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Forum BONDING Choosing new rabbit to bond with

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    • seafam
      2 posts Send Private Message


      6 months ago, our family adopted a 1-year old male rabbit, half New Zealand / half Netherlands Dwarf.  I have two kids, 3 & 5, and the rabbit is not the warmest with them, but we love him anyway. He’s pretty energetic, loves to run around, can only hop about 18 inches high.  Sometimes when he feels scared, he has rushed at us and scratched us a little.  I’m not sure if this is considered aggressive or just normal behavior. We had him neutered about a month ago and he’s now about 18 months old.  We spend as much time with him as we can, but we think it would be better if we got him some companionship. 

      We would like to get a female Holland Lop (the family thinks they’re cute) to bond with our existing rabbit.  We have a large indoor pen that is 8′ x 3′ and has a 3-story bunny condo with lots of tunnels and hiding places.

      We’re fairly new to rabbits and I’ve been reading about the bonding process.  We were thinking of getting a younger bunny (8-10 weeks) because we feel that we missed out on the opportunity for our family to bond with our current rabbit when he was younger.  If we get a younger bunny, will the rabbit be more likely to be friendlier with the kids as it grows up?  If we do this, I’m assuming that we need to keep her separate for several months until we can have her spayed.  So we wouldn’t be able to bond her with our current rabbit for 5 months or so, right?

      Or, should we get an older rabbit (about a year) and try to bond right away?  We’re just concerned that the older rabbit will not be warm and snugly, as happened with our current adopted rabbit.  Or is it possible for our family to develop a good bond with an adult rabbit?  Basically, my kids just want a rabbit to come cuddle up next to them.

      I’ve noticed that a lot of the bunnies/rabbits available for adoption come as a bonded pair.  Is it a bad idea to introduce an already bonded pair of rabbits to our existing rabbit?

      I appreciate any advice that the community has.  We are in the Seattle area if anyone has some advice on where we could go to get a bunny/rabbit.  Thanks.

      Here is a pic of my wife holding our rabbit.  BTW, does anyone have an estimation for how big our rabbit is?  I can’t get him to sit on a scale so I’m having a hard time estimating his size/weight.   Is this a small or normal size rabbit?  Thanks.

    • Sarah
      44 posts Send Private Message

      Hi there!
      I am going to try to adress all your questions, but feel free to respond back if I missed one!
      As for having a rabbit that will snuggle with your kids. The unfortunate reality is that rabbits are actually not very snuggly. You may see rabbits on social media or youtube or something that love to be held, but the majority of rabbits hate being held and as rabbit owner we need to respect that and gain thier trust by just hanging out with them on the ground where they feel the most comfortable. That being said, once you gain a rabbits trust, their personalities really blossom and they are goofy little things! So I encourage you to read up on how to bond with a rabbit articles and videos. There are plenty out there from reputable sorces like this website or House rabbit society etc. that can help you gain your buns trust. The aggression that you are seeing probably stems from him being afraid of you, so he is lashing out to keep you away. Once you gain his trust you will see him start to get more comfortable with you.

      As for bonding, what you can do and its your best option is go to a shelter and do some bunny speed dating. Many shelters will do this and it will allow your rabbit to choose who they want to bond with. Usually it makes the bonding process more sucessful. A lot of rabbits, especially older ones do not want to bond with a younger rabbit, especially one they didn’t essentially get to pick out.

      And as for yout last question, you can absolutely bond with an adult rabbit. Memebers here do it all the time! A lot of the time you create a stronger bond with a rabbit you rescued because they think you saved them! But like I said, you have to gain their trust on their terms( meaning on the ground) and let them come up to you, otherwise you will just be in the same boat that you are now.
      Hope this helps you! And I would say based on the picture he is a small to medium sized rabbit.

    • DanaNM
      3347 posts Send Private Message

      Hi there, welcome

      Your bun is very cute! He looks big! My 6 or 7 lbs? But then he kind of looks like he has a dwarf shaped head, so maybe the pic is deceiving? Dwarf buns are very feisty, so that would explain his lack of cuddly-ness (I love their spunk though!).

      My girl Bertha is huge, I have to hold her and stand on the bathroom scale to get her weight (she’s 9 lbs).

      You can for sure bond with an adult rabbit! All of my buns have been adults when I got them, and I adopted a 9 year old bun last year and he is amazing. He practically crawled into my arms at the shelter. A baby is a lot more of a crap shoot because their personalities change when they hit puberty (just like humans! lol).

      And you might get there yet with your current bun. Some buns take a while to open up, and having young children around might make him feel a little less safe, so it might take more time. Try to encourage the most gentle behavior with him that you can (not trying to grab, allowing him to come to you, not picking up unless necessary, hand feeding, etc.). You can try to teach your kids to “ask” him if they pet him might help a lot. Basically they would place their hand on the ground in front of his face, pinky side down, so the back of the hand is facing bun. If bun puts his head down, he’d like some pats on the head and ears. if not, then they should respect that and let him be. Hand feeding works wonders as well. My rescue always has tons of kids wanting to pet the bunnies, and they will let them all walk around and hand feed, but not pet, the bunnies. The trick is to hang on to the veggie and not let the bun run off with it! Then they learn children mean food, and come running when they see them.

      Another thing that might be fun to help you bond with him is clicker/target training. Every bun has a different personality, but you can find ways to enrich your relationship no matter what that personality is.

      Ok, that said, bonding will also be easier with an adult, just because you can start sooner. There have been some sad cases on the forum where someone gets a baby, falls in love with it by the time it’s old enough to try bonding (neutered, healed, etc.), and then the bond failed unfortunately. With an adult you might even be able to take your bun speed-dating and let him pick a friend. Not a guarantee of an easy bond, but can rule out buns that he definitely does NOT like.

      Most rescues are very interested in placing buns into homes that are compatible with them, so if you tell them you are looking for a cuddly bun that will be chill around kids, they will be able to help you find the right bunny.

      Adopting a pair to bond as a trio is possible! You’ll want to be prepared for the current pair to split up during the process though (this doesn’t always happen but can). I would say for your first bonding experience just adopting 1 bun will be easier to deal with.

      In terms of that, how fortuitous that you are in Seattle. Just recently the Kitsap Humane Society rescued 300 rabbits…there’s a post about it here:

      And here:

      I’m not sure how they operate, as they are not a house-rabbit specific rescue. But here are some other Seattle area rabbit rescues (some mention they help with speed-dating as well ):

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  

    • Pepper the Bunny
      21 posts Send Private Message

      Hi! You can definitely bond with an adult! My best advice is to sit on the floor while they have play time and give them oats. Oats are my buns favorite treat! (Other than all natural applesauce but that still has sugar) He sadly will probably not snuggle but he might be happy to sit on you couch and let your children stroke his head and back if they are calm enough! I am also in the process of bonding a 3 year old bun to a very young bunny (we haven’t even gotten the baby yet and I’m still nervous?) and I can feel you. It is easier to bond with a baby but it depends on the bunny. Best wishes❤️

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Forum BONDING Choosing new rabbit to bond with