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My rabbit just passed away.. How should I proceed with his bonded friend?

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by DinoLauren, Jan 26, 2019.

  1. DinoLauren

    DinoLauren PetForums Newbie

    Jan 17, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Hello all,

    Unfortunately my beautiful rabbit Percy died on Thursday night from what the vets think was a heart attack at only 2 and a half years old. :( Thumper is the Blue/ Grey Bunny and Percy is the Brown Bunny.


    My other rabbit Thumper is now on his own. We brought him inside into a cage as the pair were outside together and obviously he is too small to keep warm on his own. We are currently in the process of clearing the spare room and that will be his room for free roam.

    I am now thinking about my options and what the best thing to do for Thumper is. He is eating well and had plenty of time with the body over the night it happened to realise his best friend had passed.

    Before I go and look for a new friend I would love to hear peoples experiences or advice. I have other animals including Rats and I understand the bonding process but from conflicting information online I am getting confused as to which gender would be better paired with him and whether a young bunny will need to be neutered before I begin the bonding process. Thumper is already a neutered Male. Thumper is also a little more nervous than Percy was. Percy was the confident dominant male and thumper would follow him. So I would love some advice around that. I am thinking a Lionhead rabbit to pair him with since that would also be a smaller breed with a possibly confident nature?

    As the room is not yet ready but should be by Monday the room he is going into will technically be neutral territory. My plan is to put Thumper into the room in his cage along with the new bunny (Obviously in a separate cage) for a few days so that they can see each other through the respective cages before the first introduction. Since the room would have never been entered free roam by either bunny I plan to let the two out into the room to meet each other and continue the process from there. I have a bed in the room which I will be sleeping in whilst this is all happening.

    Does this sound appropriate?
  2. Corneal

    Corneal Shelly

    Oct 30, 2018
    Likes Received:
    its super sad that your bunny passed away so young, by first bunny died at 7months old by catching a tick in the garden, i had been saving up pocket money for two years so that i could adopt and financially support my first rabbit. after she died i adopted a brother and sister, Bumble and Blossom, they where adorable and lovely together, and 4 years on (almost exactly a year ago) Blossom passed away after kicking against something solid and breaking her back. my parents didnt want me to adopt another bunny as they thought i would be on an endless spiral of bunnies, adopting another one each time the last passed away. however, November 2018 i managed to convince them to let me adopt a an older rabbit that was the same age as Bumble as oppose to a baby bunny. between january and november 2018 Bumble lived alone and i hadnt even relaised how depressed he was until i introduced him to my new bunny Barnaby and saw how happy and active her used to be and seeing him happy, cuddly and binkying.

    once the rabbit is neutered you will have to wait at least a month before moving letting them spend time together without barriers

    What i suggets and what i did:
    • before bringing another bunny into your home i suggest giving your bunny time to grieve. give him lots of cuddles and spend lots of time with him and try to stick to your normal routines.
    • find another bunny the same age as your bunny- this way they will have similar levels of energy.
    • a lot of people say that only boys and girls should be paired, as oppose to boys with boys and girls with girls. however, Barnaby and Bumble are PERFECT together. soooooo many books say that it can take weeks or months for rabbits to get along and have the sealed bond. it only took 6 days for my bunnies to meet, fall in love and move in together. i think that it doesnt matter what gender they are as long as they have similar personalities, i.e. bumble is really calm and spends lots of time sleeping and chin rubbing. while barnaby loves cuddles, sleeping and sharing his food and toys with others. so i would say you should be really careful and maticulus to find the perfect step-bunny for your boy.
    • before allowing your rabbits to meet face to face with no barriers, make sure you allow them to spend time near each other, but with a wall between them so they can get used to each other's smells and stuff.
    I am curently writing a book about rabbit care, here is what i've written about bonding:

    Bonding can take a long time and a lot of patience, so don’t be in a rush and take a moment to understand how stressful and scary this can be for your rabbits.

    Rabbits being bonded can be any gender or breed, but it is best to bond rabbits of a similar age as they are more likely to get on if they are both equally active and are going through the same stages of aging and growing old.

    If you are planning on adopting a rabbit and bonding it with your current rabbit, then I would highly recommend booking an appointment for an overall health check with your vet before beginning the bonding process. This will prevent your rabbits from spreading any illnesses they may have.

