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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS

Forum BONDING Happy but not bonded?

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    • Mp
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      Hi

      I have been reading the forums intently and would love some advice please.

      We recently (8 weeks ago) rescued 2 male bunnies from separate shelters.  (neutered at the shelter.)  Both were in need of a home and one had a rough start being rescued from a very bad hoarding situation. This bunny was terrified of everything and everyone – despite being told he was a good match for the confident happy other bunny.

      we did weeks of pre-bonding, they have x-pens next to each other and I switch them in their pens daily.
      We have not done any stress bonding- but started in a small space in bathroom and have moved to a large X pen in a neutral space and generally someone is in with them.

      There has been no mounting, a tiny bit of chasing and nipping but minimal.  They eat and drink at the same time and sleep but not snuggled and often near or opposite ends.
      There has been some grooming, but not a lot. They both flop (not together) but near and some Binkying.  They are able to be together for 6 hours at a time and then I put them back into their pens. The reason I do this is because I am trying to take it slowly as the one bunny is still very skittish and will run away often when the other bunny goes near even if harmless. I definitely wouldn’t leave them unsupervised and am nervous if they will ever be able.  I may be intercepting too quickly and not letting them figure it all out but I am nervous about them fighting.

      The reason I really need some advice is because whenever the dominant bunny lowers his head (very low) to be groomed – the shy bunny is completely flat on the ground- and will not move until they leave.  This is proving to be an issue! The dominant bunny keeps trying to shove his head under but can’t.
      I pet them both when this happens- the dominant bunny more- but advice would be wonderful.  On the past 4 occasions (twice when the dominant was flopped) the submissive bunny groomed him foe several minutes (round the eye In particular )

      After he had finished the dominant one chased him off! I am very confused.

      The phot below started as a stand off and then the dominant bunny (white and grey) fell asleep like this lying on the the submissive (black) but he is not asleep.


    • DanaNM
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      Grooming stand offs are normal! And the behavior you describe sounds very normal in a pair that is very close to being bonded. They sound like they mostly trust each other but are just finalizing a few things. 🙂

      I would try to ease off petting them when these requests happen and see what happens. In bonded pairs, not every grooming request will be met, you just don’t want it to lead to a fight or any aggression. Often my buns will ask each other for grooms, and if it isn’t met they just go about their business or will lay down and cuddle.

      It doesn’t sound like you have had serious fighting, so I would try to let them interact with a little less intervention from you. Running away is actually an important part of the process, because it shows the other bun that the one running isn’t going to challenge him.

      If things go well with less petting, I would do some longer sessions (8-10 hours) or even an overnight and see how it goes. Sometimes it takes the longer sessions to push them over the final hump.

      Your pair sounds a lot like my most recent pair, with one very outgoing bun, one very shy bun (Bonnie). They never fought at all, but Bonnie was pretty skittish. In the beginning of their bond they would lay near each other and share food and litter box without issue, but there wasn’t a ton of grooming. But now after a few months of being deemed “bonded” they are suddenly grooming more and more and cuddling a lot more.

      Also, your “submissive” bun may not be as submissive as you think! Pinning his head down when the other asks for grooms is definitely a power move. 😉 I’m pretty convinced that both bunnies often think they are dominant in bonded pairs LOL

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Hi

      Thank you so much for responding. 💕

      There have been several stand offs where my daughters  (whose bunnies they are ) will watch and it usually involves the dominant bunny hopping off or falling asleep as in the picture. (Or the submissive will dart off at any slight movement.)

      I know I am more anxious watching them – we take it in turns to watch them during these longer sessions. I am planning to have some overnight sessions soon- but want to be sure they are ready so I don’t stress or agitate them.

      I really hope they become good friends. We do not have the space for them to be separate indefinitely.
      They definitely flop and binky a lot when in the x pen – just not together 😊


    • DanaNM
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      To me it sounds like they are ready for longer sessions, but it doesn’t hurt to be extra sure. You could always try some long sessions during the day first. 🙂 I think longer sessions during the daytime (when the buns are sleepy) will help your timid bun feel more confident and comfortable with your more bold bun. Remember that our buns do pick up on our emotions, so try to stay as calm and relaxed as possible, and try not to project what you think each bun should do onto them. They communicate in ways we can’t always pick up, and any time they spend together that isn’t fighting makes progress towards the bond forming.

      It’s OK to give them a little nudge when they get to this point! Bonding in itself is stressful, but it sounds like they are handling it well and you are doing a great job with them.

      Honestly from what you describe they sound like they are very close to bonded. Some pairs get closer and closer over time, and that’s OK. :p

      Here is a little list of things I usually use to gauge whether buns are bonded. You should see most of the positive behaviors, and no negative behaviors in a fully bonded pair.

      Positive behaviors you should see (it’s not only about grooming!):

      -sharing food (bonded buns will even steal food from each other’s mouths!)

      -sharing the litter box without incident (meaning one bun doesn’t claim or guard the box)

      -cuddling sometimes (doesn’t have to be 24/7 , but at least sometimes)

      -some grooming (again, doesn’t have to be a lot, but at least some. and grooming requests don’t lead to fights if unmet).

      -A generally high level of comfort with the other bun. Bonded bunnies often will get all up in each other’s “personal space” without issue. I think this is prob the area your two still need a bit more work on? In my experience, once this happens, the buns will just seem to “click” suddenly, and you will have the realization “Oh, NOW they are bonded!”

       

      Negative behaviors that indicate they aren’t bonded yet:

      -lunging, grunting, or boxing

      -fast chasing (with ears back, tail up)

      -tight circling

      -hard biting or fur pulling

      -fights or disputes over hiding spots, litter box, toys.

      – One bunny fearful of the other, or being bullied by the other. By this I mean one bun is nearly always avoiding the other.

       

      Some neutral or more complicated behaviors that can occur in bonded pairs sometimes:

      -Mounting: mounting occurs in some bonded pairs, so as long as it’s not leading to fights, it’s fine!

      -Food aggression. This is a tricky one. Many members (and myself) have had a bun that gets overly excited at the prospect of food and will chase their partner, but once the food is down they eat happily together. as long as they share food once the food is actually down, and they aren’t actually fighting when they get excited about food

      -Slow chasing with ears forward: this is often a mounting attempt or more playful. If it doesn’t lead to any of the “negative behaviors”, it’s not usually a problem.

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Thank you so much.

      We will try the longer sessions and I will update.
      In the separated X Pens, the timid bunny has a cardboard hidey hole which he uses a lot.
      we don’t use it in the bonding sessions because he hides, and because I didn’t want to have any situation where he was cornered. (Although there are two exits) Also the dominant bunny is an excellent jumper and uses it to try and escape the pen!
      We also have not introduced the litter box -similar to the large cat tray they have in their pens.  Instead I have used a very large plastic tray with bedding and hay with more that enough room for two, so this is something I will have to introduce later. I am planning on buying a large higher sided one – as my dominant bunny likes to hang his butt over the edge to pee!
      Our dominant bunny is very very excited about food especially veggies and treats. It is for this reason I have not introduced pellets as I am worried he will eat them all once they are hopefully living together. The submissive bunny is not as interested in veggies and fruit and will munch on hay even when other options are available.  (Both on own and during sessions)

      Thank you so much for your response.

      This process has been long and although I am being cautious not to rush it – I really hope they get over this last hump soon and can move in to their new home together. 💜🐰


    • DanaNM
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      Sounds like a good plan! I usually don’t introduce litter boxes until I get into the really long sessions anyway (and I use a huge low sided one), so what you’ve been doing is on par with what I do. 🙂

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Hi

      in response to the power play- do you think the submissive rabbit is deliberately lowering head in response to being groomed as a way to try to be dominant? He lies absolutely flat the the ground and freezes. If the other bun backs away he relaxes like a loaf and reverts to flat if he tries to lower head for a groom again?

      the submissive will go over and groom the bunny we feel is more dominant – but only when he is flopped and asleep and that can sometimes startle him.
      Milo (submissive) also used to lie like that if the other rabbit came near or would just dart away.

      My worry is as the timid rabbit becomes more confident he may wish to be dominant and my other bunny won’t like that at all! ☺️


    • DanaNM
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      I think that the Milo pinning his head to the ground is a more dominant behavior, or at least not “submitting”. It could be that he doesn’t trust the other bun enough yet, so is afraid to groom. Grooming is a very vulnerable position for the grooming bun (neck exposed to the other bun), which could explain why Milo is willing to groom the other bun (name??) when he’s relaxing.

      It sounds like they are getting there! They just need to build a bit more trust!

      There can be some reshuffling of dominance as the bond develops, so it’s good to take things slow. 🙂

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Hi

      Thank you so much for your response.

