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Forum BONDING Need Bonding Help! Normally loving male goes into blind rage

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    • Fruitfriend
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        I need some advice. My partner and I adopted a 5 year old dwarf lop (M) around this time last year. He is neutered. He lives in an an x-pen in the living room of our apartment, and is allowed to free roam for most of the day. Last month, we adopted a Dutch bunny in hopes of bonding her with the lop. The male was rather reserved when we brought him home last year, but since taking it slow with him he’s opened up so much- but I worry that I made a mistake in taking the female home after a rocky first meeting.

        She was spayed last month on the 17th. We brought our male to the foster mom’s home.. But he immediately tried to attack her, even after a 50 minute ride in the car. The foster mom tried squishing them together and petting in tandem, but he kept trying to rear his head over to bite multiple times. For some reason, we still brought her home. More on this later. Pre bonding couldn’t start for a few weeks after we discovered a fractured bone in her foot, so while she healed, we moved the male’s xpen into our bedroom.

        It’s been about two weeks since that happened, so we decided to begin prebonding again in hopes that he’s also had time to “forget” the rocky speed date. The female has not shown any aggression towards him since the beginning, even after several attempts were made to bite her. They have never shared an enclosure since we brought them home, as our male starts acting very aggressively when he sees her. The first week she was here, we had visual barriers in place. Despite this, he would often get riled up if someone so much as bumped the cage, thinking it was another bunny. He’d immediately fly into a blind rage and attack anything nearby, like, a an absolute flurry of rage, attacking things in the enclosure, honking, growling, running around looking for a way out. We spent a few weeks swapping their litter boxes and toys. Now that her foot is all healed up, we’ve since moved his enclosure back to the living room across from hers, and have begun moving the bunnies back and forth between their pens so they can get used to using each other’s stuff and smells- as instructed by a local bonder. At first I was worried that maybe there hadn’t been enough time since her spay was recent at the time, and that was why he immediately tried to attack her… (she was 2 weeks out from the spay at the time of the speed date) But now that she’s had time to settle in, he seems almost just as on edge as he was before. We have a bonder’s help but I feel lost as to what to do at home with them before we hand things over to her.

         

        What do I do when he goes into a blind rage? Should I soothe him? Should I let it just happen? I feel like I’m doing everything wrong here. I just thought that the foster mom saw potential that I didn’t, and now I’m wondering if I should’ve questioned it all more :/ I have tried soothing him once during one of these rage fits where she had rattled the cage and (knowing i was at risk of being bitten) I tried stepping in to reach him and he immediately bit my leg, pretty hard through pants LOL I’m just worried he will really hurt her if given the chance…if there’s anything anyone can suggest to help me make progress at home, anything would be appreciated. 


      • mia
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          I don’t understand; why are you trying to set them up? Were there ever signs they wanted to be friends in the first place? Just like there’s love at first sight/smell, there’s hate at first sight/smell. Maybe I’m missing something but I feel like this is the wrong arranged marriage.

          Just as a precaution, has the male bun seen a vet for a checkup?

           


          • Fruitfriend
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              He has been to the vet for regular checkups.


          • DanaNM
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              I too am perplexed as to why you would bring her home after such a bad speed date. In my mind, the purpose of the speed date is to make sure the buns do not hate each other, and it appears that your bun does NOT like this female.

              There are of course things we can try, but I have to ask, is it possible to return her and try another rabbit? This sounds like it would be a very difficult match. Not impossible, but there are bonds that just will not work and it’s possible this is one of those situations. Usually the female being slightly hormonal can make the male MORE interested, not more aggressive.

              If you want to keep trying with this bond, I recommend a very long pre-bonding period. I would pause side swaps and just have them live as neighbors for a while. I’m hesitant to give a timeline, because you will want to wait until he stops reacting so much to her. Once that happens, resume swapping sides until he calms down again.

              Once that happens, you can try very very short sessions in a very neutral space. Some stressing may be necessary. It will be essential that you prevent fighting.

              I would definitely talk to the rescue and see what they say. Some buns are harder to pair but it doesn’t mean you won’t find a bun that could work.

              . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


              • Fruitfriend
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                  Thank you for taking the time to respond. I truly do not blame the foster for “letting” the adoption happen, but I my mistake was putting too much weight into the answer about whether she thought this would work out between the two buns. 🙁 I thought that she saw potential that we weren’t able to since we are first time bunny owners. He has been to the vet for regular checkups, his demeanor around us is perfectly fine and calm, it only changes when he sees her moving around in her enclosure.

                  I care for them both so much, we would’ve been happy with just the male, but ever since he started opening up I also wanted to be sure he didn’t get lonely :/ The foster did say that we could bring the female back after 60 days if nothing has changed, so I will contact her about that today 


                • DanaNM
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                    Honestly, I think that may be the best option. I’m sure the other bun will find a good home. I would just let the foster know that he really isn’t settling down and you don’t think it will be a good pairing.

                    It is impossible to predict how a bun will react towards another bun, which is why speed dating is so valuable.

                    For your reference, when I do speed dating (with either my own rabbits or helping supervise others at the rescue), I like to see behaviors such as:

                    – exploring the pen and not really focusing too much on the other bun at first

                    -curious interest in each other (ears forward, slow following, etc).

                    It’s ok for there to be some tension (such as thumping or grunting). Mounting or mounting attempts are pretty normal. Of course some really good dates you may see some grooming or relaxing but that’s more rare. In your case, it was good that the other rabbit didn’t fight back, but seeing one bun immediately attack another would be a sign that it’s not a good match for me. You don’t need to see love at first sight, you just want to see they have some interest in the other bun but not outright aggression.

                    There is the occasional bun that doesn’t seem to like other buns, no matter how many companions are tried, and that’s OK too, but I would try to take him on a few more speed dates and see how those 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 Need Bonding Help! Normally loving male goes into blind rage