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Forum BONDING Recently Adopted Female Bonded Pair Now Fighting – Help!

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    • emkvet
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        Hi all,

        I am a long-time bunny mom, but we have recently adopted our first pair. Eloise and Penelope are spayed and 1 year old; they were found together in a neighborhood, caught by the rescue, and spayed, so they have been together pre- and post-spay. Eloise apparently would chase Penelope pre-spay, but not afterward. When we brought them home, they were very cuddly with each other; there was intermittent chasing (Eloise is the chaser) but it would often end in binkies and did not seem aggressive. However, after the first few days, I introduced a large castle, and since then, Eloise has been chasing Penelope multiple times a day, and sometimes pulling out fur. No bites/injuries or bunny tornadoes. Penelope never engages in chasing or reciprocates any aggression toward Eloise, but it’s clear this is stressing her out. Eloise is still grooming Penelope, but I also see her ask for grooming, which Penelope does not typically give back. They are rarely lying together now. I made their enclosure smaller (they were in 2 xpens put together along the perimeter of their own bedroom, now it’s one), added a second litterbox, and they have two pellet dishes and two water dishes. There is no chasing when I let them out to play in the room outside of the x-pen. They are not bold enough to venture out of the room yet, and they are very afraid of my dog passing by their room.

        I know this transition to a new home environment is stressful, which has probably triggered this aggression. However, I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t really want to separate them into different pens yet. Do you think I should move them to a different “neutral” space? Even though the room I moved them in to is technically neutral for them, my previous bunny (RIP Ollie) did live in there (same rugs – vacuumed, new blankets, new litterboxes, new xpens). Should I try to do some car rides and washing machine stress, or take them with me to work (I’m a vet) and have them be in a small space in our Exotics ward together for a day?

        Thank you in advance for the help!


      • DanaNM
        Moderator
        9038 posts Send Private Message

          I think it’s very possible this was just triggered by the change in location, and the stress that goes along with it.  Have you removed the offending castle?  How many days have you had them?

          A little chasing is OK at this phase, I would definitely monitor closely though. Do they share food and litter boxes without issues?

          I think continuing to supervise is the best move, so taking them with you to work is not a bad idea (just keep an eye on their stress levels). I’ve also had luck doing “couples therapy” with buns, where I bring them to a very plain neutral space (like a bathroom or bathtub), and put some banana on their heads to encourage grooming. Often they just need a little encouragement to remember they like each other. I do suspect things should improve with time. I would keep their enclosure simple, and be sure that all hides are spacious and with at least 2 exits so they don’t feel cornered.

          . . . 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.  


        • emkvet
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          376 posts Send Private Message

            Thank you for the reply!

            I did remove the castle. I’ve had them for 3 weeks now. They were originally sharing everything, but when I saw that there was some fighting I added a second litterbox, and now there are also 2 food bowls and 2 water bowls. I took out hides originally, but last night took apart the castle and made it into 2 hides. They seemed engaged and happy last night, but this morning Eloise began chasing Penelope as soon as I came in to feed them, and grabbed more hair. Penelope just runs and then sits in a corner, afraid 🙁 Poor girl. I have today off so perhaps I’ll try couples therapy!


            • DanaNM
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                One of my pairs has some food-related aggression, which is not uncommon. Once the food is down they share happily, and go back to cuddling and grooming each other after meals so I don’t worry about it too much.

                I would start trying to keep track of when you notice aggressive behaviors, and whether they also have positive behaviors in between. If you don’t see any positives in between the chases, or you are noticing them mostly unprovoked, that is more of a concern.

                . . . 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.  


            • emkvet
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              376 posts Send Private Message

                Some of the aggression is sparked when I come into their room, but other times I can’t seem to find a pattern. It doesn’t seem related to any objects.

                I did couples therapy in the bathtub, and they did huddle together and there was grooming from Eloise to Penelope, but not vice versa. It’s interesting that Eloise is doing a lot of chasing, but is also the one doing the grooming. These dang confusing buns!


              • bunniesditto
                Participant
                3 posts Send Private Message

                  poor buns, hope they sort it out soon. keep us posted!


                • emkvet
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                    Thanks everyone. Today things aren’t much better. When I entered the room there was a few episodes of chasing (Eloise always chasing Pen). Penelope has been hiding under a blanket for over an hour today 🙁 I think it’s because it’s the only way Eloise will leave her alone and not chase her. My husband went in and checked on Pen, and she did use the litterbox, but then went right back under the blanket. Poor little babe.

                    Do you think it’s time to put them in separate xpens that are near each other for a while? I’m not really sure what I should be doing, because it’s not escalated beyond chasing/fur pulling, so I don’t want to separate them, but Penelope seems unhappy.


                  • DanaNM
                    Moderator
                    9038 posts Send Private Message

                      Hmmmm, can you consult with the rescue you adopted them from? They may be able to help.  If the chasing is preventing Penelope from eating etc then separating may be a good idea. Then I would keep doing bonding sessions in a neutral space if you can.

                       

                      . . . 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 Recently Adopted Female Bonded Pair Now Fighting – Help!