Sunday, March 6, 2011

How to Socialize Rabbits

It's not that hard, the website assured us.  Two rabbits of the same gender can learn to get along with each other as long as you approach it right.  The most important first step is to choose a neutral location.  Then, let the rabbits out together and carefully supervise them to make sure they don't fight.  It may be that you'll have to work with them for short periods of time, daily, until they start to bond.  If you are patient, you will eventually have two rabbits who enjoy being together.  

The website listed a number of possible scenarios when introducing rabbits for the first time.  One rabbit may try to kill the other one.  That is not good.  One rabbit may chase the other one around.  This is okay, as long as the other bunny doesn't suddenly turn around and try to kill the first one.  One rabbit may also try to mount the other one.  This is normal, the website says, and is a part of how they determine dominance.  Basically, as long as neither rabbit is trying to kill the other one, you're doing pretty well.

It went well.  Just as the website told us, one rabbit, MJ, started chasing the other, Eleanor.  MJ clearly wanted to be the dominant bunny because the next thing we knew, she was trying to mount Eleanor, and succeeding.  I began to get a little worried.  After the third time MJ exhibited this behavior, I picked her up.

Even vets can get it wrong, I know now.  MJ, named for Michael Jackson because of that one pure white foot contrasting with black fur, is a boy bunny.  

The internet is wonderful for looking up all sorts of information.  I immediately learned that the gestation time for rabbits is 28 to 31 days.  They ovulate on demand, every time the male is successful in doing his part.  This, the website tell us, almost assures pregnancy.  MJ went back to his cage, looking smug.

We learned a lot today.  Our experiment in socializing our rabbits was a success.  They did not fight.  We did everything we were told to do.  They should have added one more precaution, however.  

The first step in introducing two female rabbits should be to make sure they are both female.