7 month old brothers challenging each other

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Hi there.. some thoughts please.

My 7 month neutered male brother bunnies (bonded pair) who are the sweetest pair suddenly seemed to have a burst of teenage testosterone inject through their systems and engaged in what seemed to be a battle for dominance today.

It started with the one chasing at a fast pace the other which I initially thought was playing. But then they were lunging at each other and the one being chased would provoke the other. I just sat on the ground by them because they were not biting or clawing, and felt like they needed to work it out. But I must admit is was alarming to see. They were in quite a trance ignoring me (they usually are more skittish) and at one point both grinding their teeth. This lasted for about 90 minutes.

They then moved and stayed in separate rooms (Self separated), and later ultimately called a truce and ate from the same bowl together.

But there is still the odd tension from time to time and now they are doing the stretching out in front of each other tactic… like I’m so relaxed in front of you I don’t even care.

It’s quite funny to watch actually.. such teenagers… but…. Any advice if this escalates? I can easily separate them with my set up. Should i intervene even if they are not injuring each other?

After the one seriously chasing the other one out from under the bed (where they sleep) a few hours later they were lying under the bed together again.

So they seem to have some rules of engagement in this war!

Advice and thought please! Is this a dominance thing, should I intervene?

Thanks!
 
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Hi there.. some thoughts please.

My 7 month neutered male brother bunnies (bonded pair) who are the sweetest pair suddenly seemed to have a burst of teenage testosterone inject through their systems and engaged in what seemed to be a battle for dominance today.

It started with the one chasing at a fast pace the other which I initially thought was playing. But then they were lunging at each other and the one being chased would provoke the other. I just sat on the ground by them because they were not biting or clawing, and felt like they needed to work it out. But I must admit is was alarming to see. They were in quite a trance ignoring me (they usually are more skittish) and at one point both grinding their teeth. This lasted for about 90 minutes.

They then moved and stayed in separate rooms (Self separated), and later ultimately called a truce and ate from the same bowl together.

But there is still the odd tension from time to time and now they are doing the stretching out in front of each other tactic… like I’m so relaxed in front of you I don’t even care.

It’s quite funny to watch actually.. such teenagers… but…. Any advice if this escalates? I can easily separate them with my set up. Should i intervene even if they are not injuring each other?

After the one seriously chasing the other one out from under the bed (where they sleep) a few hours later they were lying under the bed together again.

So they seem to have some rules of engagement in this war!

Advice and thought please! Is this a dominance thing, should I intervene?

Thanks!
And they are eating and toilet habits are normal. They don’t seem in pain. Healthy bunnies otherwise :)
 

JBun

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It is dominance behavior. They're obviously trying to sort something out, though whether or not it could result in an all out fight, that's an unknown. If they're to remain bonded, it is something they would need to sort out, but you also don't want to risk it escalating into possibly injuries.

There's always that potential for two rabbits not getting along. If there's still tension between them and you have any concerns they could end up in a real fight, I would suggest not leaving them together unsupervised. Normally it's not a good idea to separate bonded rabbits as it can affect their staying bond with each other, but if there is the possibility they could end up in a fight with injuries occurring, it's just not worth the risk.

If you feel they've worked it out and are seeming fine together now, I would suggest keeping a very close eye on them and separate if you feel they could be at risk of getting into a fight. And be prepared with something to separate them, as you don't want to put your hand in between them if they're fixated on each other, as you could get a serious bite from one of them.

You could try some normal techniques used with bonding rabbits, to help alleviate some of the tension. If they like to get head rubs, placing them next to one another while you give them both head rubs, could possibly help. Though only if they enjoy the head rubs, and also not continuing if it seems to cause tension.
 
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Thanks for this it confirms my thoughts. Yes they seem to be working it out. They are still a little odd and jumpy around each other but it seems to be resolving. I am working from home this week and so am by them constantly. I have a gate which I can easily separate them with but I agree I would rather them stay together. My sense is if they were going to hurt each other it would have happened this morning when it became quite frantic.

Hopefully it’s a brotherly spat that is worked out…. To this point they have been the sweetest pair caring for each other. Holding thumbs our equilibrium is restored and will send an update.

Thanks for you quick response!
 
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Thanks for this it confirms my thoughts. Yes they seem to be working it out. They are still a little odd and jumpy around each other but it seems to be resolving. I am working from home this week and so am by them constantly. I have a gate which I can easily separate them with but I agree I would rather them stay together. My sense is if they were going to hurt each other it would have happened this morning when it became quite frantic.

Hopefully it’s a brotherly spat that is worked out…. To this point they have been the sweetest pair caring for each other. Holding thumbs our equilibrium is restored and will send an update.

Thanks for you quick response!
And as I write the post they cuddle under my bed. Haha teenagers.
 

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Hmm it continues last night and this morning. Eish. Not hurting each other but definitely a battling of wills and very frantic.

