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Forum BONDING One rabbit less interested than the other?

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    • Ru
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        Hello, I’m in the process of bonding 2 rabbits and one seems more interested than the other, is this normal? Any advice on how to progress further with the bonding?


        Are your bunnies spayed/neutered?

        <p class=”p1″>Yes, Julia was spayed before I adopted her, I’ve had her for 5 years. Charlie is neutered too, I’m not sure for how long but I’ve waited a month before introducing them to let hormones settle.

        Please describe your bunnies’ current housing set-up (living together, as neighbors, etc.). Have you done any “pre-bonding” (cage or litter box swaps, etc.)?</p>
        <p class=”p1″>They have their own room which is currently split down the middle so they can live side by side in separate pens with a small gap in the middle so they can’t reach each other through the bars. All leafy greens/additional foods to their hay have been given next to each other to encourage them to associate each other with good food. They’ve had alternating access to an outside run and I’ve done some side swapping and scent swapping of litter trays. </p>
        <p class=”p1″>
        Did you allow the bunnies to “settle-in”?
        </p>
        <p class=”p1″>Yes they’ve been side by side for a month. </p>
        <p class=”p1″>
        How would you describe your bunnies reactions towards each other (answer for each bunny): shy, scared, curious, calm, aggressive, excited, affectionate, etc.?
        </p>
        <p class=”p1″>Julia has been curious and excited, she often runs over to see Charlie and flops near him on her side of the pen. Charlie has been less interested and seems to just go about his life happily whether he can see her or not. He does lie down near her sometimes but I’m not sure if that’s on purpose or just coincidental.

        Have you started sessions yet? How long have you been working on bonding your bunnies? How frequently do you have bonding sessions, and how long are they?
        Have you tried any stressing techniques?</p>
        <p class=”p1″>Bonding has been going well so far, we’re on day 3 of the 24/7 method, we’re living in my sisters conservatory, they’re in a 2m x 1m pen with no furniture/litter trays just hay spread over the floor and a water bowl. We haven’t had any major fights just one incident of neck biting/the beginnings of boxing which I broke up by picking Charlie up for 20 seconds to let them cool down before putting him back in. This was on the first day around 30 minutes after they were introduced. Since then there’s been some chasing and fur pulling all initiated by Julia, Charlie just runs and thumps when she does this, she doesn’t chase him relentlessly and it often seems to be prompted by Julia being a bit possessive over a certain area of hay or scatter fed greens.</p>
        <p class=”p1″>Julia was the dominant bunny in her previous bond, we lost her brother Jeremy suddenly in May, they had a very loving relationship, she’s definitely missing having someone to snuggle with. We’re currently fostering Charlie to see if we can make them a bonded pair. Charlie was rescued from cruelty/neglect situation, he was living in a rat infested house and has some facial injuries, they’re completely healed but his nose is slightly deformed as a result. My concern is that Charlie seems a bit too indifferent to Julia’s presence in his life, when she initiates contact with him he seems to just lower his head and freeze. I wasn’t sure if this was a dominance seeking behaviour or not as he has the same reaction when I pet him. He’s otherwise very confident, moves around any space he’s in, flops out in the open, approaches people and takes food from your hand. </p>
        <p class=”p1″>Since trying to get Charlie to groom her hasn’t worked, Julia has changed tactic so each evening so far Julia has lay against him and groomed him slightly on his head and ears, he doesn’t react to this at all and I think it may be beginning to frustrate her. I’m not sure if he’s ever lived with another rabbit so could he just not know what to do? Is there anything more I could be doing to help them bond? I try petting them both while they’re sat near each other, I haven’t tried any stressing techniques yet, Julia gets stressed in the car but Charlie was flopped and sprawled out happy as Larry when we drove him home from the rescue so I’m not sure how to go about it. </p>
        <p class=”p1″>I went with the 24/7 method based on advice from another forum and because there isn’t much neutral space in my house as I also foster cats for another charity, the cats have never had access to the room the bunnies live in but are free roaming around other rooms in the house. I’m open to changing the method of bonding if need be, I took holiday from work from the 12th to the 24th to dedicate time to doing this as my shift pattern is often multiple 12hr days in a row so I can’t do consistent bonding sessions each day and a lot of sites said that skipping days could ruin the bond. There’s such a lot of conflicting information about the best way to bond rabbits it’s very confusing so I would appreciate any advice you can give on how to move forward! </p>
        <p class=”p1″>Thank you!</p>


      • DanaNM
        Moderator
        8839 posts Send Private Message

          Thanks for filling out the template! How long

          Things don’t sound to be going too badly, but I think given Charlie’s history he may benefit from a more gentle strategy. But it honestly sounds like it’s going OK and they may just need more time. It sounds like the main issue is that Julia has groomed him but he hasn’t groomed back? What happens when her grooming requests are not met? Does it lead to fighting or chasing? Do they cuddle at all?

          I’ve found it’s pretty common for one bun to be initiating most contact, and the other bun will often respond they way you describe. Refusing to groom and lowering the head is a dominant behavior, but it also indicates that he doesn’t quite trust her yet (the rabbits need to really trust each other for them to be willing to submit to the other bun).

          I think it’s good that you’ve been petting them, and it doesn’t sound like stressing is necessary. I think you could keep going with the current method, or you could try shorter sessions daily just to give everyone a break from the 24/7 supervision. Skipping a day here or there won’t be the end of the world, so don’t stress about that. You can also try a new location. When I was limited on neutral space I liked to bond at my friend’s house in her garage/shed.

          There really is a lot of conflicting info out there but it sounds like they just need more time. In my experience whenever I’ve put a firm timeline on when buns need to be bonded by I end up pushing them a bit too hard and it ends up taking longer. So don’t fret if they aren’t bonded by the 24th, you can switch to doing short sessions as you can and then longer ones on your days off.

          . . . 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 One rabbit less interested than the other?