Forum

OUR FORUM IS UP BUT WE ARE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF UPDATING AND FIXING THINGS.  SOME THINGS WILL LOOK WEIRD AND/OR NOT BE CORRECT. YOUR PATIENCE IS APPRECIATED.  We are not fully ready to answer questions in a timely manner as we are not officially open, but we will do our best. 

You may have received a 2-factor authentication (2FA) email from us on 4/21/2020. That was from us, but was premature as the login was not working at that time. 

BUNNY 911 – If your rabbit hasn’t eaten or pooped in 12-24 hours, call a vet immediately! Don’t have a vet? Check out VET RESOURCES

The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

What are we about?  Please read about our Forum Culture and check out the Rules

BUNNY 911 – If your rabbit hasn’t eaten or pooped in 12-24 hours, call a vet immediately!  Don’t have a vet? Check out VET RESOURCES 

The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet.  It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

BINKYBUNNY FORUMS

Forum BONDING Seemingly random aggression

Viewing 25 reply threads
  • Author
    Messages

    • Salem Fluffle
      Participant
      45 posts Send Private Message

      Smudge, my 7 month old male, is typically the most gentle of my four rabbits. We are currently bonding Smudge and his friend Scout, to our much older pair of Mini Rex’s. The mini’s are completely unfazed by the new babies. Scout has been slightly nervous at times but generally calm. Smudge was getting upset if we allowed the mini’s out and they ran past his pen to get to our living room where they have free roam throughout the day. I figured it had to do with jealously that he was penned and they were not, so we stopped letting them go in/out themselves and we carry the minis out of our bedroom to their run space, which seemed to stop a lot of Smudge’s attitude. They’ve been living in side by side pens for 3 weeks, they’ve had one face to face date, and we’ve been purposefully doing cross-scenting. I’ve pet the minis and then pet the babies many many times over the last three months to help each pair adjust to the scent of the other buns, and I’ve never had anybody nip me or act upset.

      Last night, my husband had carried one of our minis into the room at bedtime and then went to pet the babies. The babies were fine at first and Smudge was sniffing my husbands hand. Scout came up to my husband and as she approached, Smudge ran at her and tornadoed. We pulled them apart as quick as we could and Smudge has pulled a decent chunk of fur from Scout’s backend but there were no injuries. We could tell she was frightened because once we got him separated, she immediately squashed against the opposite pen wall in a fearful position.

      While I of course know that he could hurt Scout, I don’t think he would intentionally hurt her. After I calmed Scout down, we put them back together and they went to sleep cuddling and grooming each other last night. Their bond is true and hasn’t been ruptured by being next to our other pair. What I don’t understand is why the heck my sweet, gentle boy has random fits of fur pulling and tornadoes. Any ideas?


    • Bam
      Moderator
      15918 posts Send Private Message

      I moved this post to the bonding section, because this really sounds like it is about changes in group dynamics. I dont think Smudge was envious of the minis getting playtime while he was penned – I rather think he saw the minis as invaders of his territory.

      Smudge isnt being mean because he likes to be mean.

      @DanaNM is our bonding expert and I’m sure shell give you some great tips about what you can try to make the situation less stressful for Smudge.

      The most common cause of unprovoked sudden aggression is pain, but bonding is absolutely enough to provoke aggression even in the meekest of buns.


      • Salem Fluffle
        Participant
        45 posts Send Private Message

        Thank you! I wasn’t sure if I should put it in behavior or bonding. I know he isn’t being mean to be mean either. He is by far the sweetest most gentle bunny I’ve ever met, which is why it seems so out of character for him to randomly have a fit. I appreciate you rerouting this and I fully trust that Dana will have great advice. 🙂


    • Wick & Fable
      Moderator
      5484 posts Send Private Message

      If I’m understanding the set-up and pairs/bonding correctly, Smudge’s aggression was most likely due to your husband introducing the scent of the minis into Smudge’s space. Rabbits have great hearing and smell, though their vision is not great, in addition to their judgement relative to how quickly they react to things. Act first, think after tends to be their speed. It is not uncommon for a rabbit to reflexively attack something in front of them upon smelling a new, potentially threatening sense from elsewhere. It’s sort of the same mechanism that leads them to reflexively groom the ground, even though that’s not where the groomer is. Additionally, introduction on unfamiliar, unbonded rabbits in any degree, whether it is visual or scent, is absolutely enough to destabilize/break a bond, especially if it is new, weak, unstable, or not yet formed.

