Bunny Care

Spaying and Neutering Rabbits

Female rabbits are very prone to developing uterine cancer by the time they become middle aged. There are few clinical signs outside of blood in the urine that might give us reason to think there is a problem until the disease has become very advanced. If we are lucky enough to catch them in time many rabbits can be cured with a spay, but if they had been spayed as young rabbits they never would have developed the problem to begin with, and the surgery would have been much easier on a young, healthy rabbit than it was on an older one with a health problem.

Male rabbits are less likely to develop disease as a result of being un-neutered, but what they lack in sickness they more than make up for in behavioral issues. There are many rabbit owners who could tell you that it can be difficult to have a polite conversation with the neighbors while your lovesick male rabbit is furiously humping your foot, or more embarrassingly your neighbor’s foot. Male rabbits also have a talent for arching their back and flinging urine high into the air to maximize coverage of their territory, which apparently includes all of the walls and floors within shooting range of the cage. Although there are those who would say that those are natural behaviors for a rabbit and if we are going to keep them as pets we should learn how to accept that, I do feel that most of an intact male rabbit’s mental energy is spent on finding mating opportunities and establishing and defending territory, and when neutered they can spend less time feeling frustrated and thwarted and more time being happy with their lives.

The biggest stumbling block for most people when deciding whether or not to spay or neuter their rabbit comes from a legitimate concern about the safety of anesthetizing their pets. It is true that rabbits are more difficult to safely anesthetize than your average dog, cat, or ferret. Some of the issues that were more prominent in the past were due to a lack of safe, gentle anesthetic drugs, but current veterinary medicine offers an abundance of very safe anesthetic agents that nearly eliminate earlier concerns about death while under anesthesia. These days the complication that would be most likely to claim the life of a rabbit occurs a few days after the surgery. In these rare situations rabbits develop gastrointestinal problems, possibly due to stress, pain, and/or low blood pressure during surgery that can result in fatal toxicity within a few days. A veterinarian who is familiar with rabbits will take precautions to keep their patient well supported while asleep, keep pain under control, and minimize stress while in the hospital.

A typical spay or neuter can be performed during the day with the rabbit sent home the same day. Unlike dogs and cats, rabbits are not capable of vomiting, so they do not need to be fasted before they come in for surgery. After the procedure most rabbits go home almost as if nothing had happened to them. Although we recommend taking it easy on the feeding with dogs and cats after the surgery, we want rabbits to eat again as soon as they are able, as this helps maintain healthy gastrointestinal movement. A little limited exercise is recommended during the week after the surgery, but male rabbits who have a frequent habit of humping things should be kept away from situations that may encourage that behavior for a week. Your rabbit will be up and around in no time and ready to carry on the rest of its long life, and as the owner you can be relieved of having to worry about many unpleasant issues in the future.

Bonding Rabbits

Bonding rabbits can be intimidating, but don't worry we can help! If you have questions that aren't answered below feel free to message us on Facebook. We also highly suggest joining the Rabbit Bonding Advice Facebook Group, they are amazing at answering all bonding related question, and have helped us and our adopters many times.

Males or females?

No combination of age, breed, size, and sex is better than the other. It all comes down to personalities. A male female group aren’t any easier to bond than a same sex group. You can mix and match all you want.


Pairs are the most common group size that’s seen in the bunny community.

Bonding a small group can be kind of intense as there’s only two bunnies fighting for the hierarchy but once bonded, they make a great couple.


Trios are very popular for many bunny owners but like the pair then the bonding here can also be rather intense. Bunnies bond in pairs within groups so you’ll often end up with a third wheeler when bonding a trio.

The third wheeler is still part of the group even if it might seem like it’s left out.

Some bunnies benefit from being a third wheeler. That can be extremely dominant bunnies or very old bunnies that wants to be part of a group but don’t want to be part of the intimate stuff.

You’ll never know who the third wheeler might be. What often happens when people bond a pair with a single bunny is that the single bunny ends up “stealing” one of the bunnies from the previous pair leaving the other bunny “alone” as a third wheeler.

You need to be aware of this before starting your bonding as this upsets many owners.