I have stepped in now to remind them that I am in fact the dominant rabbit and they should rather stick together than cause nonsense. Using a spray bottle on the little guy who has become a bully overnight and I set them in pens next to each other (it’s a matter of just shifting an existing fence in my apartment that keeps them from the living room). They were not happy to be confined so ultimately helped each other escape which seemed to make them nicer to one another - team building!

I am now sitting on the carpet working on my laptop and every time mr bully rears he gets a spray.

I mean I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing but I am a psychologist of human teenagers and honestly firmness and consequences is where it’s at with me now! My house my rules.

They are calming down actually and more curious than scared about my new assertive behavior. And I’m playing soothing music for the buns too ;)

I hope they get over this spat but there are some moments of truce still which is positive.

Appreciate this platform! They were such sweet loving brothers 2 days ago … goodness this is a turn of events.
 

JBun

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You could also do more 'bunny speak' to let them know you're boss. Like claiming their spot, by scooting them from a spot they're sitting in and taking it for yourself, in particular, the rabbit that seems to be the most dominant. You could also try 'thumping' when they start up, to initially distract them(if it works). Letting them know you're 'top bun' and in charge, might be enough to get them to both settle down. Hopefully 🙏

 
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You could also do more 'bunny speak' to let them know you're boss. Like claiming their spot, by scooting them from a spot they're sitting in and taking it for yourself, in particular, the rabbit that seems to be the most dominant. You could also try 'thumping' when they start up, to initially distract them(if it works). Letting them know you're 'top bun' and in charge, might be enough to get them to both settle down. Hopefully 🙏

Oh those are excellent suggestions thank you. Love the idea of taking their spot that’s so funny! I found myself thumping out of frustration this afternoon and that definitely got their attention. Felt cathartic I can see why bunnies do it!

They seem to be calming down. Not the agitated wrestling anymore just the odd lunge and dodge and tonight they went side by side to the other room instead of a mad chase.

But then this time last night I said the same thing and we faced a wild day! So TBC… thanks for the advice.
 
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Read years ago that "you have to train the rabbit, or, the rabbit will train you". We have rescued more than fifty over the last couple of decades--some were biters, not nippers, with torn chunks of flesh and cleaning up my blood. The biters got the "extreme" Alpha treatment. An Alpha will in extremes pin a subordinate to the ground, roll them on their back and "GRUNT" loudly as an expression of domination. Worked for me quite nicely and only had to do it twice with the most stubborn Netherland. Our last 2 came from N California and had been returned to shelters a few times because of BITING, not nipping. Both became model citizens and liked to interact with us and never bit again. If you don't become the Alpha, they will try to fill that void and it won't be good for you.
 
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Read years ago that "you have to train the rabbit, or, the rabbit will train you". We have rescued more than fifty over the last couple of decades--some were biters, not nippers, with torn chunks of flesh and cleaning up my blood. The biters got the "extreme" Alpha treatment. An Alpha will in extremes pin a subordinate to the ground, roll them on their back and "GRUNT" loudly as an expression of domination. Worked for me quite nicely and only had to do it twice with the most stubborn Netherland. Our last 2 came from N California and had been returned to shelters a few times because of BITING, not nipping. Both became model citizens and liked to interact with us and never bit again. If you don't become the Alpha, they will try to fill that void and it won't be good for you.
Thanks Nancy for this.

It indeed has not been resolved and they are now leaving droppings and pee in my room. The issue ultimately which is clear as day is the submissive rabbit has suddenly stood up to the dominant one and neither will submit. So I don’t know if they should just battle it out, if I should separate them into pens for them to work out through the fence, or if asserting myself even more will resolve. Their issue isn’t with me but one another… sweetest boys to me… but absolutely stubborn with each other currently.

I had to separate them while I ran an Online training this morning and now I am back on the floor in the room with the staring show down commencing.

Just don’t want them to injure each other. Their spats see hair flying but they not biting/ wounding each other… yet. And then there are moments of taking a break from all this.

This video was 2 nights ago. What to do!
View attachment IMG_0502.MOV
 

JBun

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That's escalating aggression,. In my experience, it's very unlikely to calm down from there but will just keep escalating until somebun gets injured. I would strongly recommend separating them for a while, minimum 4 weeks, to give them time to cool down and forget about this tension and dominance battle between them. Hopefully this will be enough to help them like each other again and rebond, but it would be good to be ready for the possibility they aren't compatible any more.
 
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Thanks Jbun. Yeah that’s what I am worried about. Thanks for the advice… will definitely have them separate and see how it goes. Heartbreaking to think that they may not get along down the line they have been the sweetest little duo to this point.

Will reach out again when we see which way this goes.

Thanks for the support.
 

