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Forum BONDING Bonding a trio- advice

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    • attemptedquad
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      Hi everyone! I’ve made some previous threads on attempting to bond a quad and attempting to bond 2 males. I wanted to make a new thread with a proper title to reflect my current bonding goals. I have a bonded pair, Bear (F) and Sage (M) and 2 single buns Bodhi (M) and Salem (M). When putting all 4 together many months ago, Bodhi and Salem would just fight while the pair huddled together. Bodhi ended up hurting Salem, so I had to separate them for a while to heal and try to forget. From then on, I worked for months on getting Bodhi and Salem to get along by bonding the two of them. I tried stress bonding, dates, table bonding, big spaces, small spaces, and finally attempting 24/7 bonding as a last resort, all results failing in Bodhi seeming very unwilling to bond and latching onto Salem with real bites, not just nipping.

      As an attempt to reduce my workload, give the bunnies more space and free roam time, and get the most bunnies a friend, I’ve decided to attempt bonding Salem into the pair to make a trio. Perks: Salem only seems to show aggression in bonding when he is actively being harmed, Salem and Bear used to show a lot of affection and interest with each other when they were in quad bonding sessions or being housed next to each other, and Bear and Sage were pretty much an instant bond, even with me being absolutely clueless on bonding and them bonding in a really not neutral area (oops). Bear and Sage really only ever had one fur pulling fight and it was when I was bonding them in a shared free roam area. I’m also a teacher and I’m off for the summer, so I have the time now and ability to stay up overnight. Another perk is all bunnies have been fixed for over a year at this point, so there’s no risk of any hormones left. I really love the idea of this because if they do become a trio, the 3 can all share my basement and have a really amazing setup with a lot of stimulation and space(~700 sq ft). My single bunny would then be moved upstairs (where the current pair lives) and have his own bedroom and a lot of free roam time upstairs. I’ve got some BIG buns, with Salem and Bodhi being 10+ pounds, so a lot of space is really important to me.

      The cons are: obviously the stress involved for everyone, one bunny being involved in multiple fights with a different bunny, and the fact that Salem very rarely would groom Bodhi, but I think a lot of this was due to holding a grudge. While I’m not worried about Salem and Bear, I do have some concern with Salem and Sage because I can see them fighting over Bear or fighting to see who the top bun is. I’m honestly still confused on who the “dominant” bun is in my existing pair. Bear is the only one I see get groomed, but Sage does still hump her from time to time or nip to communicate, but never real aggression. I watch them a lot on my pet cam, so I probably see more than the average person lol. I’m also a little curious as to how much natural behavior I’ll see from Sage- he was found as a feral bunny from Animal Control and tends to act differently when in the presence of people than from what I see on camera, so I hope that does not mess up the dynamic since I will be around them 24/7.

      I really want to try 24/7 or marathon bonding because I’ve heard this is the best way to cause the existing pair to not unbond (they would likely fight after bonding sessions because they would smell the unbonded bunny on each other) and Bear and Salem were both not socialized when they were young and really stress from being picked up and moved around, so I’d rather only have to do it once. I also have the time to stay up with them and have an area I can put a pen or 2 up in my bedroom that is 100% neutral- no bunnies have ever been in that room at all. My biggest worry about this is that they could get to a point of constant fighting, and being able to tell what is dominance and what is actual fighting.

      Really looking for some tips from people who have experience with multiples, especially trios! I feel like I can’t really prepare because I know not to swap scents like you would with a pair because it can stress the pair out and cause them to unbond. And can’t do side by side interactions or short dates because of the same issue. I will likely so the marathon bond starting in about 10 days.

      Still not completely sure if I should do a larger space or start small because I had success with both methods with Bear and Sage and no success with either with Bodhi and Salem. Any advice from people with trio experience?


    • DanaNM
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      Hello again!  Here are my thoughts!

      So firstly I wouldn’t worry about who is dominant currently and who will be dominant. Honestly it’s often hard to tell, and sometimes we humans end up projecting an outcome on the buns unintentionally that ends up slowing down progress.

      Regarding marathoning/unbonding the current pair, etc., going into a marathon “cold turkey” (without any other dating or pre-bonding) can be really stressful for all buns and humans involved. Some people make it work, but in my experience it sets you up for success to do at least some dating first. When I was working on a trio I did pre-bonding, dates between the different combos, dates with all three, etc, and my current pair did not un-bond. There are lots of successful trios out there where the current pair does split and then the trio re-forms. There are also lots of examples where the current pair goes on dates with other rabbits and also does not split. Some people think that this is actually necessary for the trio to actually form, because otherwise the pair may not accept the newcomer (I think this is what happened in my case). I think some version of this probably happens in the marathon, but it’s just all balled up into one long experience.

      Regarding this point “My biggest worry about this is that they could get to a point of constant fighting, and being able to tell what is dominance and what is actual fighting.” , you will need to be preventing fighting as much as possible, and stopping fights immediately when they occur.  Mounting, light nipping, a short chase, lunging, grunting are all OK, but if you see circling, boxing, hard biting or bunny tornados this needs to be stopped immediately, and ideally you would be preventing these from happening. So you’ll need to be very aware of the types of behaviors that escalate to fighting.

      There have been quite a few successful trios on the forum that have done short dates and pre-bonding. If you search the forum for “trio bonding journal” you will find some successful examples.  My personal approach would be to start with some short dates, and have a separate pen on hand in case you end up needing to split up your pair. Once it’s clear that each combo of bun is at least sort of getting along, that’s when I would go for the marathon with all three. I think if you want the trio, you’ll really need to commit to the trio, even if it means the pair may split up temporarily.

      I know there are lots of other approaches out there, so it’s really your call, but that’s just what I would do! And I do think this combo of rabbits sounds pretty promising!

      . . . 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 Bonding a trio- advice