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Forum BONDING Bonding two male rabbits

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    • fluffyandmoose
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      Hi, I am new to this site but I need some advice for bonding my two male rabbits, fluffy and moose. They live in two separate x-pens indoors but during playtime, fluffy often flops besides moose’s cage or sticks his nose through to get moose’s attention. However, when I try putting them together, fluffy nips and chases moose. I have been bonding in neutral territory which is my bathtub with fleece lined on the floor. It has been going fairly well, I let the scuffs happen but there hasn’t been any humping. It is clear that fluffy is dominant, as his personality is very outgoing while moose is more timid. Moose has even submitted to fluffy by putting his head down. Yet the bunnies still don’t get along. During sessions, the rabbits usually start out with a scuff followed by laying down on separate sides of the tub. There is peace for a while as both rabbits are flopped and laying down on opposite sides, they even groom themselves. The peace is then disrupted when a rabbit gets up and usually fluffy is the one who starts the fights and moose sometimes thumps. I plan to keep up these sessions but I need some advice on what else I can do. Any advice is appreciated! Thank you!


    • Wick & Fable
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      Moose putting his head down is not actually a submissive behavior — he is requesting grooms, which is actually a dominance thing. “Groom me.”

      It sounds like more time is needed for them to work out their hierarchy.

      For their xpen set up, do you switch their pens or swap their stuff? More habituation to each other’s scent and being in each other’s space may be helpful. These are classified as pre bonding steps but are still helpful throughout the process.

      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.


    • fluffyandmoose
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      Thank you for your reply! That is very interesting… I did not know that. That actually leads to another question I have about something that happened in today’s session. Both bunnies came into contact with each other, but instead of Fluffy attacking Moose right away, both bunnies just kinda sat their with both of their heads to the ground. It was a good amount of time until fluffy attacked moose. But yes thank you for the advice and I think they might be still working out their dominance. I am not sure why no rabbits have mounted each other to sort out dominance? Btw I have been swapping out their toys and hides. One last thing, fluffy keeps sticking his head through the bars of the pen, requesting grooms… I read before that the rabbit who gets more grooming is usually dominant. Neither rabbits have groomed one another yet through so I’m a bit confused. I guess it will take more time but I was just so sure that fluffy was dominant. Thanks again and sorry for the lengthy responses


    • fluffyandmoose
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      Ah yes and a very important thing that I forgot to mention is that I have a female rabbit, marshmallow as well. She is currently bonded to fluffy and living with him. They have been bonded since they were young, and when I separated them for fluffy to get neutered, moose was bonded with marshmallow. Moose then was neutered and separated from marshmallow (he is a year younger than both of them) and then marshmallow was spayed during that same time. I then re-bonded fluffy and marshmallow, which was easy since they seemed to have never been separated. Marshmallow seems to have stayed neutral and grooms both moose and fluffy. She has had a few play dates with moose and they are pretty much best friends, while maintaining her bond with fluffy. I dont want fluffy to get defensive over the female, so I am bonding moose and fluffy at the moment before introducing marshmallow. That is why I am only focusing on fluffy and moose for now. Sorry it’s a bit confusing


    • Wick & Fable
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      Well they both want to be dominant, so one of them need to give in and groom the other. Head-down stand offs are common. It may take a while, but eventually one may give in. If this doesn’t happen and they both are much too insistent on being dominant, this bond may not work.

      … Having a female rabbit is a very important thing to note. Admittedly (it’s me; not you), I’m not super clear on the timeline and bonding situation, but note that you should not really separate bonded rabbits from each other. It sounds like you’re going for a bonded trio, in which case, you may want to involve marshmallow in the mix since her dynamic needs to be considered. I have no experience in bonding trios so I’ve flagged this topic for other leaders to chime in with their recommendations.

      What I gather is marshmallow and fluffy are a bonded pair and you want to add moose to the mix, so you are currently working on moose and fluffy separately.

      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.


    • DanaNM
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      Hi there, could you fill out the “bonding template” that’s pinned in this section? It would give us a better idea of the timeline of everything and what you’ve tried so far.

      What do you mean by “scuff”? It’s very important to prevent fighting and to break up fights when they occur. A little nipping is OK, but if it turns to fur flying, circling, bunny tornado, you need to stop it (or ideally prevent it).

      . . . 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.  


    • fluffyandmoose
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      Spay/Neuter
      Are your bunnies spayed/neutered?
      Yes

      Housing
      two x-pens, side by side. Marshmallow (female) and Fluffy (male) living together. Moose in a separate x-pen. They have a play area that they both use daily and can see from their cages.

      Bonding background
      Did you allow the bunnies to “settle-in”?
      Yes
      How would you describe your bunnies reactions towards each other (answer for each bunny): shy, scared, curious, calm, aggressive, excited, affectionate, etc.?

      moose (2nd male) is shy, scared, calm and a little bit curious. He tends to go over to fluffy to investigate. He is sometimes a little aggressive but usually only when fluffy provokes him.

      fluffy is aggressive and only affectionate to his bonded female, marshmallow

      marshmallow is affectionate, calm, and excited. She seems to be bonded with both fluffy and moose, but is living with fluffy at the moment. She seems to not have a problem with both rabbits.

