Forum

OUR FORUM IS UP BUT WE ARE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF UPDATING AND FIXING THINGS.  SOME THINGS WILL LOOK WEIRD AND/OR NOT BE CORRECT. YOUR PATIENCE IS APPRECIATED.  We are not fully ready to answer questions in a timely manner as we are not officially open, but we will do our best. 

You may have received a 2-factor authentication (2FA) email from us on 4/21/2020. That was from us, but was premature as the login was not working at that time. 

BUNNY 911 – If your rabbit hasn’t eaten or pooped in 12-24 hours, call a vet immediately! Don’t have a vet? Check out VET RESOURCES

The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

What are we about?  Please read about our Forum Culture and check out the Rules

BUNNY 911 – If your rabbit hasn’t eaten or pooped in 12-24 hours, call a vet immediately!  Don’t have a vet? Check out VET RESOURCES 

The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet.  It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

BINKYBUNNY FORUMS

Forum BONDING Bonding help

Viewing 11 reply threads
  • Author
    Messages

    • Wolfy
      Participant
      26 posts Send Private Message

      So, I just tried a small session between my rabbits in the bathroom. First day, completely neutral, I had a pile of herbs / veggies and a tunnel that weren’t theirs due to the risk of fighting over it although both of their scents should be on it — I didn’t want to chance it.

      I did this alone so I couldn’t bring both rabbits in at the same time, first was my older male, then I brought my female. They first ignored each other until my male started nipping her a little bit and scratched her on the head multiple times ( I intervened when this happened ). They did a thing where I assume was trying to make one of them groom each other then moved away, Shadow kept nipping her at almost every time she was near him to where they started circling and I stopped that. I then tried to pet them together and slowly scooting them together, they were fine with this and ignored each other briefly when it happened. Then my female, Zelda, tried to hump him or she nipped him and that made Shadow pissed at her and he scratched her on the head again. I ended the session as I was getting too anxious about it spurring into a big fight. I checked her over and didn’t look like she had any wounds from it. This is what I was fearing trying to do it myself but I hardly have any trustworthy professional bonders in my area, the latest I’ve reached out that runs a rabbit rescue does stress bonding for her “bonds” and I don’t want to do that while we’re starting off.

      I really don’t know if there’s going to be any improvements continuing along as it will be difficult to do it in a consistent manner working two jobs or I’ll have to face the decision of rehoming one of them if they just hate each other’s guts. I was hoping they’d do a little better with how well they lived next to each other but I know it isn’t a major indicator they’ll get along guaranteed but still.. I don’t know what else to do unless keep trying with the same method or try in a different neutral area where I’ll have more help.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      6212 posts Send Private Message

      Ok, so first of all, take a DEEP breath!

      It is very normal for things to be tense in the first meetings, so don’t panic! It’s extremely rare for things to be love-at-first sight (just as it’s also extremely rare for a pair to be unbondable). Imagine meeting a stranger suddenly and being locked in a room with them. It might take some time to trust them! The fact that they ignored each other at first is great, and I think maybe you just pushed them a little too far for a first date. They don’t hate each other, they are just being rabbits! You did a good job with preventing the fighting!

      I have some ideas, but since I’m not sure what you’ve done so far could you fill out the “Bonding template” (pinned in this section) and paste it in your reply here? Just to get some background on the bunnies and pre-bonding etc.

      A few things for now:

      -remove the food and tunnel for now, so nothing in the bonding area. I don’t even like to have towels or blankets down, the slippery floor will make them less likely to fight.

      -Set yourself a short time goal for the next few sessions, like 2 or 3 minutes. If they are ignoring each other at the end of that time, great! If they aren’t, try to pet them both to calm them down (no need to smoosh them together unless they are already smooshed).

      I’ll stop with that for now until I get some more info from the bonding template.

       

       

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Wolfy
      Participant
      26 posts Send Private Message

      Removing the food and tunnel might be a good idea as they couldn’t care less for either. I was following a guide someone else provided that gave me the idea for the set up, either it overstimulated them due to the new area or they might’ve not been ready despite living next to each other for 5 or 6 months. I generally don’t like the idea of bringing in litter boxes or toys due to how possessive they can be of them. The tunnel was the cats so they rarely interacted with that one compared to the one I have in my room.

      as for the bonding template.

      Spay/Neuter
      Are your bunnies spayed/neutered? Both are fixed.

      If so, for how long (for each)? Shadow was neutered in 2017, Zelda was spayed on August 5, so she’d at least 8+ week wait for her hormones to calm down.
      If not, why not?
      Are you aware of reproductive cancer risk in females? If not, please read about it here. Yes

      Housing
      Please describe your bunnies’ current housing set-up (living together, as neighbors, etc.).

