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Forum BONDING I’m emotionally drined – where should I bond/house my bunnies now?

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    • jmdb
      Participant
      17 posts Send Private Message

      Hi everyone, 

      I’m feeling emotionally drained, so please be kind. This is a bit of an essay but I’ve tried to explain the issues as concisely as possible… 

      TL;DR – which of these setups would be best?? (see the final bullet points)

      BACKGROUND STORY:

      I’ve been bonding my bunnies – a male angora mini lop and female nethie. Both fixed. In short, it went like this: 

      • Monkey (female) used to be free roam, confined to the office when not supervised. 
      • Tokki used to live in the bedroom (where Monkey never went) until fixed
      • Housed next to each other in the living for 1 week before bonding once Tokki was ready
      • Started dates in the master bathroom – the only room neither of them had been in. Started with 15 minutes and built up to 2+ hours. We used the bathroom floor (1.2m x 1.8m) because Monkey freaks out too much in small spaces. 
      • Dates went well. Mutual grooming and flopping by date 5. Also sharing a litter tray and toys. 
      • Decided to try 24/7. For 70 hours, they seemed to get increasingly close. Non-stop snuggling, mutual grooming, playing together, sharing food and toys. To the point that they seemed inseparable. 
      • 70th hour: Monkey kicks Tokki in the face while binky-ing and it soon escalated into a mini tornado. 
      • Nobody was injured, so calmed them down and carried on. They were more on edge but started to snuggle and groom over the day. They barely left each other’s sides again, but were jumpier when the other moved. 
      • Another 11 hours later, a second fight broke out when Tokki tried to steal a toy from Monkey. 

      I’ve now separated them in side by side enclosures in the other bathroom. I’m now reassessing the situation and these are the spaces I’m left with: 

      Bathroom: they’re currently there in side by side enclosures. There’s no direct natural light (only from the hallway) and it’s the most isolated part of the house, so I feel bad. However, it’s neutral apart from some times Tokki ran around in there – neutralised with vinegar since. 

      Office: where Monkey used to live, and became very territorial. I have guinea pigs in there, at a height the bunnies can’t see so they never come into contact, but their scent is obviously there. It’s a great room because it’s square, has furniture and has air conditioning. It’s where I planned to have them free roam permanently, like Monkey used to. 

      Living room: We have a big open plan living room/kitchen. I have rearranged the furniture and triple vinegar washed an area that neither bunny spent much time in (there used to be furniture there) to make a new neutral area. I also have new blankets to use to hide the room. I’m open to make this there permanent base when we’re not around once we’ve expanded to 2m x 2m (or slightly more) and they’re fully bonded, if the office isn’t a good idea or doesn’t work. It’s away from the area where they were previously living side by side, which has also been neutralised with 9% undiluted vinegar. 

      Balcony: Essentially an extra room because it’s huge. They were using this for their exercise while living side by side in the living room. However, it’s getting too hot for them to go out most of the day now (I live in the Algarve). 

      So, given that the living room is the new bonding area, I’m trying to decide which of these would be the best option: 

      1 – Live in the bathroom / exercise in the office 

      2 – Live in the bathroom / exercise on the balcony for a limited time each day 

      3 – Live in the office and exercise in the office (with double walls to stop them touching – would also mean they’re never separated fully and would also introduce Tokki to the room so it’s not just Monkey’s)

      4 – Live in the office / exercise on the balcony (again, for a limited time because of the heat)

      I hope this all makes sense and I’m sorry it’s super long. But I’m at such a loss and have no idea which of these would be best. All I know is that I feel bad they’re back in cages again because they look so sad. 


    • Wick & Fable
      Moderator
      5034 posts Send Private Message

      I saw that you posted on another rabbit forum (I am active on both, haha), so I’ll keep my replies here.

      Firstly, I am very much a proponent that there are multiple “right” ways to go about bonding. The only “wrong” decisions are leaving rabbits together unsupervised or introducing one into another’s territory, in my opinion. Everything else is set by the pace of the rabbits’ personalities, your available resources, and lastly, you! It is literally impossible to know which way is “best”, so don’t get hung up on that. There’s no way anyone can know what’s best. What you can do is move forward however you feel you are able to, based on what you have and what your rabbits are telling you.

      Rabbits will live being caged in a limited space for a while. For example, one of my rabbits actually broke a finger in April and has spent cumulatively 2 months in a tiny pen to recover and not make it worse. Is that the ideal rabbit caring standards? Of course not! But they get used to it and they survive, especially considering you are meeting their diet needs and allotting them exercise time/space. It’s not going to be like this forever– you’re likely more distraught about it than they are honestly.

      Do what you feel able to do and know that it is unlikely that a decision you make will cause permanent damage to their chances. I think whichever of the 4 choices sound fine.

      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.


    • jmdb
      Participant
      17 posts Send Private Message

      Hey Wick,

      Thanks once again. I’m so desperate to do the right thing and feeling so lost that I really appreciate any advice.

      Do you think it would be okay to move them into the office (Monkey’s old room) in side by side enclosures, and also let them take turns free roaming in there? If so, I think that’s what my gut is telling me to do. I would feel way better for their living environment and wouldn’t feel any pressure to see them bond – something I’m trying to not get hung up on because I know they can sense the stress!

      If they lived in bigger, side by side enclosures in the office and could take turns free roaming, that would be a comfortable long-term set-up.


    • Wick & Fable
      Moderator
      5034 posts Send Private Message

      I think that’s fine!

      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.


    • pinkiemarie
      Participant
      372 posts Send Private Message

      Try not to be too discouraged. I know that’s easier said than done but setbacks happen and they can usually be overcome. If you put them in the office side by side, when one bun is out playing let the other go in their space, kind of like prebonding again. That will help with making the territory belong less to one of them.


      • jmdb
        Participant
        17 posts Send Private Message

        Thank you!

        That’s what I was thinking… Split the room into 3: two quarters sectioned off by pens and the other half left open for free. And I will switch them every day again/every time they go out for exercise or for bonding dates.

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Forum BONDING I’m emotionally drined – where should I bond/house my bunnies now?