You've brought home a new rabbit and its friggin' adorable... but now what?
First day at home
When you first bring home your new bunny it's natural to want to pick them up, cuddle them and give them tons of attention. Rabbits, however, are prey animals and naturally dislike being picked up. It's likely that your new bunny will be a little scared when you first bring them home and potentially a bit stressed from the journey. A good approach is to place your bunnies carrier into their designated space and leave them to exit their carrier and explore in their own time. At the least, I'd recommend leaving your bunny alone for the first night-24 hours just so they can acclimatise and get used to their new surroundings without feeling threatened. Make sure they have everything they'd need such as tons of hay, enough clean water, some toys and somewhere comfortable that they can hide under in case they are feeling scared.
Letting your bunny get acquainted to you
After you’ve given your bunny a bit of time and space to adjust to its new home you can spend some time near their pen. I’d recommend leaving some treats close to them and letting them take them in their own time if they're a little skittish. If they’re more friendly you can try hand feeding them treats through the pen. This will make a good start to bonding with your bunny and showing them that you aren't a threat. As your bunny develops more confidence in the next few days you can try getting a little closer to them. For example, you can try opening up their pen and sitting at the front if they seem comfortable, or sitting inside it if it's large enough. Avoid bothering them too much or trying to handle them excessively, and instead focus on allowing them to get used to your presence in close proximity.
Bonding with your bunny
As your rabbit gets more familiar with your presence and your voice, you can start working on bonding with your bunny to build some more trust. Some good ways to make a start on bonding in the early days include hand-feeding treats, sitting in their pen and letting them sniff around you, and simply just being around and in the same room as them. Get on your rabbits level, sit on the floor and read a book, watch some TV; whatever you do, ignore your bun at first (as tough as that may be). Let your rabbit explore around you without attempting to handle them or pick them up. This will give your bunny a chance to build it's trust with you and pretty soon your bun will likely become more affectionate and actually seek pets and attention from you. If you'd like to read a more detailed blog post on bonding with your bunny, you can find this here.
Is that all?
Honestly, for the first week I really would recommend keeping it that simple. Focussing on letting them get used to you and their new surroundings as well as starting off with some simple bonding such as hand-feeding treats is probably all you need to do. Bunnies can get really easily spooked, and in the early days when you're first establishing that bond and trust with your rabbit, it can be really helpful to take your time and allow them to develop their confidence at a slower pace.
Every bunny is different and there is no set time or approach for how you need to do everything, so use your common sense and observe your bunnies behaviour and follow their lead. The most important thing to keep in mind is to let your bunny take control of the situation, especially in the early days. Let them warm up to you in their own time and don't force it. Some bunnies warm up to humans instantly and others take a while, but good things come to those who wait, and you're more likely to build a strong bond with your bunny if you are patient with them.
Whether your bunny bonds to you instantly in the first few days or seems to be taking a little while longer - don't worry! Every bunny has its own special personality - if you embrace that, you'll eventually have a special and rewarding relationship with your furry friend no matter how long it takes 🙂.
If you're bringing home a new rabbit soon let me know down below and I'm sending lots of luck to you! Those first moments can be really special and rewarding and you will never forget them - so enjoy friends! 🥰
Lots of love, Tamara, Peanut, Butter & the Plants xoxo