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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS

Forum BONDING First time bunny mom with baby brothers. Bond broke and need help.

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    • Jen W
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        I have brother bunnies that are now 6 months old. I have had them since they were 8 weeks. They have always been together in the same room in side by side pens and switched every day. 5 weeks after nuetering them I started binding. I followed the neutral area small and gradually adding space and time.  It took about two weeks and then 48 hour cementing.  They were moved into a large 5X9 pen and did great for about two weeks and then a fight broke out. I was not in the room but saw in bunny cam and separated them fast. No bad injuries just a scratched ear.  I went back to side by side pens for a week allowing roam time one at a time in the same room as pens. They seemed like they wanted to be together so I started bonding again in neutral pen a week and half later. Bonding went amazing this time. Progressed fast with lots of grooming each other and snuggling together all the time. After a week of this I decided to cement. Almost 48 hours together went great. Then a fight happened right before I moved them in. I was right there so they weren’t hurt. Now we are back to separate pens. I’m so tired and sad. They lay next to each other in separate pens and mirror each other so it seems they want to be together. I would love any and all advice I can get. Thank you


      • DanaNM
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          That’s very stressful, sorry you are going through all that! It sounds like maybe things just progressed a bit too quickly? Can you describe how long the sessions were when you were bonding them, leading up to the 48 hr period? Also what was the space like that you were working with them in? Also, did you happen to see what triggered the most recent fight?

          Since neither bun was injured I do think there is hope for these two, but my main suggestion is to take it really slowly with the bonding. I would also suggest doing the sessions in a wide variety of neutral spaces: different locations, different sizes, and different times of day. Taking the buns to a friend or relatives house for some sessions can work really well for this. This should hopefully make the bond more resilient and stable, and less location-dependent. My suspicion is that they likely need a longer cementing period. The 48 hr clock should reset anytime you move them to a new space. It’s also recommended to have a “semi neutral” space as a transition between the bonding area and the final home to help them sort out any final issues. With my pairs I often leave them in the neutral space for 4-5 days (but I stop supervising so closely after 48hrs) just to make sure things are really solid before I move them. It’s not unheard of to keep buns in the neutral space for 2 weeks, which might not be a bad idea in your case considering the first fight happened 2 weeks in.

          There are sometimes pairs that do really seem to like each other but just can’t form a stable bond. These types of buns can do well with supervised play time together but side-by-side enclosures for unsupervised time. Normally that’s not recommended but in special cases it can work. I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion with yours just yet, but it’s something to keep in mind.

           

          . . . 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.  


        • Jen W
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            Thank you so much for the response. I started in a large Tupperware bin for 30 min. Then next day two hours. They were fine and grooming each other in these sessions. Then I moved to a 2×3 pen in neutral area with just water and hay. Started with two hours they were great. Next day increased to 3 hours they were great. Snuggling and flopping next to each other. Next day increased to 4 hours. Same thing. Next day increased to 3×5 and added litter boxes. All great still no bad signs.  Added a couple toys and went to 6 hours next day. Then the next couple days were the same. So I decided to sleep over and keep them in for two days. All was great till end of the 48 hour. And what happened to cause the fight was one tried to jump the other and it instantly turned to fight. My boys never hump. Literally never. So it was very weird.


            • DanaNM
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                Ah ok! Yes that is a pretty fast timeline and a relatively small space. I think I would aim to do several days or even a couple of weeks of very long sessions before going for the marathon, with maybe some overnights scattered in there. Try to vary the time of day as well.  I would go for a larger space to encourage the type of movements that lead to the fighting (you want them to work through these with your supervision, be sure to prevent the fights). So a space that encourages some movement is good, so they aren’t surprised by the other rabbit zooming by or jumping on them once they are in a large space.

                Then once you are ready for the marathon, I would plan to go longer than 48 hrs once they are doing really well.  And if something happens the clock resets, but don’t end the session if you can help it.  I know of some pairs that took a several days of marathoning to work through their issues, sometimes even having a fight a few days in but then they resolved things and were very happily bonded. You can also plan to keep them together whenever they are supervised but separate when you need to (such as to sleep or go to work) if things go on for longer (so you could marathon on the weekend, but then if you need to separate when you go to work during the week that’s OK, and then return them to the neutral space together in the evenings).

                It does sound like they were close! I think they just need to encounter a wider variety of experiences together to make things really solid between them.

                . . . 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.  