This is the only bonded group where you risk having a third wheeler.


When you’re having a bigger group, you’ll be seeing behaviors that you won’t see if you’re bonding a pair or a trio.

The bunnies are more relaxed, and the bonding isn’t as intense. When bonding a big group most of the bunnies will instantly turn submissive and you’re then left with 1-3 dominant bunnies that determines how long your bonding process will take.

With big groups you can also experience one or two dominant bunnies claiming one of the more submissive bunnies as an object and start fighting over that bunny.

Even when having a big uneven number of bunnies, you won’t be seeing a third wheeler. This is because the bunnies will mix and match and pair up with multiple bunnies in either groups of 2, 3 or 4 within the group depending on how big the group of bunnies are.

Why do I need to get my bunnies fixed?

Bonding related

Bunnies needs to be fixed before bonding as hormones runs high in intact bunnies. They therefore get overly territorial which can lead to a lot of fighting, humping, and chasing.

Remember to wait at least 8 weeks after surgery to start bonding due to the high hormone level. Intact males run the risk of getting their balls bitten off if not fixed prior to bonding.

Health related

If female bunnies are not spayed within the first 4 years of their life, they have an 80% chance of developing cancer.

Intact bunnies will be overly stressed in the warm seasons. Intact males will run back and forth in front of a female to try and hump her, and intact females will get phantom pregnancies where they gather nest material and build nests in their setup.

All this stress can be avoided by fixing your bunnies.

Aggression and spray peeing

By fixing your bunnies you avoid overly aggressive behavior between them and yourself. Both males and females spray pee if not fixed. The urine will smell a lot worse when it comes from an intact bunny. The bunnies will be overly territorial of anything that they claim which is a problem if you need to bond them.

Bunnies that can’t be fixed

You might have a bunny that due to health risks can’t be fixed. Either because there’s some medical issues or the bunny is simply too old to be fixed (7+ years).

Bonding is still an option for you, but you’d need a really big home for your bonded group in order for them to get along.

It’s really important that you do inform whether or not your bunnies are fixed as the bonding advice will be different depending on this information.

Things you need before starting:

  • Thick gloves to stop unwanted behavior (grill gloves or ski gloves or thick mittens).

  • A dustpan to get in between bunnies that fight.

  • A pen that can eventually be expanded into 2x2 meters (6.6 x 6.6 feet)

Bonding methods:


Are short bonding sessions which starts with ten minutes and then you slowly increase time with ten minutes every day. We recommend this method to people that’s afraid of starting their bonding and want it to go slow in the beginning.

This bonding method is slow paced.


Is where you bond all day but separate the bunnies at night. Each bonding session takes around 4-12 hours each day.


Is where you never separate the bunnies and therefore keep them together until they’re fully bonded. With 24/7 bonding you’ll have to sleep next to the bonding area so that you can wake up if something happens.

This bonding method is a fast method but we’d advice to only do 24/7 bonding if the bunnies are behaving as you won’t get any sleep if there’s a lot of bad behavior that you need to stop every night.

Area sizes:

Small area

We recommend starting up with a small area to bond in as this fit best for most groups. A small area should always be big enough for all the bunnies to stretch out and flop. If they’re not able to do so, then the bonding area is too small, and you need to expand it.

The small area varies in size depending on how many bunnies you’re bonding and how big they are.

Pros with a small area

They won't be overwhelmed by the big area that they feel like they need to guard. It’s also easier to stop fighting and you won’t see as much if not any chasing.

Cons with a small area

Is that some people don’t like seeing the bunnies in a small area however it is only temporary, and it only takes a few days before they’re in a bigger enclosure.

Big area

There’s however always exceptions and some groups bond better in a bigger area.

Know that a big area doesn’t mean to let the bunnies roam free in the living room. A big area still needs to be contained within a pen so that you can stop bad behavior.

Pros with a big area

Is that the bunnies can get away from each other when they get enough and if they didn’t do well in a small area, they might feel more relaxed in a bigger area.

Cons with a big area

Is that they can chase each other and you’re having a hard time stopping fights and other unwanted behavior.

