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Without experiencing it first hand, it is difficult to understand the in-depth socialization of the house rabbit or rabbits in general. To start, in the wild, rabbits and hares have a very structured order in which each member participates and plays a certain role to the community. They tend not to be solitary animals and depend on eachother by nature.
The same holds true to the instincts of our domesticate house buns. They are social in nature...inquisitive and curious.. Many people have seen the single rabbit in the cage living at a friends house. That rabbit doesn't really seem appealing as a pet. It doesn't seem to do much or have much interest in the humans walking around outside of its cage. That is where the misconception begins.
Had that rabbit been let out of the cage for fun-time several hours a day in a rabbit safe room, it would have behaved differently. Had the person been willing to sacrifice some time to play with the rabbit...things would be different. In the cage, the rabbit has given up its natural instinct of socialization. Had the rabbit been allowed a rabbit friend and free time, any animal loving human would have appreciated watching the amazing bonds that happen between the rabbits and the rabbits behavior towards the owner.
Every person who has walked in to my home has been pleasantly surprised by Enid, Copper and Duncan having their own room built for them. Part of the reaction is "I didn't know rabbits...(fill in the blank). People that don't know house rabbits are shocked that the rabbits are bonded...can be friendly towards humans, play with toys etc. The truth is, the only reason that Enid and Copper come across so interestingly to other humans is the fact that they are running around in their true house rabbit nature. Enid in a cage full time would not be the same bun she is now. Even if your bun needs to be kept in a cage during work hours, he/she still needs plenty of free run to experience and explore the territory provided. In my experience, the free roam also makes the bun want to get to know you better which is the start of a rewarding relationship.
Each bun is so unique in nature. Some just naturally want you to play with them, pet them...some want you to hold them for long periods of time. Others are shy and would prefer if you didn't bother them too much. Some, like Enid, start off as the "evil bunny" who scratches and claws and growls at the site of you. It took a long time for me to bond with Enid but I made every effort to become pals and never gave up. The result is this beautiful gray lop, who knows what she wants and when she wants it...that loves me and actually over the past year has started to seek me out.
Each bun needs the devotion and time that goes into their own specific cares and needs. You just have to find the key. The easiest and earliest part of bonding is just sitting on the floor with your bun and waiting for them to come to you for a treat. If you keep at it, even the occasional nasty bun will start to cave. It could also mean you are going to spend an hour per evening waiting for just a pinch of attention from a rabbit. I now see I've had a full spectrum.
Duncan needed no sitting on the floor waiting to bond. He was constantly under foot once he trusted me. He wanted to be in my lap. He waited for me to get up in the morning (waiting at his gate in his room)...he was also waiting when I came home from work. He would do back flips just knowing you were there for him. He was dog-like, always waiting for reassurance and praise. Duncan was never more than 2 feet away from me when I was home.
Enid was a different story and the other end of the spectrum for me. She was nasty and hated the thought that I existed. I wasn't allowed to touch her, Duncan, their food, their litter boxes etc. If I did those things, I was met by this wild animal, hissing and clawing and growling. After Duncan died she was worse. I tried every day to sit and give her treats...make sure she ate her greens and fruits...I never even tried to touch her for months. She had run of the bun bedroom and no friends and although she didn't know it, it would have eventually killed her.
One day after some tears and frustration and saying "Fine, be that way...rot in a corner by yourself!", I decided for one last try. She always hid under the bed that was in the bedroom so I took the bed and threw it in the truck to go to the dump. I threw out a dresser which she would hide under. I took out all of the dark corners she could hide in. I replaced it with a soft pet bed...replaced the bedroom with only rabbit "fun" things and soon...she decided that it was me or nothing. After months of trying to befriend this girl, I gave her no option but to deal with me and life. She decided I would be ok and quickly became attached to me. Today, she is my only girl...and my princess. She still has the snotty princess personality but its one I can deal with. She is a total diva but lovable. She now understands she can throw a tantrum and get mad at me when she doesn't get what she wants, but 10 minutes later she is underfoot looking for some petting and love. I can't imagine life without her now.
See what I mean about finding the key? You have to get to know your bun first...before you make decisions as to how you should handle your buns socialization. Some will need some extreme things. Others will need nothing special.
If you can have two buns, I recommend it. House rabbits that are willing to bond with another rabbit will experience a bond that will even make YOU think. Duncan and Enid were amazing...they were this sweet old married couple. They had some fights, but overall just took care of each other. Let me also note, the bond is so strong that one dying can result in the other dying of grief. I think more than one rabbit is great....it will usually take some time to find the right rabbit to bond with your own. They can be picky and love one and try to kill another. It's all a matter of patience and jumping through hoops. Writing this part, I think I will make a separate page on rabbit grief and coping. The compatibility and enjoyment of a bonded pair however, far outweighs the bad things.
Enid hated all other rabbits after Duncan until she met Copper. It was strange...but she chose him so I did to.
Make life fun for your house rabbit. You will get to see your true pet. Make a room if you can full of rabbit fun things. Toys and boxes to climb on....a hay feeder etc. Block off your wires and bun harmful things and you will experience a wonderful relationship with your bun. Just remember to keep an open mind.