      Can you provide the ages, time since neuters/spays, and bonding process you’ve had with all rabbits involved? That may help clarify some dynamics, though ultimately it sounds like while you are bonding Smudge and Scout, you need to be very vigilant about whether you (humans) are introducing scents of other rabbits into that space, as that will definitely create an obstacle in bonding.

      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.


      • Salem Fluffle
        Participant
        45 posts Send Private Message

        Smudge is 7 months, neutered since 10/8/21. Scout is 10 months, spayed since 10/8/21. They both came home on 10/13/21 and they had already been housed near each other at the shelter, so we kept them close during their quarantine process for 2 weeks. Then we started face to face dates and within a month of them coming home, they were moved in together. They never fought or had any tussles. We allowed them to continue living in our office for another 3 weeks (the neutral space they bonded in). During their time in the office, they would see our mini’s through the baby gate across the office door but they were never physically introduced.

        Freckles and Rascal are the Mini Rex pair. They are a brother/sister duo that has never been separated since birth and now they’re 9.5 years old. Rascal was neutered when he was around 4 months old and Freckles was spayed when she was around a year old. They couldn’t care less about the new littles. There has been zero signs of aggression or annoyance from them. They don’t even mark in their pen with the littles living next to them.

        The current set up is the mini’s are in an x-pen and the littles (S&S) are in an x-pen, separated by about 1 – 1.5 feet. The littles do mark, mostly with poop, but there’s the occasional pee outside of their boxes. Both pairs have been living next to each other for 3 weeks, and they have been to the vet twice for their RHDV2 vaccines (S&S in one carrier, F&R in another, placed side by side in the backseat of my car). We have been petting one pair and then petting the other pair for two months at this point to help rub the scents across each bun/pen area. Nobody has ever reacted to the others scent like Smudge did last night.

        On Christmas, we tried a group date as I figured opening their Christmas presents/treats would be a helpful distraction. Smudge and Rascal nipped each other once, and they were the most interested in each other. Scout nipped Freckles backside while Freckles focused on eating treats. Freckles is the sole bun who was absolutely unfazed during the date. She literally ate willow leaves the entire time and paid no attention to the littles. All four eventually settled down and ate treats. Both girls mirrored solo grooming, and Scout even flopped down. I was fairly impressed with the one face to face date we’ve tried. Unfortunately I work at a residential facility and I’ve worked every single day but one over the last 2.5 weeks, so by the time I’ve made it home most days I’m too tired to properly supervise face to face dates and I’ve been focused on doing pre-bonding tactics like swapping scents via cross petting, swapping food bowls, having dinner side by side in respected home bases, etc., and during my upcoming week off I figured I would do some short dates again.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7577 posts Send Private Message

      Thanks for all the info!

      What you witnessed is called “referred aggression”, and it happens pretty commonly in bonded pairs when a new rabbit is around. It’s also very common for existing pairs to split up in the process of bonding a trio or quad (I also volunteered at a shelter, and we had to watch out for this in our pairs, since there were new rabbits around all the time). Even though you hadn’t seen it before, it was probably just a timing issue, or Smudge smelling the other rabbits right as Scout ran up. Smudge probably just got a little confused and saw Scout as an unfamiliar bun. It’s great they are doing well again though.

      Just because they have a strong bond now doesn’t mean it is unbreakable. If you plan to proceed with a quad, be prepared to potentially house them separately if more fighting occurs once you start sessions.

      Petting to swap scents is great, but swapping sides (which pair is in which pen) or litter boxes would be even better.

