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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > Bonding a third bun to a pair???
Last Post by BB at 10/02/2006 6:05 PM (21 Replies)
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User is Offline Theresa Moan
Nashua, NH
254 posts Send Private Message
9/06/2006 6:44 AM

Hi All,

I've been a part of this website for about a month now, and I've seen some excellent advice and support given.  Now I'm wondering if someone can help me out?

Last night, my boyfriend and I finally got fed up with the constant competive "marking" that all 3 of our bunnies are doing to our carpet when they get their turns out.
Spraying water confuses them.  Yelling at them, which isn't the best thing, doesn't work well, but poops will fly as they flee the scene anyway.

Mabel started the whole thing; before we got her, Hugo didn't poop outside the litterbox, and Bungee recently started copying them.   

Mabes is the third bunny I've got of the trio.  When I first got her, no one was bonded.  After about 4 months of hard work, in May, Hugo and Bungee were finally together in one cage.

The whole time, Mabel and H&B's cages were side by side. 

We let Mabel out seperately from the other two to avoid fighting.  Bungee and Mabel "fight" through the bars of the cage when one is out. (Usually Bungee initating it from the outside while Mabel is inside her cage).  But its not a constant thing and doesn't happen all the time.

We've tried to do playdates with Mabel and Hugo.  Hugo seems willing.  Mabel is a scaredy cat and will react violently when scared.  So, after some bites and scratches( to us), we kind of didn't give the playdates good effort.  They haven't had one in a  long time.

Does anyone have any suggestions if we try to spend all weekend working with the three of them?
Should I continue trying to get Mabel used to other bunnies by just using Hugo on a playdate?  Or should I try to supervise all 3 at once?

One other thing, Mabel has a cataract in one eye, but I suspect she still has SOME vision in it.

She has no problem snuggling with me and in general is a pretty happy bunny.  They all have been binkying a lot more lately, and moods are overall happy.

Also, Mabel is a larger bunny, a new zealand red.  But I think she may only be 7-8 lbs?
Bungee is the second largest, 6 lbs?  And Hugo is probably about 5.

Please help, we are tired of putting up with the constant poos they leave as we think it is competitive marking.  I can't think of any other solution other than having to get them all together as a family.

FYI Mabel is the big bun in the first pic, H&B are in the second, obviously already bonded together.

I will apreciate any advice...I'm afraid my BF is "starting" to resent poor Mabes, who I rescued from a lab at work.  He didn't want a third one but I  didn't want to leave her there.

User is Offline barbara elliott
21 posts Send Private Message
9/06/2006 5:40 PM
Theresa,

Your bunnies are so beautiful. This is a question I'm worrying about, too; I have two new bunnies I'm hoping to bond with my first, but introductions all around have gone poorly. The websites tell you "don't despair", but it's hard to see bunnies fighting. I wish you all the best with yours!

Tabby,
& Jhumpa & Chloe & "mouse bunny"

User is Offline Faye Perry
Leicestershire, UK
114 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2006 5:10 AM

Have you tried taking bunnies out in the car?  I know that helped with my two buns - maybe take hugo and Mable out together to get them bonded a bit first? 

Is there somewhere you could let them out that is neutral to all 3??

Has Mable and Bungelina been spayed? (Fantastic name by the way)

I've had to learn to be more patient with my two females Booboo and Mable, but its going ok at the mo..

There seems to be quite a few bunny lovers here with 3 or more bunnies so it must be possible!! don't give up, you did a great thing rescueing Mable and eventually you'll reap the rewards x

Good luck x


User is Offline Gravehearted
Campbell, CA
2442 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2006 6:52 AM
what beautiful bunnies!

Are all three bunnies neutered / spayed? I

I second the above advice about neutral zones -  bunnies are much more territorial at home in their own zone. Take them for car rides.  Also - take them to a pet store, put a blanket in a cart and push them around.  this works well since you can watch them, cross pet them and if they start to fight shake the cart's handle. Do you have a friend's house that would you let you work on bonding there?

Are they spraying or weeing to mark?  At my house we simply added an extra litter boxes outside of each cage and this has stopped peeing to mark on the floors. If there's a spot they seem to mark repeatedly - add a box there.

There's no magical cure that's going to make them be best friends in a weekend, it can take quite some time to bond bunnies.

here are some articles that I liked when working on bunny bonding:

general good bonding advice http://www.rabbitnetwork.org/articl...bond.shtml

bonding trio experiences:  http://www.ontariorabbits.org/diet/...fo2.2.html
~ bunny mom to to HRH Hareiette, Viktor the crazy Krum and Pandora, prima binky ballerina ~ Save a life, Adopt!

