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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 fixing a broken bond

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    • Thara
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        Spay/Neuter:

        Yes, 1 year for one and 3 for the other.

        Housing:

        Neighbors in a divided 16sq ft ex-pen. Used to live together in the same ex-pen.

        Bonding background:

        My bunnies are both male  Toner is a 4 yr old Netherland dwarf, and Hobbes is ( I think ) 4-5 yr old Polish.  Hobbes was my foster fail he was supposed to be with me for a short time and has since ended up finding his forever home with me.  Toner was bought from a breeder (no hate please) at 8 months old I’m his second home he got returned to the breeder not long before I got him.   They got along great from day one, even though Hobbes was (at the time) Temporary and wasn’t fixed.  So soon as I realized he was here forever, I got Hobbes fixed and waited the 8 weeks of healing/hormone time.   Toner even showed signs of being depressed when Hobbes was gone for the day to get fixed.

        I started them out with small short introductions, (Toner was already doing this himself he would seek Hobbes out daily and lay by his pen when he was out, and the same for Hobbes when he was out for individual playtime) So they progressed quickly through the small introductions, exchanging grooming and laying next together following each other around, etc.  So I deodorized the ex-pen and set it up for them to start living together in the full living space. They did the humping and some light nipping and chasing, but within 24 hours they had who was boss sorted (the boss being Hobbes).   This all in all took roughly a week to two weeks.   Since then they have never been separated in any shape or form.

        But 10 months later, I took them to the vet for a check-up and vaccination, they went in the same carrier.  A week later they were fighting ripping out fur, boxing, chasing in tight circles, and going for each other’s bellies and genitals, and tufts of fur were everywhere in their pen.  Hobbes even had Toner held down ripping at him with his back legs before I could intervene.  Thankfully no injuries.  Since then they have had a divider between them and I went back to slow introductions.  But through the barrier, they flop next to each other, play, groom, and otherwise act like a normal bonded pair.  But if I remove the barrier the hostilities start Toner hides in the litterbox and boxes/lunges at Hobbes for going close to him, or they start ripping at each other’s fur and even go at each other with their back legs.  For a while they were fine together anywhere else but the pen, now their aggressive to each other unless something separates them.

        When I do these new intros, I can see behavior that says they’re trying to figure out the hierarchy, but neither will give an inch, both lower their heads for grooming and try to push it under the other and this devolves into fights.  So I’m at a loss on what to do here. Help.  Can they be rebonded?  or am I going for a lost cause?


      • mia
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          In my opinion, unless it’s been hate at first sight, buns can be bonded with time and work. Have they gotten a full vet checkup after their fight? Not just for injuries, but if they have anything else going on.

          My concern here would be that they’ve had horrible fights, not once, but multiple times. Are you actually able to eventually monitor much much more closely? Only if you can, then I would probably start fresh; keep them completely apart for a while before starting again.


          • Thara
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              Yes, they had a full vet checkup twice this year. Blood work, the whole nine yards and I’m $500. poorer and have two very healthy all be it slightly fat bunnies.   And I’m not sure how much closer I can monitor given I’m hovering over them the entire time during these new introductions.  But these two can and do go from a normal expected interaction of social eating both calm relaxed semi stretched out, or grooming each other happily to fur ripping with less than a second of notice.


          • DanaNM
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              Are you working with them in a neutral space, or just removing the barrier between their pens? In any case the bond is fully broken, so you should be working with them in fully-neutral space only for now.

              Since it sounds like the fighting was pretty intense, it may be good to do a longer break with full separation (out of sight and ideally smell of each other for 4 weeks or more), and then start from scratch with pre-bonding and introductions. If that’s not possible, then I would recommend doing their sessions in a completely new, very very neutral, and slightly stressful space. A large pen set up at a friend or relative’s house can be a good test to see if the bond can be repaired.

              Since no bun was seriously hurt (but I agree mia that they should get a check up to be sure there were not hidden injuries), I do think they can be rebonded, but a break might be a good thing to help them forget the fighting a bit.

              . . . 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.  


              • Thara
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                  The intros are done in a fully neutral area, that gets deodorized each time so each time I do an intro the space doesn’t smell like either of them.   I have considered giving them a full break but unfortunately, I have nowhere I can house them where they couldn’t see/hear or smell each other.  the only relatives I have in town are my in-laws and they have a cat, and they’re out of town for at least another month, plus they wouldn’t want a rabbit in their home.  Same with my friends they all have pets of their own that wouldn’t be good for a bunny to be around.  And they have seen the vet to ensure no injuries and no medical issues were causing any underlying issues.  They’re both fully healthy other than needing to lose a few grams of weight.


                • DanaNM
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                    Hmm ok, you could try at least adding a visual barrier between the pens during the break, such as cardboard or a towel pinned up between the pens.

                    If there are any rescues in your area you may also reach out to them, they may let you bring them in and use one of their pens for bonding sessions.

                    . . . 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.  


                  • Thara
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                      I keep a thick fleece pen liner covering the divider to try and give them a visual barrier they go under to see each other.   The nearest is the SPCA and they are not very open to such ideas.  There is a bunny rescue 4 hours away from me as the closest actual rescue.  But there is a lady who helps that rescue out with bunnies in my area, I have reached out to her to see if she was willing to board one of my bunnies for a month and I would pay and provide for all my bunny’s needs during that time. The next option is I’ll ask my vet (my vet owns bunnies herself.).


                  • DanaNM
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                      That’s tough! Maybe an immovable barrier like a piece of plywood would work?

                      If you haven’t done any car rides with them, those can also be really helpful to get past the fighting stage.

                      One other thing you can try in bonding sessions, is when they go into these head wars, pet them both and swap scents so they think the other rabbit is grooming them. Your goal here is to break the cycle of things turning into fights and try to create some good vibes between them again. I would also keep sessions short at this time so you can always try to end on a good note. Eventually when they are less quick to fight you will need to ease off the petting, but that strategy has helped me a lot.

                      . . . 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.  


                      • Thara
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                          that sounds like a good plan.  maybe I’ll also try putting some banana on one to get the grooming started.


                      • DanaNM
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                          yes banana can help! only time it’s backfired for me is when the buns get overly excited around food, so I usually wait to try it until they are calm together.

                          . . . 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.  


                          • Thara
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                              my pair love them. to the point we call bananas “bunny heroin”.  no one in the house can eat one without paying bunny tax and give a little to them. so using them in bonding may have a large amount of success.


                            • DanaNM
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                                One issue I had once was both buns could smell the banana so they were sniffing around so much that the one I wanted to get groomed wouldn’t sit still long enough for the other bun to groom them. So I smeared a little banana on the ground first for that bun to lick and then put the banana on her head for the other bun. 🙂

                                . . . 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 fixing a broken bond