A large part of my vegan lifestyle is sharing my home with companion animals. All of my animal friends come from humane societies or animal services because I do not agree with financially supporting the buying and selling of animals as property. When I tried to bond two of my rabbits I couldn't find enough supportive and helpful information online. I only found one blog that actually helped, and it said something like all rabbits can eventually bond. From that optimistic foundation is where I'd like to write my own interpretation of bonding rabbits.
To begin I'll discuss why your rabbit should live in a bonded pair and what you need to consider before you start. In the wild rabbits live in big family groups. They have their own unique language that only other rabbits can understand. Rabbits are happier being with their own kind, even if they have you you are not always around and you don't speak rabbit. Please do not try and bond a rabbit to a guinea pig. Rabbits communicate silently while guinea pigs communicate with noise, they will not understand each other. Your rabbit may end up killing the guinea pig with their powerful back legs.
If your rabbit is aggressive do not try and bond it, sort out any behavioral problems first or your rabbit will take it out on their new friend and neither rabbit will trust you in the end.
Your rabbit's behaviour towards you will change once they make a new rabbit friend. My rabbit Gabriel was always a little aloof and reserved. After bonding to Erica he became very affectionate and pushy towards me, licking me constantly. I think he realized now that he has to work to get my attention so now he always wants it. It can also go the other way. Be prepared, but don't worry too much about it.
Before you bond your rabbit make sure that your rabbit is fixed. Spayed and neutered rabbits are much calmer, less territorial and less aggressive. They also don't make babies, because while babies are cute the world has enough rabbits. Check out your local humane society if you don't believe me. If you adopted your rabbit they are probably already spayed or neutered, which is a great bonus.
If you've decided you want to bond make sure that you have a large enough cage for both to comfortably live in, each rabbit has its own hiding spot that it can run away to and the other one can't chase it into (a plastic igloo, a box or so forth) and you can afford food and litter for two rabbits. Make sure you also have a second cage or area the other rabbit can live in because they will not bond in one day.
When picking a rabbit for yours to bond with choose one that is the opposite gender as your own. Also go for one that is a similar size so that one can't bully the other too much. Humane societies are a great place to adopt a second rabbit from because they are not just a business and will be understanding. Call or email a humane society and ask if they have a rabbit that was bonded in the past successfully and lost his or her partner. My humane society recommended Erica to me for that very reason, she was waiting for a new bunny husband. Since Erica wanted to bond she was gentle and calm throughout the entire experience. Humane societies will usually let you bring your rabbit in so you they can go on a date and meet several other bunnies. Some humane societies will also let you foster a rabbit to see if they bond, and if they don't you just keep the rabbit at your house until someone else wants to adopt them.
When introducing the rabbits be aware that there will be some aggression. My rabbit Gabriel, who had never been aggressive in his entire life, attacked a very passive and calm Erica. Rabbits act very differently with other rabbits than they will with humans. Wear gloves and be ready to break them up if they chase each other for too long or start biting hard. There will also be some humping to try and show who is dominant. You can push the rabbit off gently or move them apart if it goes on for too long or gets aggressive. Water bottles with a slight spray can also work. My rabbit Gabriel hates it, Erica enjoys it though.
There are a number of ways you can introduce your rabbits. One way is to introduce them through bars or another is to put them five feet apart and feed them so they can watch each other during a generally positive experience. Some people recommend putting them in cages where they can see each other and taking them for a car ride so they can bond over the stressful experience. Another method is to every week switch the rabbits' cages. Put each rabbit into the other one's cage (alone!) so that they get used to the smell and are aware that it isn't just their space. They may pee and try to mark the area a lot though, so be prepared for extra clean up. Always plan ahead and be relatively calm before you start.
Do not get discouraged. Try twice a day if you have time and try to end it on a pleasant note. Start for two minutes, then go to five, then ten. Do not leave your rabbits alone until they are fine for at least thirty minutes together. If you get too stressed, do it once every three days.
Make sure to spend time with both rabbits separately.You need your new rabbit to bond to you so they feel there is at least one safe animal in the house, and your old rabbit needs to feel like you haven't abandoned them.
It took my rabbits one full year to bond. Erica was lovely and gentle throughout, while Gabriel was just a monster. One day he broke into the bathroom where I was keeping Erica and I found them snuggling together. I have no idea how or why, but eventually they just decided it was time to be friends. Rabbits have their own time schedule and you need to respect that. Eventually any rabbit can bond to any rabbit, and that's the message you need to take away from this. I had all about given up hope, but just keep trying with positive reinforcement when you are relaxed.
While it was very stressful for me and took a lot of effort, I have never regretted bonding my rabbits. Erica and Gabriel now sleep together, groom each other and are best friends. They still sometimes get into tiny fights, but don't we all? Rabbits belong with rabbits though, and if finding your bunny a best friend is just an excuse to adopt another one from a humane society then have at it!