User is Offline Theresa Moan
Nashua, NH
254 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2006 8:39 AM

Thanks Tabby, I love taking pics of them.  But I'm still a bit of an amateur photographer
Let me know how your bonding goes, I need all the ideas and help I can get, it looks like!
Do you have pics of your 3 guys?

Hi Bunnybabe, I'm a bit nervous doing the car thing with 3 bunnies...We only have 2 carrying cases, and I'm pretty sure Mabel won't fit in either of them.  How would you recommend going about it?  Bring them all out in carry cases (we'd have to get a third) and then dump them all in the backseat?  Or into a large cardboard box?  One time, when we were trying to bond Hugo and Bungee, someone recommended putting them on a clothes washer.  So we carried them down the hall (we live in a condo w/shared facilities) and put a laundry basket and dropped them both in...Fur was flying!!!  It was like those old cartoons where all you can see is a huge cloud of smoke and tufts of hair flying about!

Hey GH, thanks for the compliment...H, M, and Bung are all simulateonusly blushing right now...Or sleeping, what do I know, I'm at work
A big issue with us is the neutral zone thing.  We have a large dining room/living room that they all share and that is where the cages are.  (Next to the TV - so they think we are always watching them, haha).  We have a bedroom which we don't allow them in, unless they sneak in or push the door in, the little devils...And there is a computer room, where we attempted all of the bonding sessions.  But, although the 3 of them don't get regular access to this room, I don't always shoo them out if I'm on the computer...So perhaps this territory is not-so-neutral anymore.
The pet store cart is interesting- Is this something you've had success with?  I wouldn't have thought that pet store employees would have allowed rabbits, esp. since there are cats and dogs roaming the stores with their customers. (Petsmart, Petco, etc.)
The marking is mainly pooping.  They all do it around the periphary of the living room/dining room.  There was one major spot in the corner of a wall and couch that they insisted on peeing and doing a LOT of pooping, so we took one of the old cages we no longer need and put it there.
That helped at first, but then they started pooping right in front of the cage rather than to go in it!  Also, there is a corner litter box in this "rest area" cage, but they don't really use it - they go all over the cage floor as well.

Thank you for the bonding articles, I will check into them. 

THE POOPERS!!!


User is Offline Theresa Moan
Nashua, NH
254 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2006 8:41 AM
And yes, all 3 are fixed.

User is Offline Faye Perry
Leicestershire, UK
114 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2006 9:38 AM

I know i was very worried taking them out in the car (my vet recommended putting them both into 1 carrier before they were spayed!!! I didn't do it cause i was petrified that they would fight before we got to the car!! ) BUT having said that every time we've took them since being spayed, they get so scared when they go into a box (I don't use the carrier - I use a neutral cardboard box) that they just sit there....

We decided between us that I would drive (slightly more irratically than normal - to throw them around a little) and my hubby would referee, sorry i mean watch out for any scraps in the back.  As it happens they were too scared to fight, they just sit and pant.

I got a bit worried the first few times as they took ages to calm down, but Binkybunny said that this was part of the reason it works.

I can see why you were told that sitting them on a washer would work, I think it would be simular.  I probably shouldn't say this but we've put them in the box we use to take them for a drive, but just carry them around and spin a little, and move the box up and down.... it had a simular effect and hubby got a work out to boot.

I don't think this is a miracle cure, but it helps, along with a lot a patience and nerves of steel!!

Good luck and I really wish you well x


User is Offline Bunnies4ever
Hercules, California
368 posts Send Private Message
9/08/2006 11:11 AM
I knew this may sound crazy, but a friend of mine recommended putting the bunnies on top of a running washing machine. She said that the vibrations will make the bunnies huddle together. That's how she got her bunnies to bond. It might be better than putting them in the car. I also heard that if you take a large enough box and put all 3 in and then take them for a short (maybe 15 minute) car ride every day for about 1-2 weeks, that would work also.

It takes patience! It took me a while to get my two bunnies to bond. There was a lot of squabbling in my bathtub (only neutral space where they never been before) before they finally settled down.

Good luck!

User is Offline Gravehearted
Campbell, CA
2442 posts Send Private Message
9/10/2006 10:37 AM
I am betting if the bunnies have been coming into the computer room it's not a neutral zone anymore :-(

yes - the shopping cart thing works well :-) I work with a rabbit rescue and we host our adoption shows at a local petsmart. During bunny matchmaking we put the bunnies in the blanketed shopping cart and wheel them around. People love to come up and visit the bunnies too. All the other pets I've seen there are on leashes, and I've never heard of another animal trying to attack a cart or anything. I don't imagine why the staff would be unwelcoming to you and your bunnies. I've taken my own bunnies for shopping cart bonding and thought it really helped with the bonding process.