      . . . 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.  


      • Salem Fluffle
        Participant
        45 posts Send Private Message

        Dana,

        I told my husband “I betcha he was busy smelling the mini’s and Scout was in his blind spot” because she approached from the front. Smudge really is the sweetest so I know he doesn’t mean it. That little baby doesn’t even tug treats out of my hand like the other 3 will do.

        I don’t expect my mini’s bond to break since it’s so well-forged and they have absolutely no issues with the littles being introduced but I do know it’s possible. I do understand that the littles may break temporarily and I could end up with 3 (or 4 if worse case scenario) pens during the group bonding. I know all four are fully capable of being friends because they have such similarities in personalities and nobody is extremely dominant amongst them. We are committed to making our fluffle work. (And we’re actually swapping boxes today as the mini’s are adjusting to a larger litter box.)


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7577 posts Send Private Message

      Thanks for the update! Hopefully things will go smoothly!

      . . . 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.  


    • Salem Fluffle
      Participant
      45 posts Send Private Message

      Now that the mini’s have upgraded to the same size/style of litter box, we’ve begun moving soiled litter/boxes around between the two pairs. The mini’s didn’t care at all about Smudge and Scout’s litter being introduced to their box. S&S were definitely more curious and somehow I got lucky that it almost seems to encourage them to pee on the mini’s litter instead of urine marking around their cage. (Counting my blessings there!)

      We decided to try our second date today and I’m not sure how I feel about it. S&S continue to be the curious of the four – they both wanted to sniff the mini’s. Freckles remains completely uninterested. She mostly ate the willow leaves they all had and then she full on loafed down to go to sleep in a corner after grooming herself. Rascal seemed a little anxious but mostly kept to himself. I worry about how much damage S&S could do since they are significantly larger than the mini’s – Scout is over twice as large as Freckles – so I have kept a gloved hand on the ready when I allow S&S to get closer. Scout did sniff Rascal from behind, and I thought she was going to nip him because her tail was up though her ears were forward facing, but she ran back to the other side of me like she was nervous. After I talked to her and Rascal in a calm voice, she flopped down along side my leg and stayed sprawled out for the rest of the date. Smudge wanted to get close to the mini’s and he is who I am absolutely the most nervous about since he can change his attitude in a heartbeat. I very carefully let him get closer to Rascal who was also interested in sniffing. Before I knew it, Smudge let out a little growl sound and nipped Rascal’s nose. We quickly separated them and Rascal went to cuddle with Freckles after giving her one little nip that she was unbothered by.

      It feels like I’ve got a few positives, lots of neutral, and only the one nip tonight. I’ve only ever bonded S&S since the mini’s came to me as a pair when they were 3 months old. Am I doing this right for the group dynamic? Is there a way to encourage Freckles’ interest in S&S or is her lack of interest okay for now? (I think she’d be just fine being the lowest in their hierarchy.) Should I keep being the helicopter mom worried about nips to the face since those seem more dangerous? Or should I stop dates and only do swaps for X amount of time? (They’ve lived side by side for over 3 weeks now.)


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7577 posts Send Private Message

      I think that sounds like a pretty positive date to me. Uninterested is totally fine, it means the bun isn’t really threatened by the others, so I don’t think you need to force any interactions at this phase. Choosing to eat, groom, and relax is a choice that she made after she decided the other buns were “safe”, which is great.

      Rather than immediately separating when they approach each other and you suspect they might nip, try petting both buns and swap scents to make it a positive interaction. This helps them start to build a positive association with each other. Eventually you will ease off this much involvement, but in the beginning it can be really helpful to make sure things don’t immediately escalate.

      I think continuing swaps and doing short sessions for a bit sounds like a good plan.

      . . . 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.  


