Carol and I are in the middle of a dastardly experiment - one that tests the courage of us and our charges.
Yes. We have started down the road of socializing our two bunnies, Indy and Chip.
Quick recap for those readers that don't know - Indy is a female black and white Dutch bunny a little over 7 years old and is our third rabbit that we've had over the last 20-or-so. Chip is a male black and white Dutch bunny that we just acquired back in August. He's about 6 months old. Both rabbits are spayed/neutered (thank God!)
Now, you're not supposed to try and socialize bunnies that aren't fixed. It's not just because of the possible mounting and pregnancy issues, it's more about aggression. Did we listen to that? Oh, no we didn't. It took us and additional four months before we could attempt it.
First Chip had his sneezing problem. The we had to wait for the antibiotics to work before we could get him fixed. Then Indy got sick the same week. While she was gone, Chip healed and his hormones just flushed out of his system as he had no one to long after. He still hung around Indy's empty cage looking for her, but he was much calmer.
Then Indy finally came home. Within a week, we knew we had to keep her active (she was sleeping all the time from not eating), so we slowly started the socialization.
With Indy being older, having spent almost all of her life alone (probably not thinking she was a rabbit but rather a little tiny human like her parents), she's not exactly taking to her "little brother" all that well. I can tell you, though, that there is no fighting. Most of the time she just wants to be left alone. Chip is always running to her and bumping her, wanting to play. She just runs away. She doesn't understand that he's just a kid that wants to run and play. She's just an old lady.
The changes for both of them are coming slowly. She's "allowing" him to sit and lay closer to her. Last night, while I was petting Indy, Chip came and laid down right up against her. For as long as I was petting her, she didn't mind - too much. He could never do that if she was laying down alone.
The two of them - for months now - have been doing something that I haven't understood. They would approach each other and touch noses and - stay there. They wouldn't move at all, just sit there with their noses together, looking like each of them was waiting for the other to do something. It would be a stalemate after many minutes of this, and one of them (usually Indy) would just turn away.
The other night I think I figured it out.
Both of them were running around when I sat on the floor. They both came running over and - in their own ways - wanted me to pet them. They love the way I take long, slow, gentle strokes up their face from their noses to their ears. When they get petted, they have a tendency of laying down and pushing their noses out and just enjoying the "lovings" they're getting from their "dad".
I think that's why they're doing this nose-to-nose thing. They're both wanting some kind of affection from the other and it's a posture that they assume with me so, hey, the other rabbit must understand it.
Of course that's not the case because neither of them could pet the other, so they're just in this stalemate situation. I've tried petting both of them when they've been in that nose-to-nose situation and they just eat it up (though it's a bit difficult to do - they're not all that big).
Yesterday, Chip started making the next move - he started licking and grooming Indy. He starts by licking her sides and working up to her head, where he winds-up licking her ears. Inside her ears. A bit too aggressively when he gets way inside her ears, causing Indy to get up and get away.
Everything has progressed nicely (even with the rabbits visiting each others homes, eating each others food, sleeping on each other's fake fleece rugs, peeing in each others' corners), that we took the next step.
The two of them slept together last night. Our intent was to try to get the two of them to share one cage (the two cages just take up too much room). We made sure they had enough food for both of them and we locked them up overnight.
There were no problems other than a few territorial ones, but it looks like they're going to be fine.
If you look at the live BunnyCam feed in the right column, you may see both of them now as they share the food and sleeping accommodations. (They're hard to tell them apart since they're both Black & White Dutch's - Chip is the smaller of the two and has a rounder head and is, well, a bit cuter.) Or you may see and empty cage while they both journey out into our family room . Of course, the camera may be black because the lights are out and they're sleeping. All I know is that seeing the two of them on camera is pretty damn cute.