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Forum BONDING Advice on bonding a trio

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    • FantasyFanVII
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        <p class=”_1qeIAgB0cPwnLhDF9XSiJM”>This will be a bit long, so bare with me.</p>
        I have one old rabbit (Piko M, 11 years in February) and on October 14th acquired two young rabbits (Len M/Rin F, 5 months now) to be his companions for the rest of his life. I know the age difference isn’t ideal, but long story short it just worked out that way.

        The young rabbits are litter mates. They were living in the same pen for one week before being separated into pens in what I’ll call Room 1. The pens were next to each other in an L shape with about a foot in between. In order to let Rin out, I’d have to put Len in his connected crate and let Rin run through his pen.

        I’ve never seen any signs of aggression between them. Rin will try to ask for grooming between the pen bars, but Len doesn’t quite get it. I’ve seen them flopped next to each other against the bars.

        They were separated before hormones kicked in. Rin was spayed November 10th and Len was neutered December 15th. Piko has been neutered for 10+ years.

        At the moment, Len and Rin are living in side by side pens in Room 2. I no longer have to let either run through the other’s space to be let out. However, they’ll have to be moved back to Room 1 soon.

        Piko is in Room 3, where all the rabbits will be housed together eventually assuming all goes well. If it doesn’t, Piko will stay in Room 3 alone and Len/Rin will stay in Room 1, assuming they still get along. If they don’t I’ll figure something out.

        I have a bathroom that is a small neutral space none of the rabbits have been allowed in. There’s a hallway connecting it, Rooms 1-3 and the living room. Len/Rin have been allowed in the hallway separately. Piko has been allowed in the hallway and living room. However, he hasn’t been in the living room since we set the Christmas tree up in mid December.

        I plan to introduce them in the bathroom, gradually increasing the amount of time they spend together each day. Then I’ll move to the shared territory of the hallway, then the shared living room, then finally Room 3.

        I don’t want to do any stress bonding because of Piko’s age. He just had blood work done in November and it was completely fine. However, I still want to avoid stressing him as much as possible.

        My question is, would it be better to re-solidify the bond between Len/Rin first, then introduce Piko, or should I try bonding all three at the same time?

        If I do re-solidify Len/Rin first, should I start by letting them out together in Room 2 or wait until they’re back in Room 1? I’d rather not use the bathroom with just them, as it’s the only neutral space I have.

        Also, when do I start this? I was thinking January 12th because it’ll be about a month past Len’s neuter and I’ll be off work the 12th/13th to watch them. Should I wait an extra week to play it safe?


      • DanaNM
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          So, disclaimer that I have tried and failed to bond a trio a few times LOL, so take my advice with a grain of salt (I have 2 girls that absolutely did not want to be bonded so I stopped trying).

          Is is possible for you to house all the single buns in the same room? If not, then I think it would be beneficial to rotate which buns are neighbors, so they can all start getting used to each other. You can also swap a stuffy between them. At least swap litter boxes if you can’t swap pens.  I wouldn’t bother with trying to rebond the siblings first, as it’s very possible/likely that their bond would break again once you start working with the group. Every time you do a session, work with all the combinations in succession in that neutral space. So for example start with Rin and Lin, then remove Lin and swap in Piko, then remove Lin and put Rin with Piko. Pet them all a lot during sessions to swap scents. Starting with short sessions would be good just to get a sense of how they are together and to keep things less stressful.

          I’ve tried both working with all three at once, and with the individual pairings. I found that in my group, 2 of the pair combos worked out very easily, but one of the pairings was the most difficult, so I would spend the most time on that pairing. So I think with your group, you could focus on each of the new buns in combo with your senior and see how that goes. Usually the same-sex pairings are the most challenging, so you could plan to spend more time working with your two boys. Then once they seem to have made some progress you can work with the group of three together.

          I think starting Jan 12 would be fine, usually males only need about 3 weeks for hormones to calm so 4 weeks should be safe. Good luck!

          . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


        • FantasyFanVII
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            Thanks for the reply. Of course, now I’ve gotten 3 different replies across 2 forums all saying different things. Ugh idk anymore.

            To add extra context on the rabbits’ personalities: Rin and Piko both appear to have dominant personalities so I’m afraid they’d clash. I’m not sure about Len, but he is really energetic so I’m afraid he’d be too much for Piko at times.

            I’ll also admit Piko hasn’t been around other rabbits. I haven’t had a job or school through most of his life (long story) so I’ve always been with him. However, now I’m finally able to work full time. It’s good for me but it means Piko is alone most of the day. I started worrying about him and didn’t want him to be alone the rest of his life. Then the opportunity to get the twins came up so I took it.

            But now I’m second guessing myself. Is it worse for Piko to be alone or go through the stress of bonding, knowing it might not even work? Is it fair to the twins to bond them all only for Piko to potentially pass away soon after? I hope I’ll have him for a couple more years, but there’s no way to know.

            I’m seriously debating not making a trio at all. I’ll just focus on bonding Len/Rin then keep them in Room 1 and Piko in Room 3.

            Even if they’re seperate they’ll still be out at seperate times in the hallway/living room, so at least Piko will get some stimulation from knowing there’s other rabbits around. Although, he really hasn’t seemed to react at all to smelling them. At least he doesn’t seem stressed though.

            I also have the option of leaving the doors to the rabbit’s rooms open when the other is out, leaving them only seperated by baby gates. Ex. if Piko is out the twins will be in their room with only a baby gate between them and the hallway. That way they can interact if they want but won’t have direct contact and can easily get away from eachother. Of course, it’ll all be surprised and if I see any fighting or stress I’ll start closing the doors.

            I could also try introducing Piko to each of the twins individually in the bathroom. If it goes perfectly with both pairs, I’ll start bonding all 3 together. I know the odds of perfect introductions are extremely low though, so I definitely wouldn’t bet on it happening twice. Is it even worth trying?


          • DanaNM
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              LOL classic bonding advice, a million opinions! Honestly there’s always a process of trial and error. If you try one method and it doesn’t seem to be working, try a dif method. Many argue that you should always work with all three, and eventually you do need to do that, but the method I suggested can help just get a sense of how things will go and is a bit easier to supervise. You can certainly try all three at once, but it’s definitely more chaotic. I’ve also done marathon methods as well, but I prefer to do some shorter sessions first to see what I’m up against.

              Piko would likely benefit from having another bun as neighbors, even if you don’t bond the trio. If the trio doesn’t work out, would there be space to house the pair next to Piko? The option of having them see each other during exercise time would likely be enriching for him.

              I personally don’t think there is any harm in trying if Piko is in good health. If you do a few dates it will probably become clearer whether you want to continue. (For context I bonded my senior the first time when he was 9, then again when he was 11 due to his mate passing away, then attempted a quad at 12 that didn’t work out so he stayed in his pair). The twins will be fine once he passes away, and Piko could really benefit from having a bonded companion in his senior years. I’m very convinced my senior happily made it to 14 because he had a companion that cuddled him and helped keep his face and ears clean as he aged, she definitely helped him have a better quality of life.

              Bonding is almost always some work, so in introductions I like to look for potential, not perfection. You want to see some interest in the other rabbit, but not immediate aggression. If two of the buns immediately try to attack, then this probably is not a good match. But there is a lot of in-between between immediate aggression and “love at first sight” that will lead to a successful bond.  If you are only wanting to bond if it’s “love at first sight” then you probably shouldn’t attempt. Bonding always takes some patience and it’s important to have realistic expectations. Many people find it helps to plan for the worst but hope for the best.

              . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


            • mia
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                I would bond the younger two first and then introduce the older one. I would also make sure that bond is solid before introducing the 3rd. The 3rd would not need 1-on-1 with the younger ones unless there’s majors problems. At least with all my trios, this method only makes me have to deal with two potential fighters, never a 3-way fight; I only have trios, except during the time when one passes and I’m not ready for another.

                If the only thing is age and there are no health or personality issues, I don’t think there should be any hesitation on bonding your older bun. My oldest is nearly 14+ and he didn’t have issues meeting other buns or dealing with bonding but his personality, super chill most of the time, is also a big factor.


              • FantasyFanVII
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                  Wasn’t sure if I should revive this or start a new thread. Since this has all my background and I don’t want to repeat it, I’m just replying here. Sorry if I shouldn’t have.

                  So I’ve ultimately decided to just bond the twins and leave Piko out of it. I think it’ll ultimately be too stressful for both of us. They’ll get limited “interaction” by seeing each other through baby gates and smelling each other in shared spaces but that’ll be it.

                  Now onto the twins. It’s been decided they’ll be staying in Room 2 with the side by side pens, so that’s where this is taking place.

                  I did the first bonding session today. I decided to just let them out of their pens at the same time and watch closely. At first they just ignored each other. They were more interested in exploring each other’s pens then interacting.

                  Eventually Len started trying to mount Rin while grunting as he got into position. Is the grunting a sign he’s not past his hormones yet? He trying mounting backwards a couple time which I immediately stopped. If he positioned himself correctly, I let it happen. Rin tolerated it for a few seconds then ran off and I stopped Len from chasing her down.

                  This happened a few times but was ultimately uneventful and they were still more interested in each other’s pens then each other.

                  Then they moved to the hallway. Rin started mounting Len. He tolerated it, but she seemed too aggressive with it. After several seconds, she kind of grunt/snorted, lost her balance, and tried to get back on. I stopped her at this point. They started looking like they were going to circle so I stopped them. The got into a “groom me” standoff so I pet both of them while they had their heads together.

                  After they calmed down and walked away they were ignoring each other for a minute then the same thing happened again. Rin mounted Len, got too aggressive, I pushed her off, they almost circled, then I pet them together before they seperated.

                  After that she mounted him again. This time I only let her do it a couple seconds before pushing her off. They seperated peacefully and I caught them near each other for one more simultaneous petting session.

                  Then Rin went back to Room 2 and Len stayed. I decided to end things there. I put Rin in Len’s pen then herded Len into Rin’s pen. The whole thing lasted 30-45 minutes, with most of that time spent exploring each other’s pens/wandering around.

                  How’d things go? Is there anything I should have done differently? Can I do multiple sessions a day or should I stick to one a day for now?

                  Can I continue, or do I need to give Len more time to get over his neuter? He really wasn’t that persistent chasing Rin, it’s just the grunting that made me wonder.


                • DanaNM
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                    It’s fine to continue the same thread! Makes it easier to keep track of things.

                    So, it sounds like the first sessions with the two were not in neutral territory, which likely contributed a lot to the mounting/aggression. I really recommend doing all sessions in a neutral space, where neither rabbit has been. Otherwise things will be very difficult and they may not bond at all.

                    I didn’t catch how long it’s been since the neuter/spays, but I think the mounting etc was more likely due to the location you started in. If the hallway is neutral that could work, but if it’s within sight or smell of their main room then I could call that “semi-neutral”. Bathrooms usually work very well for bonding (and they are easily cleaned).  A bit more time for things to settle is never a bad idea though. Usually 3 weeks is a good starting point for hormones settling.

                    If you haven’t already been swapping pens every day or two, I would start that and continue through the bonding process.

                    Other than that it honestly doesn’t sound like it went too bad at all, a very typical early date. Mounting and grunting are normal parts of the bonding process. It sounds like you handled it perfectly by preventing circling and face mounting.  🙂 Lots of petting is great at this stage to try to calm everyone.

                    . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  

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                Forum BONDING Advice on bonding a trio