I am currently trying (and failing miserably) to integrate my two outdoor rabbits. My first rabbit (Diego) is a neutered male 1 year old Lionhead, he is very friendly, confident and usually very well behaved and has never bitten anyone (human!) ever. My second rabbit (Yoda) is a neutered male 6 months old Netherland dwarf (he was given to me as a surprise gift) he is very timid and can be very shy but is also very friendly and is not a biter either.

Now I know the fact that a large difference in breeds/size and the fact they are both males is a factor here, before any of you jump to that.

Not integrating them is not the end of the world as I will simply have them live separately, however i thought it might be good for my rabbits to be able to be 'friends' and have the company. I have tried quite a few times to slowly introduce them to each other on neutral territory for 10 minutes at a time, the first few times were fine (lots of sniffing and grooming each other) however it has only gotten worse. Yoda is very inquisitive about Diego and will sniff, lick and sometimes he actually nuzzles into Diego's bottom region but Diego now refuses to get along with Yoda and will try to bite and (on one occasion) growls, once this happens they are immediately separated again and Yoda is checked over. I have also tried putting Yoda into a large cage each day and putting him in Diego's run for Diego to see that Yoda is there and see how he feels about him, Diego would be inquisitive about Yoda and would sometimes lay, groom himself and eat next to cage with Yoda.

My main questions are they just too different? Could it ever work despite gender/size issues? Do any of you have any tips or tricks for integration?

(one trick i've heard of and yet to try is to put vanilla essence on their noses to supposedly trick them into thinking they smell the same..?)

1 Answer 1


Gender and size have little to do with bonding. It is all about personality, everybunny has a different personality and some just won't ever be friends with each other.

It sounds like your basic approach to bonding has some research behind it. We also have a few Q&A that address rabbit bonding so I won't go into details about that. Take a look at what we have or places like http://rabbit.org Posting a separate question about what to do about a specific behavior will tend to get a good answer here at Pets.SE.

Smell has very little to do with the introduction it about behavior. Two bunnies come together, one puts it's nose low, and demands that the other bunny groom them, this is how pecking order is defined in the house/domestic rabbit world. Depending on how demanding the more dominate bunny is anything can happen.

Two dominate bunnies interacting can and often does lead to a vet visit. Supervision is critical (sounds like you are doing good here), you may be separating them a bit to soon, but use your best judgement. There will be some give and take. It can takes weeks or even months of supervised visits for everyone to get to the point that they form a bond.

The most subtle and likely be effective trick is moving litter between litter boxes. Rabbits drop poops to mark their territory, the two questions below highlight some of this. Takes some poops from each litter box and drop in the others everyday for 2 or more weeks, this gets them used to sharing territory. Then follow all the good bonding practices. We will often start this during a break in bonding attempts (no visiting with each other) and continue it until success or we decide it is never going to work.

What means do rabbits use to mark and defend their territory?

Why do rabbits leave droppings at the Romp?

"Yoda is very inquisitive about Diego and will sniff, lick and sometimes he actually nuzzles into Diego's bottom region but Diego now refuses to get along with Yoda"

When the nose under the other rabbits head does not generate the required amount of grooming, the dominate rabbit will go to the "submissive"(subjective) rabbits hip and nip the hip to be more assertive in demanding they be groomed. This can lead to fighting or chasing (try not to let fighting or chasing occur). You can often assist in the process by petting the head of the rabbit that is demanding to be groomed. The two rabbits are close together, one is head down demanding pets, the other is ignoring the demand. Pet both rabbit being sure to bet the demanding rabbit around the face and ears, this gives the demanding rabbit the impression that they are being groomed by the other bunny. It fills a need while the relationship is developing.

Try to always end on a good note, if they tend to fight after 10 minutes (or some action) stop at 9 minutes. The ratio of good endings to bad endings seems to be a key point in bonding.

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