      My room isn’t very big, Shadow’s set up is a 3 x 3 x 3, he has enough space to sploot, flop and zoomy / binky. He has one of the little cat hideouts he enjoys laying underneath with a bed on top he’ll jump on if he hears treats. Big litter box next to a big water bowl and select toys he’ll play with. Zelda’s is more or less the same; 2 x 3 x 3 enough for her to binky, zoomy, sploot, and flop, a little cat hideout, medium litter box with small bowls for her size. She grew up with lots of toys but has grown to not be overly interested in them. They’re both set up as neighbors. There’s a small space between their pens so they can’t bite at each other but they don’t aggressively bite at the bars to get at each other’s either. I also got them bunny plushies which I swap and they don’t mind it. 

      Bonding background
      Did you allow the bunnies to “settle-in”? Yes. Shadow immediately took to our new room when we moved after giving him some time to adjust, he liked having more chances to run around compared to old house. Zelda had gotten many chances of interaction to where she would demand I pet her, which helped her get used to her new home.
      How would you describe your bunnies reactions towards each other (answer for each bunny): shy, scared, curious, calm, aggressive, excited, affectionate, etc.? When I first brought Zelda, Shadow wasn’t very happy. He’d thump anytime she came out to explore but eventually got used to it. Zelda overall was pretty curious and grew to being affectionate in her baby years. 
      Have you done any “pre-bonding” (cage or litter box swaps, etc.)? Yes. I’ve been pre-bonding them ever since I moved them side-by-side; I’ve swapped litter boxes, I put them in each other’s pens for a while, they’ll eat next to each other until recently my female hasn’t shown much interest for veggies and I’ve swapped their plushies with their scent and they haven’t shown any aggressive behavior. 
      If so, for how long? 5-6 months.
      Have you started sessions yet? Long-term, no.
      How long have you been working on bonding your bunnies? Just started today.
      How frequently do you have bonding sessions, and how long are they? N/A; their first one was today that I cut short due to fear of them getting into a fight, it didn’t last a minute.
      Have you tried any stressing techniques? No.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      6212 posts Send Private Message

      There is a lot of trial and error in bonding, so don’t worry if you have to try different set-ups etc. Sometimes tunnels and hides help, sometimes they make things worse, it’s a bit of an experimentation process usually.

      Thanks for filling out the template, it’s very helpful!

      It’s great you’ve been swapping litter boxes, etc. If possible, start swapping which bunny is on which side every day or two (keep the dirty litter box from the previous bun there). I’ve noticed fully swapping sides seems to work better than just swapping toys or litter trays.

      Based off how long you’ve been pre-bonding, I think you are ready to start sessions for sure. Sometimes things are just a bit rocky at first and might take some experimenting and a lot of patience. So I would do short sessions for a few days as I mentioned in my first reply and see how that goes.

      If you find that short sessions in the bathroom are still very tense, I would find a space that is slightly  more stressful (such as in a friend’s house, or a pen set up in the garage, etc.). So not the same as a full-on stress session, but just someplace that is a lot more unfamiliar (because the bathroom probably still smells like the same house they live in). The idea is that the bunnies are more concerned with the new location than with each other. When I’ve had a rough time with bonds, a new location has always helped.

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Wolfy
      Participant
      26 posts Send Private Message

      I’ll definitely try to do as many sessions throughout the week as I’m able, starting with another try in the bathroom later today or tomorrow but removing the rug if it’ll help lessen chances of a fight. I was initially planning on taking them to my parents house and try to bond them in the garage within a playpen, they might’ve had too much room to start out with, but I thought to try how they’ll do here.

      Here, they both have rarely been in the bathroom until today. Back at the old house, I’d occasionally let my male be in there with me, I didn’t get my other rabbit till I moved out. I’d also use the back of the living room but might be a little more tricky as we have other animals in the house, including a prey-driven dog who can easily be put in her owners bedroom, but the kitten we have tends to flip out if I leave her in there despite showing not to be really friendly with my rabbits either.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      6212 posts Send Private Message

      That sounds like a good plan, with the garage as a back up.

      I’ve actually had the best luck using really large spaces for bonding (Margo DiMello of the San Diego HRS also recommends large spaces). I love using at least 2 x-pens linked up. It seems like it gives them the ability to interact a bit more naturally without things escalating, as they are able to get away from each other if needed. So don’t fear the large space!

      . . . 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.  


    • Wolfy
      Participant
      26 posts Send Private Message

      I might try that too whenever I get a chance to buy some x-pens. Roughly what were the dimensions you used?


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      6212 posts Send Private Message

      I don’t know off the top of my head, they were just the standard 8-panel x-pens.

      . . . 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.  


    • Buttercup Buns
      Participant
      3 posts Send Private Message

      I kind of understand your feelings.

      I used to have two females that would always fight. They would mount and nip and chase each other. The shy one would always thump usually more than twice and then we’d have to separate them.

      To stop them from fighting so much, we put a plastic panel between the two of them and then they couldn’t nip at each other. We also made a rule that if the shy bunny, Lily, thumps more than four times, then we would separate them.