      Have you done any “pre-bonding” (cage or litter box swaps, etc.)?
      If so, for how long? Yes, for a while actually but it’s hard to say exactly how long. A good amount of time, probably over 6 months since all three of the rabbits had been fixed
      Have you started sessions yet? Yes
      How long have you been working on bonding your bunnies? Since beginning for June, about a month
      How frequently do you have bonding sessions, and how long are they? I do bonding sessions every few days that are 30 minutes to an hour each
      Have you tried any stressing techniques? Yes. I have tried putting fluffy and moose in a carrier together and sort of walking around or “shaking” them. I have also tried putting them in an unfamiliar, slippery surface. The stress bonding strategies didn’t seem to work for them


      • fluffyandmoose
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        Ok good to note. I’ll break up any of those fights. Moose is scared of fluffy and usually flees before things can get too rough. Fluffy usually then chases him and I break it up or pet fluffy to calm him. Fluffy usually starts to relax and sit down, sometimes next to moose and I pet them both next to each other.


    • fluffyandmoose
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      I can tell they both want to be friends and they actually seem to enjoy each others company, sitting beside each other through the x pen. Marshmallow really complicates things as well, and neither bunny has submitted yet. Fluffy is the dominant one over Marshmallow so I think moose will hopefully submit to him?
      The first session I did was all three of them and marshmallow and moose both placed their heads to the ground next to fluffy. That is why I thought moose had already submitted but it makes sense that that is the problem.


    • DanaNM
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      Thanks for filling out the template, that is helpful! Great names btw 🙂

      So I haven’t successfully bonded a trio, but I tried and gave up LOL. Some people like to work with the hardest pair of the two first, others like to work with the whole group. It’s great that Marshmallow gets along with both rabbits already, so I think focusing on Fluffy and Moose first makes sense. Marshmallow might either make the boys more territorial, or she could be a calming presence, so you could also try adding her back in and working with all three to see if it helps.

      I think my only other advice (aside from what I already said about preventing fights), is to try to do sessions every day if you can. Doing them every few days may not be enough to really move things along.

      You can also try experimenting with the space. Sometimes a larger space works better (I’ve found they have more room to move so fights are less likely to escalate), so if you have a neutral room available, you might try setting up a pen there and seeing how the do.

      Trio bonding can be a lot of work (some other members just finished bonding their trios after over a year)! If you search the forum for trio bonding journals, you will get some more ideas of how things generally go and what to expect.

      . . . 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.  


    • fluffyandmoose
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      Ok thank you for the advice 🙂 I’ll keep that in mind. I’ve been trying to do sessions everyday but some days I just can’t find the time. I’m not sure about adding marshmallow back in though, because in my case I think fluffy was getting defensive over her. When moose comes near them, fluffy would lunge. But I’ll definitely take a look at other trio bonding! Thanks again!


    • fluffyandmoose
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      It really think they can be friends if one rabbit submits to the other. I can do longer bonding sessions now because they don’t really fight most of the time, just kinda keep to themselves on separate ends of the bathtub. I’m not sure if this means I should try a larger or smaller space. If they are ignoring each other, is it better to push them closer (use a smaller area for bonding), leave them be, or use a larger area? Also, is there anyway to encourage one rabbit to submit? Moose was terrified during the first sessions and fluffy was not. I tried using food to help bond them but at first only fluffy ate and moose was too scared to. Now moose will take treats from me but when I put food in a bowl, fluffy won’t let him near it and moose is too scared to try. Randomly though, moose is curious and does to sniff fluffy but fluffy usually gets angry and nips him.


    • DanaNM
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      If they are at the point in the tub where they mostly ignore each other, I would start extending the length of the sessions. Honestly at this point it’s just about patience. If the tub is starting to go well then I would just keep using the tub. 🙂

       

      . . . 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.  


    • fluffyandmoose
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      Update: Progress! Moose was sitting down and fluffy came over to him. Moose put his head down and fluffy didn’t attack. Fluffy proceeded to flop next to moose!!


    • fluffyandmoose
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      Before I read your response i started a session in an x pen in the downstairs of my house. I am currently monitoring them. The pen is a square 2×2 grid x pen and I put a tunnel in it. Fluffy went over to moose who immediately put his head down. Fluffy didn’t attack him and gave moose a single lick and just kinda ran away. Im confused why he did this and if moose was submitting or requesting grooms. I’ll attach an image of what they are doing right now.


    • DanaNM
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      OOh sounds like progress!

       

      . . . 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.  


    • fluffyandmoose
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      Today I added marshmallow (female) to the bonding session. Fluffy and moose were laying together and it was going well so I added marshy to the pen. At first marshy didn’t seem to acknowledge moose and her and fluffy groomed each other. Then marshy groomed moose and they were all getting along. Marshy even lay down between fluffy and moose. I have a photo but It won’t let me upload it. Randomly, marshy nipped moose and started chasing him, which I had to break up. I don’t know why marshmallow is all  of the sudden getting defensive over moose. Please help me. Also moose actually submitted to fluffy the other day, which is why I think fluffy and moose are getting along now. Marshy and moose maybe need to sort out their dominance? I thought fluffy was dominant over marshy though.


    • DanaNM
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      The dominance hierarchy gets shuffled in a trio. It sounds like they just need more time together. Patience is the number once ingredient for bonding. 🙂

      . . . 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 male rabbits