You could also ask a friend if you could use their house too,
~ bunny mom to to HRH Hareiette, Viktor the crazy Krum and Pandora, prima binky ballerina ~ Save a life, Adopt!

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
Forum Leader
8673 posts Send Private Message
9/10/2006 8:52 PM

Theresa - You've gotten some good advice already.  But I just wanted to just reiterate some of the points already made.    Bonding bunnies that don't get along is so tiring and messy! So I do understand.  It can turn the most calm easy going person into Charles Manson.

First, if they have gotten into a nasty fight lately, then you may want to give them a break from each other - a week or two.  and it would be best to start again when you are ready to commit to doing bonding sessions everyday:  (and I know this is not easy and it can be a real pain in the arse!)

Calm Persistance (everyday) small small dose sessions - car rides (or some other suggested stressor) to start if they fight first.  I usually bring a blanket to cover over the car seat and put them in the back seat  with a litterbox.   My husband would drive while I supervised.   Throughout the process try and stay relaxed and calm because if you start getting tense, it's not going to help, so if you start to feel tense or mad, impatient, take a deep breath, and if you still can't be patient, then just stop and do it again later or then next day.

Neutral territory, Do they go into the bathroom?  What about the bathtub?  On this site, in the bonding section, I created a semi-neutral territory, but it might work as a neutral territory too.  http://binkybunny.com/BUNNYINFO/Bon...aspx  (scroll down to Bonding Tips & Tricks)

All three at once or pair up first?   This really depends.  When all three are together,  do Hugo and May fight at all?  Does it cause Hugo and Bungee to fight?   Many times this will cause disruption in all three and they need to work it out, but If after trying with all three,Bungee and May are still fighting, then I  recommend you try and do actual dates with the Bungee and May.  If those two are doing car rides together only, then they might be more likely to cuddle with just each other.   Then once they start gettting along, bring Hugo into the mix.   If you also have Hugo and May date, then you need to make sure, BEFORE, you put Hugo back with Bungee, that you rub your hands all over Bungee, and then all over Hugo, to help cover the scent of May.  Otherwise Bungee might smell May on Hugo, and that may cause a fight.

What if they just will not get along?  Sometimes, even after months and months of trying, some pairs will still have disdain for each other. (this is rare)  You might find that Hugo can have playdates out with May, but May and Bungee will always have to be separated.   Does that mean they will always have a poopfest in your house?  Not once they have settled into the situation.

I can reallly sympathize with you because I was in your situation - sort of.  I have a rare case of bunnies that refuse to get along.   I have a trio.   Jack and Rucy are extremely bonded.  Bailey is a very queenish bunny who likes to be dominant and loves to be the human's favorite.   I actually did get Bailey and Rucy to get along (I haven't finished posting their journals),  I spend endless hours, months on ending getting them from literally trying to kill each other to cuddling.   But Bailey would just become too Bossy.  She seemed so insecure, and had to reinforce her dominance over and over, and I just felt it was causing Rucy too much stress (she'd get sick or her jaw abscess would return), so I just decided to separate them permanently.  They will cuddle near each other through the fence (it's tight netted so they can't hurt each other) and they will also fight through the fence, but Rucy's health has never been better, so I know it was the best thing. 

Jack and Bailey do get along, and they can have playdates. 

I would love to have them all get along.  But it just wasn't meant to be, and now the house is more peaceful and the poopfest is gone!  But before giving up, first really give bonding a try.

NOTE: You can try to do the whole weekend thing. I have heard that works!  I do know that when I tried it, it didn't for me, and I felt extremely frustrated, because I was so hoping it would work, and as the hours, and hours, and hours passed, and nothing was improving, I just got mad.   Which did not help the situation.  But that's just me, and you might have the patience of saint.


User is Offline Theresa Moan
Nashua, NH
254 posts Send Private Message
9/11/2006 9:34 AM
Binkybunny, I saw a new pic of all 3 of yours together in the gallery. Are you making good progress?
Is Jack the playboy, haha?

User is Offline Theresa Moan
Nashua, NH
254 posts Send Private Message
9/11/2006 9:38 AM
Unfortunately we weren't able to get ONE session in this weekend...We barely had time to give them all adequate out time.
I'm not sure if the bathroom would work- its really small and the two girls have problems walking on smooth surfaces, like the kitchen, so I don't know if the tub would work.

