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Home Forums BONDING Question regarding bonding

This topic contains 9sd replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  BunnyLady 2 years, 6 months ago.

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    I have read various articles on how to bond two rabbits.  I successfully bonded my original pair 7 years ago – Mandy and Bailey.  Bailey passed away in December.  I didn’t immediately adopt another bunny because I knew I was going to have total knee replacement.  Which I had 5 weeks ago today.  Mandy seemed to get thru the mourning process ok and started seeking my attention more and more.  But still she seemed very lonesome without Bailey.  So we decided to look for another male to adopt.

    We adopted a one year old male Californian from a shelter last Sat and named him Jack.  He seemed very friendly and wanted us to pet him at the shelter.

    I set up a pen in the living room for the male and gave him a couple days to himself.  I set up another pen next to his and put Mandy next to him.  I left her there about 15 minutes.  Seemed to go ok.  Just one little bit of aggression at first on Jack’s part.  Mandy mirrored his action and then both were fine.  I have done this same type of date the last three nights and so far I have seen only one more time where Jack pounced a little and instead of the same reaction, Mandy turned her back to him. Have seen each one groom themselves, sit in the litter box eating hay, and eating parsley in front of eachother.  Saw Jack do a great side flop and some binky’s. Saw Mandy lay in front of him like she was asking him to groom her.  Also saw both of them lay down next to eachother at multiple times.  I switched chew toys last night and both chin marked them and then chewed on them.  Then I returned them back to eachother. I also rubbed Mandy’s head then Jacks and back to Mandy so they could smell eachothers scent. 

    I’m just not sure how long to keep having these dates, and when to move to the next step of switching pens.  And I don’t know when I should attempt to put them together in a different neutral room. Being that Mandy is older and the boss of our house, I’m not sure when to progress to the next steps.

    She doesn’t seem upset that he is here.  She looks thru my french doors into the living room at him.  But she seems to be happy when I put her back in the family room to her old routine.

    I could eventually place Jack in the kitchen and her in the family room, separated by a fence.  This is how Mandy and Bailey lived the last six months of Bailey’s life (he had terribly thin skin and would tear with Mandy’s grooming so I ended up having to have them separate by a fence.  She and Bailey would spend hours laying next to eachother with the fence between them  She seemed content as long as she could see him and knew he was there.

    Just wondering how to progress given Mandy’s age.  I would be afraid to keep her penned all day next to him.  She easily gets GI blockages and I would be afraid a big change to her routine could trigger GI issues.

    Any advice is welcome!



    A quick update.  Last night after putting Mandy in her pen next to Jack for a period of time, I switched them out.  They both checked each others toys out, chin rubbed them, used each others litter box and ate food in front of each other.

    I repeated the process this afternoon.  They both enjoyed napping in the sun next to each other in their pens.  I gave them a little afternoon snack.  I left them in their own pens thru dinner time when they become a little more active.

    I switched them again in each others pens and that seemed to go fine.  After playing and scruffing each others blankets, using each others litter box and sharing some parsley strung between their pens, they finally laid down near each other.

    If time permits tomorrow, I will try placing them in a neutral room Mandy has never been in before.  I do not want to rush the process.  I keep increasing time next to each other and so far they seem to be doing ok.

    Any suggestions?



    Hi Bunny Lady Sounds like they’re off to a good start. I think longer is better, and like you’ve said, your don’t want to rush it. Maybe a week or two, all up. I don’t have experience with older buns who’ve had stasis, so my advice is minimal.

    Some owners have had good experience with introducing in a larger space. I prefer to keep the space small to minimise chasing cos that worked better for my two. Just maybe get ready to carefully wedge someting like a shoe in between them should one attack the other.



    Since this process seems to be going ok, I think I will go a few days more of putting her next to him for longer periods of time.  So they really get used to each other.  I’m thinking of putting them in my large entryway which is adjacent to the living room where they are in pens next to each other.  There is a big carpet with wood floors around it that they are not as found of walking/hopping on but nothing to get out of our sight and hide under and get into trouble.  I could sit in this room and jump up and separate them if I need to.  I have also read a water bottle can break up a fight if one occurs or put oven mits on so you can break them up without getting bit myself.  

