ADOPTION, DAILY LIFE
Steps for a successful cohabitation
Julie Lambert, Paris, France
October 17, 2020
As explained in my previous article on the subject, cohabitation in rabbits can be extremely long and complex to implement. But don’t be discouraged, with perseverance and a few tips everyone can do it. This is why I will help you in this article by explaining the key steps leading to the success of your cohabitation.
Pinpin and Pipine kissing each other.
Photographed by Vincent Ribet.
01 – Do not rush
Before making any decision about adopting a new rabbit, I advise you to think carefully because it will have a big impact on your life and your budget. I recommend that you read my article on the basics of cohabitation if you would like more information.
Have you thought it through? Then let’s continue. Before adopting your second companion, you will have to prepare the ground and this goes through several criteria:
- You need to buy a new cage to accommodate your new rabbit during the transition phase. This cage will of course have to contain the same utensils and accessories as the cage of your first rabbit. Once this cage is purchased, it must be placed in another room than the one of your current rabbit in order not to encroach on its territory. It is preferable to choose a neutral room where your first rabbit has never been.
- Once the cage is ready, you can adopt your second rabbit and go through all the basic rules for the arrival of a new rabbit such as the quarantine period and the control appointment at the veterinarian. If you wish you can read my article dedicated to the subject here.
02 – A progressive cohabitation
Step 1: Building trust
Once your rabbit has arrived at your home, in its dedicated room, you will of course respect the quarantine period. But this is not a reason to neglect him, it is important to give him confidence in you, to take advantage of this period to give him time, caresses and hugs. Know that all these moments will also allow your new rabbit to get used to the smell of your first one that you carry on your hands and clothes. It is therefore an important step that should not be neglected. The opposite is also true since the second rabbit’s smell will also permeate you and your first rabbit will smell it as soon as you approach him. This is therefore a gentle first approach.
Step 2: The Indirect Encounter
Once the quarantine period has been respected, you can move on to the next step, which consists of performing a first meeting in an indirect way. To do this, take your first rabbit, bring it to a neutral room where you will have moved your second rabbit and let them meet through the bars of the cage for a few minutes. Take the time to watch all the reactions of your rabbits to see if any form of animosity is created or not. Repeat this step several times for several days.
Step 3: The Direct Encounter
For this new stage, it is important to be well prepared in order to be ready to react in case of aggressiveness. Don’t hesitate to be two so that you can quickly separate any fight that would degenerate. Place the two rabbits in a room and make them meet in person. Your rabbits will start to get closer, feel each other and most likely start to establish a hierarchy. This will, of course, involve a fight.
If the fight gets out of hand, start by firmly saying no to your rabbits, if that doesn’t solve anything, separate them but leave them in the room. Take advantage of this separation for petting and giving treats to combine the encounter with a good time for both and then put them back together. If the scene becomes violent again then put the rabbits back in the cage and go back to step 2.
Over time the rabbits will begin to enjoy and play together.
Step 4: Living together
Now that your two rabbits tolerate each other you can prepare for the future life together. To do this, put the cage of the second rabbit in the same room as the first and take them out alternately so that the first rabbit accepts your second rabbit on its territory. Once this seems to be the case you can take them out at the same time, if everything goes well and both of them start to share their cage then everything is good and the cohabitation is successful. Congratulations! Otherwise continue by being patient, everything comes to those who know how to wait.
03 – To conclude
Here is a small reminder of the rules to succeed in the cohabitation of rabbits you must, start the meetings on neutral ground, devote a lot of time, associate the cohabitation with pleasant moments. You can also sterilize your rabbits before the first meeting to reduce their territorial instinct.
Finally, whether the first one is a love at first sight or a real fiasco, you must take the necessary time, because the game is worth the candle. The cohabitation of two or more rabbits is a real daily pleasure for your rabbits as well as for you.