      I agree – i think it may be – not necessarily a dominant behavior but definitely Milo seems as though he is not willing to be submissive! (Which is strange as he is so skittish around Louie )

      Today the bunnies spent 7 hours together – with no issues apart from one stand off nose to nose that led to Louie (presumed dominant) chasing briefly. They both flopped and binkied – although usually away from each other.
      No issues with drinking and eating – they do this very close almost nose to nose.
      milo groomed Louie when flopped again and Louie will go over to Milo when he is stretched out and flip next to him- but Milo seems too apprehensive still around Louie.

      I am unable to give them the 24/7 time and dedication for the next two weeks and so I was hoping that doing the long sessions in the day and putting them back to their parallel pens at night isn’t doing any harm to their bonding progress.
      when we start each day they just act as if they have been together the whole time – but they do not snuggle or act bonded- (yet! 🤞😉)

      hopefully they can continue to cement the bond over the next few weeks.

      (the only brief chase they had was the one time I was watching them on my own- so do you think that my anxiety could be an issue – they usually only have them when I am there alone. )

       

      thank you again for your responses- they made me feel I was making progress which helped me feel more positive about the process.

       

       


    • DanaNM
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      That all sounds very positive! I think it is perfectly fine to keep doing longer sessions when you can, and separating them at night. As long as they are consistently spending time together each day you will make progress (or at least not backtrack). Sometimes it seems like nothing is happening, but they are just slowly building up the trust. 🙂

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Hi

      We put the bunnies together today and Louie (dominant – we think) keeps going up to Milo and nipping him on the butt. This has happened several times in last hour which is unusual. Milo is a little on edge now. What could have changed? Milo is pretty much completely flat to the ground now again whenever Louie is near.

      They are still eating together, louie just seems to be in a bit of a mood today- (lively and less passive -not grumpy)

      This hasn’t really happened in the last month of sessions I am not sure why today 😩


    • DanaNM
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      There can be some ups and downs. As long as it isn’t escalating then some nipping is OK. Rabbits nip each other to communicate, light nipping even happens in bonded pairs.

      Just keep on monitoring! Sometimes changing up the location (to a new neutral spot) can also help when you get in a rut.

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Hi

      we just had another good long session- we tend to do the day time because that is when we have the time to be with them – but hoping to do a longer one – in to evening tomorrow.
      Today I was so amused by Louie’s behaviour. He zoomed and jumped and span and flipped all over the pen for about 5 minutes- I have seen them both binky before but nothing like this. At one point I was worried if he was ok! He flops constantly and will just go up and flip on top of Milo and just seems happy. Milo also seems happy – although still skittish he has started to go up to Louie cautiously and likes to put his nose near his tummy or butt. Is this normal? Louie doesn’t react but we are very cautious about this – steering him away or ready to intercept in case it leads to a scuffle but it doesn’t seem aggressive more curious.

      Louie is constantly asking to be groomed though- he puts his head down and tries to nudge Milo’s head up.
      milo is just flat to the floor – whole body – whereas Louie just has his head lowered.
      I am worried this is going to lead to some issues. Louie groomed him today and after each stand off went to load position before hopping off.  It seems obvious who is dominant and milo always seems on high alert when louie is near.  I think Milo still needs to build trust in the relationship.

      I read the post you made on your two bunnies as a cautionary tale and I am quite nervous as it sounds very much like my bunnies situation.
      I am not sure what to do as the parallel pens can only be temporary. It has been like this for  3 months now and I really hoped they could be sharing a space in the next month.
      I do not feel comfortable leaving them unsupervised- although apart from a little chasing – which is an occasional nip and 2 second lop after milo there has been nothing but they do t snuggle or groom either. Definitely more roommates than true love.
      I do feel they have bonded enough that they would miss each other if we stopped.

      when we go to pick Louie up to return him to his pen he now runs over to Milo and snuggles.

      I think it is going in the right direction but I am worried that they may fight after a few months now as your bunnies did?

       


    • DanaNM
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      Your bunnies actually sound waaaaay better to me than my buns in the “cautionary tale”. They are asking for grooms, flopping against each other, and seem like they do like each other, even if they are still a bit cautious. Mine never did any of that. They stopped fighting… but would more or less avoid each other. I didn’t see any grooming or cuddling at all with my two, not even 1 sided grooming.

      At this point, I would try to intervene a lot less and just see what happens. I would just keep doing as you have been, I think they are almost there! Not bonded yet, but getting close. Now it’s time to try not to hover. Still be close enough to jump in if a scuffle breaks out, but you can sit outside the pen and don’t need to focus on them so intently. 😉

      When they are bonded, you’ll know!  If you want to make the final push, you could try to do a marathon session. Sometimes that 24 hours including the overnight is enough to push them over the final hurdle.

      . . . 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.  


    • SweetPotato
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      You got this @Mp!!! (By the way your bunnies… ADORABLE!)


    • Mp
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      Aww thank you sweetpotato.

      After 9.5 hours together today- almost but still not quite! 😜 bonding bunnies is something I had never heard of 4 months ago and now it is all I seem to think about.
      hopefully they will get there.
      Your bunny looks adorable too!

       

       


    • Mp
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      Hi

      Me again 😀

      so we are still doing the play dates – long sessions up to 10 hours ( and some days shorter depending on time- but always at least 2 hours) they are happy together but not together – I had extended the pen size to a room and they loved the extra space doing binkies and zoomies but staying apart. Sleeping apart.

      There was no cuddling or grooming at all – ignoring each other unless eating (and Louie will take fresh greens from Milo’s mouth!)

      Today i made the pen small as I wanted to see if they would interact more. They did. Milo went to a corner to sleep and Louie came over to him and lay alongside – (but they lie nose to tail. )

      louie groomed Milo for quite a while – on his body though not head. I wasn’t sure if he was nipping at first but Milo seemed fine- (lay completely flat on floor – in the position he usually is around Louie but I don’t think he is scared or he would have run away)

      My question is – I am pretty sure Louie is the dominant – although Milo refuses to groom and bows his head very low when Louie approaches.  All the information I have read said only the submissive mainly grooms.
      could I have been wrong all this time? Apart from the refusal to groom I haven’t seen any other behavior that makes me think Milo is in charge.

      thank you so much for all your advice – we are moving in to the overnight non stop sessions and hopefully in to their new homes soon.
      (Although I have not left them unattended yet I feel a little more confident) we supervise from outside the pen.

      thank you again

       


    • DanaNM
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      It sounds like things are going really well! I think making the pen a bit smaller to encourage some interaction was a good move.

      As for who’s dominant, I have mostly stopped trying to figure out dominant vs. submissive with bunnies. In a few of my pairs it’s really hard to tell, so I don’t worry too much about it (often it seems like both bunnies think they are in charge). It’s really about whether they are getting along or not, and it sounds like yours are. Do they share a litter box happily? Do they seem very comfortable in each other’s “personal 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.  


    • Mp
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      DanaNm thank you so much for all your advice. It means a lot!
      I really appreciate the replies.
      I am beginning to get a bit disheartened though- as we have been bonding them for 2 months now and I thought we were almost there! I was planning an overnight session today but we seem to have taken a step backwards.

      They are able to eat near each other and be near each other, but it isn’t really a litter tray it is a large tray with lots of room.  Milo stopped being so scared of Louie and running away every time he came near.
      Tonight Louie presented his head every 5 minutes to Milo and Milo just lay flat ( as he does! ) Louie groomed Milo after several of these or groomed himself or hopped away the others. Then after a while he got annoyed. He was nudging Milo’s head and when he groomed it was his side and underside he seemed a bit rough but I am not sure -and then he nipped and a little chase (Milo ran away) which was stopped easily with a ‘Hey ‘ loudly from me. This happened a few times and then Louie nipped Milo’s butt a few times.
      It isn’t very aggressive but Milo is apprehensive now. This is probably as bad as it has ever been even in the beginning!

      louie is chasing a lot and I don’t think it is super aggressive but don’t think it is fun as Milo runs away!

      I definitely don’t feel I can move on to the next stage now- but they still seem ok- I just don’t know if Milo is going to nip /bite Milo now if he feels like it.   I know it is just the dominance thing- but what if Milo won’t submit!

      Milo has groomed Louie a few times when he was flopped over but Louie chased him off after a while. I just read most bunnies are bonded after a week – we have been at this for months and it seems to be moving in wrong direction!
      😢

       

      thanks again for all your help.


    • DanaNM
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      Aww sorry to hear that. Some set backs happen in most bonding processes. Do you think they (and you) might benefit from a little break to rest?

      When I’ve gotten stuck with my bunnies, often a new location for sessions has helped. I think after long bonding processes the neutral spaces become less neutral. Do you have any where else you could work with them? Such as a friend’s house?