      We did a bonding session one or two times a day for at least 20 minutes. Honestly, nobody was getting truly hurt. I mean, neither one of the rabbits got a piece of her ear bitten off or fur torn. But I know that’s not the case with your bunnies.

      I recommend doing the plastic panel thing, because it helps a lot. After about two weeks of bonding, our two females just started randomly grooming each other while flopping. Who knows? This might happen to your bunnies, too. You can also try the other techniques I did.

      But don’t worry, it is likely your rabbits will bond at some point. Those are just my suggestions. I hope they’re helpful for you.

       


      • Wolfy
        Participant
        26 posts Send Private Message

        Generally placing it between them when it seems one is going to nip? I’m a little lost following how the panel should be used in bonding sessions, but I’ll keep it in mind once I get a better understanding of it. In this session, there wasn’t really any fighting; Shadow just got annoyed of Zelda when she tried to hump him and I think also nipping him, thinking that he’s trying to tell her he’s the boss, that I got scared they would eventually fight.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      6212 posts Send Private Message

      That sounds like a productive bonding session!

      Nipping and humping are all normal parts of them sorting out dominance. Here’s a quick “cheat” sheet of what to allow. In early sessions, I tend to err on the side of too much intervention until I get a sense of which behaviors are likely to escalate to a full fight.

      OK to allow (unless you know something tends to lead to a fight):

      -mounting (if face mounting, spin the mounter around so they are in the “correct” orientation)

      -light nipping

      -grunting

      -thumping

      -lunging

      -grooming standoffs (them shoving their faces into each other asking for grooms)- it can help to pet them both when these happen, so they think they are being groomed

      -a very brief chase if the space is large enough (like 2-3 seconds is OK)

      Behaviors that should be stopped immediately:

      -face mounting (see above)

      -boxing (here’s where that plastic panel could be useful to separate them, a lot of people like to use a dustpan or clipboard for this)

      -tight circling (also could use the panel here)

      -fast chasing for more than a couple seconds (restrain the chasing bun by pinning them down)

      -hard biting (bonders differ on how much fur pulling they allow. go with your gut and comfort level)

      -fighting (kicking, grabbing on to each other, fur flying, bunny tornado) – obviously work to prevent this but fights can still happen and won’t ruin the bonding as long as you stop them quickly.

      . . . 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.  


      • Wolfy
        Participant
        26 posts Send Private Message

        Basic run down of what they did yesterday:

        – nipping; I generally try to encourage this but Shadow was being a little aggressive with it unless I’m too used to witnessing dogs interact than rabbits. Zelda nipped him on the back of his neck as she was about to hump him, he wasn’t happy with this.

        – not much humping; like above, Zelda tried but Shadow got annoyed and “dug” at her head, unsure what this means.

        – there was a groom stand off from what it sounds.

        – no thumping.

        – mostly lunging on Shadow’s part.

        – no chasing.

         

        Today.

        First I gave both some work for their food. I removed the rug from the bathroom and they both were a little freaked out about it, for the most part, they ignored each other. Zelda stance herself to lunge a few times when Shadow came to sniff but didn’t escalate to anything further. They were both being big babies over the floor that Shadow first came into my lap, and I was comforting him with pets, the same applied when I felt there might be tension growing. Zelda joined but he didn’t care. The only issue was when Shadow tried to shove himself into the spot Zelda claimed herself and it did cause a few small fights, I did my best to try to keep this session going by putting a dust pan between them and petting them when it seemed Shadow was getting needlessly annoyed about Zelda but didn’t escalate. Zelda took her turn on my lap and gave her a snuggle with lots of pets, Shadow didn’t care. There was a point where Zelda shoved herself behind Shadow and he didn’t care but in the end, he threw a fit about her either in the same space or being near him ( unsure if she tried to nip or hump him ). I did eventually end it as it kept happening and he did get two pieces of her fur, I don’t think she’s hurt but I’ll double check. I also tried to end it positively by snuggling them individually ( they don’t get jealous over person, thankfully ) and made them another toy/treat for stimulation while they’re in each other’s pens; Shadow in Zelda’s and Zelda in Shadow’s.


    • Buttercup Buns
      Participant
      3 posts Send Private Message

      Oh okay, perhaps I was misunderstood.

      If they are just nipping and thumping then you probably had the same problem as me. But thank you for keeping the panel thing in mind.


    • Buttercup Buns
      Participant
      3 posts Send Private Message

      I don’t think if they are doing that they are going to start a fight. You will know if they start fighting, trust me. I highly don’t recommend separating them with your hands or pushing them away from each other if they start fighting. It is likely you will get bitten. And it will HURT. Instead, separate them with something, like a plastic panel or a box. The plastic panels help a lot.

       

       


      • Wolfy
        Participant
        26 posts Send Private Message

        Yesterday a towel worked fine separating them when I felt uncomfortable with their interactions. Today I mostly utilized a dust pan because my male kept getting annoyed with my female trying to be in the same spot as him.

Viewing 11 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Forum BONDING Bonding help