this room.
Try to keep their living spaces as far apart in your home as possible. Avoid holding or petting your resident rabbit before handling your new bunny, as this can transfer scents between them too soon. Wash your hands and change clothes in between interacting with each animal.
Do not allow them to make physical contact, chase, or lunge at each other during this introductory phase. Any negative experiences now can hinder the bonding process later.
Rotate their play times out of their housing enclosures to establish their own territories. For example, let your existing rabbit have free roam of the house in the morning while the new rabbit remains in their designated room. Then swap in the afternoon so the new bunny can explore solo.
Make sure to spend one-on-one time with each rabbit daily. Pet, groom, and interact with them separately to avoid jealousy issues. Give them both the same amount of love and attention.
After a week or two once the rabbits are acclimated to each other's presence, you can begin limited supervised interactions in neutral territory. But continue housing them separately in their own spaces when not bonding.
Switch to ex-pens
Once your rabbits have become comfortable living in separate spaces, you can transition them to adjacent enclosures in the same room. This allows them to see and smell each other more closely without the potential danger of direct contact.
Exercises pens (x-pens) are a great option for safely housing rabbits side by side. X-pens are folding metal wire pens that can be configured in different shapes and sizes as needed. They are affordable and easy to find online or in pet stores.
Set up two large x-pens in the same room with about 2-3 feet between them. Place cardboard, blankets, or other barriers around the edges so the rabbits can't see each other head-on. This prevents tense staredowns which can occur if their enclosures are completely open to one another.
Make sure each pen has space for a litter box, hide house, food dish, water bottle, and toys. Both rabbits should have ample room to move around and feel comfortable in their own territory.
Never place the pens close enough for the bunnies to touch noses or paws between the bars. They should not be able to groom or nip at each other. Keeping them physically separated maintains safety.
You can scatter some tasty herbs or leafy greens in each pen to occupy them with foraging. Feed them their meals in the pens so they associate it with something positive.
Supervise all interactions at this stage and separate them immediately if signs of aggression or extreme stress develop. The goal is to get them gradually used to sharing space calmly.
Use separate rooms
If you don't have space for x-pens in the same room, you can continue housing your rabbits in separate rooms during the initial bonding process.
Ideally choose two rooms that are adjacent to each other if possible. This allows the rabbits to hear and smell each other better versus being on complete opposite sides of the home.
You'll need one room set up appropriately for each rabbit. Include housing, food and water, litter boxes, enrichment toys, and bunny proofing to protect floors and furniture.
Rotate their free roam time out of their designated living spaces to establish their own territories, as you did when they were fully separated. For example, your current free roam rabbit could have run of the home in the mornings. Then the new bunny gets afternoons out to explore and play solo.
Make sure both rabbits get equal amounts of exercise and play time. Spend one-on-one time with each rabbit petting, grooming, and providing affection.
After a period of adjustment living near each other, you can attempt brief introductions in a neutral area to gauge their reactions. But continue housing them in separate rooms full-time.
With positive interactions, gradually increase their bonding sessions. Once they share space comfortably, you can try supervised side-by-side housing using x-pens.
Divide the room in half
If you don't want to use x-pens or separate rooms long-term, another option is dividing your existing rabbit's space in half to share with the new bunny.
Use a temporary divider made of cardboard, wire storage cubes, or a baby gate split across the room to keep the rabbits separated. Just ensure the divider is tall enough that they cannot jump over it.
The divided setup allows the rabbits to live in close proximity while still feeling safe and secure. Make sure each side has all needed supplies like litter boxes, toys, bowls, and housing.
Feed them on opposite sides of the barrier and swap their locations back and forth. Rotate their free roam time out of the space as well.
Supervise interactions with the divider removed and watch closely for signs of tension or aggression. If they seem relaxed together, incrementally increase bonding sessions.
When they appear fully comfortable sharing the room harmoniously, you can remove the divider completely. But still provide two housing areas on opposite sides for them to retreat when needed.
Finding neutral territory
When you begin supervised bonding sessions, it's important to choose a neutral space that doesn't belong to either rabbit. This allows them to interact on equal terms without territorial issues.
A spare bathroom or hallway works well for initial introductions. The enclosed space prevents chasing while still giving room to move around.
Child or pet play pens are useful for creating a temporary neutral zone. Place toys, hides, and litter boxes inside to help your rabbits feel relaxed.
Outdoors spaces like your yard, deck, garage, or a friend's home can also serve as neutral territory. Just ensure the area is fully rabbit-proofed so they cannot escape or ingest anything unsafe.
