The newly adopted rabbit needs at least a week to ten days to settle in and feel he/she belongs. The bunny needs to get used to:
The movements and routines of the household.
On arrival home
Have your bunny's own area set up before bunny arrives home and ready with hay, pellets, litter tray, hidey house and tunnel.
Exiting the transport pet carrier
Put the carrier into the area and let the bunny come out as he/she wishes. The carrier is a safe place so leave it there for a day or two if the bunny is using it or longer as needed by the bunny.
Always ask for some of the pellets and hay that the bunny was being fed by his/her Foster Carer. This will help avoid any gut issues caused by a sudden change of diet.
Keep your bunny company
I advise new bunny owners to set up their new bunny's playpen in a spot that will be where the family can interact with her. I also advise the use of a fitted sheet around the playpen for privacy to give the new bunny a feeling of security. It is best to leave the bunny in that playpen for 10 days. During that time the bunny will get used to the sights and sounds of the household and be much less fearful.
Bonding with a second rabbit should not begin until after the 10 days settling in period.
Bonding should be controlled. Bunnies should not be permitted to bite, hump or in any way annoy each other. This encourages them to see the new bunny as harmless which opens the door to friendship.
Bonding is best done on a table with a thick bathmat on it or Doona. The handler should sit at the table with the rabbits sitting side by side for 20 minutes. Stroke the bunnies and hold them together but do not allow any interaction. Repeat as often as you can. The more repeats the quicker they will lose their fear of the other rabbit.
Bonding can also be done as above in a cane basket on a blankie. You can sit in a lounge chair and watch tele with the basket on your lap.
Once bunnies are ok in basket and table then try the same thing on the kitchen floor on doona or bath mat. Sit with them on the floor.
Once bunnies are ok together you should set up a new playpen for them until you are sure they are ok rather than put them in the original bunny's enclosure. The original bunny will feel territorial towards his own enclosure.
A great way for kids to get to know their new bunny and visa versa is for them to:
1. Feed fresh grass and hand feed pellets while sitting down outside the playpen.
2. Children can read a book to the bunnies while sitting down outside the playpen.
3. Again, sitting outside the playpen they can count how many times a bunny's nose moves in a minute!
4. Children can make a sign for the playpen with the bunny's name and decorate it.
5. Children can make toys eg toilet paper rolls with fresh grass inside and skewered with bottle brush branches as chew sticks.
6. If the children a tiny they can't successfully pick up a bunny. Teaching the bunny to hop into a basket then helping the child to hold the basket allows him or her to stroke, kiss, cuddle and brush the bunny
It works out best if the bunny sees you as a care giver. Rather than put the day supply of pellets in the enclosure, keep the pellets in a bag on the bench and offer one pellet at a time at the fence calling "Bunny!" or his/her name. Let the bunny take the pellet from your fingers.
If you are worried about anything at all please send an email or text Kim Cooney who will provide you with a quick answer or guidance and training.
Some bunnies do prefer one or more than one family member. If there is a family member missing out on bunny time please make that person the one who fills the hay, feeds the pellets etc. and the bunny will soon warm to that person.