Find the Perfect Match for Your Rabbit

Find the Perfect Match for Your Rabbit

Q: I have a pet rabbit who is spayed. Can I adopt a friend for her?

Hello again, this is Houdini, the current author of our advice column “Ask Usagi” on behalf of Eastern Shore Rabbit Rescue & Education Center (ESRREC). Sorry, it’s been quite a few years since I last wrote!

This is a great question. I am fortunate myself to have a companion, the lovely Domino. She was also an ESRREC rabbit, and we were introduced and bonded by ESRREC. I still love my human family, and on a regular basis I want to cuddle with them too.

Over the years I have seen ESRREC achieve many bondings successfully. It’s such a happy ending for the rabbits, who not only get adopted but have a BFF (best friend forever). The most recent one pictured above, the lionhead Harriet, was found as a stray earlier this year but she now has a “husbun!” The two make a pretty couple, don’t you think?

However, bondings are usually not a fairy tale. In fact, in most cases progress can be “one paw forward, two paws back.” One minute we are snuggling and grooming each other, next thing you know we are chasing each other with the fur flying, water and food bowls spilled everywhere!

During the bonding, even bunnies that are neutered might start humping the other rabbit, which can also end up with chaos and confusion, or maybe just cause the other rabbit to distance themselves.

When you think about it, sharing a litter box and all other aspects of life can be a big commitment. It takes time to adjust to the new arrangement. And it’s best to start the new pattern in a neutral location, otherwise territorial instincts can kick in.

That’s why ESRREC will only allow rabbit “companions” to be adopted if ESRREC does the bonding. There’s no extra charge, but they must stay with ESRREC for a week. Also the adopters have to bring the rabbit to our shelter on Main Street for a round of “speed dates” to find a compatible rabbit.

The rabbits are introduced slowly and carefully, for about five to ten minutes. If there is immediate fighting or other bellicose reactions, they don’t force it. Once in a blue moon, there is no rabbit in the shelter that is compatible with the adopter’s. You’d be surprised how picky rabbits can be! This is going to be a BFF, until death do us part, so it’s an important choice.

If there are no issues between the two rabbits, maybe even some sign of interest, they get put into a carrier together and the bonding begins. The most important rule of thumb is to keep them in a small space and under close observation for the first 24-48 hours. Then the space is gradually increased to ensure they can handle sharing wider territory. Even when the adopters come back a week later, the bondees still need to start with limited space in their new home or else a few squabbles might break out.

There’s so much more I can tell you about bonding techniques, but the main thing is, to answer the question, if you want to give it a try please feel free to reach out to ESRREC to schedule an appointment at If your rabbit can find the perfect match at ESRREC, it’s a win-win for everyone!

~ Houdini

Houdini (L) with his companion Domino (R)

Let’s Go to the Hop!

Houdini the rabbit

Hi everyone, my name is Houdini and I am a former ESRREC bunny adopted by the founder Cora.  In fact, I was born at the Kent County Humane Society shelter and ESRREC transferred me, my sister Abby, and parents Olaf and Anna.  My favorite pastimes are digging at blankets and snuggling with Cora, as well as with my bunwife Domino, also a rescue rabbit from ESRREC.

Have you heard about ESRREC’s Hop-A-Thon on August 5th?  I’m really looking forward to it.  Cora bought me a special H-style harness just for hopping, and she’s going to register me for the class and the “easy” competition.

Many of you are aware that rabbit hopping is a sport gaining popularity in Europe.  But did you know that bunnies can learn to navigate the hopping course without bribing them with treats?  Because it’s just naturally fun!  And when we run the courses with our humans, they aren’t leading us, we’re leading them and we can have fun together.

Of course, an older or sick rabbit may not be the best candidate for this hobby.  But otherwise, any breed of rabbit – even a mixed breed like me that often end up in the rescues – can do this!  A hyper rabbit will get the exercise he/she craves, and a lazy rabbit might surprise you by getting more active with the stimulation.

ESRREC is partnering with Alikatt Rabbit Hopping & Agility, which is based in Pennsylvania, to offer the beginner’s class and demonstrations. It’s a great opportunity for us bunnies to try this new thing. Then we can show off what we’ve learned and maybe win a ribbon or trophy in the competition!