I hope to try tonight. I would also like to take a picture diary of it, if possible. However my computer at my house is having issues, and I already have a back log of naughty bunny pics etc to upload before I start taking more

User is Offline Gravehearted
Campbell, CA
2442 posts Send Private Message
9/12/2006 8:13 AM
the bathtub being slippery is part of the reason it works so well, when bunnies are stressed they're more likely to turn to each other for comfort and less likely to fight.  That's the main reason that  car rides are recommended too.

The bathtub is also a neutral space and small enough space for you to break up any fights.

*sending good bonding wishes*
~ bunny mom to to HRH Hareiette, Viktor the crazy Krum and Pandora, prima binky ballerina ~ Save a life, Adopt!

User is Offline Theresa Moan
Nashua, NH
254 posts Send Private Message
9/12/2006 8:38 AM

Well everyone, we had "playdate #1" last night.

It lasted about 20-30 min.  In the kitchen.

In our condo, we have a long, thin kitchen, about 9x11 feet.  So, subtracting the counters, we had about 11x4 square feet to play with?
(there are entrances at each end)

The plan was that we were going to set up some laundry baskets to block one end, and then position myself in the other end, blocking that entrance physically.

We were going to start with Mabel and Bungee, since they seem to have the most animosity.  So, I went to pick up Bungee from the cage, and she FREAKED.  She hates being picked up, esp. from her cage.  So, last second, instead of getting frustrated, I just grabbed easy-going Hugh.

I then handed Hugo off to Mike, who held him at bay on the kitchen floor while I went to get Mabel out of her cage.

Although Hugo runs through the kitchen when doing the Bundy 500, it is merely part of his circular lap he does around our condo.  And although he does like to run up to the fridge and / or jump into the fridge when we go near the kitchen, he's not an expert at walking on the tile flooring.  He still slips a bit, and he's never marked in the kitchen.  So, I think this is the best "neutral" territory we have, given that the girls don't even VENTURE into the kitchen like dare-devil Hugh. 
I don't know why we didn't think of it earlier.  I guess b/c of the way the girls don't like to walk on the surface.  But apparently, that is a good thing?

So I extracted a scaredy-cat Mabel from HER cage and brought her to the kitchen.  (Mike was all prepared with oven mitts on both hands! )

I sat down to position myself on the floor against the opening at the far end opposite Mike and Hugo, who is munching on a carrot piece in the middle of the kitchen floor (while slipping and splaying his front legs humorously for us).
I try to put Mabel down on the tile and she VELCROD herself to my lap.  She snuggled in as much as she could; she didn't want anything to do with the tile or Hugo!

Hugo, while munching away, definately noticed Mabel, but was far to interested in eating than meeting her.  They were about 2-3 feet apart.

So, I kept periodically trying to place Mabel down, but she wouln't detach herself from me.  My bf got her a carrot piece, and she refused to eat it on the floor.  So, with her in my lap, and me holding one end of the carrot, she decided she was comfortable enough to eat it!  I took that as a good sign, b/c scared bunnies don't want to eat.

Eventually, we got her to move about a little bit on the floor, providing I stretched out my leg as a "railing" around the periphery.  Hugo walked around, they got pretty close together, but no lunging/growling/biting.  Yes!

However, I'm not sure if that was b/c Mabel was clung to me, being a scaredy cat?

Mike and I changed positions (He at the entrance and me in the middle with Mabel) to sort of force Mabel to be out in the open with Hugo.

By this time, Hugo had figured out how to push the laundry baskets at the opposite entrance away, and was sneaking off.  Mike retrieved him a couple of times, but Hugo was soooooo determined that eventually Hugo got pissed off. 
So I knew that no more progress could be made without our normally good natured bunny, therefore it was pointless to continue the playdate at this point.

Hopefully, we can try for playdate #2 tonight! 


User is Offline Gravehearted
Campbell, CA
2442 posts Send Private Message
9/12/2006 2:38 PM
wow that's a pretty sucessful date :-) even if they're not paying attention to each other at some points - that's much better than signs of aggression.

Mabel likely clung to you because she was spooked by the slippery floor & new place. It sounds like she really trusts you. :-)
~ bunny mom to to HRH Hareiette, Viktor the crazy Krum and Pandora, prima binky ballerina ~ Save a life, Adopt!

User is Offline Theresa Moan
Nashua, NH
254 posts Send Private Message
9/12/2006 3:17 PM

Hi guys,

we had playdate #2 tonight, but it was shorter than yesterday.