            • Jen W
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                Thank you! How big of space would you recommend for the bonding sessions? I have time. I stay at home. So time is not an issue luckily. Should I start with big space and not do the small? The permanent home I had them in when I thought they were bonded was about 9.5 feet by 4.5 feet. That’s where they stayed unsupervised and I let them out together for roaming in that whole room.  I am running out  of neutral space, so I am cleaning and cleaning with vinegar. They don’t seem territorial to me though. Never have. I feel like it’s hard to tell who is dominant since they both request grooming and both groom each other. Also how long should I wait to try binding them again. I want this to work for them. They act like they want to be together in their separate pens.


                • DanaNM
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                    I’ve had really good luck bonding in larger spaces (like 2 x-pens linked up). Since you’ve already tried smaller spaces I think it’s worth a shot to just try the larger space from the get go. But a space the size of an x-pen can work too. I have also routinely taken buns for sleep overs at friend’s houses when I’ve run out of neutral space 😆

                    I do think they are nearly there and it’s great they are still behaving so positively towards each other. I often have a hard time telling who is dominant in bonded pairs, and I think half the time the buns don’t know either, so I usually don’t worry about it. 🙂

                    I think you can start again as soon as you are ready. It doesn’t sound like the fighting was bad enough to warrant a full break  or anything.

                    . . . 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.  


                • Jen W
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                    Ok thank you for all your advice. I will try all of it this time.  I’ll let you know how it goes. I appreciate you


                  • DanaNM
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                      Keep us posted!

                      . . . 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.  


                    • Jen W
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                        I have done two bonding sessions so far since we chatted in here. I took them to my mom’s house in a large bathroom. First day was a few tiffs and mostly ignoring from opposite ends and sniffing noses a couple times. Ended on positive after about three hours. Came back today. No tiffs so far but def seeing some new maybe territorial behavior. One give a little lunge to the other and he will run off. But they are sitting a bit closer today and have done nose to nose a few times. Should I just keep doing this here and extending the time till they show more positives then move to a new space? This bathroom is very large and I have food and litter boxes and water in here. I will try to attach a video.


                      • Jen W
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                          The space I have them in in the bathroom is  a little bigger than 6×8. They are not interacting much, but not fighting. Hopefully they will start accepting each other again. This morning I let them out of their separated pens one at a time for exercise  and they groomed through the pen so I was hopeful it would happen during this session.


                        • DanaNM
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                            That sounds like a good session to me! It may actually be a positive thing that you are seeing slightly more territorial behavior, because it could mean they are actually sorting through things better. Not interacting constantly is OK and normal.

                            I have noticed litter boxes can cause some territorial disputes so I usually don’t add them until they are doing really well together for prolonged periods (I use pee pads  for longer sessions and nothing for shorter ones).

                            When I have a space that works I stick with it as long as possible, so I think it would be fine to do sessions at your mom’s house as long as it’s working out ok!

                            . . . 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.  


                          • Jen W
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                              I cannot tell you how much relief it gives me to just have this communication. So grateful.  Should I just keep them in the space each day as long as I have time for? Or is too much time too fast a bad idea? My plan was to stay here till they are back to grooming and doing great for long times and then move bonding sessions back home to another nuetral area and do this same thing. Then when I feel they are pretty solid move them to where I was bonding them last time around but in a bigger space and maybe do over nights for 3 or 4 days till I move back to permanent home. Also was wondering if/when  8 should add hideouts.

                              as for the litter boxes… so far no territorial stuff and they are both using both. I’m afraid to take out because one will not go at all outside of the box. It’s weird he gets stressed too. Thoughts?


                            • Wick & Fable
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                                RE: length of sessions, there is no exact “science”, nor right or wrong way; however, you want to keep both rabbits safe. At the minimum, they should only be together for a session as long as you’re readily available to intervene if something were to go wrong. Additionally, it’s always preferred to end a session on a positive note (i.e., them ignoring each other, grooming each other…) than a bad note (i.e., fighting, lunging, forced separation from a bunny tornado…). Personally, I prefer progressively longer sessions, as the longer they’re together, the more it is naturally testing/developing their relationship and hierarchy, which is needed.

                                If the litterbox is not becoming a place of contention, I would not worry too much about it. If it does, feel free to remove it. Assuming all else is healthy and fine outside a bonding session, a couple hours of not pooping/peeing due to not having a box is not too detrimental to health, as the rabbit will likely resume to do so once you return him to his original 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.


                              • DanaNM
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                                  I agree with Wick&Fable!

                                  And I think your plan sounds pretty good. I think once they are doing pretty well it’s good to keep doing the longest sessions you can. Only time I would shorten is if you see things get more tense during the date. If they are more tense at the beginning and then relax, that’s a sign you can increase session length.