Even better, maybe when the general public comes to the Hop-A-Thon and sees us having fun, they will understand what great companion animals we are… and some of my friends still living in the ESRREC shelter will get their forever homes!!

Visit our website for more information on how to register your bunny for the hop-a-thon.  Hope to see you there!


Editor’s note: Usagi passed away in October 2016 from old age.  Her protégé Houdini will take over the “Ask Usagi” column.



Cage Sizes

Usagi From an email received on August 27:


Recently, I’ve been doing research on rabbits so I can try to convince my parents to get me one. The main thing that my parents are concerned about is space. I have found lots of different answers on the size cages need to be, but I don’t know which one is right. How big does the cage need to be and does it depend on the size of the bunny?

This is a great question!  There are many different ways to approach this.  The most important thing from a rabbit’s perspective is to give us a safe place, not to make us feel confined.  So yes, it does depend on the size of the bunny and the number of bunnies – for example, if we are a bonded pair we need a larger cage. Being able to move around freely, standing up on our hind legs, and having enough space for our litter box, water bowl, and food bowl plus some toys and a comfy pet bed are all important considerations.  The House Rabbit Society has some advice here about housing.

Long story short: really, we should not be spending all of our time in the cage. Interaction with the family is important for everyone’s mental health. We also need to be able to get exercise every day.  Sitting around in a cage all day will lead to obesity, boredom, etc.

Some rabbit adopters don’t even have cages, they let the rabbit roam the house freely. However, a lot of extra precautions should be taken so that we learn how to use a litter box properly and not chew on things we aren’t supposed to – like cords, or furniture.

There are also people who provide a large pen or closed off area so that there is plenty of space to run around and binky.  Maybe even enough room for the humans to get inside and spend time with us. Check out some cool ideas here.

If you don’t have horizontal space, see if you can make use of vertical space. Some adopters have learned how to create special multi-layer cages from organizer cube components. You can also buy pre-made bunny condos with ramps between the layers. Leith Petwerks is a great example.

Although I cannot definitively answer your question, maybe I have given you a little bit of food for thought. Knowing whether you want a small or a large bunny may help guide you towards a solution among the many options. Most of all, I hope that you will consider adopting a rescue rabbit like myself – because we are so very grateful to have a second chance with a loving family!

~ Usagi

Please email any questions for Usagi to

Gardening for Bunnies

Usagi (her name is Japanese for “rabbit”)

Sorry to have been away for so long!! We got a question in the email:

Master Usagi (bowing low),

Thank you for taking my question. I am interested in potting some herbs and veggies for my BunBuns (bunny – safe herbs and veggies of course). Please recommend some bunny safe potting soil.

Also, please feel free to share if you think this is not a good idea

Thank you!

Growing fresh herbs and veggies for your bunny is a wonderful idea.  Organic potting soil should be perfectly safe.  Any potting soil is probably OK if you don’t plan to let the bunny graze directly on the garden or potted plants.  Avoid using pesticides and chemicals directly on the plants, of course!

Here are some useful links for further advice:

Bunny Gardening for Beginners

A Rabbit’s Garden

By the way, we are looking for volunteers to grow some herbs and veggies for the bunnies at the ESRREC shelter.  We have numerous large pots and window boxes that could be used.

Thank you for your question and I wish you the best of success with your gardening!

~ Usagi

Please email any questions for Usagi to

Advice Column for Bunny Care

Usagi with toysUsagi pensive

Hi, my name is Usagi. That’s Japanese for “rabbit”!  I am here to help if you have any questions about taking care of a house rabbit like me.

holding a bunnyDid you know…?

  • Rabbits need playtime and companionship
  • Hay is essential to a rabbit’s diet
  • Rabbits need to be picked up carefully or they might get injured (see illustration)
  • An outdoor hutch makes rabbits vulnerable to weather, predators, and disease
  • Rabbits can be litter box trained

I’m very excited to help you understand your bunny’s needs so that you can have a happy friendship.  Stay tuned for future blog posts with tips & info!


Please email any questions for Usagi to