    But so far none of this process seems to upsetting Mandy’s GI system.  I think she is more interested in having him come and groom her as her former mate did and lay next to her.  I think he would like to hump her and now lets go and explore and play.  He was neutered a few weeks ago at the shelter so I’m sure he is coming down from the hormones.  But Bailey was 7-8 and he still liked a good chase and hump every now and then.  Mandy would allow it as long as he agreed to groom her which he did.  They were truly a match made in heaven.  I would be happy if I just provided her with some companionship in her later years even if not true love again.  



    I have read a water bottle can break up a fight if one occurs or put oven mits on so you can break them up without getting bit myself.
    But so far none of this process seems to upsetting Mandy’s GI system. I think she is more interested in having him come and groom her as her former mate did and lay next to her. I think he would like to hump her and now lets go and explore and play. He was neutered a few weeks ago at the shelter so I’m sure he is coming down from the hormones.

    That’s good to hear Maddie is doing well. I think it’s wise to her tolerance level as an indicator. Spray bottles do work, but sometimes they don’t if the rabbits really get ticked off with each other, in which case loud noises are better. But sometimes you do have to stand in there and be prepared to physically separate them. Watch your arm doesn’t get bitten if the oven mitt is too short (worst case scenario). Yeah, you wanna wait about 4 week, so his hormones can leave the body, and so he can adjust to his new home. Never hurts to be cautious. Bunnies often surprise – you think you know whose the groomer – till someone proves you wrong



    Well I put Mandy and Jack together in a neutral area.  Jack was thrilled to be out of his pen to explore but he did check out Mandy as well.  Mandy laid down and wanted Jack to groom her, just as I expected.  There was zero aggression by either bun.  They both went in and used Mandy’s litter box at the same time.  I kept them together about 45 minutes and it all went very well.  I placed them next to eachother in their separate pens.  So far so good.  The only thing is – Jack is a bit destructive.  He chews every thing he can get a hold of.  Not sure how it will go when I allow him to be in my family room where Mandy lives.  



    The process has been going very well.  For about a week, I have placed Jack in with Mandy in my kitchen area.  She has been trying to teach him how to groom her head and ears by example.  I have been increasing their date time.  Tonight Jack decided to pursue Mandy and get to know her a little better.  She allowed him and they laid next to eachother.  So they are officially bonded. 

    I purchased two new exercise pens to give them a large safe play area; they should arrive next week.  I keep Jack in a large pen during the day.   She naps next to his pen for long periods of time.  He is a bit too disruptive to give him free access to my family room and kitchen like Mandy has and I think 24/7 would be too much for Mandy given the large age difference.  So far this seems to suit them both.  I think Mandy is happier to have a male back in her life.  And Jack has loving bunny parents now in a furever home.  



    Oh, that’s great to hear I like that word – disruptive. It sounds better than “chews the hell out of everything”, hahaha. Congrats on your newly bonded bun-buneero’s!



    I’m confused – have you put them both in their permanent residence yet and supervised them for 48 hours?



    What I have been doing is sectioning off my kitchen area from the adjoining family room and placing Mandy and Jack together with close supervision.  I also have been placing them together for longer periods of time.  Tonight they were together for about 4 hours.  At bedtime, I return Jack to his very large pen and take down the other pen so that Mandy has access to the family room and kitchen again.  Jack’s pen is within the family room.  While together, they seem to be spending a lot of time laying next to eachother and grooming eachother.  It took a few days of Mandy showing Jack how to groom the head and ears and finally, last night, Jack returned the favor.

    It isn’t that ultimately I would want to let them coexist full time, it is just that either Mandy would have to be placed in the pen with Jack. He is way too destructive to give him full access to my family room and kitchen.  Despite tons of chew toys, any chance he gets, he starts chewing on the baseboards, my patio door.  If he went in the family room he would go for my couch, fireplace, french doors.

    I just purchased two more exercise pens that arrived today, to be used in the kitchen so that he can’t get at my patio door.  I could eventually put the four pens together and make one large pen for Mandy & Jack to live together in.  I just hate to close Mandy in after eight years of freedom.  She suffers from GI slowdowns and I would hate to restrict her movement in any way.  In time, if Jack gets a little less destructive, I could try letting him have freedom with her.  For now he has increasing play time with Mandy in a controlled environment and has a big double pen loaded with toys to spend his day in and Mandy laying on the other side of the pen next to him.  

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