      It can be frustrating for sure, but I know of many successful bonds (including some of my own) that took months, so all is not lost.

      The other thing is, sometimes they need those long sessions to really work things out (esp when one bun is shy). One of my pairs would be fine for 12 hours then would start scuffling. Once we could marathon in a brand new spot, they finally sorted things out and were bonded by the 48 hour mark.

       

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Hi

      thanks again.
      after being at the end of my tether I may take a break- but unfortunately there is a time constraint on how long I have till they have to be happily housed together.  I assumed 4 months would be long enough.
      the area they are now in penned separately- in a month will be used for out of state guests.
      The bunnies will then be housed in what is the neutral territory now.

      I have no other areas unfortunately to do the mamouth sessions. I could put the new house (not ordered yet as had to send last one back when we were not at that stage and I decided it wasn’t large enough- although had seemed enormous before we actually had rabbits!)

      in the room they share now- take out the pens and let them be free roam. There is a sofa bed in there so in theory I could watch them. But what do I do if I have to leave – the next few weeks being summer – is getting busy. I have already dedicated so much time – not leaving house to watch them for hours over the past 2 months.

      The unfortunate outcome of this doesn’t work is that the submissive bunny will have to be surrendered. The dominant bunny (Louie ???) was rescued as an emotional support bunny for my daughter and he is perfect for that.  Milo was for my other daughter and so they could be friends when my girls go back to school.
      I can not take Milo back to the shelter as it was a one off emergency for a cat and dog shelter. They took in 28 (from 280) bunnies rescued from a terrible hoarding situation.  All of them were adopted at an adoption day but Milo.
      I have not been able to receive any advice from local shelters despite emailing and your advice really has been invaluable- thank you so much.

      I know I keep writing a lot.

      thanks again.

       

       


    • Mp
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      Update – I got the medical records.

      seems like my poor Milo has had a very rough time of it – he is not 7 months as I was told but somewhere between 2 and 5.  His life was pretty awful before.

      Also  he is intersex.

      Nobody seems to be able to tell me much about this – I just have his neutering records.

      I have no idea if this is why I am having issues with them bonding.

      🤷🏻‍♀️

      Any advice ?

       


    • Wick & Fable
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      Add’l info re: this topic can be found here: https://binkybunny.com/forums/topic/intersex-rabbit/

      All active responses should continue to occur in this topic here!

      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 just read your other thread!

      It’s hard to know if Milo being intersex has something to do with things. If not all of Milo’s reproductive organs were removed, then maybe? But if they know that he is intersex, my guess is that they removed everything because an intersex bun would have a risk of reproductive cancers if any uterus or ovaries were left.

      I’ve been in your shoes before (with loongggg bonding processes that drag on), it’s so stressful.

      Here’s what I’m thinking might work for you (assuming I read things correctly):

      Clean and set up the neutral area where you plan to permanently house them as you would for their final set up. Wait until you have 48 hours to supervise continuously, and then move them in there. If, after 48 hours, you still aren’t sure if they are bonded (or haven’t seen big steps in progress), then I would personally probably call it quits.

      Do you have options for how you might house them both as singles in the same area? I built a “duplex” NIC condo for my two separate pairs when we had to have them all in one room, and then would give them alternate free-roam time (one pair got daytime, other got night time). It worked well for us and didn’t seem like a huge burden (no fencing dividing up the space, etc.).

       

      . . . 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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      @Wick might also have some suggestions, because Wick and Fable are somewhat in a similar situation, where they seem to be friends but maybe aren’t 100% bonded. So they get free-roam time together but have separate condos for when they are unsupervised (if I remember correctly).

      . . . 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.  


    • Wick & Fable
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      Indeed. I haven’t been following your situation as closely as Dana, but I do have two rabbits, Wick and Fable, who aren’t really “bonded” in any sense, but are generally able to free-roam in a large space, likely due to the space being big and both of their respects for each other’s space AND the presence of myself or my partner in that space. That being said, they are never left unsupervised, but it is much more manageable than switching free roam back and forth. Essentially they can be together indefinitely in neutral space (which has been tested in that they were together for 6 days straight at a vacation home), and they can generally be together in the designated free-roam space at home, though Wick sometimes gets hostile, which is why it always needs to be supervised. To get here, after a lot of trying, essentially we just let them both free-roam in the space and got used to intervening and calming them down when things got heated. Over time, both of them became less reactive to each other and learned their own routine in their spaces. I think a lot of factors makes this work: 1) Wick is the aggressive one, but he’s also 1/3 Fable’s size, so his nips don’t hurt her so she isn’t reacting aggressively back at him, 2) Wick is easily appeased by myself and my partner so we can calm him down, and 3) Fable is very anxious and typically defaults to a fright/freeze state when stressed, which is going to rouse the least amount of aggression from Wick. She’s also willing to groom him a lot, despite him never grooming her back. She’s very forgiving and assertive with her love.

      There are some limitations. Obviously they are separated overnight, and also there are no tunnels or hidey hole places in the free-roam space, as those become hostile fast. It is also a pretty fragile relationship if something changes. Wick broke a finger back in April and as a result has needed to be restricted in a small pen in a separate room. After recovery, we were in the process of trying to get them back to free-roaming peacefully but it was extremely hard. We did marathonning in the bathroom again and spent about 1 week intervening in the free-roam space until we would eventually need to separate again. I can’t tell you if they eventually got back to baseline (oh I miss baseline so much) because Wick ended up getting a complication in recovery and is actually back in the bedroom pen again, so we’ll need to redo the process once that’s done….

      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.


    • Mp
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      Hi

      thanks again for reply.
      I only have paperwork that says he has hermaphodite qualities with both testicles and vulva/ and the surgery notes that say he was spayed and they had stitched the vagina. There was no mention of unltrasound to check internal organs. As Milo was part of an enormous hoarding situation- he actually went to several shelters and I am going back and forth between them trying to find out any information.
      I may have to take him to a specialized vet (my vet said this was out of his expertise) and find out if he needs any more surgery.

      From what Wick was suggesting hormones present could cause aggression in either or both bunnies.
      neither of the bunnies have ever shown any aggressive behaviour to each other.
      Milo absolutely none at all!
      louie sometimes lately is getting a little frustrated when he wants grooming to be reciprocated and will (mainly in the evening only) nip -slightly and chase Milo off – but not follow far. Few steps.

      I had decided we would try to home them separately – not ideal at all, but a lot less stressful. They would be completely separate though – in different rooms. They would each have free roam of each room and then they could come together in the neutral space.
      it feels like they are already almost bonded though.
      We put them together for  the day yesterday and they are so close -They are almost there. Louie goes over to Milo and snuggles and Milo just stays there. Louie grooms Milo quite often now. (Not reciprocated) they just lie next to each other sleeping. Milo’s head under Louie belly (as Louie has smushed next to him and Milo just is still. They both flop near but not next to and eat together. It is just a feeling I have that as it is not mutual yet I didn’t want to leave them unsupervised.
      the time of day did make a difference- only coming out in evening after being separate – Louie wanted to play and was in to all the toys.
      That was when he nipped a few times.  He wanted his groom requests granted.

      if Milo needs surgery they have to be separated anyway so maybe easier for them not to get too close.

      Thanks again for all your advice.

       

       

       


    • Mp
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      Hi Wick

      Thanks for the response.
      It sounds similar to my bunnies- especially the  fright freeze frame. Milo does seem to like Louie though. Louie is just a big love bug who wants to greet every person and is trying to be nice to Milo. He just get miffed sometimes if he can’t get groomed back. He likes to remind Milo he is the boss occasionally but he has never been very aggressive.
      He will take food out of Milo’s mouth (hay etc) and Milo just gets another piece. Milo is comfortable around louie as he flops when together  – which I never thought he would do when we got him – he was terrified of everything.

      As mentioned I am unsure what to do. I will keep on as I am for now – letting them be together and watching but I think I will move them in to their own homes and rooms.
      louie adores people and loves snuggles and zooming all over my daughters room – hopping on the bed and all around.
      milo stays in a corner or in his hidey hole and even when he can leave his pen he doesn’t. Hel he will tolerate short pets but seems to be ok when he is groomed by Louie.

      I appreciate all your help and advice.
      good luck with getting your buns back in their free roam together.


    • Mp
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      Just to add – when they are in neutral territory for bonding the pen is not too large but a good size. I was referring to alone free roam time louie has in a room that Milo has never been where he can run around. – Louie was a free roam bunny I am assuming before he went to the shelter as he loves to be free. He was found pretty beaten up at the side of a busy road but he is always trying to escape and he is so happy I think he must have been loved but got out in to the wide world and had a fight with something much bigger than him!