    • Salem Fluffle
      Participant
      45 posts Send Private Message

      Thank you for your feedback! It makes me feel a lot better that you felt this was a positive date. I don’t separate when I suspect they might nip, I just tend to keep a hand nearby to separate if they do get aggressive. I know that the nipping will bit part of their process to establish hierarchy, but I would prefer butt nips and not face nips. lol

      We introduced stuffed animals this morning too. Smudge used to sleep with one because we could tell he really wanted a friend to snuggle as we were working on bonding him with Scout, so I put “Franklin” (his previous stuffy) in with our mini’s and gave S&S a new stuffed animal to get their scent on before we swap them tomorrow.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7577 posts Send Private Message

      Yeah I agree about face nips! They are a lot more stressful and it’s good to try to prevent them.

      . . . 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.  


    • Salem Fluffle
      Participant
      45 posts Send Private Message

      We had the best date so far last night! Scout was interested in the mini’s and went to sniff them. She took off back to her own side without any nipping. Even Smudge sniffed without nipping. And both girls groomed and laid down to rest (separately) while the boys munched on some willow leaves about two feet apart. I call that a success! 🙂


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7577 posts Send Private Message

      Sounds great!

      . . . 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.  


    • Salem Fluffle
      Participant
      45 posts Send Private Message

      Little pros, some cons, lots of stress.

      Pros – still swapping litter boxes, we’ve done cross petting side by side without anybody attempting to bite/nip their neighbor

      Cons – still just the referred aggression and nervousness among the four buns

      Since my last post, we did a couple more dates that seemed pretty neutral. The girls were more nervous but nobody showed any aggression toward each other.

      Then last Saturday, 1/8, we had to take Rascal to the animal hospital to get his eye looked at. We decided to take a break from dates as he started his antibiotics. We swapped litter boxes twice throughout the week but wanted it to be as little stress as possible for him.

      Today we decided to do a marathon date and it did not go very well. Scout came in incredibly tense (I think the referred aggression between her and Smudge has put her on edge). Rascal was angry because he wanted to play/nap. Freckles was shy as usual but interacted more today than normal. Rascal and Scout got into a minor spat, which set off Smudge, and made Freckles more nervous on her side of the bonding space. After about 15 minutes, I realized Scout needed to go back to her homebase because she was just too nervous and tense. Rascal was so mad about being on a date that he full on bit me, so I opted to let him go do his own thing. I only had Smudge and Freckles together for another 10 minutes before I called it quits. They did pretty good I think. Smudge attempted to nip Freckles side/butt a couple times but it was pretty gentle and I think more so for dominance. Freckles didn’t react to his nips. As much as I don’t care for how the date went, I think it could be good in that they’re actually starting to interact and determine their chain of command?

      After the date we noticed an increase in referred aggression between S&S. Scout seems nervous around Smudge, sometimes instigating until he comes barreling at her. I knew it could happen but it hurt my heart tonight to separate them into two living spaces. I have a divider in their pen and I don’t expect them to fight through the bars since they’ve not injured each other and they can get away from each other. What I’m most curious about is if they can still come out to play in their shared area? F&R are free roam and I haven’t wanted to switch up too much of their schedule due to their age, so S&S come out to play when F&R go to bed. (And a few times throughout the day to stretch their legs.) I’d hate to have to give them separate times because it shorts them even more and they have baby energy to burn off. They also still remain mostly friendly as we continue to see them mutually grooming each other and cuddling when they’re tired.

      I really do have faith that we can do this. The buns all have so many similarities and nobody is overtly aggressive/dominant. I think Smudge wants to be top bun, but once he feels like he’s in charge, he is such a sweet and gentle soul. I saw this in his relationship with Scout, who he still grooms and wants to cuddle despite the current aggression. It’s stressful to me to feel like we had a setback today because we’ve been doing prebonding stuff for 3.5 months (1.5 months of it has been living in the same room). I wish I knew how to calm their nerves, particularly my girls as they seem to be the most nervous/stressed. Any feedback or tips?


