Introducing a new rabbit into your household, whether to an established group or to a solitary rabbit, can be a challenge. To prevent stress and behavioral problems, it's crucial to introduce them gradually. The ideal time to introduce a rabbit is between 6-12 weeks when they're learning to interact appropriately with other rabbits. If that's not possible, it's best to introduce unfamiliar rabbits gradually. Follow these step-by-step instructions for a smooth and successful introduction.
Begin by placing the new rabbit in a separate room where it can acclimate to its surroundings before moving on to a more stressful situation.
Start by placing the rabbits' cages in the same area. Place treats and toys in the cages to entice them to enter and associate the cage with positive experiences.
Once they're comfortable in their cages, put them in the same room and give them treats. This lets them see, smell, hear, and get used to each other without the possibility of fighting. If either rabbit displays aggressive or fearful behavior, stop the session and try again later.
Introduce the rabbits to a harness and leash before bringing them together.
Once they're comfortable with the harnesses, introduce them to each other under supervision in a neutral area while on leash. Look for and encourage friendly or calm behavior. If either rabbit displays fear-related or aggressive behavior, calmly separate them.
If they interact well, allow them to roam freely in the room while under supervision. Have a towel on hand to separate them if they become aggressive or start to fight.
If they continue to interact well, let them roam freely in other parts of the house while still under supervision.
Remember that the time it takes to peacefully and successfully introduce two rabbits can vary. Avoid forcing any interaction and let them approach each other in their own time. Always have treats available, and don't ignore any aggressive behaviors.
If you need help, please call your local rabbit vet at Priest Lake Veterinary Hospital for help!