    These bonding sessions must happen every day at around the same time. Rabbits are creatures of habit and would less stressed if they had an idea of when and where the sessions were, as appose to being scooped up at any time of day and being put in a possibly stressful situation.

    1. First off, all rabbits taking part in the bonding must be spayed or neutered. And it must be at least 1 month since either operation. This gives the rabbits a chance to heal from their surgery. This also allows rabbits hormones and testosterone levels to go down.

    2. The rabbits then need to spend at least two weeks in enclosures that are side by side so that they can see and smell each other but not touch or bite.

    3. If both rabbits have lived safely and nicely side by side, without any negative signs, such as aggression, thumping or lunging, then you may now set up the run where they are to meet.

    4. The meeting must be on neutral territory so that neither rabbit will become aggressive when they see another rabbit on their turf. The bonding location should be somewhere that neither of them have been before or somewhere that neither of them have been in the last few years. Rabbits long term memory is rather poor so somewhere they have been several years ago, now counts as neutral territory. If you have no neutral territory, then you can make one by thoroughly cleaning and scrubbing an area to remove all rabbit smells. You should clean it top to tail, scrub the walls, mop the floor and wash the curtains (if necessary). This will remove the smells that your rabbit is familiar with and make them think it’s a new location.

    5. The neutral space should have no hiding places or toys. If there are places to hide, then they may hide away and become territorial about their hiding place. Which will distract them from the task at hand.

    6. Make sure there is hay and water in the middle of the room. This is not to encourage them to move around, it is simply because they must have access to it at all times. If this is placed at one end of the room the rabbit at that end may claim it and not allow the other rabbit anywhere near it.

    7. Place one rabbit at one side of the room and allow them a few moments to settle. Then bring in the other rabbit and place them at the other end of the room.

    8. Allow the rabbits to see each other and walk around. If the rabbits are timid and stay in their corners then sprinkle a few treats around the room to encourage them to move around (if the treats are really nice, they may get territorial, so some ordinary pellets will do)

    9. The bonding session should go on for no more than 1 hour and you must stay with them, in the neutral area for the entire time.

    10. If the rabbits chase each other, growl, lunge, hump, mount, or nibble at each other then leave them alone. This is good it means they are working out their differences and hierarchy. However, don’t allow your rabbits to mount the head or face.

    11. If the rabbits bite or attack each other, then you should intervene. Do this by picking up one of the rabbits using a towel and stroke them on your lap to calm them down. Check them over for injuries and cuts, if you find a cut treat it using your first aid kit. Allow a few days for the injured rabbit to heal before beginning the bonding process again. If neither rabbit is injured then simply place them on your lap, calm them down and then place them back on the floor to continue the process.

    12. If you think a fight is about to start, then you can move them apart to their sides of the room and observe them closely.

    13. While separating the two from a fight, they may turn their anger on you; so I would suggest that you wear a long-sleeved top and socks/shoes to protect yourself from bites and scratches.

    14. If your rabbits seem to be getting along you can add a food bowl of pellets and/or veg and see if they are willing to eat together. Just to be safe I would add a second bowl full of the same stuff a few inches away from the first.

    15. As well as feeding them together you can try stroking them together. Place them side by side and stroke them both simultaneously. This should help them bond as they both experience comfort and positive reinforcement at the same time.

    16. Once both rabbits have started to groom and cuddle with each other, time spent together can be increased and the daily feed can be added to the bonding session

    17. When you increase the amount of time together, you can also start expanding the play area and adding toys, cardboard castles and tunnels. I would be wary with adding toys they have seen before as they may claim it and become territorial, so I would suggest adding toys and equipment that they haven’t seen before, or have been thoroughly cleaned.

    18. If they are being cuddly and getting along one minute, and start mounting and humping again the next minute, don’t worry, this is fine, they are just working out the pecking order. However, if this carries on then I wouldn’t suggest separating them, I would instead recommend clapping or making a loud noises. You could also try stroking them on your lap or on the floor. Some books suggest using water pistols to give them negative reinforcement, but I wouldn’t condone using spray bottles or water pistols as this is a bad habit to get into, needlessly upsets the rabbits and should be avoided at all times, it could also be seen as fun by small children who then want to have water fights with their pets which could traumatise them as they get picked on by someone they trusted.

    19. However, if the fighting gets worse and they become violent again then I would separate them and go back to step 1.

    20. After several successful plays the rabbits can be temporarily moved into the intended shared living space; this must happen while under constant supervision.