You might also end up in a situation where both bunnies will ignore each other and not interact at all and therefore they cannot bond.

How often do I expand?

You expand with 10-20 cm (4-7 inches) every 2-3 day if there’s no bad behavior until you reach 2x2 meter (6.6 x 6.6 feet).

You expand due to lack of bad behavior and not due to the presence of good behavior. Good behavior will eventually always happen.

Behaviors that shouldn’t be stopped:


Nipping is a dominant behavior and it mostly happens around the face, eyes, back, side, and bum and will sometimes cause the nipped bunny to jump up in the air.

Nipping can also happen when a bunny is grooming another bunny. This will eventually stop the further you get into the bonding.

Fur pulling

Fur pulling is when bunnies sit quietly and almost grooms the other bunny while it bites down on the fur and pulls it out. Fur pulling can leave a few bare patches on some bunnies.


Humping is when a bunny humps another bunny, and the behavior is viewed as a dominant one to assert dominance over the other bunnies. When bonding multiple bunnies, you might see 3 or 4 bunnies on top of each other. Watch out for this!

Avoid face humping as the bunny that’s getting humped can bite the genitals of the other bunny.

Some bunnies can go overboard with humping and if that’s the case then gently push the bunny off after 10-20 seconds of humping to give both bunnies a break.

Behaviors that should be stopped:


Biting is an aggressive behavior and in many cases, it resolves in blood and pieces of flesh being ripped off and can cause serious wounds if not stopped in time.

When a bunny is about to bite it usually puts its ears back, tail up, low body but raised bum and then stretch out to get to the other bunny in order to bite it.


Circling is when two bunnies are running in circles around each other while trying to latch on to one another to hump.

This needs to be stopped right away as it can escalate into a fight.


Fighting is when bunnies box with their front paws in the air and end up rolling around on the floor together. In many cases one bunny might end up screaming in pain or fear if it gets hurt or scared.

Note that all bunnies are capable of fighting and this doesn’t mean they can’t bond.


Chasing is where the bunnies run after each other in order to get to one another. This can be extremely stressful for the bunnies and creates fear amongst them and make the bonding last longer as they lose trust in one another.

This behavior needs to be stopped right away as it can result in fighting.

First bonding session:

You shouldn’t expect a lot from your first few bonding sessions. The bunnies need time to relax and start trusting each other. Don’t expect a lot of good behavior from your bunnies. The first few sessions can be rather hard and difficult as bunnies are aggressive and territorial towards other bunnies that they aren’t bonded with.

Head-war and grooming

It’s normal for only one bunny to be grooming the rest of the bunnies. You shouldn’t expect all the bunnies to groom each other. This is because grooming is a submissive behavior so a very dominant bunny might not want to groom the other bunnies.

You might see a lot of head-butting or head-war where they push their heads together and neither wants to give in. Watch out for this behavior as it can lead to fighting if one bunny doesn’t give in and grooms the other.

Grunting noises

It’s extremely normal for bunnies to be vocal during bonding. Especially dwarf breeds like Netherland dwarfs are often very vocal bunnies.

Grunting noises can be due to many factors. It could be aggression, excitement, sexual or fear. Often when it’s bonding related it’s due to aggression but as long as it doesn’t escalates into a fight then there’s nothing to worry about and the bunnies will slowly stop grunting the further you get into the bonding.

The water spray method

This method should only be used if you know exactly what you’re doing and can read the bunnies body language.

You can use a water spray to spray the bunny that’s doing bad behavior. What you need here is perfect timing.

You’d have to spray in the exact moment the bunny is trying to bite another bunny. The reaction you want is that the bunny stops up and washes itself. If you don’t get this reaction then the spray doesn’t work on that bunny and you shouldn’t use it again.

Don’t overuse this method or the bunnies won’t care.

Stress bonding

(We don’t recommend doing stress bonding and only an admin is allowed to advise a member to do this. Common mistake is that it bonds buns. It does not. Stress bonding momentarily stops fighting.)

Stress bonding is something you do as an absolute last method after you have tried every other option in the book and the bunnies are still fighting. It’s not something you do as a first option.

