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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS

Forum BEHAVIOR Young overgroomer

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    • mia
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        My youngin’ who is now 1.5y/o likes to overgroom/aggressively overgroom.

        Previously, she did this to SickBun and he eventually had large open wounds. Eventually I separated him and she seemed to stop this behavior (she still lived with ElderBun). As SickBun was chronically and got progressively worse around that time. I thought this was because of his illness. At that time, she would still groom ElderBun quite a bit and there didn’t seem like any issues.

        SickBun has since passed away and “suddenly”, YoungBun seems to be overgrooming ElderBun more and I’ve found open wounds now; currently, they are small spots. It’s possible ElderBun is also sick since they both have the bacteria too, but let’s ignore that possibility because I’ll have a breakdown… Lots of things have changed since SickBun passed but if anything, it should help YoungBun as she have lots more play time, play area, etc.

        I have noticed that YoungBun, at times, seems to communicate with this aggressive overgrooming. For example, instead of nudging ElderBun to move, YoungBun would start grooming/overgrooming ElderBun until he moves. How can I discourage this? If it matters, she is also a very domineering bun. I don’t think separation is acceptable as ElderBun *loves* BunFriends and I can’t bring in another bun because of bacteria; YoungBun could probably be fine on her own.


      • DanaNM
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          Oh this is so tough, we dealt with a bun like this in the shelter. He would groom himself to the point where he would cause open wounds. In his case it appeared to be anxiety related. 🙁

          One of the rescue staff fashioned a little shirt for him to prevent him from grooming the hot spots. She had to keep him with her basically 24/7 because if he was alone he would groom. He was eventually bonded into a trio and he got much much better.

          I definitely would not separate your buns, because I think that could make things worse.  I’m not sure what bacteria you are dealing with, is this being treated by a vet? If there is a bacterial infection going on that could be the real culprit?

          I would take a very careful look at your buns environment. In many animals overgrooming is a sign of stress and boredom. Try to look for any sources of potential stress: other pets, loud TV, loud music, construction, loud children. Do the rabbits have safe places to hide? Do they get enough exercise and room to roam? Do they have toys for enrichment? Proper diet? Are the buns eating plenty of hay?

          I would do as much as you can to reduce stress, increase enrichment (toys, food puzzles), increase exercise. Make their environment more interesting with tunnels and hides. Perhaps adding a stuffy as a surrogate that can be groomed would also help. There are also products such as Rescue Remedy that claim to reduce stress but I’m not sure if they really 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.  


        • mia
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            I don’t think YoungBun is stressed but I can see that she might be bored. She is still very high energy, extremely curious, binkys all the time, and if you don’t pay attention she’ll magically appear on a countertop or something. They have two stuffies that are completely ignored. She has never overgroomed/aggressively groomed herself and this behavior doesn’t happen when in carrier and/or in car rides.

            She is also my I-Only-Eat-Hay bun with some cardboard, paper, and USB nibbling so I am a bit limited in entertaining her. There are actually no cardboard or paper crumbs. I thought this hay obsession was the problem, not getting enough diverse nutrients, but vet was like, yay!!, and moved on. She has big beautiful museum-worthy poops.

            I find it curious that she stopped when SickBun was separated. It was extremely stressful at that time and her living area massively decreased. I also didn’t allow free roam at that time as I didn’t want SickBun to become jealous. YoungBun and ElderBun are both on meds for bacteria now (https://binkybunny.com/forums/topic/cant-get-it-out-of-my-head/) which is very stressful for YoungBun but this behavior started before the meds.


          • DanaNM
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              USB nibbling! LOL She sounds a bit like my Cooper, he can be very needy and high energy! And yes a great appetite for hay is awesome.

              You may be onto something with the boredom idea. Maybe she would like some enrichment toys stuffed with dif types of hay to keep thing interesting to her. It could be worth experimenting a bit with toys. All of my buns LOVE palm plates to chew, they eat them relatively quickly and they are very safe for them to eat (pretty much just straight plant fiber). They are also economical so it’s OK if they go through them fast!  If she loves hay then maybe some hay tunnels or mats would also help keep her busy.

