Which pairings work best? Male/Female?
Generally male/female pairings seem to have the most success in our experience however that’s not to say that male/male or female/female pairs won’t happen, its just harder to bond and takes a lot of dedication. In those situations its also likely that you will need an extremely submissive individual. Females tend to be highly territorial with other females as well and are the hardest to bond.
Does breed/size matter?
Absolutely not! Its all about personality which is why its crucial to allow your rabbit to choose their mate. The only time size may be an issue is if you have a large breed that is frequently mounting a smaller breed. In that situation, you need to take into account the safety of the smaller rabbit as an injury may happen.
How long does bonding take?
It’s impossible to put a time frame on bonding as there are many factors that come into play. We generally try to keep our bonding between 2-3 weeks and will only work with individuals who seem very compatible. We have heard of folks who spent months or even years bonding their rabbits. It just depends on how much time you are willing to commit and how compatible the individual rabbits are. Again, let your rabbit choose its partner, it’ll make your life a lot easier.
How do I know things are going well?
Grooming is the most obvious sign however it may take a little while to get there. Usually positive signs are if both rabbits are very relaxed around one another and they go about their rabbit business such as grooming themselves, eating or relaxing. If you are using a side by side pen configuration for bonding you may also notice behaviour mirroring. Where they begin to copy what the other rabbit is doing. Perhaps lying next to the side of the pen closest to the other rabbit or eating when the other rabbit is eating. Eating is a very social activity for bunnies. When we set our pens up we place the food, water and litter boxes (with hay in them) on the side closest to the other bunny’s pen to encourage them to engage in this social behaviour.
Signs things might not be going well.
The most obvious sign is aggressive behaviour. Charging, lunging, biting, fighting etc. are all things that mean one (or both) rabbits are not happy. Other signs are more subtle. Perhaps you have a pair where one is pretty relaxed then all of a sudden bites the other. This might be a way to display their dominance or just annoyance at the other rabbit for existing. Excessive mounting can also irritate the other rabbit to the point where it will lash out or become defensive anytime the mounting rabbit is near and display more aggressive behaviours. You can allow some mounting but don’t let it become excessive. Some rabbits who are very submissive will put up with it for a long time before they tell the other rabbit off, which is ok. What you don’t want is that to turn into a fight.
How do I know if my bunnies are bonded?
If they can be left in a pen for several hours on end without any incidents you're well on your way to a bonded pair. Mutual grooming and snuggling are a sure sign that your bunnies have falling in love and many pairs will spend a lot of time squished into one another soaking in all the love.