    21. If their first night together was successful and they remained friendly then you may now begin to leave them alone in their new home without supervision. Every few hours I would check up on them and keep an ear out to listen for squabbles or fighting. But if it is looking promising and the bond seems to have worked then you may leave them alone overnight and leave the house trusting that they will not fight and are bonded.

    22. If your rabbits are comfortable living with each other, but not comfortable making the final leap then you could try one or more of these circumstances.

    · Place both rabbits in a pet carrier and take them for a walk around the house.

    · Place the rabbits on the back seat of your car and go for a short drive while someone is supervising them.

    · Place them in an empty bath and allow them to slip around.

    These circumstances will cause your rabbits to be stressed. This joint stress will help the rabbits to bond over a shared experience as appose to argue, fight or ignore each other.

    Below are indicators and signs that your rabbits are ready for this stage:

    · They are grooming each other

    · They are comfortable eating, drinking and grooming themselves while around each other.

    · They can spend several hours without any fights or signs of aggression

    · They are lying down and relaxing next to each other

    · They are actively seeking out each other’s attention

    · They have reached a point where separating them will have a negative effect on them (this stage is entirely based on your opinion)

    23. The next step is leaving them alone over night for the first time.

    You can choose how alone you leave them. You can either leave them completely alone with full trust that they will behave, or you can sleep nearby just in case there is a fight or bullying in the night.

    If you look in on them the day after their sleep over and you find scraps of fur and fluff lying around, don’t worry this is fine, as long as they don’t have any cuts or injuries, and seem settled, then they will be fine. They are just continuing to work out the pecking order and getting to know each other.

    If months or years pass and the rabbits appear to have fallen out, then unfortunately you will need to start from the beginning and re do the bonding process all over again. You can tell if they have fallen out by witnessing them avoid each other, aggression or violence, and if you haven’t witnessed this you may find loose fur lying around or speckles of blood.

    However, if they seem at ease with each other and have appeared to make up then you can leave them together and begin monitoring them until they have clearly made up and gone back to their previously friendly selves.

    More often than not you are better off leaving the rabbits together and letting them sort out their spat themselves rather than interfering and possibly damaging the relationship.

    Just so you Know:

    · Their forever home should include toys, tunnels, treats and other enriching furniture, this will help to keep them occupied and help prevent boredom which could lead to bullying.

    · If one of them is possessive over food, then provide them with separate food bowls or feed them at different times.

    · Maintain the same room layout, changes may cause the rabbits to become territorial over newly moved furniture. In addition, if toys, tunnels or other permanent items of furniture become destroyed, ruined or eaten, make sure you have a replacement available so the old can be switched out with the new simultaneously.

    · Take them everywhere together, if one goes to the vet, they both go, if one comes out for a cuddle, they both come out, if one comes out for a manicure or grooming, they both come out, etc. This is because you don’t want to disrupt the bond or bring one rabbit back to the shared space smelling of vet or something new. This could cause the rabbits to break up, be fearful or aggressive towards one another. The only reasons for separating them, is if one has a disease that the other could catch, if they have broken up or if they have caused serious harm to one another.

    · During their first few weeks of full time living together, avoid keeping them near other rabbits as this make your newly bonded rabbits feel threatened and their sense of security is in trouble.


    · Don’t rush them, let them take their time, professionals are able to do this within a couple of weeks, but they have decades of experience.

    · Don’t host more than one session each day. Leave 24 hours between each of the early bonding sessions.

    · Don’t separate them, once they are bonded keep them together at all times.

    If you wish to avoid the bonding process then you should adopt baby rabbits from a breeder, rescue or individual, this is because baby rabbits are born bonded to their brothers and sisters. Another option is to adopt a mother and baby as they will also being bonded. Rescues, like RSPCA often have rabbits that are already bonded, and you can adopt a pair that may not be related but are the best of friends. In addition, some RSPCA branches will help you bond your rabbit to one of theirs, they do this by taking your rabbit to their branch and holding onto them for a week or so and doing all the bonding for you.

    The speed of the bonding is entirely up to the rabbits, this could take days, weeks or months. However, if this drags on for an excessive amount of time you must make the decision of whether this is putting un due stress upon them and decide whether to continue.

    Attached Files:

    madthelion likes this.
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