    • DanaNM
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      If the surgery notes say that Milo was spayed then they would have removed any internal organs, as spaying removes the ovaries and uterus. “Stitching the vagina” isn’t really something that’s normally done to my knowledge, but maybe that’s where they made the suture?

      Honestly the behaviors you describe don’t sound hormonal, so I don’t think that would be the main source of the slow bond. It seems more related to personality and fear.

      Is the main source of disputes now when grooming requests aren’t met?

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      The surgery notes don’t say spayed.
      The sex on the document is male.
      I am assuming he was neutered but they stitched/glued his vagina closed.
      that is all I know.

      Generally I become nervous when there is a groom stand off but most of the time it is fine.
      In a 5 hour session yesterday it happened twice- not sure if anything started it but maybe Louie was a bit put out.

      we did an evening session where I put them together From 7-10 pm (I usually do day times -till about 8) Louie was full of beans and was a bit nippy that day. He was also more playful and in to everything.

      I would say the nipping is still minimal but more than has ever been. Even at start. (Milo was much more skittish at beginning )

      Milo freezes and lies flat- that was why I was wondering from the start of it was a dominance thing or just fear?  He lies flat often and if Louie is hopping past he immediately puts his head down- more in an (I am not a threat way)

       

      😀🐰


    • DanaNM
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      Ah, ok, there must have been a typo in the post above about spaying.

      I wonder, is there anyone in your area that might be able to give you their opinion on them? Like maybe someone from a nearby rescue who has experience bonding?

      Sometimes a fresh set of eyes on the buns can help a lot. Or perhaps you could take some videos of the interactions that are concerning to you and share them?

      A little nipping is OK, and even bonded pairs will nip a little sometimes.

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      I am not sure how to upload media. I tried to upload some pics ( taken yesterday) . I am not sure if you can see them?

      I will try to take a video and upload.

      thank you 😊


    • Mp
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      Hi.
      I reached out and spoke to someone from a rabbit rescue and they said that from the photos the bunnies look bonded or at least close so I should go ahead with the 48 hours and see how it goes.
      I guess I can always separate them long term then if it doesn’t work out and have them play together when supervised.
      Next week I will plan to spend the whole week watching them 😳

      wish me luck.


    • DanaNM
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      Sounds like a plan, good luck!

      I think for videos most members have uploaded to an external place, like google drive, then shared the link. We are still having issues with directly inserting photos but members have been able to add pictures to their profile, which adds them to their media library. Then you can insert the pics into the post.

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Hi

      I Wanted to update and had a few questions if that is ok?

      Bonding still going ok- no real change. Some days I think they are there and then others I feel it will never happen.  this week Louie decided to chase a little. Not sure if it was playful or not- especially as they have had relatively little chasing since beginning this seemed like it was going the wrong direction.

      since the beginning there has been zero mounting and little aggression – just a few nips and chases after grooming standoffs. (Milo runs at slight movement this may be why)
      They will still flop. Near but apart. Louie has come over to Milo several times and flopped on top of him. (Today milo moved away afterwards though!)

      I increased the space today- they were both so happy! Binkies and zoomies for almost the entire hour. Louie chased Milo quite a lot today. The most he has ever done and at the end he seemed more aggressive in purpose. It was stopped with a loud ‘Hey’ each time. (But this doesn’t seem a positive step forward)

      did I increase the space too soon? (It has been 6 weeks of bonding daily)  should I let Louie chase- Milo seemed more skittish again and they ran in big circles – but I kept intercepting in case it escalated.

      I wanted to stop the session but needed it to end on a good note. Eventually louie went over to Milo (hiding in a small space) and cuddled alongside him.
      I am so confused. I think they are there and then I think they never will be.
      They spend the day time together- with supervision.
      When I do the overnights I am worried I won’t hear the scuffle- when asleep.
      is it very noisy?

      I am intending to do the marathon overnight all day non stop next week.
      If i do this and it doesn’t work out can I separate them and keep them in different rooms permanently? If they are almost bonded will this still be ok?

      I am so nervous about leaving them unsupervised and having them fight.

      they have never fought, but I don’t think they have figured out who is dominant yet. (Even though Louie appears dominant in every way- and Milo seems scared of every movement he makes- Louie is the one who mainly grooms. Milo only occasionally grooms)

       

      sorry – I know this is a lot of questions. I just feel so confused and anxious about this bonding.

      Both bunnies seem very happy- but I am not convinced they wouldn’t be just as happy on own.

       

      thanks for all your advice.

       


    • DanaNM
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      I tried to answer your questions below!

      Bonding still going ok- no real change. Some days I think they are there and then others I feel it will never happen.  this week Louie decided to chase a little. Not sure if it was playful or not- especially as they have had relatively little chasing since beginning this seemed like it was going the wrong direction.

      bonding can be full of ups and downs! I wonder if this chasing might actually be a sign of progress? Where his ears forward or back? Ears forward is playful/ a mounting attempt, ears pinned back with tail up is aggressive.

      since the beginning there has been zero mounting and little aggression – just a few nips and chases after grooming standoffs. (Milo runs at slight movement this may be why)
      They will still flop. Near but apart. Louie has come over to Milo several times and flopped on top of him. (Today milo moved away afterwards though!)

      I increased the space today- they were both so happy! Binkies and zoomies for almost the entire hour. Louie chased Milo quite a lot today. The most he has ever done and at the end he seemed more aggressive in purpose. It was stopped with a loud ‘Hey’ each time. (But this doesn’t seem a positive step forward)

      This could be from the larger space, or just more activity. I’m not convinced this is necessarily a bad thing, unless it was escalating.

      did I increase the space too soon? (It has been 6 weeks of bonding daily)  should I let Louie chase- Milo seemed more skittish again and they ran in big circles – but I kept intercepting in case it escalated.

      I usually will allow a chase for a couple seconds, then end it. If it seems like it gets worse with each session, you could go back to a smaller space.

      I wanted to stop the session but needed it to end on a good note. Eventually louie went over to Milo (hiding in a small space) and cuddled alongside him.

      that sounds wonderful!

      I am so confused. I think they are there and then I think they never will be.

      That is a normal emotion! Try to be patient and just keep up what you’re doing. They are getting to know each other and building a relationship. It takes time! (Imagine some stranger just moved in with you unannounced…. that would take some getting used to).
      They spend the day time together- with supervision.
      When I do the overnights I am worried I won’t hear the scuffle- when asleep.
      is it very noisy?

      You will definitely hear it if you sleep near the area! You probably will not get much sleep on the first night especially! You will end up on high alert and will probably bolt awake at the slightest movement from them.  It’s also OK to separate them for a few hours overnight to get some sleep.

      I am intending to do the marathon overnight all day non stop next week.
      If i do this and it doesn’t work out can I separate them and keep them in different rooms permanently? If they are almost bonded will this still be ok?

      Yes, it’s OK to separate them if they aren’t bonded by the end of the marathoning, but I would try to have them be side-by-side if you can though. That way if they are actually really close to being bonded they won’t be sad or stressed from being separated.

      I am so nervous about leaving them unsupervised and having them fight.

      That’s normal, but once they are bonded you will feel confident that they won’t fight. If you have any nervousness left, you can always separate them when you aren’t able to supervise (see above about side-by-side housing).

      they have never fought, but I don’t think they have figured out who is dominant yet. (Even though Louie appears dominant in every way- and Milo seems scared of every movement he makes- Louie is the one who mainly grooms. Milo only occasionally grooms)

      Fighting is not necessary for establishing dominance (most animals resort to fighting as a last resort when all other ways of communication fail). My two most recent pairs never fought either. Try not to overthink it! I’m convinced that in bonded pairs BOTH bunnies THINK that they are dominant! LOL

      sorry – I know this is a lot of questions. I just feel so confused and anxious about this bonding.

      It can be very stressful and confusing! But you are doing a great job. 🙂

      Both bunnies seem very happy- but I am not convinced they wouldn’t be just as happy on own.

      It is also very normal to second guess the process! But it’s good to have the back up plan that they can be happy single buns, kept as neighbors. My fastest pairs bonded in about 2 weeks, and my longest ones took about 3-4 months. I actually found the ones that took longer were more tightly bonded and madly in love with each other, so it was totally worth the effort and stress. The fact that your two haven’t fought and are showing other relaxed behaviors is amazing.

      thanks for all your advice.

      You’re welcome!