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7577 posts Send Private Message

      Hmm, that’s tough. Things do sometimes seem to get worse before they get better. It may help you to read through some trio and quad bonding journals to get a sense of how things can progress. It’s important just to keep letting them spend time together in neutral territory, and do your best to prevent fighting. Experimenting with the space can also help (larger or smaller, stressful or less stressful, with or without obstacles (like tunnels).

      Here’s a few bonding journals that may be helpful (some success stories and some failures):

      *BONDED* Trio journal – Luna, Atlas and Nimbus

      Terry, Maggie, and Greebo bonding journal

      Bungled Bonding Updates

      (my own failed attempt):https://binkybunny.com/forums/topic/trio-bonding-journal-bun-jovi-myra-and-bonnie/

      . . . 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.  


    • Salem Fluffle
      Participant
      45 posts Send Private Message

      Dang! Terry, Maggie, and Greebo sound magical!

      Dana’s post – What did you use for “nose guards” to keep them from nipping through the pen? I struggled to find anything that was big enough to zip tie but small enough to keep their little noses from getting through. Currently I have the litter tray screens from the BinkyBunny store coming this week which I’m hoping can double as guards. (Also, omg your bunnies are cute. Especially the bun with the little brown spots/nose.)

      Luna, Atlas, and Nimbus – I like the idea of using food to lure them in. I tried scattering food in the bonding pen the other night because most of the group are little chonks who love to eat. For the most part they do eat in front of each other, but not necessarily with each other. (It seems each pair sticks to “their side” of the bonding area and shares food within that pair.)

      HipHopBunny – those girls seemed tough. The chasing reminds me of Smudge who will definitely chase though he’s definitely improved recently.

      I also read through the entirety of Susanne’s bonding process with Ruby and Maxwell. That seemed so challenging but what a relief she finally got the bunnies bonded!

      I was using a sheet between the two pens (before S&S were separated). I think the visual of the mini’s was stressful for Scout, but I also know it’s important that she get used to seeing them. I’m hoping once I get a suitable nose guard, I can place her pen wall very close to the mini’s so she’s able to approach them without the ability to act aggressively toward them.

      The referred aggression between Smudge and Scout seems to have died down. We still let them out together in their run space and they haven’t been nipping/chasing the last couple of days. We also took the last two days off from dating but continue to work on cross scent things like swapping boxes, petting one than the other, and we have two little stuffed bunnies that we swap between them. Scout is still nervous and she hikes her tail up pretty far but her ears stay forward. She doesn’t growl or lunge right now, so that’s progress in my eyes.

      Scout seems to be my wild card. She’s very friendly, LOVES to be the center of attention, but I think her aggression comes from fear. I’m thinking the pen walls being closer so she can explore her curiosity/fear about the minis will be positive, and in addition I might have her date with Freckles 1:1 a few times so Scout can learn there isn’t a threat. (Freckles actually immediately groomed her the other day when I placed them together and covered Scouts face/pet her.)

      Two questions I have about the bonding space that I can’t seem to find a concrete answer on though:

      1. Do you think it matters that I sit in the bonding space with them? We have been using a hallway of my house that none of the bunnies have ever been in and I would say it’s about 2 ft x 3.5 ft. I keep my back to the wall so nobody can run behind me and surprise attack another rabbit.
      2. What are considered “semi neutral” areas? I have limited space that none of the bunnies have been in, one room where S&S have been that the minis have not, one room where F&R have been that the littles have not, and our bedroom is where they all sleep with us which is also the final home they’ll share.

      Sorry for my novel. I’m just trying to do right by all four of these fluffballs and I hope to make it as easy as possible on them since F&R are older.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7577 posts Send Private Message

      Omg yes Terry, Greebo, and Maggie were just a magical group.

      I was so excited about the nose guards I made a post about them LOL https://binkybunny.com/forums/topic/nose-guards/

      You can connect them with tiny zip ties. You can also use small mesh hardware cloth (1/2″ or 1/4″ mesh size), they sell it in rolls at the hardware store. It’s basically what they use to make rabbit hutches and those litter box screens.