Mabel was still quite the velcro-bunny, but not as bad.  I took a dishtowel and put that on the tile so she could sit on it.  I  got her to eat a carrot off of it, not just from me holding it out for her

Though it was only ~15 minutes, they had a few really CLOSE encounters...3 nose to noses, BRIEFLY.

No fighting, etc. I have a good feeling about this, but I don't want to get ahead of myself.  Plus there is still the issue of Mabel-Bungee.

Also, I put Hugo back in Mabel's cage and left Mabel out, so he was getting his marks and scent in her territory... Then Mike put Hugo back with Bungee.

Fingers are x!


User is Offline Gravehearted
Campbell, CA
2442 posts Send Private Message
9/13/2006 10:35 PM
oo date two sounds like it had good results - it's great that Mabel and Hugo seem to not have a lot of aggression issues. It can actually help during the bonding process to swap cages or litterboxes like you did - even overnight.

When I feed my kids veggies at night I always put the bowl right in front of Hareiette's cage so they all eat together. Not sure how much it really helps - but they certainly don't argue while they're busy munching!
~ bunny mom to to HRH Hareiette, Viktor the crazy Krum and Pandora, prima binky ballerina ~ Save a life, Adopt!

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
Forum Leader
8673 posts Send Private Message
9/14/2006 12:19 AM
Posted By Theresa on 09/11/2006 12:34 PM
Binkybunny, I saw a new pic of all 3 of yours together in the gallery. Are you making good progress?
Is Jack the playboy, haha?



Actually the bonding sessions are over, and there ended up being about 6 - 8 weeks worth, but we were having tech difficulties as we were changing hosts, and now I have to go back and actually find the old files one by one.  So it's taken me a while to get those journals back up.

They actually ended up getting along, but then Bailey just couldn't stop being too bossy with Rucy, and because Rucy has had health issues (reoccuring jaw abscess) which she had before I adopted her, then I felt the stress of being bossed around was bad for her health.  Since I separated them, she has been abscess free.  So if Rucy didn't have some health issue, I would have probably kept on trying for a little bit longer, but I found this to be the best solution for this situation,

However, I am still going to keep putting the journals up as the body language and progression towards success will be helpful for others.

 


User is Offline Theresa Moan
Nashua, NH
254 posts Send Private Message
9/14/2006 2:28 AM

Wow we are actually 3 for 3 on the playdates now.  Last night, it only lasted maybe 10-15 minutes.

The playdates seem to be getting shorter the more adverturous and closer they become.  Also, Hugo doesn't much understand or like being forced to be in one area.

They walked by each other a few times, with no reactions.  That is very good.

Mabel went up to Hugo and kind of sniffed nose to nose, and I got nervous, so I reached to get my hand ready/pat her head, but I started her a bit since I came round on her left side (cataract), so she reacted and grunted briefly.  But no bite.  I feel bad, since that was kind of my fault.  I just get so nervous!

This weekend when we go to costco, hopefully we'll get a really big box that we can use to barricade off one entrance to the kitchen.  The laundry baskets aren't quite cutting it, and Hugo is sneak between them or jumping onto them.

I guess we'll keep on doing this pattern regularly every day - I don' t know when we'll determine that they will be allowed in the common areas on the rugs.  Any suggestions?

With regards to switching cages - the main problem is getting Bungee out of her and Hugo's cage.  She's a PITA trying to pickup, and I don't wnat to let her out when Mabel is out, yet.


User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
Forum Leader
8673 posts Send Private Message
9/15/2006 9:17 PM
Posted By Theresa on 09/14/2006 5:28 AM

I guess we'll keep on doing this pattern regularly every day - I don' t know when we'll determine that they will be allowed in the common areas on the rugs.  Any suggestions?

Yes, keep it up with that pattern everyday, until you feel like you can actually relax and not watch so carefully.  This means, they would be able to walk around each other without freaking out, they would be relaxed around each other - hopefully even begin to snuggle.  This could mean a week, or even two, or even more if two of them are still tense.  (but hopefully not)

If you move to quickly, and they haven't become at least friendly before you move them, then they can still be more apt to fight. 

I think the best way to tell if you could move them to the next step is if you would feel confident enough to read a book while in there, or even leave the room to do a couple of chores around the house (within ear shot)

When you do move them to the next location be sure not to give them too much space - still try to keep them confined within the common area, otherwise they can revert back to old territorial behaviors.

Also, when you finally do move them to the 2nd location, they may go through a bit of dominance posturing and tense behavior, but just pet them and help them settle down.  Usually this will die down.  But if it gets worse, and they get aggressive, you may need to go back to the first location.

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