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Thank you!
      means so much to get some feedback and help.
      Hopefully next week goes well and I can update. 💕🤞


    • Mp
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      Hi

      We have started the week long bonding process – 😳 in hope to cement their relationship.  Oddly enough Louie seems to chase Milo way more than he ever has. I will keep an eye on this. It is the reason we didn’t do an overnight last night as I had read you should wait until no chasing or nipping before moving to that stage. So we are trying again today.

      louie will go up to Milo and sort of nip and shove his nose under his belly. Milo doesn’t move out the way though. Is this grooming or aggressive behavior? I don’t think Milo likes it but he doesn’t run away. If he does move then a little chase happens.
      Also Louie’s chases can be stopped with a ‘hey’ but then he looks at me/us and immediately goes to the wall and flops! Every single time! Is he sulking? Saying sorry?

      louie is also the one who will go up to Milo and flops next to him – Milo doesn’t go up to louie very much if ever. Louie is also the one who grooms. (Yet also appears dominant)

      The bunnies live in double xpens in our spare room. This is where I hope to put the bunnies together once bonded. I swap them in the pens every day. Is this considered neutral?
      The plan is to keep them together all day and overnight  in my daughters room for the next few days (this is where all bonding has taken place) and then clean the other room completely and move them in there together for the latter part of the week with their new home. Supervising them for the entire week.

      would this be ok? Would it change too much to move them back in a different room? (Their room- they have only been in it together never alone but always separate)

      Also what happens if after a week I still don’t feel I can leave them!

      The situation is that if this doesn’t work out they will be single buns who get supervised play time together but live in separate homes. (It also means separate rooms where they will not see each other but will have a room each)

      the play time will be in their original area as the rooms will now no longer be neutral.  Will this be cruel if they are almost bonded? Would it be a bad idea to have them together to play if they don’t see each other- would they be strangers again?
      We have spent every day for the past 2 months  working on this and they have spent a minimum of 3-4 hours a day together every day. Up to 8 hours many days. It has taken a long time but I want to get it right – I am worried they just won’t get there. This is the big test this week! 🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞

       


      • DanaNM
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        I answered below!

        We have started the week long bonding process – 😳 in hope to cement their relationship.  Oddly enough Louie seems to chase Milo way more than he ever has. I will keep an eye on this. It is the reason we didn’t do an overnight last night as I had read you should wait until no chasing or nipping before moving to that stage. So we are trying again today.

        I think the chasing might resolve with the overnight, so I don’t think the chasing necessarily should prevent you from trying the overnight.

        louie will go up to Milo and sort of nip and shove his nose under his belly. Milo doesn’t move out the way though. Is this grooming or aggressive behavior? I don’t think Milo likes it but he doesn’t run away. If he does move then a little chase happens.

        I think this is sort of a grooming request. Not necessarily aggressive, but more of a dominant behavior.

        Also Louie’s chases can be stopped with a ‘hey’ but then he looks at me/us and immediately goes to the wall and flops! Every single time! Is he sulking? Saying sorry?

        haha! sometimes flopping during bonding sessions can be a “I don’t even care about you” kind of thing.

        louie is also the one who will go up to Milo and flops next to him – Milo doesn’t go up to louie very much if ever. Louie is also the one who grooms. (Yet also appears dominant)

        I read this as Louie is the more confident and dominant one, he’s showing Milo that he’s not afraid of him. I think Milo is still building up his trust in Louie. If only we could read their little bunny minds!

        The bunnies live in double xpens in our spare room. This is where I hope to put the bunnies together once bonded. I swap them in the pens every day. Is this considered neutral?

        Nope, if it’s the area where they live, it’s not neutral, even if you swap them in that area.

        The plan is to keep them together all day and overnight  in my daughters room for the next few days (this is where all bonding has taken place) and then clean the other room completely and move them in there together for the latter part of the week with their new home. Supervising them for the entire week.

        would this be ok? Would it change too much to move them back in a different room? (Their room- they have only been in it together never alone but always separate)

        That sounds good to me. The only thing I’ve experienced is that sometimes when you do many bonding sessions in a neutral area, the area becomes less neutral. So sometimes finding a brand new, completely neutral spot for the marathon can help work out final kinks. You could try a new room if you’ve got one available, or just try to clean and neutralize smells in the room. As long as you feel like they are good in neutral and have time to supervise them in their final home then I think you’ll be in good shape.

        Also what happens if after a week I still don’t feel I can leave them!

        Then you’ll need to separate them when you can’t supervise, unfortunately!

        The situation is that if this doesn’t work out they will be single buns who get supervised play time together but live in separate homes. (It also means separate rooms where they will not see each other but will have a room each)

        the play time will be in their original area as the rooms will now no longer be neutral.  Will this be cruel if they are almost bonded? Would it be a bad idea to have them together to play if they don’t see each other- would they be strangers again?

        Hard to say. I think that even unbonded bunnies benefit from having other bunnies as neighbors. Would it be possible to continue to have them live side by side but get alternate free-roam time? Give that they do seem to like each other, I think they would be happier with this set up, rather than going back to living completely alone.

        We have spent every day for the past 2 months  working on this and they have spent a minimum of 3-4 hours a day together every day. Up to 8 hours many days. It has taken a long time but I want to get it right – I am worried they just won’t get there. This is the big test this week! 🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞

        I have so been there! With Bun Jovi and Bertha, I worked with them nearly every day for like 3 months, including a 5 day marathon. They would be fine for 12-18 hours, then a scuffle would break out almost like clockwork. What finally got them through it was marathoning in a brand new location! That’s why I mentioned using a new room if you can, because I noticed a difference almost immediately. By about 24 hours in they were cuddling and acting bonded. So there is hope!

        Some final tips:

        Try not to hover. Definitely be close enough to intervene, but it would be best if you could sit outside the pen and try not to stare at them. At this point in the process, try not to intervene if you can help it, even if it means letting a chase go a few seconds.

        Try to film some of the interactions that worry you so we can give our opinions on them. From what you describe, some people would probably describe your bunnies as bonded (some people say if there’s not fighting in 48 hrs they are bonded). I tend to take a more cautious approach and really look for relaxed behavior, food and litter box sharing, and at least some grooming and cuddling.

        . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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    • Mp
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      One bunny is a lot more demonstrative than the other but he is also the one that chases and I worry about potentially being aggressive.


    • DanaNM
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      OMG well isn’t that precious! Looking good!

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Hi
      We did a 12 hour session with the bunnies yesterday and although they have been together for very long periods before – yesterday was the first time (I now realise) that Louie has actually acted  aggressively. All previous little chases and nips did not have the intent that the couple yesterday had. Louie also went to bite Milo on the face when grooming. I haven’t seen any fur pulled or marks but it is a level up from normal.

      Every time we stopped him (loud hey!) Louie flops- immediately. Like he is sulking or saying sorry. Every time!

      Louie always goes up to Milo and flops near him, grooms him and wants to be near – but he also chases and now is a little aggressive towards him. Milo just minds his own business and keeps to himself.

      Because I didn’t trust Louie last night we put them back in their pens. Normally they sleep alongside each other in their beds.
      last night they slept in far ends of the pens away from one another.

      early this morning I put them back together. Louie flopped next to Milo and groomed him.
      He has since gone to attack him- and bite him.

      milo is running around now and binkying while Louie eats so I think he is ok- but it feels like this is getting worse!  I went and checked Milo and no marks or fur pulled.
      will they ever just get along without me having to worry about Louie attacking or chasing?

      I now understand that the normal reactions when bunnies are introduced did not happen but are happening a little now instead. It is stressful.

      Milo will not groom – I think that is what the issue is. But he is not trying to dominate Louie either he just chills. Louie definitely thinks he is boss but he is the only one that grooms.

      I have a video – (couldn’t upload) of Louie coming up to Milo , flopping on him- looking for snuggles, putting his arm on him and then grooming him. This all seems great apart from then milo hops away.
      later louie went for him. Do you think his feelings are hurt and he is mad about it?

      tonight we plan to do the overnight- I no longer have one of the pens as my friend needs it back so now we have to. I have a new one ordered. I can put Milo in a large wire dog crate  tonight if needed.

      is this normal. Should I give up now – if I carry on and it doesn’t work it may be harder to separate them?  Sorry – I am just getting disheartened.

      thanks again

       


    • DanaNM
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      That’s very frustrating. I think I would expect to see some improvements by now given the amount of hours you’ve put in with them, and that does sound like a bit of a backtrack and like you are perhaps stuck in a bit of a rut with them.

      It really sounds similar to the ordeal I went through with Bun Jovi and Bertha. Some things to try:

      – a new location (if you’ve got one available). I found with Bun Jovi and Bertha that the “neutral” spot I was using for bonding was no longer neutral, and was within smelling range of their main area.  Moving them to a new spot (in a friend’s house) helped us get past the aggression.

      – stressing. have you done any car rides with them?

      – change up the space (larger or smaller). if the smaller space worked well in the past, going back to that might help.