                                  You can experiment with adding hides/tunnels/obstacles now if  you’d like. Just be sure they all have at least 2 exits and are new (carboard boxes are good for this). If you notice they lead to issues you can remove them and try again later. Same with the litter boxes. If they are sharing them without issues then you can keep them in. I also have a girl that hates peeing outside the box, but during bonding I just put a pile of hay on top of a pee pad and she eventually did use that area.

                                   

                                  . . . 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.  


                                • Jen W
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                                    Just wanted to give an update. On day 4 of bonding sessions in this bathroom at my mom’s. Sessions have been 4-5 hours long. Making progress each day. Today the one that has been really asking for grooming finally got his request honored:) and he has given some grooming back. Planning 6 hours today:)  thank you for all the great advice. Hopefully this progress all continues. Also, when I take them home to there side by side pens in the evening I give them their individual roam time and they groomed through the pen a tiny bit last night:).


                                  • Jen W
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                                      I am almost 4 hours into a bonding session that has been amazing both snuggling and grooming now. However a decoration fell and landed in one of the buns and he ran to the corner his brother was in and the water bowl flipped and soaked both of them and the ran and got in a scuffle. I stopped it and pet them together for a min and then one ran to the opposite side and the are now grooming themself after getting soaked on opposite sides. Should I keep the session going? No injuries just some fir pulled:(


                                      • Wick & Fable
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                                          If neither are in need of immediate attention (i.e., soaked that you need to dry them well w/ a towel), I’d keep the session going a bit so it doesn’t end w/ a stressful encounter association.

                                          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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                                            If no bun is injured then keep going! Those types of little issues are actually important to find because buns can get spooked in normal life, and in a bonded pair they should run to each other for comfort and not have it start a fight. It does sound like you are making progress so keep up the good work!

                                            . . . 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.  


                                        • Jen W
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                                            Thank you! I did keep them in for another two hours that day and they did fine. Just needed space to cool off and then they went back to loving. Today I did 6 hours again and they did great. I am planning to add hide boxes that have two entries. They are brand new and I was wondering if I put them in and all goes well, can I use the boxes in their permanent home when I get to that point? I feel like I keep getting everything new and throwing out and I’d rather not if I don’t have to.  Also, I plan on doing at least 8 hours tomorrow with them. If all goes well should I move them to different  nuetral spot in my mom’s house for long sessions for another 4-5 days before we move to semi nuetral at my home? Or should I keep them in this same space in my mom’s bathroom untill they are ready for sleep overs and then move them to semi nuetral at my house? Hope that made sense. Sorry for all the questions. I really want to try and get this right. I wasn’t sure if I should be moving to different areas to mix it up and if that makes the bond even stronger? I have the time and space so I can do whatever is necessary


                                          • Jen W
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                                              I think I may have deleted my thread I had going in here. I am hoping my post from last night still shows. In case not, the short is I am now on my 6th day of bonding my 6 month brother bunnies. This is my third attempt to bind them after they got neutered. Sounds like I maybe didn’t see a solid bond yet like I thought before and it was too soon. Anyway, I have taken all the suggestion from here and it’s going really well. Today I have 8-9 hours to keep them together so n the same 6 ft by 8 ft space in a bathroom. If today goes well I was planning to move to a diff room in my mom’s house and set up two attached xpens just to mix up things. I was planning to put two new  grass  hide boxes in once they are doing this great in the new area. If I use these boxes in bonding session can I put them in the permanent home when I move them together?  They have literally been together or side by side since birth, so I wasn’t sure if that could mess things up since they are very used to each others smell. I hate buying two of everything and throwing out all the time when I bond.  Also just wanted to be sure moving them to another nuetral area is a good idea to strengthen the bond more or should I keep them in this big bathroom till marathon time?


                                            • Jen W
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                                                Update on my boys. Today is day 7 of bonding in this large bathroom.  We are up to 8 hours together.  Both grooming and snuggling each other.  Not as much chasing going on.  Really not any aggressive behaviors.   Binking and crazies don’t seem to set either of them off. I plan to move them to another neutral area tomorrow but in a pen that will allow even more space to move around.  If things continue well  I plan to add the hideouts and as long as we keep progressing I will keep them there for long 8-10 hour days before I set up semi neutral back at home to do the marathon sleepovers.  Just wanted to make sure this all sounds ok.  When I move them back into permanent home I will spray and clean everything with vinegar again and rearrange a little. Can I put the brand new hideouts in there new permanent home even if I use them during these final stages of bonding?  And can I put other things in they used before as long as I spray clean and wash? Like tunnels, bunny cot and  stuff?


