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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.

BINKYBUNNY FORUMS

Forum BONDING Bullying to The Point of Distress, When to Give Up?

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    • Rae & Gus + Lily
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      Spay/Neuter

      Are your bunnies spayed/neutered? Yes. 

      If so, for how long (for each)? Numerous months, don’t know exact dates but definitely well past hormones calming down before we even started pre-bonding.

      Housing

      Please describe your bunnies’ current housing set-up (living together, as neighbors, etc.). Currently neighbors in a bedroom, split in half with grids and towels over the barrier to block eye contact.

      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):  Gus was curious and a bit excitable, Lily has been uninterested, bordering on aggressive.

      Have you done any “pre-bonding” (cage or litter box swaps, etc.)? Yes, litter box swaps.

      If so, for how long? About two weeks. 

      Have you started sessions yet? Yes.

      How long have you been working on bonding your bunnies? Around 4ish months. 

      How frequently do you have bonding sessions, and how long are they? We worked our way up from about 5 minutes to eventually around 6 hours, always ending on a good note, always in a neutral territory, slowly expanding the amount of space available and having a session every day.

      Have you tried any stressing techniques? No.

       

      From when we began, they were never too fond of each other but generally worked okay. Lily has always been very uninterested and when pushed by Gus, a bit snappy but nothing like full-blown fights that would worry us. 

      One day, we had a lot of stuff going on, they had been coexisting during bonding sessions that lasted 4-6 hours for weeks at that point and we left them alone together for about 2 hours. They seemed okay, so we jumped the gun and let them free-roam downstairs in our apartment together since we had been working at it for months with no real issues.

      It was still okay. Lily always wanted the kitchen, Gus wanted the living room, and they had their own space. Gus would sometimes wander and say hi but Lily would kinda run away and typically Gus could take the hint. 

      They have snuggled before, laid next to each other, even groomed each other but on very, very rare occasions. We’re talking maybe 5-6 times throughout the entire process. 

      Then, we had to move back in with my parents. 

      Suddenly an entire living room and kitchen became one bedroom that is co-inhabited by both my partner and I. 

      In came food aggression, stealing toys from Gus’ mouth, pushing him out of litter boxes, you name it. 

      They always had two of everything. Two bowls, two boxes, two of the same toy, everything. Lily would drop hers just to steal his and he wouldn’t fight back, he would just kinda sulk and hop away. She would even steal things she doesn’t enjoy, and then lose all interest once he left.

      And recently: stasis. We believe it was caused by unrelated circumstances but Lily definitely did something the night he fell ill because he hid from her. He won’t use the box, eat, drink, or even hang around if he can see her. As soon as he makes eye contact the little guy runs and hides behind a filing cabinet. 

      Lily doesn’t like humans, either. She’s never bonded with us, really only sees us as food givers and will let us pet her but again, isn’t interested unless food is involved. And this is after hours a day, everyday me just hanging out, occasionally feeding treats, that kinda thing. 

      Since his stasis -which he has now pretty much fully overcome thanks to the wonderful moderators here on BB- we have them separated. We got him some new toys and a new bed and I’ve noticed lots of chinning and even some possible territorial poops that he didn’t do before separation or even before bringing a second bunny into the house (at least following his neuter). On the other side, Lily’s box habits have gotten better in the poop department. 

      Before we started treatment Lily seemed to be more mean than ever. Aggressively nudging Gus away from his own food, going over to him and scooting her butt in his face to corner him and eat some of the hay we put out on the ground to entice him (with both boxes filled with fresh hay as well).

       

      Bottom-line, we need to know if this bond can be fixed and is worth the stress on both buns, from the viewpoint of you guys who are much more knowledgeable than us.

      Any advice, opinions or ideas for our situation are greatly appreciated. Ultimately, I just want both buns to be happy and healthy.


    • pinkiemarie
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      It can probably be saved but they’re going to need a break from each other (as much as possible in your close quarters situation) and then prebonding again. Do a LOT of prebonding including switching bunnies into each other’s houses, not just litter boxes. After they have had a break you might also try getting a 2nd separator so there’s a good 6 inches between the bars so they can’t claw and bite and then remove the towels so they have to see each other. They might start communicating with body language and mirroring while they’re still separated.

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Forum BONDING Bullying to The Point of Distress, When to Give Up?