      To answer your questions:

      1. I don’t think you need to sit in the pen, but you should probably be in the pen with them at this point. Once things start getting calmer and more predictable I usually stand or sit just outside the pen, but in early days I want to be able to intervene immediately if things get tense. I have also had much better luck in large spaces. 2×3 is very small, especially for a group. Margo DiMello of the San Diego HRS uses very large spaces for bonding groups, so for a trio she would want at least 3 x-pens linked up together. I’ve found this to be true with my bonds too, small spaces just lead to lot of fighting. Larger spaces allow them the option to get away from each other without it escalating to a fight.
      2. So, any room that any of the buns has been in isn’t neutral. If it’s an area adjacent to a place where they spend time, i consider that semi-neutral. Rabbits are very smell oriented, so they can usually smell what room they are in, even if they can’t see where they are. There are ways to disguise a space though. Some people will put a tarp on the ground, then a pen around it, and then hang blankets on the pen walls so they can’t see where they are.

      In general, experimenting with the space can be helpful. When I lived in a studio I did a lot of bonding at my friend’s house, as well as sessions at the local rescue (they would let me bring the buns in and bond in their pens). So if you have limited space it could help to start asking around to see if a friend or family member would let you bond in their garage or kitchen. 🙂

      . . . 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.  


    • Salem Fluffle
      Participant
      45 posts Send Private Message

      Thank you! I think we’ll move to our kitchen. It’s next to our living room where the mini’s have free run, but the littles haven’t been in there and the minis don’t seem to care about territory. If they did, I suspect we would’ve noticed when I moved the littles into our bedroom next to them. I’ll use the sheet idea so Rascal can’t see the living room floor or he’ll be more interested in going to eat snacks and play with his toys. lol

      Now where I’m being torn is because of the diagnosis Freckles just got. I obviously don’t want to stress her because of the heart situation. However, I want Rascal to not be all alone when the time comes that Freckles isn’t here with us. Rascal has never been a single. They’re litter mates and I never even separated them as babies during the hormone stage (I thought they were both boys until Freckles went to get neutered). And even when Freckles was healing from her spay, Rascal would sleep next to her pen until she rejoined him in their permanent home. Freckles has always sat by me during dates, and she is the most submissive of all four. Earlier this week during dates, I placed Scout (my wild card) next to Freckles and Freckles began to groom her immediately.

      What’s your opinion? Keep trying to bond? Only do prebonding and not dates until Scout shows less fear-based aggression? Stop all together, knowing Rascal might be on his own and then bond him while he’s grieving? It’s such a hard situation we find ourselves in right now. Selfishly, I want them all together. I want to see all four cuddle at least once. But I am willing to put my own wants aside to do whatever is best for the bunnies because at the end of the day, I made a commitment to them to take care of them until the very end.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7577 posts Send Private Message

      Oh gosh, yes I am now putting the other post together with this one. 🙁

      Since Freckles diagnosis is pretty serious, I would not continue with trying to bond the group. A prerequisite for bonding is that all the rabbits are healthy, and the stress of bonding would not be good for Freckles.

      As sad as it is to think about, you could resume working on a trio if Freckles passes in the future, and Rascal might take to the other bunnies more easily.

      I think you and the bunnies will be happier for the time being just continuing as 2 pairs, that way you can all enjoy each others company without stressing about bonding.

      . . . 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.  


    • Salem Fluffle
      Participant
      45 posts Send Private Message

      Yeah… that diagnosis was an absolute bomb drop. I did find the mesh at my local home depot though, so that’s awesome when I decide to go back to bonding. I think it will be really helpful for Scout to be able to approach the other bunnies without being able to get at them. Currently she can’t share a pen with Smudge because there’s too much nervous energy/chasing with her if the mini’s are moving around in their pen next door, but they still come out to play together and snuggle. Right now the mini’s are out in the living room and the littles are cuddled up in a shared area in our bedroom.