                                              • DanaNM
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                                                  Everything sounds like it’s going really well! That’s a great sign that the binkies and zoomies aren’t causing issues.

                                                  To answer your questions about hides, etc,  yes you can use anything they’ve had with them in the bonding sessions in their final home. Brand new is fine too. As for stuff they’ve used before, I like to gradually add things back in, and try to make their final home as neutral as possible, especially for the first few days. So you might start with the temporary box tunnels from the bonding session and new chew toys, but then after a few days you can start gradually adding back in their old stuff.

                                                  . . . 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.  


                                                • Jen W
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                                                    Thank you! You have really helped nerves this time around. Today they did 8 hours in the bathroom no issues still so I moved to new neutral area in her house that’s bigger in two attached pens. They were in there for an hour and half and did great. So starting tomorrow on I will do several long 8 plus hour days in there to make sure they are good and then I will switch to my house in the semi neutral area to marathon. Hopefully all keeps going this well. I can tell who is dominant this time better too.  Your info helped me with that too. I was looking at grooming as the sign but mine both groom a lot and the one that I’m pretty sure is dominant grooms the most.


                                                  • Jen W
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                                                      Boys are doing great in the new neutral area with hide boxes and all today.  They seem to be extra crazy binking all over with more space now. Is it normal/OK for them to bink right into each other and run into each other? It worries me sometimes how hard they run into each other like they are clumsy.


                                                    • Jen W
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                                                        Update. My boys have been doing really long bonding sessions in the second neutral pen at my moms for two days now. 8 hours one day and 9 the other. No tiffs. Today there was some grooming, eating together, playing with a toy together and litterbox together,  but mostly relaxing today in hide boxes. Sometimes separate and sometimes squeezed together in one.  Kinda boring day, which I hope is good. Tomorrow I plan to do one more long session at my moms and then move to my house in the semi neutral area in the evening and keep them together over night as long as things go smooth for 3-4 days. Do you think this is too fast? I can continue at my moms, it’s just getting hard for me and my fam to be gone for so long every day. So to sum up it’s been 10 days total of redo bonding sessions. Of those 10 days 7 of them have been longer than 6 hours and no issues other than some slight chasing I’m not even sure if I would call it chasing.


                                                      • Jen W
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                                                          Ok new update… ugh…..

                                                          the boys were about two hours in today and I went to the bathroom and hear a scuffle and came running in to a chasing mess and some fur. I stopped them and they ran to their boxes and are still in them. Should I keep the session going and let them stay in them hide boxes till they settle or end?  I’m so bummed. I know I have read set backs happen but this stinks cuz it was going well and I did not see what provoked it. Prior to the chase the ate together and were grooming and snuggling in a hide box together


                                                        • Jen W
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                                                            I have kept the session going. They have come out and are nibbling some food i sprinkled in the middle.  Hoping this is just something they need to work through


                                                          • Jen W
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                                                              Little one is Oscar and bigger is Oliver. Oliver is the one that is claiming dominance. Since they came out to eat Oliver started to chase Oscar a little and he ran off and thumped and Oliver left him alone after that.  Will keep today going with 100 percent supervision now. I’m guessing it’s good they are moving around and eating, Oscar is just a little hesitant now with Oliver.


                                                            • Susanne
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                                                                Hello! I’m not an expert at all, but I would keep them together and try to not end on a bad note. Maybe something spooked them and you can get back to where you were and decide from there if you want to continue with your plan?

                                                                Also I feel your pain. Very disappointing especially after so many hours of doing well.


                                                              • Jen W
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                                                                  Thank you! I sure appreciate the responses and this forum. It really helps ease my mind. I did keep the boys together and they keep coming out of boxes to eat together. Oscar is a bit timid and runs if Oliver comes up requesting grooming.  They seem to be working it out. Oscar just went up to Oliver slowly sniffing noses and then Oliver groomed him briefly. So I guess these are good signs of working it out and I just need to be patient. Thank you


                                                                • Jen W
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                                                                    Thank you. I kept them in and they have come out of boxes to eat more and Oliver keeps going up to nose Oscar and he just runs off now. Just a min ago Oscar did slowly approach Oliver (who I believe is claiming dominance) and Oliver groomed his nose a few times. So I think they are making up. Thank goodness. I sure appreciate the responses and having people to talk to! Thank you


                                                                  • Jen W
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                                                                      my boys seem to be spending more time in the hide boxes yesterday and todays session so far. Most alone in each box but sometimes together. Should I remove them so they interact more. The come out to eat and potty and that’s about it


                                                                    • Susanne
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                                                                        That’s a tough call. On one hand you don’t want to stress them too much, but on the other they may need some encouragement. You can always try to take out the boxes for a bit and try and put them together and pet them for a while to help. If they act stressed after a while give the hides back?

