After all that talk about how difficult it was going to be to bond three buns, and all that gearing up for the long bonding haul, I have kind of an anticlimactic report to give.
The bunnies have pretty much bonded themselves.
Bear stayed in the ex-pen for two nights (Thursday and Friday) and we didn’t attempt any more face time after the first try (just got too busy). Saturday night, we planned to create a temporary bonding space the next day so we could do daily face time, slowly increasing the amount of time together until the buns got used to each other. Sunday morning, I rose as usual around 7 to feed them and I got a shock: Bear and Russell, snuggling on the living room floor, with Jane flopped over nearby. Bear had pushed his hidey-box up against the pen, climbed onto it, and hopped over onto the floor. (As his mother, I take both credit for and pride in his exceptional problem-solving skills.) There was no sign of conflict.
This is great news and we’re thrilled. Kind of bewildered, but thrilled. Seriously – think of the most unlikely thing that could happen in your life right now. Maybe winning the lottery. The chances of successfully and immediately bonding three rabbits are about as good, so maybe you should go buy a ticket. I knew Russell was an exceptional bunny and I didn’t really anticipate him putting up a huge fuss about a third bun, but I never dreamed he’d meet the new kid and be all, “I love you so much, I just want to snuggle your face off and play with you forever and share my toys.” Never. But he’s totally into it. He and Bear and Jane have become the three bunny amigos over the past few days. As I predicted, Janie took a little longer to warm up to him, since she’s a shy girl, but now even she thinks Bear is the bee’s knees.
All that being said, guess what? This is actually the story of how not to do things. For one thing, I adopted Bear almost on a whim. I wanted him, but I hadn’t planned for him. Never Do This. This is the kind of thing the bunny house has to fight against all the time — people think this bunny or that is SO EFFIN CUTE they simply must have him. (Or, like me, they boo-hoo at the thought of leaving such a precious specimen.) So they buy all the bunny swag, take the new little guy home and when the novelty wears off, he’s (frequently) neglected. I already had Russell and Jane, so I knew that life with bunnies isn’t all binkies and flops, but the message is the same. Suppose they’d hated him? Suppose it turned out that three bunnies was too much for us? Please, please be honest with yourself and realistic about your lifestyle when getting a bunny.
Second, I cannot stress enough how incredibly rare it is that three bunnies bond themselves. In fact, I know of no other case. The vast majority of the time, if you have a bonded pair and want to add a third, you’re going to end up having to get #3 his/her own mate and keep the pairs separate. Forever. No bunny quartet running around adorably playing rabbit tag or something. Do not ever rely on being able to duplicate this experience. Bunnies are as different as humans in terms of personality, temperament and ability to adjust. I got freakishly lucky, and that’s all there is to it.
Third, I made a big and potentially disastrous mistake when I put Bear in the ex-pen with a hidey-box that he could easily move. At the time, I put it in there because, well, bunnies like hidey-boxes. It was like giving him a water bowl. I didn’t stop to consider that he could use it to get out of the pen. As it happened, things worked out, but what if they hadn’t? My fiance and I could have slept right through a terrible and very possibly fatal fight. I could not live with that kind of guilt, and I don’t think you could either. Let’s not find out, mmkay?
If you do want to add a third bun to the mix, proceed with caution (like I didn’t). In my non-expert opinion, you should able to answer this question – “What are your bunnies’ personalities like?” – in excruciating detail. You should have an extremely clear idea of what your buns are like as individuals and as a pair. Maybe Flopsy is a jealous little girl who simply will not have some OTHER bun taking away mommy’s attention. Maybe Mopsy is shy and afraid of bunnies bigger than he is. Perhaps Cottontail is an older bun set in his ways and hates changes to his routine. If you have an in-depth understanding of what your bunny or bunnies are like, you’re halfway to figuring out the kind of bun that would make a good third. As with any bonding, proceed slowly. Do not rush the buns to hang out. Do not freak out and immediately intervene if you see mounting behavior or chasing. Remember, bunnies are social – they need a hierarchy to be happy. Give them plenty of space and time to work it out.
Pictures of the new trio coming soon.