Bonding Rabbits

A 4 Week Guide to Bonding Rabbits

If you are are considering getting a friend for your rabbit, this guide is for you!

As a rescue we hear all to often of the pit falls people encounter on their bonding journey. Many people don’t realize that rabbits are extremely territorial and bringing a new rabbit home can lead to serious fights and injuries. Rabbits need to go through a weeks long, nuanced bonding process that can take 2 weeks or 2 months (or more) before they can live together safely. And not all rabbits can be bonded. Like people, some just don’t get along.

In this guide we will outline our recommended 4 week long bonding process, as well as:

  • The importance of companionship for rabbits.
  • Bonding criteria and what to look for when choosing a friend.
  • Choosing where in your home to bond and the supplies you’ll need.
  • Understanding common behaviors like chasing and mounting.

When two bunnies first meet, 1 of 3 outcomes will occur:


Love at First Sight. The rabbits may groom or cuddle with each other right away. This is pretty rare and only happens in 1 out of 10 introductions.

Fight at First Sight. The rabbits should be separated immediately to prevent injury. This will look like a rabbit tornado with fur flying.

Tentative friendship. The rabbits may approach each other and but will not groom or cuddle. They may seem uninterested in each other but will lay down in a relaxed or mirrored body position. Sometimes one rabbit (the more dominant one) will chase and mount the other. This is OK as long as the rabbit on the bottom (the submissive one) accepts it and does not challenge for dominance. Mounting is a way of establishing who is the bunny boss or the bunny hierarchy if there are multiple rabbits. This is a crucial step and should not be interrupted unless it escalates to a fight. Mounting will decrease over time as the relationship solidifies.

Bonding Criteria


  • Both rabbits should to be spay/neutered to reduce hormonal behaviors and aggression. It is recommended to wait 2-8 weeks after surgery before attempting introductions to allow the rabbit(s) to heal and hormones to balance.
  • Both rabbits should also have a wellness exam with an exotic veterinarian to ensure they are healthy and free of contagious diseases like respiratory infections or parasites.



  • DOMINANT |  DOMINANT: two dominant rabbits will not be bondable and can severely injure or even kill one another.
  • SUBMISSIVE |  SUBMISSIVE: likely to be a rare love at first sight bond. One rabbit will still be dominant but there will be minimal chasing or mounting, if any, or rabbits may alternate mounting.
  • SUBMISSIVE |  DOMINANT: This is the most common bond, it will take time and dedicated effort. Bonding can take 2 weeks to 2 months, or more.



  • MALE | FEMALE: these pairs are the most natural and easy to bond. They are least likely to unbond over time.
  • FEMALE | FEMALE: if a female does not get along with males sometimes they may get along with a female friend.
  • MALE | MALE: though it may be possible we do not recommend bonding two males due to the frequency of unbonding and severe injuries.

*With the exception of brothers born and raised together in our rescue, we do not adopt out males to be bonded with, or into a group with, another male.



DWARF (2-5 lb)  |  AVERAGE (5-10 lb)  |  LARGE (10-15lb) |  GIANT (15+lb)

Rabbits should be within 1-2 pounds of each other’s weight to reduce the risk of injury to the smaller rabbit. Drastic differences in size can lead to serious harm if a conflict arises and larger rabbits can also unintentionally hurt their smaller friends back and hips when mounting.



YOUNG (0-2 years) | ADULT (2-6 years) | SENIOR (6+ years)

Rabbits should be within 1-2 years of each other’s age to ensure compatibility in energy levels and to minimize health risks. Younger rabbits tend to have higher energy levels and more playful behaviors, which might overwhelm an older rabbit who prefers a calmer, more relaxed environment. Additionally, rabbits can experience severe stress, sometimes leading to gastrointestinal (GI) stasis, if their bonded mate passes away. Matching rabbits of similar ages will ensure comparable life stages, reducing the likelihood of one outliving the other by a significant margin.

PRO TIP: Reach out to your local rabbit rescue to see if they offer bunny “speed-dating” or bonding! Rabbit rescues will be able to introduce several spay/neutered rabbits to assess the best compatibility and can provide advise and support during the bonding process. They may also send rabbits home on a trial to make sure that you don’t end up with 2 rabbits who cannot be bonded which often happens when buying a rabbit.


Rabbits are extremely social animals. In natures, rabbits live in large colonies of 20-60 rabbits with up to 10 family members sharing a den or burrow. They form strong bonds, foraging for food together and warning each other when danger is near. Domesticated rabbits also exhibit these social instincts, and having a bonded partner can significantly enhance their quality of life and promote overall health, prevent loneliness, reducing stress and behavioral problems and foster a sense of security. Many rabbits owners report their rabbits are happier living with a friend to groom, cuddle and play with.


How much time do you spend with your rabbits each day?

