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The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet.  It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

BINKYBUNNY FORUMS

Forum BONDING I’m hopeless about my bunnies’ bonding

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    • dearbunny
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      Hi all,

      I have been a rabbit owner for 8 years. I consider myself quite experienced with rabbit behaviours and body language. However, I have never had two bunnies together and never tried bonding before. To be honest, I wouldn’t dare to bond two rabbits if I had known it was so difficult! But I have learned a lot reading your experiences and advice. Thank you all for this.

      I have my male bunny (Korchie) since he was 5 weeks old. He is very friendly and curious. He has his play and sleep area of his own in the living room, but his door is always open, so he free roams.

      Knowing that bunnies are happier living with other bunnies, I decided to adopt another bunny as a friend for Korchie. I’ve had my new rabbit Lina (female) for 5 months now. I waited until she was old enough to be spayed and after being spayed, I waited for another month until she recovered. They lived separately and did not see each other during this period.

      For the last one month, they have been living in the same C&C cube playpen (3 storey) with  extra space between the grids to prevent them to touch each other. They have been able to see and smell each other, and I have changed their places every day. I started bonding 2 weeks ago. I tried stress bonding (car ride once, noisy laundry room& vacuum cleaner noise once), table bonding, and putting them together in a small area (1 C&C cube which is 35cm by 35cm). So far, table bonding has been the best since they do not move or try to nip each other while I’m petting them. However, it seems to me that they cannot make any progress with only table bonding, because they behave well only because I am always there to pet them and the sessions take only 10-15 minutes.

      After watching a lot of bunny bonding videos and reading blogs, I decided to go with 24/7 bonding. Today is Day 1, they have been together in a neutral area for 10 hours now. They eat, sleep, and groom themselves in each other’s existence. However, when one of them goes near the other they get attacked. Korchie is the curious one, so he usually tries to approach Lina, he even attempted to lick Lina’s head once, but Lina does not seem to want him around her. She always attacks by boxing and jumping on him. There’s lots of growling, as well.

      Another strange thing is that they both flop a lot, but once one of them flops the other attacks him/her. They both seem very territorial. They don’t let one another to come any closer. They have had two very big fights, which were difficult to separate and very scary. It was almost like a bunny tornado. I am not sure if things will change in time and they will start living peacefully together. At the moment the atmosphere is so tense that whenever one of them starts moving around, the other takes the attacking position (ears 45 degrees backwards, head down, tail up, angry face) and attacks. When they start fighting or look like they will start fighting, I spray water on them and make noises to separate them. It usually works, but did not work that two times  when big fights broke out.

      It seems to me that even if Korchie approaches Lina in a friendly manner, Lina will attack, which will keep Korchie away and eventually he will give up. Do you have any thoughts/suggestions? I feel like I will give up bonding them and keep them separately if they continue like this. Do you think there is anything I am doing wrong or I could do differently? (Lina on the left, Korchie on the right in the photo)

      Thank you in advance for your answers.

      Spay/Neuter
      They are both spayed/neutered. The male one has been neutered for a year and the female one has been spayed for 2 months.

      Housing
      They lived separately until one month after the female was spayed. For the last one month, they have been living in the same C&C cube playpen (3 storey) with  extra space between the grids to prevent them to touch each other. They have been able to see and smell each other, and I have changed their places every day.


    • Wick & Fable
      Moderator
      4958 posts Send Private Message

      I know C&C structures can be frustrating to re-arrange and move, but perhaps closing the gap and reducing the space (so block off the 3 storey) may be helpful? It sounds like there’s a lot of reactivity to general movement, and I wonder if the pre-bonding steps you’ve taken aren’t allowing as much habituation/exposure to general movement and presence since there is a gap and they can each navigate 3 stories, essentially being out of sight, out of mind often. I recommend sharing a wall instead of the gap and see how that goes. There is increased safety since no tornados can happen. Can there still be nasty bites and injuries? Yes, so you want to monitor if that is happening, in which case re-instate the gap, but I personally have found sharing a pen wall to be good in fostering net neutral to positive close exposure to each other.

      Short dates ending on neutral or positive notes are what’s needed to establish more trust in them. Even if it’s small, those exposures can build up!

      You mention that you petting them is what helps them calm down. I’d be weary, as I am guilty of being “too involved” with bonding at times. You want them to establish a secure, trusting relationship with each other without you, so you cannot set yourself up to be a pre-requisite for the relationship to work. They need to figure out how to be with each other without you. At times you need to intervene, definitely do so, but try and reduce petting at times. While there’s a pull to comfort the rabbits in tense environments, they need to learn to get comfort without you in the relationship.

      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

      Can you try them in a larger area?

      The small space bonding techniques that are promoted pretty heavily on certain blogs have never worked for me, for the reasons you describe. The buns are so close that any movement from one can trigger fighting when they are scared. Things tend to advance to a fight more quickly when the buns have no where to escape to (in my opinion and experience) It works for some, but if it’s not working for you then I think experimenting with the space would be my next step. Going back to the last space that worked (like the table) might also work out well.

      I agree with Wick’s advice, but I will say that don’t be afraid to pet them a lot in these early sessions (since you are still in pretty early stages). It’s true that they do need to eventually sort things out on their own, but petting a lot at first can help set things off on the right foot.

      It’s also very important to prevent those big fights, so if be ready to get in there with your hands (with gloves on!) or something else to separate them, because water usually doesn’t work when things advance to that stage.

       

      . . . 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.  


    • dearbunny
      Participant
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      Thank you both for your suggestions. I gave up 24/7 bonding since they were constantly fighting. I have rearranged the C&C cubes, they live in the same pen with a grid wall in between. They will be able to see each other all the time. I still let them free roam for a couple of hours each every day. I hope this does not make things worse. I will continue with table bonding as it seems to be working well. Also, I will start short bunny dates again taking your advice.

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Forum BONDING I’m hopeless about my bunnies’ bonding