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Hi

      we haven’t done any stress bonding.
      louie didn’t seem phased at all on his ride home from the shelter so we figured it would only be Milo- and he is always stressed anyway!

      they spend all day together supervised for weeks now. Louie is good most the time. He doesn’t like to be in any sort of pen or cage or room even! He is constantly trying to escape.
      I am pretty sure that is how he ended up on a very busy road all banged up! I think he escaped his last home. Milo has been in a tiny cage his whole life – he likes to lie swaddled in a blanket. He seems happy though – he lies more on his belly arms and legs stretched out- but Louie just flops over and closes his eyes!

      We did an overnight. They have been together non stop for 24 hours.
      I have two very tired teens! I think there was a chase or two but from what they said – Louie runs around a lot at night!

      milo looks a little spooked this morning- no fur or marks but he is definitely wary of Louie this morning. I will keep a very close eye on them today.

      The bunny that is the most affectionate to the other and seems to desperately want to be friends – is also the one who seems to be stopping it- but i know it is just because I don’t think Milo is playing along.

      We are out of rooms at this point. hopefully the next 48 hours go ok. 🤞


    • Mp
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      The bunnies have been together for 48 hours straight. We started on Monday and two overnights.
      They share the food, water and litter trays. They play with the toys together. They mostly take turns to eat the hay while the other does binkies and plays and switch off. When fresh hay is out in they both hop in together and munch.

      louie grooms Milo, then will groom himself. Milo put his head up and looks like he is kissing Louie when this happens. I don’t think milo knows how to groom.

      louie is full of energy. He is constantly banging and moving the xpen with his nose. (All day and night) the space is large – if it was the room he would be constantly digging at the door. He always wants to explore!

      He also still chases Milo. I know bonded pairs don’t chase that much?

      most the time it is just one loop round the pen and I am not sure if he is trying to play? Milo runs away each time but doesn’t seem concerned once I shout hey and it stops. It usually stops on its own but occasionally I still have to say something. If milo is flopped louie sort of runs at him but it doesn’t seem to attack- more of a run and startles milo.

      i wouldn’t say they are bonded – they sleep near each other. Louie tries to sleep next to Milo but he moves away slightly.
      I would feel happier leaving them to go to the bathroom etc (I haven’t done this) for short periods.

      most of the activity and chasing happens at dusk.  It has only been a handful of times- but it still shouldn’t be happening? Right?

      They were in the bathtub yesterday while I got their pen ready with new toys and litter pan and they were snuggled.
      inam planning on keeping them together in this space over the weekend and then hopefully moving them in to their new condo on Monday and keeping an eye on them in there.

      The rabbit house( hutch) is large and is only for a base. They will also have a small xpen and for several hours access to the whole room.
      I am worried how Louie will do in the smaller space.

      thanks again for all your advice.


    • Mp
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    • DanaNM
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      Ooooh they are looking really good!

      If the chasing is just 1 loop around the pen and doesn’t go any further than that, I think you are in good shape!

      I do think it’s important that they have space to move around if there are still some chases happening, so when you move them giving them access to a pen is great.

      I have this feeling with your two that their relationship is just slow to develop and will grow over time. They really sound so much like Bonnie and Cooper, one very shy bun, one very active bun who can get a little overly excited. They never fought, but over the few months they’ve been bonded they are just getting closer and closer over time. So I think as long as things are generally improving (even if slowly) then you are on the right track.

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Hi.

      we are on day 5. 3 overnights done. 😌

      The bunnies seem happy together, they sit in the litter box together and I don’t worry about them like I used to! They keep me up at night with binkies and taking it in turns to bite the pen and banging and trying to move it.

      They do not cuddle and not much grooming -Louie tries. Milo moves away after letting him for a while.
      They sleep flat out and flopped but not together – is this a problem? They both seem happier that way. Louie has made himself a little nest in the corner and he likes it there.
      I have left them for a few minutes (bathroom or get a drink) but when can I leave them for longer periods ?

      They are content enough. Louie will groom the stuffie occasionally- (they had identical stuffed animals in their pens ) I am not sure if he wants to be more loving than Milo is letting him. Milo will hop away if Louie comes near (sometimes) even if Louie is approaching in a ‘hey’ way.

      My original question was happy but not bonded. I think they are bonded – maybe not completely but a week together now – I know they like being together.

      I do worry they are more roommates doing their own thing, maybe that will change over time? I don’t mind as long as they will not fight down the line.

      Because they don’t have the grooming and snuggling when will I know I can leave them for longer periods. Tomorrow I have to do something for a couple of hours. Should I put the xpen between them? I will try not to leave if I can but is it better to just separate them briefly with a single pen gate or leave them together.
      there hasn’t been any chasing since Tuesday.

       

      I decided to keep them together in this neutral space until Monday to be sure of the bond before I change their living situation.

      thank you 😊

       

       


    • DanaNM
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      Sounds great!

      I think go with your gut on whether to separate them. I think since they haven’t had any fighting or chasing since Tuesday they are fine to leave for a bit, especially if it’s during the day when they typically rest. I also think that since they are in a space that’s big enough for them to move around then it makes it safer (vs. leaving them alone in a tiny area where they wouldn’t have any space to get away from each other).

      I do think you can consider them bonded, and just keep any eye on how they seem over time. If it seems like they start to get more distant when you move them to their final home, then you should reassess things. Hopefully they will get closer and closer over time (that’s how things have gone with Bonnie and Cooper, I started seeing a lot more grooming about a month or two after considering them bonded).

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Thank you again Dana- and thank you for replying and keeping me (relatively) sane during this whole process.

      we are a week in to them being together the whole time. I did not separate them (my daughter changed her plans and remained home to check on them) but we will need to be able to leave them alone soon.
      I think they are bonded or at least tolerating but I do not feel comfortable leaving them for long periods – I leave them and check on them every 20 mins.

      They sleep apart but I think Milo just wants his own space. I think he is still a bit wary.
      louie will often try to sleep next to him. Milo will sometimes stay and sometimes hops away. Often louie is just wanting to say hi in a non aggressive way and Milo runs away,
      Louie grooms but Milo still will not groom. It says you want to at least see some mutual grooming. He did try in the last but it was awkward and I don’t think he got it and Louie didn’t love it. Also he is much smaller than louie so can only groom if Louie flopped or asleep and Milo isn’t brave enough  to approach I don’t think.

      louie nudged Milo out of the litter box (hay) today which was new as they have been sharing with no issue for a week. It didn’t take much- just a tiny nudge near his butt! No nipping. I took louie out – Milo hopped in and then Louie hopped back in and all was ok again but it still gave me pause for concern.

      louie doesn’t have to do much to make Milo move!

      they actually snuggle when we put them in the bath together with a towel down.- (we didn’t do this in the beginning as we didn’t need to.- we do it now when I need to clean out their pen and give them a change of scenery!) we ran out of rooms.
      I worry that when they are in their new hutch we will have to start watching them non stop again? The hutch is big ish (says for 2 bunnies and takes over a big chunk of the room) they will be allowed to free roam when we are around. I am now thinking we may have to have a pen as well as Louie really wants space. Milo will be great in there- (he will prefer it and may never come out!) what do you think? Would Louie turn on Milo if he is cooped up?

      We go on vacation in a few weeks. Somebody is coming to check on them twice and day and feed them etc. they will have been together a month- (if all goes well.) Will this be long enough to cement a bond and not be supervising?

      I just vacuumed near the room and Louie ran to Milo- i think that is a good sign?

       

      thanks again- I really value your advice.


    • Mp
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      Hi

      just wanted to update.
      The bunnies have been living together for 10 days.

      3 days ago we moved them back to their original space and now They live in a hutch with an xpen when we are not around but free roam in that room when we are. ( The hutch has an upstairs – which one bunny just jumps into and doesn’t use the ramp at all and one that hasn’t figured out the ramp but I know would love it up there!)

      The reason I started this thread was because the bunnies never showed any aggression but didn’t show any affection either.  I was confused if they were making progress.
      After all this time together this hasn’t changed. They tolerate each other but they are now bonded I think.  We took it slowly. They spent time together every day for 3 months. Increased until they were together for up to 10 hours a day – but the dynamic didn’t really change.  Roommates. I was hoping they would gradually get more snuggly but I don’t see that happening? It may but they seem to chose to be away from each other. (Louie goes about his day and Milo keeps away)

      They sleep apart and although will eat together when fresh hay is out in- milo generally will hop out the litter tray during the day when Louie hops in.
      Milo is still wary of Louie, not scared but just prefers not to be so near but has no problem when it is his decision.
      If louie comes up to him he will hop away or lie flat but Louie often will come to sleep near him and Milo just stays (or doesn’t )

      They are left unsupervised for short amounts of time but so far no overnight unsupervised.
      Louie grooms. Milo does not. Milo shows no dominance but won’t groom back.

      my concern is that some time- maybe months from now a fight may break out?

      also we are going out of town for a few days in a couple of weeks. The bond is so new that we decided not to move them. A friend is going to check on them twice a day. Is this ok for such a new bond? They will have been together almost 5 weeks by then.

      we are going also  away in just over a month for a week. (7 weeks together) Would boarding be a better option for the longer stay? Here someone who understands rabbits would be able to keep an eye on them ?

