If you want to socialize rabbits, you should not just put the animals together. The bunny relatives are very particular when it comes to their territory and fiercely defend it against intruders. Nevertheless, keeping them alone is cruelty to animals for the long-eared ones. With the following tips, the merger works.
If you want to socialize rabbits, neutral terrain is best – Shutterstock / Richard Peterson
It is best to take a few days off if you want to socialize rabbits. It can take a while for the animals to get along. After all, the fur noses first have to clarify their hierarchy and get to know each other.
Socializing rabbits: tips on choosing the right partner
Choosing the right partner can save you a few problems when merging. It mainly depends on the character of the Mümmler. Two dominant animals are constantly arguing and can sometimes hurt each other badly through bites. Two submissive animals lack orientation, which can unsettle them. A combination of a submissive and a dominant animal works best, as the hierarchy is quickly clarified.
The gender distribution in your rabbit group is also important. As a rule, a castrated buck and a female get along very well. In larger groups, an approximately equal ratio of castrated males to females is recommended. Two female rabbits often “bitch” each other and this tends to lead to ranking problems. Two uncastrated males also fight bitterly. However, two early neutered bucks are a combination that usually runs harmoniously.
At what age should rabbits be socialized?
When choosing a partner, the age of the animals must also be taken into account. If possible, do not place a young animal with an adult rabbit. Rabbit children like to play a lot, are high-spirited and cheeky. The adult rabbits, on the other hand, want to be left alone and feel overwhelmed by their lively roommate. In addition, if an adult rabbit resists the kitten’s requests to play, the latter may be seriously injured.
Rabbits are usually easiest to socialize when they are both under 4 months old. However, you should still comply with the earliest delivery age of at least 6 weeks. A bit more difficult, but still possible, is bringing two adult rabbits together.
Prepare to get to know each other: Rabbit has to be in quarantine
Before the future animal partners meet, the newcomer has to be quarantined. The new rabbit may still carry pathogens from its old home that can be dangerous for the long-established animal. To rule this out, you should initially keep the animals separated for two to four weeks. Caution! During the quarantine, the long-eared bats are not allowed to have any visual or olfactory contact, otherwise they could see each other as competitors and disputes could arise when they are actually brought together.
The right place for rabbit merging
It is best to choose a neutral place for socializing. So none of the rabbits can regard the terrain as their territory that needs to be defended. For example, set up a grate outlet in a place in the home that your old rabbit has not yet marked as property with its scents. If kept outside, you can also set up the fence run in the garden, but protect it there like you would a real enclosure, as it can take a few days to bring them together. Provide several toilet corners, several feeding places and several hiding places in this introductory enclosure.
The run should be at least 6 square meters so that the animals can avoid each other in between. Make sure that the shelters and hiding places allow the rabbits to exit from all sides. If the defeated animal is cornered in a shelter and cannot escape, it will lead to vicious fights and injuries.
Socializing Rabbits: Duration and Procedure
Now the time has come, you want to socialize the rabbits: place them in the enclosure at the same time or one after the other. Then step out of the enclosure and retreat. However, keep an eye on your animals so that you can intervene in the event of problems. It can sometimes get wild when they are brought together, tufts of fur fly through the air, people hunt and hiss. This is normal and should not worry you. Separation is only necessary if the hunt never stops, or if the rabbits bite into each other. After separation, you should not put the animals together again.
The merging typically works as follows:
● sniff: The long-eared bats cautiously approach each other.
● banging: The rabbits clarify their ranking.
● To hunt: The rabbits run behind each other and pinch their fur.
● breaks: The animals rest from the hunt, doze or eat.
● jumps: The Mummelnase jump up, “dance” with each other.
● submission: The inferior rabbit lays its head flat on the ground and allows the other to mount it or groom it.
● approximation: The distance that the fur noses keep from each other decreases.
● Eating together: The animals have clarified their hierarchy and become friends to the extent that they tolerate the others eating next to them.
How long it will take for the rabbits to get along is difficult to predict. With some matings, it sparks quickly and you can put the new housemates together after just three to four days. Others take longer to sort out their hierarchy and feel sympathy for one another. It can then take several weeks before the two become friends and are allowed to move into their permanent enclosure together.
It is best to clean the old enclosure thoroughly before you put both animals in it. Use vinegar water to remove the scent marks of the long-established rabbit. Then fresh bedding and fresh hay come in. To be on the safe side, it makes sense to change the setup too, so that your first rabbit doesn’t recognize it as its old territory.
You might also be interested in these topics from the Animal category:
Rabbit toys and training: keep long ears busy
Rabbit escape: how to catch it again
Understand rabbit behavior and body language