If you work from home and spend a lot of time interacting with your rabbit, they might be less lonely. However, if you’re often out of the home for work or school, a companion of the same species could significantly improve your rabbit’s quality of life. Observing your rabbit’s behavior can help determine if they might benefit from a companion. Signs of loneliness include lethargy, destructive behavior, or over-grooming themselves, a stuffed animals or blankets.

Have you looking up what bonding rabbits is like?

Understanding rabbit behavior and proper bonding techniques is crucial. We recommend reading a couple of different articles before proceeding.

Are both rabbits spay/neutered?

De-sexing rabbits is crucial for reducing hormonal and territorial behaviors and aggression. After surgery, you’ll need to wait 2-8 weeks before introducing them, keeping them in separate enclosures during this period to prevent fighting and potential injuries.

Can you afford to care for two rabbits?

A single rabbit costs about $80-200 per month in food in supplies, that’s about $2000 per year. You’ll be spending more on food, supplies and veterinary costs will double with an additional rabbit.

Do you have the space for bonding?

At the start of the bonding process, rabbits will need to be housed separately in side by side mirrored enclosures. You’ll need to dedicate about 5ft x 10ft of space to set up two x-pens. You’ll also need a separate space for their “dates”. Once living together a pair of rabbits will also need slightly more space than a single rabbit. We recommend a minimum 4ft x 6ft, 24sq ft living space when enclosed for a pair, but a 6ft x 6ft, 36sq ft living space is preferred.

Do you have the time for bonding?

The bonding process can take over a month, requiring daily sessions and constant supervision, especially during the critical period when the rabbits start living together. By the 3rd week, when rabbits are starting to live together they will need to be supervised 24/7 and many owners end up sleeping next to the rabbits’ pen for at least a week to supervise them.


For our recommended bonding style you will need to set-up 2 identical “mirrored” enclosures:

  • We recommend using two 30-36in tall “MidWest Metal Dog Exercise Pen” or similar metal play pens and using a “Pen Cover” or fitted sheet with chip clips to make sure that no bun can jumps out. A rabbit that is used to free-roaming may protest being confined and is more likely to try to jump out.
  • You will need two sets of blanket or rugs, litter-boxes, water bowls, and hidey houses to go inside the enclosures. Using new litter boxes, hidey houses and blankets will decrease the likelihood of territorial behavior from the original rabbit.

Week 1

WEEK 1 | Neighbors

Before rabbits can move in together, they will need to spend at least 1 week being neighbors

During the first week of bonding, your rabbits will live in two side by side “mirrored” enclosures. Their litter boxes and food bowls should be side by side so that they can get used to eating together. Once a day, you’ll swap the rabbits back and forth into each others pens while their litter boxes and other items stay behind. This is so that they get used to sharing a litter box and neither gets attached or territorial over ‘their’ pen.

Things to DO, AVOID and WATCH OUT FOR this Week:


  • Flip the Rabbits into Each Other’s Pen Once a Day: This helps the rabbits get accustomed to each other’s scent and prevents them from becoming territorial over ‘their’ pen or litter box.
  • Use a Pen Cover or Fitted Sheet: Cover the pens when you are not present to supervise to prevent either rabbit from jumping into the other’s pen and causing injury.
  • Add a Barrier: Place barriers like paper towel or toilet paper rolls between the pens if you notice that either rabbit is pushing the pens together.
  • Engage in Simultaneous Feeding: Feed the rabbits at the same time near the dividing barrier to create positive associations with the presence of the other rabbit.
  • Observe Closely: Spend time observing their behaviors to monitor for signs of curiosity, interest, stress or aggression.


  • Putting Rabbits in the Same Pen or Free Roaming Together: This can lead to fights that may set back or derail the bonding process.
  • Using Only One Pen Between Rabbits: Ensure there is a double barrier if one rabbit is free roaming to prevent direct contact and potential aggression.
  • Allowing Antisocial Behavior: Remove hidey houses during active times (dawn and dusk) to encourage interaction. Return the hidey houses in the afternoon and at night when rabbits naturally rest.
  • Rushing the Process: Do not rush the introduction process; allow them to take their time getting used to each other’s presence.
  • Neglecting Individual Attention: Ensure each rabbit receives individual attention and enrichment to reduce stress and boredom.


  • Mirroring Behaviors: Look for positive signs like mirroring behaviors, such as eating at the same time or lying down close to each other.
  • Injuries from Jumping or Pushing Pens: Be vigilant for any injuries that might occur if the rabbits attempt to jump out or push the pens together.
  • Signs of Stress or Health Issues: Make sure that both rabbits are eating and drinking water and neither are demonstrating signs of extreme stress like constant hiding or refusing to eat.


Periscoping or checking each other out shows curiosity and interest.