      Thanks again/


    • Mp
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      Left the bunnies for an hour or so unsupervised. Came back and everything seems normal. They were sitting near each other. Milo went to the spot he likes to be and Louie hopped up on the sofa.
      next thing I know – Milo comes out louie jumps down towards him- Milo thumps and runs and hides underneath the hutch in a corner. I picked Louie up. He seemed agitated a little.  (Louie can go but has to lie on tummy and swim under there)
      I am freaking out thinking they have to be separated now after all this time- (I can’t go through that again) Milo comes out and seems fine and not bothered by Louie.

      What happened. They seem ok again now?
      I think this was what I was always concerned about. It not being clear they were bonded but they have lived peacefully together until now.
      should I just keep an eye on them. What do I do now when I need to leave them alone? They whole xpen set up was removed to make way for their new home. We waited a week to make sure.

      I just don’t know what to do.


    • DanaNM
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      Ahhh so frustrating!

      I am really not sure. 🙁  Based off the way you are writing about it, I can tell that you are really not sure either, which makes me think you should trust your instincts and NOT call them bonded. The lingering fear from Milo could become a problem in the future. In my mind, I would expect to see at least some clear positive behaviors after all this time together. Every pair is different, and not all pairs are attached at the hip, but they should spend at least part of their day together. I would hate to tell you “they will be fine!” when I really don’t know for sure (people told me that mine would be fine, then a fight broke out 5 months later). 🙁  My other pair that started out a bit distant did get gradually closer and closer with noticeable improvements over the first few weeks together (with some grooming and cuddling after a week) and are now very happy.


      @Wick
      had a pair that never fully bonded, so she keeps them separated when they are unsupervised, but they used to get free-roam time together because they did seem to be friends (one sided, similar to your two). I’ve alerted her to see if she has any input on this.

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Thank you again.
      We are cautiously proceeding with them being together still but I have to start leaving them at some point! We are watching them 24/7 at the moment. The incident happened after I left them for an hour. It wasn’t really anything but it wasn’t how I think bonded bunnies should act. Milo came out and Louie jumped off the sofa and Milo ran away and hid. Louie didn’t actually do anything.
      Nap time afterwards they were fine. Milo seemed unbothered and they snuggled (see pic if it will attach) so we left them together and they seem ok again.

      They haven’t figured out the hierarchy- Louie appears to be the dominant in every way – except when Louie asks to be groomed milo won’t budge on that. This is the cause of most of Louie frustration. Milo does not appear threatening at all. He hops away if Louie bounds towards him or he lies completely flat as in – I am no threat. But when Louie presents his head- then I see a little steely – not happening from milo! (It is surprising)

      bunnies are so confusing!

      Unfortunately we seem at an impasse- they will stay together and hopefully become much closer or something will make me realise they need to be separated. I have had to keep cancelling and rearranging plans as I can’t leave them at the moment.

      The living situation is such that they will be together or they will have to be completely separate in different rooms without being able to see each other – but they could in theory still have playtimes – but I am assuming any bond they have would be broken so would that work?

      hopefully they will figure it out. The only real issue is me not wanting to leave them.

      My girls think they are fine!
      Maybe the problem is me! I am definitely more anxious than my girls around them. I see issues that they don’t notice.


    • Wick & Fable
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      Thanks for the tag Dana– I’m happy to chime in with a “rabbits are complicated and confusing, yes!” sentiment, haha.

      As stated in my previous reply, my Wick and Fable were co-habitating (i.e. shared free-roam space during the day) rabbits who were not bonded. There would be signs that, in a picture looks like they’re bonded (similar to what you’re showing), but the context and circumstance around the picture say otherwise. My perception of the situation is Fable wants to bond with Wick and therefore is unconditionally loving and seeking for him; however, Wick is 100% uninterested in companionship outside of me, which is why they can co-habitat when I am directly around in shared territory, or if I’m not around but they are in neutral territory.

      The concern about breaking any bond they currently have by separating them is a fair question. On one hand, I think since it doesn’t appear to be a “set bond”, it doesn’t matter, and if you end up having the resources later to try again, it would not be difficult to build up back to where they currently are. That being said, I will say that Wick (the not-into-it one) was isolated to a different room for a month due to an injury and while they were fine in neutral territory upon his return (they were together for 6 days straight without me), we couldn’t get them to free-roam safely in the old space. We tried for about a week only though– we had to stop because Wick re-injured himself. Due to the status of his injury, I recently concluded that they will remain separated neighbors and gave up on a target “bonded pair”, as the likelihood of him re-injuring himself is too high.

      My recommendations are more so towards what you can reflect on to make a decision moving forward:

      1. Throughout bonding Fable and Wick, the “temporary” nature of set-ups was really tough, stressful, and tiring, especially in my small apartment– I imagine it may be for you too. Sometimes, it’s OK to make a decision just based on space resources and sanity’s sake. If it’s too hard to create a safely separated, large space for both of them in the free-roam space, then perhaps large and separated living spaces is best until another option presents itself.
      2. Are both rabbits OK being solo and not seeing each other? For my situation, I know that Fable yearns for Wick (she rather him, who nips her randomly, than me, who pets her constantly, so their setup takes up a lot of living room space, but it allows her to safely see him through a wall while they both have exercise room.
      3. How much patience are you willing to have? There is a chance that continuing this supervised-only-free-roam-cohabitation can eventually lead to them having more “bonded rabbit” interactions– that’s what I hoped for my Wick and Fable. If you have the resources to do this and you want to try, go for it.

      I know that was a lot, but that’s what came to 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.


    • DanaNM
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      One other thought… have you tried the banana on the head trick? Perhaps to get Milo to groom Louie? Sometimes all you need is one interaction like that to break the ice.

      Louie really does seem like he is just begging Milo for the teeniest groom!

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Thank you both for the advice.
      I tried the banana trick at the beginning of bonding when the stand-off first happened.
      milo isn’t that interested in banana even when I feed him some- he can take it or leave it (although it is his favorite of all greens and fruits)

      milo has groomed Louie several in the beginning. He would go over to him when he was flopped and groom him – but he only centered around the eye and didn’t move on so after a while that annoyed louie. (Meaning louie would sit  up or move and Milo would hop away)

      Milo wanted to groom I just don’t think he knows how.

      whenever louie is moving around – Milo will go up near him and follow him. He sniffs his butt a lot – louie doesn’t seem to mind- but if louie was to turn around milo would either lay flat or hop away.

      louie wants Milo to groom so badly. Poor louie grooms the cushions and soft stuffy near him if milo doesn’t reciprocate.
      I am not sure what exactly Milo went through before I had him. I know he was in a tiny cage and there were at least 8 rabbits in that cage.
      I know he was housed with another male in the shelter- so they thought he would be receptive to a friend. Maybe he just wants to be on his own- but Milo actively seeks out louie- he is just apprehensive.
      As I write this the two are snuggled upstairs in their hutch taking a nap. Milo used to go elsewhere but now he has worked out the ramp they choose to sleep together.
      Is this a good sign?

      I haven’t separated them since I put them together 12 days ago. When they used to be side by side milo would always sleep next the the pen by louie. Louie would move around a bit more- so in that situation it was Milo I assumed would be sad if I separated them.
      Louie was fond of my daughter before milo – but she only had him a week so it wasn’t a bond as such. This isn’t as strong anymore although he is still affectionate and playful- but he is a handful and he does need a lot of attention – whereas Milo doesn’t really want (or has not been used to ) any human interaction.
      Milo is a very different bunny from the one we got from the shelter- he was so scared and miserable and now he seems genuinely happy- but I have realised he may always be apprehensive and scared.
      He is also a Netherland dwarf and so may also be skittish by nature.

      I will see how they get on. At the moment it seems ok.

      thank you again for all your advice. It is very much appreciated


    • Wick & Fable
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      There are so many parallels between Milo and Fable! Fable was not a great groomer — she groomed very aggressively and Wick more so “braced” for it. She too came from a hoarding situation housed with other rabbits, so unsure if there’s some sort of fixation because of that type of hx. Fable too will always choose to sleep/lounge next to the pen by Wick. I’ll mention that personally I do not think Netherland dwarves are skittish by nature.  In my pair, Wick is actually a Netherland Dwarf and he’s definitely not the skittish one. I think background/upbringing do much more to instill any perceived anxiety and skittishness we observe in rabbits.

