About Bonding

Just wanted to share my experience with everyone since questions about bonding come up so often:
 
The setup in my house for my buns is such:
 
I allocated, long ago, a floor-to-ceiling windowed sunroom for all my buns to share.  Joe built various condos so that all the buns (singles or bonded pairs) had their own condos.  Gated fencing was added to provide additional romping room so that buns could share love and communication through the fencing but be protected from fighting.  I had various configurations of internal fencing that I could open and close.  Initially, everyone just sniffed through the fences at each other.  Sometimes one might box through the fencing at another bun if he was having a bad hare (hee, hee) day.  Slowly but surely changes in attitudes started to occur.  Additionally, I made sure that all the buns got equal hugs and kisses and that it was witnessed by every other bun.  Soon buns were visiting through the fencing more, grooming each other's heads, and then resting next to the fencing to be close to another rabbit.  This was done for a very long time - - I'd say about a year, and included two sets of bonded pairs and my one large Silver Fox, "Gossamer". 
 
Intermittently I'd open one or two of the inner fences and let them share a play area just to see what would happen.  As soon as bad manners broke out, I'd correct them kindly and then seperate them.  As this became part of my regime I noticed fewer anger flair-ups and more communing.  As time went on, their body language spoke to me clearly that they wanted more time together, so I gave them more time together.  At that point in time, I noticed that Gossamer, Piper, and Polkadot really played together nicely while Cotton and Satin did not seem as confident or sure that they wanted to hang out with the rest.  I decided to keep Satin and Cotton in their seperate play and condo area and just work on bonding the other three since they showed me the green light in many ways.  Within a week Gossamer, Piper, and Polkadot were spending all their daytime hours together, and then running off to their individual condos for rest time, so my next decision was to take down the inner fencing and see how they truly shared their space together. 
 
At first, there were some adjustments.  I think I was more uncomfortable than they were, but they truly needed time and space to decide how they'd share together space and still have individual needs met.  There was no fighting at all, but they seemed a little hesitant about how to handle breakfast and dinner times together now, how to share litter boxes, how to share the hay box, and how to share toys.  I was worried about my big boy Gossy not getting his fair share of the greens since Polkadot and Piper vaccum their greens down right away while Gossy eats, lounges, and then eats a bit more.  I watched them take turns initially at the greens pile.  Usually Piper and Polkadot would rush over, eat, but then leave some behind for Gossy to eat.  Gossy would saunter over later and eat what was left behind.  This whole bargaining time with greens seemed to work out nicely enough, but I really wanted them to be able to eat together.  I decided to start calling out their names together when I placed the "salad" on the ground, and I waited until they all showed up before I dropped the salad platter on the floor.  I do this every day now, and when they hear their names they all come running out together for their greens.  They also know that after salad time, they each still get their own cup of pellets to munch on in their own condos, and most days they run into their own condo to wait for the pellets before I can get them into the pellet bowl.  They now share litter boxes and hay areas and think nothing of it other than it better not get too messy before I clean it all out to start all over again.  Now they snuggle with each other all day long and take turns sleeping next to each other.  Sometimes all three snuggle together. 
 
I wanted to share this with you because sometimes we think this bonding process is suppose to be quickly achieved when in reality it isn't always that way.  That does not mean that it can't happen, but only that needs are such that it takes more time to occur.  We know how sensitive bunnies can be and so it seems pretty logical that bonding time may not be instantaneous.  Cotton and Satin showed me that they could not yet totally commit to the idea, but they are still playful with the others through the gate, and they still groom each other through the bars as well.  I can always start to try to include them a bit more once again in the bonding process since the others have become situated and happy.
 
Hope this helps in some way.  The entire experience was such an eye-opener for me.  It was exciting, and it also helped me to grow in my understanding of what bonding is all about. I just wanted to share it all with you.