Mirrored body positions (laying or flopping side by side) and activities (eating hay at the same time) are a great sign!



Escape Attempts

Rabbits who may be used to free-roaming may protest being confined. They are more likely to push the pen and jump out. Make sure neither rabbit can jump out as this can lead to injuries.




Week 2

WEEK 2 | Dating

After 1 week of swapping the rabbits back and forth between the 2 enclosures to get them used to seeing and smelling each other, you can begin to supervise “dates”.

During the second week of bonding, you can start to let the rabbits spend time together in a “date” pen. A “date” pen should have only a blanket underneath it with hay in the middle for the to share. You can use one of the pens you are using as an enclosure but be sure to move it or the rabbit that was in their last will be territorial. Use a neutral area for the date, such as a hallway or different area of the room that neither rabbit is familiar with. You’ll start with just a short 15min date on the first day, and if it goes well, increase the amount of time they spend together each day until they are spending an hour together peacefully.

Follow This Schedule for Dates:

Day 1: 15 minutes, 1 x per day

Day 2: 15 minutes, 2 x per day

Day 3: 15 minutes, 3 x per day

Day 4: 30 minutes, 2 x per day

Day 5: 30 minutes, 3 x per day

Day 6: 45 minutes, 2 x per day

Day 7: 1 hour

Things to DO, AVOID and WATCH OUT FOR this Week:


  • Neutral Space: Dates should take place in a neutral area, such as a hallway or different part of the room. Use an x-pen to create a contained area with nothing in it for the rabbits to fight over. Just a blanket, hay and 2 water bowls. Wait 5min before adding water bowls, so that the initial chasing dies down or the rabbits may trample through the bowls and get wet
  • Short Dates: Begin with just 15-minute sessions and gradually increase the time that the rabbits spend together each day, reaching up to 1 hour by the end of the week.
  • Supervise Closely: Always supervise the bonding sessions closely and be ready to intervene if necessary. End every session on a good note by petting the rabbits together for a minute before separating them.
  • Protect Yourself: Wear jeans, socks and long sleeves to protect your arms and legs from getting bitten or scratched.


  • Rushing the Process: Increase the length of the dates slowly. Short dates at first mean there’s a lower chance of flights, which can set the bonding process back by weeks!
  • Ending on a Bad Note: Avoid the urge to separate right away in the event of a fight. If the last thing that the rabbits remember is fighting, when they are placed together again they will pick up where they left off. Instead, carefully place the rabbits side by side and pet them together for 1 minute before separating them.
  • Using Bathtubs: Using bathtubs for bonding is an outdated practice. It is associated with ‘stress bonding’ and no longer recommended. Due to poor traction and visibility rabbits may lash out at each other due to fear.
  • Giving Them Something to Be Territorial Over: There shouldn’t be anything except hay and 2 water bowls in the bonding pen. This includes litter boxes, toys and hidey houses.


  • Signs of Being Overwhelmed: Behaviors like thumping, chasing, or running away while flicking their back feed, suggest your rabbit might be getting overwhelmed and needs a break. Pet them both, offer a treat, and place them in their separate enclosures.
  • Aggression Signs: Be alert for aggressive behaviors like lunging, biting, or prolonged chasing.

Week 3

WEEK 3 | Bunnymoon

Once the rabbits are able to share hay, food and water without fighting or chasing allow them to spend the day together. The rabbits should still have constant supervision during this stage. If there is no fighting, you can begin to introduce other supplies.

During this time interact with them as a pair only. Pet them together, hand feed them together, play with them together, etc.

Follow This Schedule for Reintroducing Items:

Day 1: only hay in the middle and 2 water bowls on opposite sides of the pen. No: litter boxes, hidey house, or toys.

Day 2 & 3: add 2 litter boxes on opposite sides of the pen in addition to hay in the middle. No: hidey houses, or toys.

Day 3 & 4: Move the water bowls and litter-boxes closer together as long as there is no negative behavior. Add identical toys to share. No: hidey houses.

Day 5 & 6: Expand the enclosure to be 4FT x 6FT and add 2 hidey houses on opposite sides of the pen. Hidey houses should have at-least 2 entrances/exits. Never use a hidey house that has just one entrance as this can lead to serious injuries if a rabbit gets cornered inside.

Day 7: Allow the rabbits to free roam together in a bunny proofed room for 15min.