      I think 12 days going is great, especially if you’re sensing it’s going 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.


    • DanaNM
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      Snuggling during a nap is a very good sign 🙂

      You might try a small bit of banana on Louie’s head again (or on both of their heads). I’ve noticed it helps more when you are in the final stages than in the very beginning.

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Milo groomed Louie. It lasted 2 seconds – I really don’t think he knows what to do!
      but it made me happy.
      hopefully louie noticed – 😉


      • DanaNM
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        Oooh that’s great!!!

        . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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    • Mp
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      Hi

      we are now on 2 weeks living together and I would say they are coexisting ok. I can leave them unsupervised for short times (although it makes me stressed!)

      they snuggle less than they did. Not much snuggling or grooming going on at all- seems like less than previously. Milo doesn’t groom and it is as if Louie has given up trying.

      Milo will tolerate Louie snuggling near him if he is already sleeping/ loafing but if both active Milo hops away when Louie comes near.

      they can both share the litter box happily when fresh hay is out in but usually if Louie comes up milo hops out.
      It is sounding like Milo would prefer to be on his own as I write this- but I know Milo likes being around louie. He has always been happier when they are together he just seems more skittish not scared.

      my worry and concern is that they are fine for now but one day it is not going to be ok?
      In the beginning although it was always the plan to have them together if it hadn’t worked I would just have had them separate.
      now they have bonded (although it is not how it should be there is a bond there) I feel if I separated them they would both be sad.

      so I am fretting- because I feel I can’t separate them unless there is an incident and I don’t want there to be an incident!

      we go away in 3 weeks and someone is coming to watch them twice daily. They are not rabbit savvy however and I am concerned about this.
      I am also boarding them for a week the following week- at a rescue that does boarding. (they get vaccinated this weekend which is why they cannot board until then)

      Dana – do they sound Like your bunnies. Living together peacefully but not affectionate or snuggly? Like roommates?

      can it ever work out like this? Because they seem ok and we are fine with it- it just doesn’t sound like how it should be?

      I also keep reading other posts where it seems ok and then they have a tussle.
      (As I write this louie just came over to Milo – tried to do grooming stand off and now has spent a whole grooming Milo)

       

      Thank you.


    • Susanne
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      Hi, my buns aren’t in the exact situation, but they are more like room mates too. The female always has seemed to want more, will flop right on Elmer’s head etc, but unless she is grooming him or he is in a rare mood, he jumps away also. Most of the time they are separate, they don’t cuddle much at all. They used to cuddle more often.  They still interact though, like eat together a lot, follow each other around. Elmer seems to like to be a few feet away just not cuddling and I notice he’ll usually have an ear pointing her direction.  The female still grooms him a decent amount, but he only grooms her a tiny bit (unless he does more when I’m not around). She also humps his head every day so they are an odd pair 😉  There are some tense moments before treats and other small things where I got worried, but so far they have worked through it or it doesn’t escalate. For a while I thought Elmer wanted to be alone, like Milo,  but after a year they haven’t had a incident and I can tell he enjoys her presence in a way (maybe because he gets the grooms..or better than being completely alone). I mostly feel bad that Ruby doesn’t get to cuddle and she wants to, so I keep reminding myself she is better off here than most places she would have ended up 🙂


    • Mp
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      Thank you Suzanne. Knowing yours have gone a year makes me feel much better.
      They are actually snuggled right now- which makes me feel a bit better.
      Hopefully they will be ok 🤞

       


    • DanaNM
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      I think you are seeing signs of slow and steady progress (some cuddling and a little grooming).

      I of course can’t say 100% that they will be OK, but I’m wondering if the week at the rescue would actually be really good for their bond (being in an unfamiliar place together)?

      I think they are starting to sound more like Bonnie and Cooper (who’s bond has grown stronger over time) and less like Bertha and JP (who’s bond broke 5 months later).

      I think since you feel like they would be sad if you separated them, that should be your answer for now. I would be sure to have your bunny-sitter look for signs of trouble (like aggression, fur tufts around, etc.).

      Again though, I’m just a stranger on the internet, so trust your gut on things!

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      two and half weeks in (seems much longer) And they move around together (well Milo follows louie) sleep sometimes together and I think there is grooming but I am not watching them all the time now so it is probably when they are on their own.
      They now sleep unsupervised and I leave them for times during the day.  They are supervised during early morning and late evening where they like to run around and have more energy.
      louie will bound over the Milo and Milo will run away- but I now see it through my less anxious eyes- of Louie being energetic and playful and Milo being skittish. Milo comes right back to louie after he runs away- during bonding I saw this as chasing but now I think it was /is just the bunnies being together.

      Thank you for all your help – I found the bonding process very stressful and it was a huge help to have everyone’s advice – particularly Dana who helped keep me sane. 😉


    • DanaNM
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      This all sounds very good to me!  I know with Cooper and Bonnie, Bonnie still gets out of Coop’s way when he’s running around being crazy. But then they snuggle together certain times of day, and just recently (after several months) I suddenly saw a lot more grooming. So the fact that they seem like buddies now is awesome 🙂

      And you’re very welcome!

      . . . 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.  


    • Mp
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      Hi

      I just wanted to update and ask a question.
      Louie and Milo have been living together since beginning July.
      We went away for a weekend and had someone come over and watched them and they were fine.
      we recently boarded them for over a week and they seemed to do well. The lady said they were fine together.
      When they came home I noticed Louie chase Milo out of the litter box. Just by nudging -no aggression that I saw – but Milo
      Is always a little wary of Louie. But also adores him and will follow him around everywhere. He also chase him a little that night which worried me but I kept a close eye and it didn’t last long.
      They seem great in every other way and they have both been in the litter box since. I thought maybe it was just a dominance thing coming back from the boarders to their space.

      louie is a handful in general and likes lots of attention!

      this morning when cleaning up I found a single tuft of hair with a tag on end- I have never found one of these before.
      They seem ok. I cant see any injuries.
      does this mean they had a scuffle?
      They have both been through mounts and I didn’t see this before.

      Thank you


    • Wick & Fable
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      I assume you’re talking about like, a fur tuft plug? With not a chunk of flesh/skin at the end, but it is bunched up? Unsure of all the names people use, but these can be really easily plucked off normally, even by rabbits grooming themselves or others. Since it was a single, it could have also just been a small warning nip or something that ended up resolving. It was good to check for injuries and monitor their behavior.

      Changes in environment can definitely -test the waters- a tad. In the future, it might be helpful to let them return together in a smaller space, let them get adjusted to that, and then let them have full freedom again. This is similar to what my rescue does when we bond rabbits for owners and return them– we say keep them in a restricted space for about a week before letting them into the full territory.

      If you find things get worse and they cannot work out this little relationship hiccup, you can try moving backwards just a little bit for relationship counseling — go through some bonding steps, like making sure they are OK for long periods of time in your bathroom/neutral area. And in general, as you have been, be vigilant with supervision.

      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.


    • Mp
      Participant
      46 posts Send Private Message

      Thank you for the reply.
      yes it was a small tuft bunched up with like a dry tag on the end.
      we returned home over a week ago and the nudging out of the litter tray happened that night and that was when  I kept a close eye for most of the evening and night.
      I haven’t seen anything worrying since until this tuft.
      their area is not small.  The pen/ cage they were in at the boarders was large enough but much smaller than what they are used to. Louie in particular hates to be caged so I was reluctant to keep them in a small area when he was so happy to have room.

      they have a two story hutch with doors always left open with large pen and then we leave the pen open for most of the day where they have free roam of one room.
      At night they are penned.
      I will continue to keep an eye on them but I can’t see anything right now.
      If anything louie is seeking out lots of attention from me to pet him. Maybe Milo hasn’t been grooming him a lot.
      (Milo has still not got the hang of grooming- he only grooms around the eye!)

      thanks again


    • Mp
      Participant
      46 posts Send Private Message

      Hi –

      So it looks like Milo is actually shedding. He only just went through a huge moult a couple of months ago but it seems like he is again. 🙂 Now I am thinking that the tuft may be because of this? It was just a single tuft so I will continue to keep an eye on them.

       


    • Wick & Fable
      Moderator
      4958 posts Send Private Message

      Ah, rabbit molting… classic. The tuft could definitely be from that, haha!

      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
      Moderator
      6051 posts Send Private Message

      It sounds like they are doing well! I agree with just one tuft it could have been molting, or possibly a nip, but prob not an actual scuffle. I think you hunch is correct that the slight issues we prob from returning home.

      i think keeping an eye on them as you are is the way to go!

      . . . 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 Happy but not bonded?