I just started trying to bond Lola to a rescue bunny named Dexter (see photo below).
We had been looking for a partner for her and it worked out that we were going on vacation and could leave her with a very experienced lady that has a rabbit rescue here and she spent 3 days helping to bond them. Lola is a very assertive female so we thought it best to try her with a semi-timid/submissive male.
When I brought them home I initially had them in a separated x-pen that shared one side (note: it was an old folded up pen so there was NO way they could get to each other between the bars...). They ate dinner side by side and even flopped next to each other afterwards with their backs "touching" through the separation. After that, I let them each out to hop around and explore. Dexter (new bun) was fine. A little nervous of his new surroundings but hopped around and took some Oxbow pellets as treats from me which I thought was a great start. Lola explored for two seconds and then tried to attack Dexter between the bars. It honestly made me nervous because I don't like the thought of her teeth biting the metal - the last thing I want is her to have teeth issues or snap one off. I wasn't too surprised because this is Lola's home and she is going to be territorial.
So - we left them in the separated x-pen over night and it went REALLY well until about 6:30am when Lola started violently shaking the cage with her teeth. Luckily, I was already awake so I could get up and get her. I'm honestly not sure if it's because she is trying to get at him OR if it's because she is used to being a free-range bun and the idea of being caged in terrifies her. She also will freak out if she gets locked out of her cage so this is an issue we've had in the past - she is just used to everything being wide open. After this incident, we decided to let her be in her NIC condo and let Dexter have the x-pen all to himself after that. Again, the biting the cage thing just scares me too much to risk her snapping a tooth.
When I got home from work this evening I did a quick 10-15 minute bathtub session before I gave them their dinner. Dexter was calm and relaxed but Lola was TERRIFIED. They did some slight snuggling but Lola tried to hop out a few times which isn't good because I don't want her to break something (jeez….this bunny is just asking to get hurt….). I calmly put them side by side and rubbed them together and for about 5 minutes and then put them each in their respective cages and gave them their greens for dinner. Dexter immediately started munching but it took a solid 20 minutes for Lola to calm down enough to start eating…and kale is her FAVORITE so I know she was worked up.
I am most nervous about how nervous Lola is. She just shakes like a leaf with ANYTHING that changes in her environment. Could that be detrimental to her health? I don't know how worked up is too much - I can just tell she is really confused and scared. I also noticed when I got home from work she still had some pellets in her container which is unusual because she usually eats them all. She didn't seem to have as much poop in her litter box as normal but then again I could be being just a worried Momma - I emptied her litter box to make sure she is using it normally to double check. She went a TON last night marking all over the place so I wasn't too concerned. Her nervous-ness is honestly why we wanted to find her a friend in the first place - somebun to lean on for comfort besides us...we can't crawl in the carrier with her when we need to take her somewhere (if I could I probably would). Leave it to me have a bun that has anxiety/stress issues just like her slave...
Any suggestions you all could give me would be AWESOME.
Calm, relaxed Dexter and nervous, freaked-out Lola (you can just see it in her eyes!)