Things to DO, AVOID and WATCH OUT FOR this Week:


  • Expand Exploration Areas: As your rabbit becomes more at ease, gradually increase their roaming space within your home. Use baby gates or pens to section off new areas one at a time, under your supervision. Ensure each new area is bunny-proofed to prevent accidents.
  • Introduce Complex Toys and Puzzles: Provide your rabbit with more complex toys or food puzzles. Play hide-and-seek games. These encourage mental activity and problem-solving skills, serving as both a cognitive stimulant and a bonding opportunity as you guide and interact with them.
  • Incorporate Health Checks: Begin a routine of weekly or monthly full body assessments in addition to regular grooming. Document their weight, and check their eyes, ears, nose, teeth, nails, and fur for any signs of health issues. Regular handling during these checks helps them get comfortable being touched and can prevent health issues from going unnoticed.
  • Establish ‘Lap Time’ Routine: If your rabbit seems comfortable, start a ‘lap time’ routine where you sit with your rabbit on your lap or beside you for gentle petting sessions. Ensure this is a stress-free experience by allowing them to leave at their discretion.


  • Manage Space and Time Carefully: Avoid giving your rabbit too much new space at once too quickly as it can be overwhelming. If they show signs of discomfort, scale back to allow them more time to adjust.
  • Respect Their Space: Never force your rabbit to stay on your lap. Allow them to decide when they want to leave, respecting their need for autonomy.
  • Allow Downtime: Recognize the importance of alone time for your rabbit. Even as your interactions increase, remember that rabbits value their personal space and alone time. Balance attention with giving them room to retreat and relax on their own terms.


  • Behavioral Regression: It’s normal for rabbits to sometimes regress in their progress due to stress or environmental changes. Maintain patience and stay consistent with your approach to help them feel secure.
  • Monitor and Record Behaviors: Continue to observe your rabbit’s body language closely and update your journal with your observations. Keep an eye on any abnormalities, fluctuations in weight, eating habits or elimination that may indicate stress or illness.

Week 4

WEEK 4 | Furever

Two rabbits cuddling.

Once rabbits are bonded they cannot be separated. If one rabbit needs to go to the vet, both will need to go, even if only one is being seen. If they are separated and one rabbit comes back smelling differently, they may reject each other, begin fighting and may need to be re-bonded.

DEATH: If a rabbit from a bonded pair passes away the remaining rabbit should be monitored closely for symptoms of stasis (low appetite, not eating, not pooping). If possible allow the remaining rabbit to spend time with the body of the deceased rabbit to mourn and understand what has happened. If their friend simply doesn’t return from the vet they may continue to look for them and refuse to eat as they wait for them to come home. Introducing a new friend might be necessary.

Follow This Schedule for Reintroducing Free-roaming:

Day 1: 15 minutes, 1 x per day

Day 2: 15 minutes, 2 x per day

Day 3: 15 minutes, 3 x per day

Day 4: 30 minutes, 2 x per day

Day 5: 30 minutes, 3 x per day

Day 6: 45 minutes, 2 x per day

Day 7: 1 hour

Things to DO, AVOID and WATCH OUT FOR this Week:


  • Observe and Adapt: Continue to observe your rabbit’s responses to your interactions. Adapt your approaches based on their likes and dislikes, which can help in building a more personalized and comfortable environment for them. Continue to optimize their living space based on their preferences for hiding places, open spaces, and play areas.
  • Teach Simple Commands: Use treats to teach commands like “come,” “stay,” or “stand.” This not only enhances communication but also provides mental stimulation, keeping your rabbit engaged and happy.
  • Start a Medical Savings Account: Regular veterinary care and unexpected medical emergencies can be costly, with emergencies ranging from $500 to $1,500 per day in diagnostics and treatment. To ensure you are prepared, set up a savings account specifically for your rabbit’s health needs. Aim to save at least $1,000 by contributing $50 to $100 each month. This proactive step can help cover annual wellness exams and any unforeseen medical issues.


  • Don’t Neglect Health Checks and Grooming: Continue with regular grooming and health checks to monitor their well-being.
  • Avoid Becoming Complacent: Do not stop following the schedule you have set for diet, tidying up, and socializing with your rabbit. Consistency in these areas is crucial for their well-being and your ongoing relationship.
  • Being Unprepared for a Medical Emergency: Know the locations of the three closest exotic veterinarians and after-hours or emergency clinics that treat rabbits. For a comprehensive list of exotic vets and emergency facilities, visit our Veterinarians page. Be prepared to travel 30 minutes or an hour or more in the event of an emergency.


  • Signs of Trust and Affection: Look for signs like coming to greet you, following you, or displaying relaxed body language when around you. These behaviors indicate your rabbit trusts you.
  • Lack of Mental Stimulation: If your rabbit starts to chew on inappropriate items or shows decreased interest in play, they might need more engaging activities. Consider introducing a variety of new toys or more complex puzzles to solve.
  • Not Voicing Your Concerns: If you are having difficulties or concerns, don’t keep these to yourself. Reach out to a local rabbit rescue, house rabbit chapter, or a Facebook advice group for advice and support. It’s essential to address issues as they arise to ensure the well-being of your rabbit and the health of your relationship.