How To Make Rabbits Make Friends
Tazzy had decided to get a new rabbit to keep an existing pet rabbit company, but instead of welcoming its new friend with open arms, the old bunny decided to nip and bite at the new bunny. Tazzy came to me to find out why and ask what can be done to make both bunnies live together happily.
Tazzy, the first thing you should know is that this is not unusual. It is very common for rabbits to be territorial about their space. In the wild, rabbits do not all pile into the same spaces in a burrow. Each rabbit carves out its own 'personal space' inside the larger burrow. When we humans shove two rabbits who don't know one another very well together, there is tension. This tension is even worse if you are introducing a new rabbit to a cage where the old rabbit has always lived. Imagine, for instance, if you were sitting happily at home in your room and then all of a sudden a total stranger wanders in and starts sleeping in your bed and eating your food! Humans have fought wars over less, and rabbits don't much like it either.
So the first thing you need to do is give both your rabbits personal space away from each other.
The second thing you need to do is help them to become friends. When rabbits make friends, they do so for life. Indeed, they tend to 'bond' in pairs and will be very distressed if separated from their partner. This is not a romantic attachment, and should not be between un-neutered and un-spayed males and females.
However rabbit friendships are quite a lot like human friendships - you don't just make friends with anyone, do you? No, you like some people more than others and some people you just never like at all. This is why getting a 'new rabbit' is actually generally not recommended. But now you have one, you may as well make the best of the situation.
One tip for helping rabbits to make friends is to put them in separate wire carry cages and take them for a gentle car ride. Being in a car is mildly stressful for a rabbit, and sharing the experience with the stranger bunny may help both rabbits form a bond. It is sort of like team building for rabbits, and it can work.
Once your rabbits are friends, they can safely share the same cage space. If you are not able to get your rabbits to the point where they like each other, it is probably best to find a new home for one of them, either in a separate hutch entirely, or in a new home altogether.