              It mostly sounds like they have just had a lot going on in general with the illnesses etc. Sometimes symptoms of stress manifest after a slow buildup of things, rather than an isolated incident.  How is the bond between them aside from the overgrooming?

              . . . 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.  


            • mia
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                Thank you for reminding me; YoungBun LOVES palm leaf bowl/plates! They disappear fast so it’s like 5 mins of very loud entertainment 😆 She has mats and sticks but no go unless it’s outside in the toy box, just like she doesn’t care for books I give her but will happily take one off the shelf…

                They do not have the strongest relationship but there’s no overt issues and they snuggle during sleepy time. ElderBun has always had lower energy but is loved by all buns; if a StrangerBun spots him a mile away, StrangerBun will run up to ElderBun to kiss and tell him he’s awesome; YoungBun is no different and did this when they first met. When YoungBun first arrived, YoungBun would hump ElderBun every morning and ElderBun didn’t mind too mch  just rolled his eyes at her; SickBun and ElderBun were very close so YoungBun needed to claim ElderBun. YoungBun has only done this once per month or less now.

                One thing that is “strange” is that ElderBun has always groomed his friends quite a bit but he doesn’t do that to YoungBun as much (and YoungBun doesn’t ask). Since YoungBun does not participate in pellet time, veggie lunch, treat dispensary etc, maybe they are missing that extra closeness where buns climb over each other for these activities.


              • DanaNM
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                  How many buns are there total? Sorry I might have lost track! I was thinking you went from 3 to 2, but maybe it was from 4 to three?

                  Looking back at the original post, am I correct that the overgrooming started when one of the group passed away? How long ago was that? Loss of one rabbit from a group can definitely change the dynamics a bit, especially if one of the bunnies is the “odd one out” (such as in a trio where two of the rabbits are much closer with each other than with the 3rd).

                  If I’m correct and all of this started after the loss of one of the rabbits from the group, I wonder if doing some bonding sessions in a neutral space could help? This doesn’t exactly seem like a case of a disrupted bond, but the timing of everything makes me think that could be at play.

                   

                  . . . 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.  


                • mia
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                    Sorry. Three to two. Approx timeframes below

                    Oct ’22 – YoungBun joined SickBun and ElderBun and all three lived together

                    Feb-Mar ’23 – Found open wound on SickBun, healed, found bigger wound, and eventually separated him as he was getting more sick anyways.  Separated by low grid that they could easily groom each other through. YoungBun and ElderBun remained together and their relationship was fine. Depression was a symptom in SickBun, and ElderBun cared for SickBun through the grid.

                    Nov ’23 – SickBun passed and a few weeks later, started noticing aggressive grooming, but otherwise no change in relationship.

                    Dec ’23 – found very small open wound

                    YoungBun also has same behavior when something is in her way. During zoomies or even regular free roam time, she does this to my slippers or pant legs if I am in her way. When ElderBun was chewing something she wants to check out, she did same until ElderBun moved away. Normal buns nose/nudge, climb, squeeze, etc. Her behavior always starts tame/gentle lick and the longer she continues, the more aggressive it gets to nibbling and mowing.

                     


                  • DanaNM
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                      Thank you, that is helpful!

                      With that confirmation that this all started around the time you went from 3 to 2 buns, I do think it’s worth a shot to do some neutral-territory sessions with them. Perhaps take them on a journey to a friend or family members house and spend the weekend with them there?

                      It’s also possible that this is just YoungBun adjusting to the change, since this is all pretty recent. So you could try adding the extra enrichment and distractions first, and then if that isn’t helping, try the bonding sessions?

                      . . . 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.  


                    • mia
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                        I see bonding/neutral territory as helping buns get closer to each other. However, these two are very close as is with no fights already. With these two, they will not get closer with this tactic either; YoungBun will naively go and explore while ElderBun sticks to safety. I’ll see what I can do to get them closer though.

                        They are *both* adjusting. It’s been interesting. For the first time in ElderBun’s life, he’s done zoomies on his own, rather than just follow others to do zoomies. He’s picked up some of YoungBun’s spirit.

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                    Forum BEHAVIOR Young overgroomer