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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.

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Forum BONDING Bonding two female rabbits – no progress or a stalemate

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    • CinnabunnLeo
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        Hi everyone,

        I hope everyone is doing well and thanks in advance for answering my queries. I have two female rabbits-Cinnabun (Holland dwarf) and Leo (Holland Lop). Cinnabun is Eight months old and Leo is 1.3 years old. Both are spayed female rabbits around 2 months back and are well settled in the house in two different rooms. Cinnabun had a brother Oreo who passed away recently around 2 months ago. And then I decided to get a rabbit for keeping Cinnabun company. Unfortunately, I got a female rabbit thinking it was a male. But Leo is a very calm bunny so I decided to take my chance.

        After 2 months of Leo spaying, I started with the gradual pre bonding process with changing their food trays, water bowls and stuffed toys. There was no aggression or disliking seen in two rabbits. So I decided to do another pre bonding for 3 days with fences in between in a neutral space and no aggression seen either.

        Then this Sunday evening I decided to start the bonding process. I took them for a car ride for 15 minutes and put them in a 2*2 area with exercise pen/fences.

        To my surprise, Leo got relaxed around Cinnabun and started grooming Cinnabun within the first 3 hours into bonding. At the 5 th hour, Cinnabun groomed back Leo. In the night, they even flopped around each other and were even grooming themselves. I left them to be along with each other for the entire night and then the morning next day. They also shared some greens and food in the morning together with no aggression or issues. Also during this 24 hours, I saw Leo grooming Cinnabun only once/twice although from the looks of it she seems to be the shy and skittish rabbit.

        Around the 2nd day afternoon, I increased the space to 2*4 and I think that’s where the issue started. Cinnabun started associating one corner of the pen as hers and started grunting if Leo comes near her. Although regular grooming was to be seen from Cinnabun grooming Leo forehead and ears, she still was reluctant and started circling (nose to tail) Leo in the late afternoon. So on the 2nd night , I cut down the space back to 2*2 and then kept them on top of the washing machine for another 15 minutes. In the first two hours no issues seen but Cinnabun again started circling (nose to tail) Leo when she sniffed the side of Leo while when they are head to head, Cinnabun agress to pet Leo when asked for it.

        Again, I took a step back, and put them in the exercise pen with fences in between so they can interact and see each other but not get in touch with each other. I let both of them in for 6-7 hours and then swapped both again for another 6 hours with no issues seen. They shared the food too in these times facing each other.

        Yesterday in the night, I decided to put them each together in a 2*2 exercise pen and started the bonding process again. As expected, for the first 30 minutes both were not pleased. And right after that, Cinnabun started grooming Leo continuously. Then after few hours into the night, Cinnabun started circling (nose to tail) Leo. Although, occasional grooming was a part of it between those circling cycles.

        But I feel like it’s going into a circle and I am not able to go past the circling/chasing even within that small space. Should I let them continue the chasing and figure out three hierarchy or should I take a step back again.


      • DanaNM
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          It sounds like it’s going ok, but maybe you just moved a bit too fast? With only a few days of pre-bonding and a few days of sessions they really haven’t had much time.

          I think I would go back to following the method you used on the first date, and rather than marathoning, break up the sessions into shorter chunks for now. So start with a car ride as you did, and then place them in the neutral area as you found that worked well for them. You could do the small space, but I’ve found that using really big spaces (like 2 xpens if you can) helps a lot to prevent circling as they can actually move away from each other (in a tiny space it’s almost impossible for them not to circle as they have no where to go). Starting in large spaces can also prevent the issues popping up when you increase the space size. In larger spaces it’s also safer to allow a bit of chasing (no more than 3 seconds), which I do thnk can help with them figuring out the hierarchy, but in small spaces it can escalate too quickly to allow any chasing. Aim for an hour or two. End the date on a positive note, and then repeat that type of date for a few days at least. When that is consistently going well, increase your session time. When they are doing well in 4-6 hour chunks, then you could switch back to marathoning.

          . . . 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.  


        • CinnabunnLeo
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            Thank you for responding to my thread. I think you are right! So I did keep them adjacent in an exercise pen with a bit of an area to roam around for both. They are doing okay now.

             

            I am also wondering to figure out who is the dominant one.

            Cinnabun is always the one who is grooming Leo but she is ask also the one chasing Leo. I have seen Leo grooming back only once. From the looks of it Cinnabun’s tail go 45° right before chasing starts and it could indicate her being the dominant whereas Leo is the one puts her head down asking for grooming and Cinnabun gives grooming regularly too.

             

             

             


            • DanaNM
              Moderator
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                It can be really hard to tell who is dominant sometimes! I think honestly sometimes they both think they are 😆

                Does it seem like Cinnabun’s grooming precedes a mounting attempt? That happens a lot. Or does Cinnabun then ask for grooms that are not given, leading to a chase?

                I usually try not to worry too much about who will be dominant because sometimes it can actually set you back if you are sort of subconsciously expecting one bun to behave a certain way, and instead just focus on preventing the things from escalating to fights.

                You could try a bit of banana on Cinnabun’s head to encourage Leo to groom her back, but I’ve found that helps the most when you get to the point where the buns are really calm around each other but are maybe too shy to initiate grooming. It is common in pairs though for grooming to be lop-sided (no pun intended haha), where one bun is doing a lot more grooming than the other.

                . . . 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 two female rabbits – no progress or a stalemate