The different methods are:

• Put the bunnies in a car and drive around with them.

• Place a box with the bunnies in it on top of a washing machine that’s on.

• Turn on the vacuum next to the bunnies.

• Put the bunnies in a stroller and drive and bounce around with them.

• Put the bunnies in a box or a carrier and walk and bounce around with them.

You’re here putting the bunnies in an extremely stressful and traumatic situation and the only thing they can seek comfort in is the stranger of another bunny.

Stress bonding is used to stop extreme fighting that just won’t stop but it doesn’t bond them together.

You can also get the opposite result as they now associate the other bunny with a trauma and that can make the entire bonding process even harder to do.

Alternative to stress bonding

If you’re having a hard time bonding your bunnies then you can place the bunnies on your sofa or similar furniture and pet their heads together. Each session should be 5-10 minutes long and you should be wearing thick gloves so that you can put your hand between the bunnies if they start nipping each other. You can do this multiple times a day.

After a few sessions they’ll start loving the cuddles and you’ve now created a good memory between the bunnies.

These sessions will limit or even remove all fighting in the bonding area.

Feeding Your Rabbit

Rabbits need a balanced diet to be healthy. They are herbivores, so they only eat plants and must eat constantly to keep up their metabolism. Proper diet impacts their health in a number of ways--it can help provide them with a healthy coat, balanced personality, strong immune system and a long life. A good rabbit diet should consist mainly of hay, greens and pellets. Treats should be a limited part of a rabbit's diet. Continue reading to learn more about the specifics of a rabbit's dietary needs. Remember: Rabbits need 85% Hay, 10% greens, 5% or less of pellets and treats are to be used sparingly.


About 85% of what they eat should be hay. Fiber is necessary for a rabbit's digestion. Lack of this essential fiber can lead to dental disease and long term GI issues. Rabbits should be eating their size in hay daily, not their weight, but a pile of hay roughly the size of their body.

Timothy hay is typically the best hay for a rabbit's diet. Bunnies seem to prefer 2nd or 3rd cut hay. These hays are softer and contain less seed heads than 1st cutting hay.

However, if you find that you are allergic to timothy hay, there are some alternatives. Orchard Grass, Meadow Grass, Brome and Mountain Grass are potential substitute hays. For a treat, try Farmer Dave's Clover Hay (not for everyday use). Some rabbits also enjoy oat hay. Oat hay is full of delicious oat groats and very high in fiber, it's great for shedding season to help aid digestion.

​Legumes like alfalfa and treats like clover should not be used as daily hay for rabbits. They are too high in fat and protein.


Greens are also important to rabbit health. They provide them with essential vitamins and minerals and are a part of their natural diet. Many times you will hear that a rabbit needs vegetables, really they need greens. Starches and sugars in other veggies are not needed in their diet and can do more harm than good. The water in greens is also essential to keep them hydrated. Some rabbits are not big water drinkers, offering lettuce can help.

There is some disagreement as to whether high calcium greens can lead to bladder stone formation in rabbits. No scientific proof has been found to support this claim. However, many rabbit owners prefer not to take chances, especially with bunnies prone to sludge and stones.

Some rabbits actually show signs of stomach upset with greens that are very high in calcium. Regardless of whether you feed them these greens, always make sure to introduce them slowly. Any new food can cause digestive upset. Never give your rabbit iceberg lettuce, it contains no real nutritional value and the excess water can make them very sick.

If you want to find out the nutritional value of your bunnies' greens, try looking here. The higher calcium foods are marked with an *. Here is a list of greens to try out:

• Green Leaf lettuce

• Red Leaf lettuce

• Romaine Lettuce

• Red Romaine Lettuce

• Boston Lettuce

• Butter Lettuce

• Curly Endives

• Escarole

• Frisee

• Spinach*

• Parsley--Flat or curly*

• Cilantro*

• Kale*

• Mustard Greens*

• Dandelion greens*

When it comes to greens in the cabbage family (cruciferous vegetables), be aware that like humans, rabbits can get gas from these foods: Broccoli, cabbage, bok choy and collard greens.

