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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.

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Forum BEHAVIOR Springtime aggression

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    • pinkiemarie
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        My bunny Ben gets extremely aggressive with his bonded “brother” Wally every spring. Both rabbits are neutered. This goes on for several weeks. Ben is a 2 lb Polish and Wally is 7 lbs. Wally is very docile and refuses to defend himself. The aggression typically involves chasing and mounting and has led to Wally scratching his cornea before.

        The weather warmed up recently and Ben has been torturing his poor brother for a week now. We’ve been separating them at night but that’s not ideal for several reasons. First, I have a 3rd rabbit who isn’t bonded to them and due to space, she has to stay up all night if the boys are separated and this is leading to behavioral problems for her because she’s very feisty herself. Second, I don’t want to accidentally break their bond. Last night the little one had a tummy ache from all the hair he has pulled off his brother. I had to medicate him and now that’s he’s feeling better he is being awful with his brother. He is normally chill in the morning and I let them spend time together so this is out of the ordinary.

        Does anyone know why a neutered rabbit would still act like this every spring? Any ideas how to calm him down? I may try a car ride later but I’m afraid that will be a temporary fix. It always does subside after a few weeks but while he’s like this it’s stressful for us all, especially for Wally.


      • Bam
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          Sex hormones are not the only hormones that are affected by the increase in amount of daylight that occurs in spring. Plus, buns and humans, both male and female, have some testosterone production in their adrenal glands, and this production persists or gets exacerbated by castration. An increase in amount of daylight causes a decrease in melatonin (“sleep hormone”), and an increase in sex hormones. Rabbit behaviour is highly hormone-dependant. Elevated testosterone is known to cause exaggerated aggression in some individuals, both humans and animals.

          Ambient heat also affects hormones. This makes total sense of course, wild male rabbits wont produce sperm during the coldest winter months, because it’d be counter-productive for girl buns to be pregnant and have kits when food is really scarce (girl rabbits are induced ovulators, meaning they ovulate in response to mating). In house buns this doesnt really matter though, since indoors temps stay mostly the same all year round.

          Could you arrange some sort of darker curtains in the bun area? That could enable you to give them sth similar to 12 hours of “night” and 12 hours of “day”. My buns currently go totally bonkers every morning at 4 am. They dont fight but they gallop around like a herd of genuinly annoying wildebeest. I banish them to the (predator-proof) veranda around 4.15, but if I didnt have that option, I’d try dark curtains to try and mimick a longer night.

           

           


        • pinkiemarie
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            Wow that’s such a great answer. I have blackout curtains on the front window because it gets direct sunlight but I’ve had the back curtains open for the last month or so. I’ll try closing them and see if that helps at all. It also has been warmer than I keep it in winter but not by a lot. Looking at the weather, it’s going to be mid 80s 2 days this week then back into the 70s and maybe even lower so I think I’ll hold off on doing anything with the AC yet, but my BF keeps closing the sliding door at night so I will ask him to start leaving it open to cool it down in here a bit more. Thank you for all the insight and information!


          • DanaNM
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              So stressful!

              What is their set-up like overnight? I’m wondering if instead of fully separating, you could give them more space and lots of hiding spots so Wally can get away from Ben if needed.

              You could also try doing some “couples therapy” bonding sessions by taking them to a neutral area and maybe doing some light stressing to see if that helps Ben calm down. Also could maybe give them a stuffy that Ben can mount instead of Wally?

              . . . 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.  


            • pinkiemarie
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                These are more good points. I couldn’t upload an image so here is a link to their setup. The boys are napping nicely together right now. At night they stay in the 2 story condo plus their front yard and a 2nd barrier goes up and Clover stays on the right side. I’ll go to Petco when it opens and see if they have any more hidey houses and add more for Wally to go into. And I had considered taking Ben to work downstairs with me but you’re right, Wally should go too. It also tends to be cooler downstairs so bonus, I’ll try that tomorrow.


              • Bam
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                  Their set up looks very nice! The only thing to maybe add would be more room to gallop around for a bit for a (short-ish) period of time per day, preferably in the later part of the evening or in the (earlier bit of) morning. As you know buns tend to mostly lounge during daytime.

                  You dont need to go out and buy hideyhouses, unless you absolutely want sth that’s aesthetically pleasing to the human eye – a consideration that of course is very valid. Home-made cardboard box hidey houses with 2 “door holes” will do great. (Buns want 2 doorholes because wild rabbit warrens always has at least two exits. This preference seems to prevail in our domesticated buns).


                • pinkiemarie
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                    Oh I don’t have any boxes right now so hidey houses is the only answer lol. We have a whole elaborate system since the other rabbit isn’t bonded where they take turns going out to play in the rest of the house then going back home. During the day whoever is at home gets access to both condos and yards, and whoever is out playing gets the entire rest of the upstairs which does have much more room for zooming. The boys get the prime first thing in the morning play time and Clover gets the prime last thing in the evening play time. Since I work from home I switch them out several times, so the boys will be out for play time again in about an hour. Ideally I would like for all of them to be free range for the entire day but Clover had other ideas 🙁


                  • DanaNM
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                      Having another unbonded rabbit near them (or in view) could also be part of the problem. If she’s within their view, you might try blocking their view of her pen by clipping some towels or blankets to the pen walls.

                      . . . 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.  


                    • pinkiemarie
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                        Oh for sure they are friendly but also very territorial with each other so I’ll try that too!

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                    Forum BEHAVIOR Springtime aggression