Go slowly with first meetings and limit sessions to 10-15 minutes. Pet each rabbit calmly and provide verbal praise. Once tensions have eased, you can extend bonding time in neutral territory.
Have a squirt bottle on hand to gently interrupt mounting, chasing, or aggressive behaviors. Distract them with a toy to defuse tension.
Over multiple sessions in neutral space, your rabbits should eventually develop a friendly rapport. Then you can transition to bonding them in shared living areas.
What to expect
Bonding rabbits is an unpredictable process with both peaceful and contentious moments. Here’s what often occurs during those crucial first meetings:
– Lots of sniffing and circling as they check each other out
– One rabbit asserting dominance by mounting or nipping the other’s rear
– Some chasing as they compete for territory
– Teeth chattering as a warning sign
– Urine spraying to mark territory
– Fur pulling if things escalate to fighting
– Snuggling together once they become more comfortable
Have towels handy to wipe urine spray off the rabbits if needed. Be ready to gently intervene at the first sign of negative interactions.
Go slowly and don’t force interactions too quickly. Separate or distract them before aggression occurs. End each session on a calm note.
With persistence and patience, even clashing personalities can learn to coexist peacefully. Always protect their safety and wellbeing during this delicate process.
Bonding free roam rabbits
Once your two rabbits have been successfully introduced in neutral space, you can begin bonding them in the free roam house area. This lets them explore shared territory together while expanding their world.
Go step-by-step when transitioning them to free range bonding:
1. Start small for short periods of time
Begin by allowing your bonded rabbits brief 10-15 minute sessions together in a safely rabbit-proofed room, like the living room or bedroom.
Limit their access at first so you can closely supervise their interactions in the new space. Watch for territorial behaviors like chin rubbing, urine spraying, or circling.
If they seem relaxed together, gradually increase the time they are allowed to free roam the room with each other. But separate them at the first sign of conflict or stress.
2. Give your rabbits more space
Once your rabbits are bonding well in one room, you can expand their free range area little by little.
Open up doorways to adjacent rooms so they learn to share more territory. Try the dining room next if it connects to the living room.
Slowly allow them access to more of the home for longer periods each day. Fully rabbit-proof each new area they are allowed to roam together.
Limit their range again if they seem uncomfortable, territorial, or aggressive in the larger shared space. Then gradually re-expand their world once bonding strengthens.
3. Keep them in the neutral space together for a week
Before they have full run of the home together, keep your rabbits in a large neutral area like the living room for a week.
Continue housing them separately when not bonding so they still have their individual safe spaces.
Spending longer periods coexisting in shared neutral territory helps cement positive behaviors and interactions. Allow them to eat, sleep, play, and live as normally as possible together in this area.
Of course, always separate them if signs of discord arise like fighting, fur pulling, teeth chattering, or continual chasing.
4. Thoroughly clean the free roam space
Before your rabbits have full access to the entire home, do a deep clean of the space to neutralize territorial odors.
Vacuum all carpets, rugs, and fabric furnishing. Clean any urine stains with an enzymatic pet cleaner.
Wash any bedding, blankets, pet beds, and fabric toys they will share according to product instructions. Replace litter in all boxes with fresh litter.
Mop tile, wood, and vinyl flooring. Remove all traces of stray hay, fur, and waste. Take out the trash to eliminate smells.
The goal is to remove any noticeable individual scents from your resident rabbit so the space feels neutral to both animals.
5. Move in one section at a time
When it’s finally time for your rabbits to share free reign of the entire home, transition them one section at a time.
Start by allowing them to move through doorways into other rooms together while you supervise. Reward calm, friendly behavior with treats and petting.
If they seem content in the additional areas, leave the doorways open so they learn the whole space belongs to them both now.
Next, allow them access to rooms they haven’t been in before following the same gradual process. Make sure each new area is fully bunny-proofed and cleaned.
Go slowly introducing additional rooms over several days to weeks based on how they respond. The key is giving them time to establish shared territory through each step of expanding their range.
Be prepared to rein things in if there are conflicts over territory or resources. But typically once bonded, free roam rabbits will learn to coexist peacefully!
Bringing a new rabbit into your existing free roam rabbit's environment takes patience, preparation, and a step-by-step process. Keep the rabbits separated at first and make gradual introductions in neutral space. Allow their initial bonding sessions to progress naturally without forcing interactions. Slowly transition to sharing territory in one room, then eventually give them the run of the entire rabbit-proofed home. Supervise all interactions and be ready to intervene if aggressive behaviors arise. With time, even territorial rabbits can usually learn to live in harmony! Proper bonding creates the foundation for their lifelong friendship.