Rabbits should get about one cup chopped greens per 2 lbs body weight. Remember to start slowly. If they haven't eaten their greens in less than 10 minutes, they're probably getting too much(or they're new to greens and unsure).

Rabbits should never have beans, legumes, onions, garlic, dairy, bread, seeds or corn.

​Carrots are NOT on this list because they are considered a treat. So is all fruit. Bonding a small group can be kind of intense as there’s only two bunnies fighting for the hierarchy but once bonded, they make a great couple.


Pellets used to be considered a major part of a rabbit's diet. Since knowledge in rabbit health and digestion has grown, so have their nutritional requirements. Pellets are now considered a supplement more than a meal. Rabbits who are underweight and nursing mothers are the only exception to this rule. Pellets were introduced as a way of increasing fat and growth in meat rabbits. There was no interest in keeping these rabbits healthy for a lifetime and we now know that rabbits can live 8-12+ years.

So, if hay should make up 80-85% of a rabbit's diet and greens at 10%, then pellets should be no more than 5% of a rabbit's diet. A good rule of thumb for the maximum amount they should be getting per day is 1/4 cup per 6 pounds of bunny. Most rabbits do not need anywhere near that amount of pelleted food. Some rabbits are put on a zero pellet diet by veterinarians due to health issues like obesity and excess cecotrope(soft, nutrient dense feces reabsorbed by rabbits) production (https://rabbit.org/intermittent-soft-cecotropes-in-rabbits/). If a rabbit is overweight, pellets and treats should be the only things restricted in their diet. A zero pellet diet may be tried, consult your veterinarian first. You will need to increase their greens and give them at least 4 different types of greens per day. Pellets do contain a good amount of necessary vitamins and minerals.

​What pellets should you feed your rabbit? Simply put, nothing fancy. You do not want to see pretty colors, seeds, nuts, dehydrated fruits and vegetables in your pellets. You want only 12-14% protein, too much protein is not good for a rabbit's kidneys. Only 1-2% max. fat should also be on your list. Rabbits are prone to obesity and coronary artery disease, just like humans. You do want 20-30% fiber. They are constantly eating and need fiber in their diet to aid digestion. A timothy hay based pellet is preferred, but alfalfa based pellets are OK for juveniles and nursing mothers.​

If you would like to learn more about the importance of rabbit diet visit House Rabbit Society's National Website and their food section.


Everyone who owns a rabbit knows that they love their food. They are excellent at quilting their owners into giving them more of it. They may toss their bowls when empty and turn over their hayracks to let you know they are low on food. However, you do not need to give them junk food to appease them. Here are some options for feeding your never full bunnies.

​Fruit is a good treat, but they do not need it everyday. Sugars are difficult for a rabbit to digest and may lead to excessive bacteria growing in the cecum. Sugar is turned into fat and that can cause a whole list of other problems for rabbits. A one inch square piece of fruit is all they should have in one day--but they do not need it and obese rabbits or rabbits with any digestive issues shouldn't get fruit at all. Here is a list of fruits to use sparingly. • Apple • Blueberries (squash them first so they don't swallow them whole.) • Strawberry • Pineapple • Papaya • Pear • Peach • Cherries (no pit) • Orange (no peel)

Bananas are often given by bunny owners--this fruit is very high in sugar and should be given in even smaller quantities than the others.

Oats make a good treat for rabbits. Like everything else, they should be given in moderation. One teaspoon a day is plenty unless you have an underweight rabbit. Oats are low is sugar but higher in fat. They do, however, have a good amount of fiber in them. Buy thick rolled oats, not instant. Try Bob's Red Mill. If your rabbit is overweight or has cecotrope issues, do not feed them treats daily, including oats.

Another great treat? Greens. Yes, they should be getting them daily, but try giving them a couple of leaves of fresh basil or mint. They'll love it almost as much as banana and they're much healthier. Dried willow leaves are loved by most rabbits.

​Rabbits should not be given any types of seeds as treats. Anything containing dairy, like yogurt drops, is also very bad for their health. No human cereals or crackers. Remember, it's what's best for the rabbit that counts.