This is the method we use and have great success with. It is one we highly recommend, although we do understand that others may have success using other methods.
Why we recommend 48 Hour bonding:
Remember: Not Everyone Bonds
Best Combos for Cavies
Best Combos for Rabbits
Prior to starting:
Please be sure to have two appropriately sized enclosures ready in case they do not bond. This is good to have on hand incase their bond breaks or one of them becomes sick and needs to be separated. Allowing both enclosures to be side-by-side can help them still have socialization with one another, and still be neighbors instead of cagemates. Some prefer to have their animals live side by side prior to introducing them, and that is up to you. When looking at adopting an animal, this step may not always be possible because we want to do our best to find their forever home with as little chances of the animal being returned to us due to not bonding.
Step One: Neutral Territory
Create a space, like using a playpen or a different room of the house, to allow them to bond in. Everything in this space should be clean, new, and neutral of any scent. The first 30 mins are the most telling.
Step Two: At Least Two of Everything
Provide multiple (at least two) of everything such as hides, hay piles, water bowls, beds, etc. We do not want them fighting over food or shelter.
Step Three: Let Them Meet
Put the two of them into the neutral space. Be sure to have a towel or oven mit ready on hand to use to break up any fights if needed. Do not interfere with them. Many try to pet them or scoot them closer to one another, do your best to be hands off. Let them do this on their own.
Step Four: The First 24 Hours
Many can debate about this time set aside to supervise. We like to keep it at 24 hours but the first 48 hours is the best in determining if they are a good match. Always keep an eye on them for the next few days. *It isn’t as common but remember that bonds can still be broken at any time.*
Step 4.5: Increasing Space (optional)
Some choose to start in a smaller space and increase that space as time goes by. This is more recommended for rabbits rather than pigs. The issue with this is that you may increase space too quickly and that can cause them to become territorial. If choosing this route, using an exercise pen that can be easily extended is best. Always allow a few hours to go by before starting to increase their space. Increasing space too quickly often leads to territorial behaviors and fighting.
Step Five: New Space
Between 24-48 hours, we transition them to their new clean neutral permanent appropriately sized enclosure. Continue to supervise. Give lots of hay and fresh veggies to help distract them. This is also a good time to start increasing space (typically only adding 1-2 feet more every couple hours). Usually it takes about 1-2 weeks for rabbits to fully be able to free roam after bonding.
The general “rule” we go by, is if blood is shed, separate. When they start fighting with intent to harm (such as tornado fights when they will not release one another), that’s a sign they are not a good match. These balls of fit fights can be very serious. More often than not, people separate too soon which reduces the chances of them bonding. In any relationship, you have to let them have the time to figure things out between themselves. And animals sometimes use (what seems like) aggressive actions to communicate with one another.