                                                                        I’m struggling with 2 right now as well so I also think sometimes they need a little space after a scuffle. But they also might need you to help them make up. It’s a lot of trial and error.


                                                                      • DanaNM
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                                                                          Sorry just catching up on things, was traveling for work! Bummer about the scuffle but trying to work through it was the right move. I think when there’s a scuffle it can help to take a step back, so removing hides might help, especially if they are avoiding each other a lot. I think Susanne’s suggestion to remove them for part of the day to see what happens is a good one.

                                                                          . . . 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.  


                                                                        • Jen W
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                                                                            thank you!! I was not getting a good feeling about how they were acting in this new space.  Today was the third long day in it and I felt like we weren’t progressing at all. So I have kept them together I just moved to a space at my home that they haven’t been in. They have been almost back to themselves since I did. Some grooming and laying in the same box together tight lol. And some flopping again.   They have not been apart since 6am today so I may just keep this going through the night and see how it goes. Or at least late through the night.  I’ll keep posting updates in case other people see this and it helps. Susanne good luck with your pair. This is soooo stressful. 


                                                                          • Jen W
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                                                                              I don’t want to get too excited but my boys and I had our first 24 hour stretch this time around.  It went great. No issues at all and I even slept some.  Snuggling, flopping, lots of mutual grooming, eating, playing with toys, sharing litterbox, eating, playing with the same toy together. I fell asleep shortly and woke up and thought they jumped out and escaped, but they were squished together asleep in one of the hide boxes:).   I am planning to stay in the space two more days with out taking them back to side by side pens. I will fully clean that space AGAIN and change it up a little and move them in if we have no issues in the next two days.  I know I asked before about toys they have during bonding moving in with them, but can I move the blanket they have in with them too or should I wash it?


                                                                            • Jen W
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                                                                                Update… boys have been together a full 48 hours and things have been great.  No issues that I can see.  I think I am still goi g to do one more night because I am so nervous. The two things I want to ask and be sure about before move in….

                                                                                Will they always nudge before grooming? Or do they just start grooming without laying head under chin?

                                                                                last night at the tail end of zoomies which were crazy… the don male looked like he ran up to his brother and he ran off. No nipping and it def was not aggressive. Then they went and flopped in a corner together. Was this chasing? Or is this just left over hyper and one ran off cuz it was annoying? I know this may sound way to sensitive but I am that nervous for this to not work again. They seem soooooo comfortable with each other now. And it feels right I just want to be as sure as I can about behavior. Thank you


                                                                              • Susanne
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                                                                                  I’m glad they are doing so great!   Any precautions don’t hurt, better to be as safe as possible. Mine seem to nudge each other a lot/ put their head down before grooming but not always. Sometimes spontaneous like a greeting or just back and forth when they are laying together. Sounds like the running away after zoomies was residual playing, or just being done! If annoyed I think you’d see a tail wag, foot flick or something. (My bonded boy gets annoyed often and I see the tail wag) lol. Good luck with the final stretch!


                                                                                • Jen W
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                                                                                    Thank you:)


                                                                                  • DanaNM
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                                                                                      It sounds like they are doing great! Good job!

                                                                                      My often do the “head wars” with the nudging that sometimes leads to grooming, sometimes cuddling, sometimes they just part ways. As long as it doesn’t lead to a scuffle it’s nothing to worry about 🙂

                                                                                      . . . 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.  


                                                                                    • Jen W
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                                                                                        Well the boys forced me to move them into their final home bright and early by jumping out of the Xpen I bonded them in. Kinda funny, but not how I expected to wake. I just went ahead and moved them into the final home then. They seem so happy to be in a bigger space. Explored and zoomed for almost two hours now snuggled next to each other. Hope this continues. Just want to say thank you for all the help and reassurance along the way. Huge difference it made! Thank you


                                                                                      • DanaNM
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                                                                                          hahah! Sometimes they make the decision for us! That’s great it went well!

                                                                                          And you’re welcome! Fingers crossed it sticks this time!

                                                                                          . . . 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 First time bunny mom with baby brothers. Bond broke and need help.