      But I don’t want this whole thing to turn sad right now, so here’s a photo of Freckles and Rascal snuggling the other night after dinner. And a video of the littles (who are massive compared to the mini’s now) releasing baby energy while we did a pen change. 🙂

      https://drive.google.com/file/d/12DucnMDrZqyyuYexIIpl-j2d12hKBO9O/view?usp=sharing

      https://drive.google.com/file/d/1I1xv01tcK_evluu9kSOrzXkw3rJVjkIt/view?usp=sharing

       


    • Salem Fluffle
      Participant
      45 posts Send Private Message

      Back to bonding! I’m just going to keep updating this thread to have a record of the steps we took and in case it can help anybody else.

      I’m heartbroken about Freckles passing last week, but I’m not letting that stop me from moving forward in making all of the bunnies friends.

      On Saturday we took the visual barrier down and put everybun in their own pen. Smudge and Scout still get along fine during their run time so we continue to allow them out together, but they can’t live together because they nip at each other when Rascal is nearby in his pen. Rascal remains completely unfazed by S&S existing in his space. He’s still doing alright after Freckles passed, but I noticed last night during a rain storm that he was anxious again. It’s been a long time since he acted afraid of the loud rain and I think that was because Freckles helped comfort him during that time. I’d like him to have that comfort in the other bunnies.

      I have a long weekend because of President’s Day so I want to start face to face dates again. However, I don’t want S&S to be able to tag team against Rascal. I’m debating doing 1:1 dates to help reduce some of the tension. Where I’m stuck is who I start with and work with the most.

      Smudge very much wants to be top bun. I honestly don’t think Rascal cares as long as he has comfy places to sleep and good snacks to eat. My thought is maybe Smudge will learn quickly that Rascal will allow him to take the lead which will reduce some of Smudge’s dominant behaviors like nipping and mounting (Rascal has never tolerated being mounted).

      Scout, however, is my absolute wild card. She is so sweet and friendly, and she took to Smudge like PB&J, but she is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo defensive when it comes to Rascal (and previously Freckles). Even now with their pens touching and chicken wire between so no noses get nipped, she will hike that tail right up and charge the wall (with ears forward like she’s listening, not flattened like she’s mad). I’ve purposely put her connection on the food side so her and Rascal have to eat side by side. She charges when she sees him but after a few moments she’ll calm down, sometimes laying against their connecting wall, but when he moves she’s right back to her bratty behavior. I’m very nervous to put her with Rascal because she is almost twice his size and he’s an old man at almost 10 years old. However, I wonder if some 1:1 time could help her realize that Rascal poses no threat to her which will help take some of that aggression away and make everything smoother in the bonding process.

      If anybody has feedback or thoughts, I’m always open to that.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7577 posts Send Private Message

      I agree that 1:1 time could be helpful.

      It’s really hard to say how Scout will be, it may be helpful to do a short session and just see where they’re at. Behavior in neutral territory can be really different from behavior at home. I think the bonding area will be important, especially for longer sessions. I would try to find an area that is large-ish, in a very neutral area, and possibly with some mildly stressful distractions happening.

      I would keep the dates short at first, and really just try to get them acquainted on positive terms (think lots of petting and treats during the session).

      . . . 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.  


    • Salem Fluffle
      Participant
      45 posts Send Private Message

      Last night I tried something different. S&S have run of our three seasons room while Rascal has free roam in the living room. The two rooms are separated by a sliding door. I really want to have positive associations so we opened the sliding door, put both our baby gates up (one in each room’s side) so nobody could get close enough to bite, and we placed their salads right next to the gates. Rascal, as usual, didn’t mind S&S being there by him. Smudge was a little upset at first but showed zero aggression. He didn’t even chase or nip Scout like he has in the past. Scout threw her tail up a few times but she never charged the gate toward Rascal. She showed more nervousness which is really where I think her aggression stems from (she’s very “I’m gonna get you before you get me”) and she slinked real low toward the gate a couple times, but then went back to playing and binkying all over.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7577 posts Send Private Message

      Nice! that sounds like a great pre-bonding step!

      . . . 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.  