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I know the difficulty. I had two girl buns I had really hoped would bond. But no matter what I tried to bond them, over many months, they just never would settle down and bond. But I've also had rabbits that initially wouldn't get along and bond, but given some time, they settled and bonded just fine. Rabbits are so unpredictable in how they'll respond to one another. You just never know.
 
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Thanks JBun. Yeah let’s see how it goes over time. I have now landed on this longer term setup in the photo to contain them. They still with each other but separated by a fence.

They a bit grumpy as they free roam usually but for now this is where it’s at until we all find our feet! And il let them out for exercise when I’m around as they behave when I sit with them.

Going to let time pass and see what transpires.
 

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So an update. They are in separate pens next to me when I have to work and then I make it one pen when I can watch them. I still feed them treats together which helps…. Especially because I also had to work on being forgiven today as of course they are deeply offended by me caging them! A lot going on for these little guys.

Tonight there’s some mirroring of body postures. Both sleeping in the vicinity of one another and even fairly close again at a point.

Iv read that bunnies putting their heads together is to apologize which they are doing more of…. But the smaller bunny will jump away. The smaller one will go lie by the bigger one but hops away when the bigger one tries to smell or press heads together. What does this mean?

I know that that posture can also be asking for grooming aka submit to me… but this face to face feels more gentle than the demand for groom posture which I have seen many times. Haha am I explaining it properly!?

I would say this is a slightly hopeful pic? Altho nights seem more peaceful and misleading according to the developing pattern! The test is in the morning … that’s when the action happens. For now I’m grateful for less wired and frantic buns.
 

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JBun

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Not attacking and laying right next to one another is always hopeful. If they hated each other or one was scared of the other, they wouldn't lay right by each other like that.

Faces together and the body lowered can mean different things, mostly depending on what other body posture/language is going on at the same time from each rabbit. Yes, it can be a request or demand for grooming, it can be a dominant rabbit asserting dominance, it can be a greeting, it can be checking the other bun out to gauge how the other bun will react(especially a subordinate bun checking a dominant bun) and if they're going to be friendly or not, and along that same line is also a subordinate or baby rabbit showing they aren't a threat to a dominant or bigger rabbit.

So you have to take into account how the body is positioned, how the head is positioned, how the ears are positioned, how the rabbits overall body movements seem(eg. aggressive, timid, etc), how the rabbits approach each other; this will all determine what two rabbits going face to face can mean. If you haven't already seen this site below, it's a good one to help with understanding some of a rabbits body language.


The smaller bun is probably jumping away because he gets nervous when your bigger bun gets too close, because he's unsure if he's going to go after him, or just not sure right now how his brother is going to react.
 

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I can second that jumping away when another's face gets too close might be because the bun is afraid.
When i was going through bonding Lümi to Storm, they would constantly alternate between chummy and jumpy until they eventually settled in the submissive bun, Lümi's condo. At some point they started scuffling more until what happened in your video almost reenacted. Lops speak a different bunny accent, after all. I tried rebonding them for some time before giving up completely because the top bun, Storm, would just not let the white little prince be.
After that when i was bonding Storm to Iris ( who, by the looks of things, was an all-out missy mc-grunt-face hot-flick top-bun), i saw similar-esque behaviour. I'd thought that maybe Storm would be unable to bond because he's one stubborn fellow, but for some inexplicable reason the lady just decided from the get-go that she'll take up the position of kissyface-bunnopleaser. They'd gotten along excellent in the neutral space but when i moved them back to the common area, the buck-bun started making sharp head turns when the lady tried to lay next to him, causing her to be a bit jumpy. They soon got over it though and Storm learned how to act around his lady.
So yeah, sometimes they'll need to rearrange and relearn their behaviour to one another. Sometimes it takes all the different methods, sometimes it just takes separate space and time off, lesser times the damage will be permanent. It's up to the buns' household to know their personalities, situation and local dialect of rabbit speak to assess if any method would need to be dropped or tried.
Best of luck to you three!
 
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Hi bunny mentors!

Just an update I decided to let the sweet brothers out the pens this weekend and would separate them if things escalated again. Needless to say we have had moments of chasing and scurrying (usually when I am trying to sleep!) and then cease fire. The one bunny really was ousted from beneath the bed (their self chosen place of residence) for a while… but persistent too to not be.

However, yesterday the smaller bunny FINALLY gave a 5 second lick to the dominant bun and since then their binkies are back, I slept through the night and they ate their pellets together from my hand (our usual ritual)in the morning again.

I am tentatively optimistic. Things not fully settled but the tension which was palpable seems to be much less. Hoping they have established their new hierarchy and they will go back to grooming each other as after this week they have some serious dreadlocks emerging lol. Think they’ve realized that them not being friends means more grooming sessions from me and so they had decided this fight isn’t worth it… they’re not the typical buns who enjoy being brushed.

So let’s see! Stay tuned 😜😅
 
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