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Forum BEHAVIOR Neutered M Aggressive to Un-spayed F, Broken Bond

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    • Rex&Jenny
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        Hi everyone, I’m new here and am looking for some advice but also just some kind words of validation if anyone has them 😥 we’re pretty heartbroken right now. We got Rexford (neutered 2yo M) in Feb 23, and we got Jenny (unspayed 10mo F) in Aug 23. Despite her being unspayed, they were bonded gradually in around 3 weeks using the usual methods and have been inseparable ever since. They have never had a full physical fight at any point – sometimes Rex would nip her on the bum during bonding and pull a tiny bit of fur, and has occasionally done this since then if she steals his food (she came from a huge foster litter where she had to fight for food, and she is scrappy), but that is it, most of the time they are flopping together or mutually grooming. She has never shown aggression towards him or us, despite being unspayed. Jenny is extremely friendly with Rex and humans, and very affectionate. Rex is quite cautious and will sit for hours to be stroked, but is not forthcoming with his affection like Jenny.

        We planned to get Jenny spayed immediately, but she was sneezing – as the vet said this could be a respiratory infection he said to wait until it has cleared before her undergoing anaesthetic. Antibiotics haven’t touched it (despite trying different ones) so we are now undergoing other tests. In every other area (eating, toilet, social etc) she is fine and full of beans.

        Anyway, yesterday, a huge bunny tornado broke out without warning. Fur everywhere, my partner had to pick Rex up (they both hate being picked up) and carry him to another room. We let them settle apart for around 6 hours. I stupidly thought they had cooled off and would be OK as they have been nothing but loving for 5 months, so let them in together under supervision. They hopped around each other for 5-10 mins kind of ignoring each other, had some apple close together (Rex even binkied) then another tornado! Another 6 hours cooling off again, we let them in the same room with a pen separating, Rex vaulted the fence (I tried to catch him) and immediately another tornado. It is all Rex initiating this. I’ve checked him over for signs of pain incase he has something underlying causing him to be like this, he seems absolutely fine and completely normal with us. Jenny is also fine with us but very jumpy now generally.

        After 24hrs, we just gave them their veg with the pen up and us both supervising and he is trying to get through the bars to her and nip and swipe, it’s like he hates her 😥 he just won’t stop. She is showing no aggression towards him. I just don’t understand why this has happened so suddenly – could this really be due to her being unspayed even though they’ve been fine all this time and he’s initiating? I’m really worried I mucked this up by reintroducing them so freely after it happened and maybe it rubbed salt in the wound and broke the bond completely. Just to clarify, there have been no changes to their environment or in the home, they always have plenty of hay, nuggets, veg and water and we absolutely dote on them and give them lots of love every day ❤️  they are completely free roaming.

        Sorry for the long message, but any opinions or help would be appreciated, the thought that we can’t repair their bond is horrible, I’ve been crying since it happened. Thanks everyone.


      • Wick & Fable
        Moderator
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          Hormones impact animals much more than humans can probably imagine– her being unspayed can definitely explain an unstable, volatile relationship. It is very similar to the complete “baby bond” phenomena, where two young rabbits are cuddling in the morning and then suddenly going into tornadoes that evening. Intact rabbits can also bring about hormonal behavior in fixed rabbits, so yes, he is being influenced by her although it appears everything is just him.

          The conservative perspective is assuming you will start from scratch once she is spayed. Right now, I’d focus on keeping them separated as to not create any more negative interactions that may delay their ability to create a positive, stable bond.

          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.


          • Rex&Jenny
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              Thank you! That’s put my mind at ease a bit, and will keep them completely separate until she is spayed. Have a vets visit on Monday about her sneezing tests and will speak to him about spaying then. Thanks again


          • DanaNM
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            8960 posts Send Private Message

              Un-castrated rabbits do not form stable bonds due to their hormonal fluctuations, so it’s never recommended to try to bond an unspayed or neutered rabbit to another. Their bond was broken after the first fight, but it was likely not a fully formed strong bond to begin with. You need to fully separate them and let them forget the fighting. Do not let them interact at all, and ideally house them out of sight of each other. Get Jenny spayed, let her hormones settle, and then you’ll need to start from scratch.

              . . . 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.  


              • Rex&Jenny
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                  Thank you, this makes perfect sense and is really helpful. They currently have half the flat each separated by the hallway door so cannot see each other, will keep it that way until she’s spayed. Thanks


              • DanaNM
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                  That sounds like a good set up! Hopefully once she is spayed and hormones have settled they can have a fresh start.

                  . . . 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 BEHAVIOR Neutered M Aggressive to Un-spayed F, Broken Bond