I already have to change the title of my blog.
Bear, formerly known as Nolan, officially became my baby last night around 8 PM. I was supposed to transport him to the GHRS hex at the Acworth Petco, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. I had been playing with him every single time I went to the bunny house for the past month and he stole my heart. When I placed him in the hex, I burst into tears. How could I leave this soft, sweet little angel? He came home with me instead and my fiance and I renamed him Bear about an hour later. And since I was totally not prepared to be bringing home a new baby, we had to make do with Russell and Jane’s old ex-pen, some trash bags and a big sheet. I wasted a bit of time worrying about how Russell and Jane would react to Bear. But Jane was only mildly interested — she sniffed at him, then hopped off to chew on some cardboard — and Russell kept trying to groom him through the bars of the pen — hardly evidence that conflict was imminent.
If bonding two bunnies is difficult and time-consuming, bonding three is almost unheard-of. Edie warned me that the fail rate exceeded that of success pretty significantly, but (like every other hard-headed novice) I am determined to give it a shot. The biggest (and, really, the only) obstacle at this point to a tri-bond is the recentness of Bear’s neutering. When bunnies are altered, they retain pretty high hormone levels for up to six weeks afterward. Russell had just been neutered when I brought him home and for two months he could not be more than six feet from a stuffed rabbit I named Humpy Bunny – I’ll let you figure out why. Bear is still pretty amorous, too, so he’ll need to be separate from the others most of the time for the next few weeks. We attempted some face-to-face time last night after seeing how mellow all three were, but Bear got a little too excited. Pro tip: Do not isolate a bunny unless you have a solid reason – illness, injury, history of serious aggression, or bonding issues – for doing so. Rabbits are social animals and to be alone is almost punitive for them. Even when you have to isolate a bun, make sure you spend lots and lots of time with him. You don’t have to constantly pet him, just get something to read or your laptop and sit beside the cage.
I was relieved to see that Russell and Jane didn’t react to Bear with hostility, but I know that over the coming weeks they’ll need extra helpings of love and attention. Bunnies bond to each other, but they also bond to humans and have expectations of their humans just like you and I. It will be more important than ever for me and my fiance to make time to lay on the floor with, give out treats to and even talk to Russell and Janie. As I told Russell last night, “You’re still my little prince, Russell-bun.”