    • Salem Fluffle
      Participant
      45 posts Send Private Message

      I’m back! Lots of great updates!

      I did salad dates through the baby gates for about 1.5 weeks before I couldn’t take it anymore and started face to face dates again. Salad dates were going well and nobody was having issues with seeing the others as they ate.

      I cleared out my dining room which isn’t totally neutral since it’s kitty corner from the living room where Rascal has free roam, but I figured it’s neutral enough for Smudge and Scout who are the territorial ones of the bunch. I started the dating process again on 3/5, only going for 8 minutes the first date (5 with Smudge only and letting Scout be involved for the last 3). We’ve done a date every day – I sit on the floor in a no man’s land while my husband stands by with leather gloves. At first everybun was leery and nervous. We had to intervene a couple of times when S&S would pull fur and once when they got into a brief tussle after Rascal approached them. Rascal was jumping up to my chest to hide away/be comforted the first two days but he hasn’t done that since. Rascal still is a little apprehensive and we’re being really patient with him since he lost Freckles only a month ago. He’s old and much smaller than S&S (4.5 lbs compared to Scout at over 7), so I can understand his anxiety about all of this. I do wish we still had Freckles so Rascal had a comfort buddy throughout the process like S&S have in each other, but I’m proud of him for giving it a shot.

      In just over a week, we’ve gone from 8 minute dates of anxiety to 42 minutes today with total relaxation! At this point, Scout will approach Rascal for sniffs and then bounce away to a spot on her own. But there is no nipping! No fur pulling! And no more hiking up her tail! I am soooooooooooo proud of her because she was so aggressive toward Smudge and Rascal originally. Today Rascal suddenly approached her from behind and it definitely startled her, but instead of turning around and attacking anybody like she would’ve in the past, she jumped to a different spot where she was alone and could observe the boys. All the bunnies were relaxed enough to eat, Rascal was starting to doze off, and the babies were all stretched out relaxing in the sunlight. We only ended our date tonight because our dinner was delivered and we needed to eat.

      I know we have more work ahead of us but I am so excited to see how this progresses! I’m going to be over the moon when we move from the neutral behaviors to positive interactions. I will keep updating occasionally as we have successes or setbacks too. I’m looking forward to one day having the title of this thread updated to show *Bonded Trio*. 🙂


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7577 posts Send Private Message

      That sounds like AMAZING progress! Way to go!! Keep up the good 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.  


    • Salem Fluffle
      Participant
      45 posts Send Private Message

      Still bonding and it feels like I’m in a rut. We typically bond for at minimum 30 minutes and there are times when we’re able to supervise for an hour. After about an hour, Rascal seems ready to end so we usually let him go rest. We’ve also had to take some nights off because of my work schedule or when Smudge decided to impale himself with a stick and I was letting him heal. (Why do bunnies always find a way to do something when the vet is closed? lol)

      There is some nipping from S&S with each other or with Rascal, but it rarely involves fur pulling. The babies will chase Rascal though if he runs into the space they’re in. At this point, Rascal either sits off to the side or next to me/in my lap the whole time. He doesn’t try to interact with Smudge or Scout, but they have a growing interest in him. We started face to face dates with the three of them March 5th and we’ve done 33 dates. I’d say the majority have been neutral but I’m wondering how do we help push them to more positive behaviors? S&S still have their bond and they really only nip at each other when Rascal enters the mix, otherwise they’re still cuddling and grooming. But I desperately want Rascal to have a buddy since Freckles passed. He sleeps a lot more and he doesn’t groom himself very well, so a friend could really help him out, not to mention make my life easier with only one pen set up.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7577 posts Send Private Message

      The next step would be to increase the length of the sessions, so you could try 2 hours, and then start bumping up to 4, 6, etc. if 2 hours goes well.

      Sometimes they really don’t get things sorted out dominance-wise until they realize, “oh, this other rabbit really isn’t going away!”.

      . . . 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.  

Viewing 25 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Forum BONDING Seemingly random aggression