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Discussion in 'Bunny Blogs' started by Alyssa and Bugs♡, May 5, 2019.
Maybe she would like mango.
My bunny is crazy about mango and pineapple, in any form.
To be completely honest with you... You will make some mistakes during bonding, especially when new to it, but even as a seasoned bonder sometimes you try something and it just doesn't work. The great news here is that mistakes can be undone... And that with patience and understanding, there are very few rabbit pairings that simply won't work no matter how hard you try.
I made a happy blog post tonight where I finally made some progress forming a quad... After having inadvertently made some mistakes that I probably couldn't have seen coming anyway when trying to introduce Alice to other rabbits.
Bonding inherently involves trial and error. Don't let the setbacks discourage you and don't beat yourself up over mistakes.
You are right to feel that it's better to treat a minor scuffle as a fight than think that a fight is only a minor scuffle. To some extent, you need to let rabbits work things out for themselves... But I have never thought that it was worth risking a serious fight to achieve this.
As for rubbing something on the head to achieve mutual grooming... This may come as a surprise but in all my years of rabbits, I have never once even attempted this technique. I think it is unnecessary and they will come around to groom each other on their own without needing to be tricked into it. While some rabbits do request grooming quite frequently (case in point, Alice tonight)... they also understand to some degree when their requests go ignored. It's another thing that I believe it's best to let them work out for themselves.
Don't get discouraged and embrace the fact that you're learning as much as your rabbits are about this process.
I think it's amazing that you are bonding a quad! I will go and read that in just a second.
I do think that I'm too involved during the process, but it's hard not to be. I don't want to see either of them hurt and I can't risk a fight that causes them to not bond. I thought about everything but the emotional aspects of getting Bugs a friend. I am already so attached to her and I don't think I could swap her out if they don't bond.
Today, I tried to step back a bit. I didn't put anything on their heads and I had my phone so I could have something to do instead of watching them like a hawk. It seems that Bugs is obsessing over grooming her. He started by licking her head then her ears, then he started licking her eye area and the inside of her ear. I was going to pull him away but then I remembered that she needs to be the one to ask him to stop. She pulled away and lowered her head again. He instead went to her other eye (at this point, he has his paws on her and was leaning over to her eye) and was licking away. She didn't pull away this time and he was then licking all down her back. He got to her tail and she nipped him. He lowered his head to her and when she didn't groom him, he nipped her. They got into a scuff and I waited a few seconds to see if they would stop on their own but they didn't. I put my hand in between them and they both nipped each other's butts. It seemed similar to when we have an argument and as we are walking away, we yell something back at the person. Bugs's behavior kind of seems like OCD to me because he has to groom her and won't stop until Lola or I do something, but I believe rabbits can't have that. Can someone confirm? I force snuggled the two and ended the session there.
I was kind of trying to "fake it until they made it". It seems to have worked-- too well-- for Bugs, but not so much for her. I know some rabbits aren't big groomers, but I would like to see it from her at least once.
I really appreciate all of your help. Perhaps you could get a video of your bonding session so I could see how you handle everything?
Getting Lola into her carrier is stressful for me and her and so I think that has an impact on the bonding because she's already stressed. Any ideas on how to help her stress levels?
Here's the pictures I meant to post yesterday
The last two are after the session when their carriers were facing each other. They both seemed to want to see each other. The bar chewing was stopped of course
View attachment 40967
It isn't uncommon for grooming to be mostly one-sided in a bonded pair, so don't worry too much about her not grooming him back. Are you still doing their sessions in the laundry basket? That's a great way to start, but once they're through the first couple sessions, you need to give them more space. An x-pen is a great size to move to (or a bathroom, walk-in closet or even a very small room if you don't have a spare x-pen) - something big enough for a small litter box and some food but small enough to still encourage interactions.
Rabbits may well be capable of OCD or something similar - I've seen compulsive and/or anxious behavior in various animals over my lifetime (like large birds who pull out their own feathers, cats who over-groom themselves, etc.). However, having more space and something else to do (like some hay or veggies to munch together or even a neutral-smelling toy or two) may very well curb his obsessive behavior. He could just be excited and energetic and the basket allows him no outlet for it other than grooming her like crazy. A larger space emulates their eventual habitat a bit better - when they're fully bonded and living together, they're not going to be bootie to bootie in a small space 24/7; they'll be able to come and go as they please and get a little space if they get annoyed with the other rabbit. In the basket, if grooming goes on too long, nipping is the only thing Lola can do to tell him to stop.
I did a few sessions in the area between our pantry/laundry room and fridge, but they weren't really interacting so I put them back into the laundry basket. I do agree that they need more space now. I think I may try the bathtub today. I want to have a session that lasts as long as time allows if they are doing good because I don't have work tonight. I may try taking them to the pet store this weekend if they seem ready for it and if my mom is willing to take us. They need some new toys anyway. I think I may disassemble the cages and set the pens up next to each other so Lola gets more comfortable in his presence. Can they have a litterbox in the bonding area?
I will bring a toy that they both like, along with some lettuce. I also could block off an area in my hallway too. That may be better because when I had a session in the tub, Bugs could jump out. It also gets crowded in there and I want to be relaxed also. She doesn't eat or even move during the sessions. I thought that after a few sessions, she would be more comfortable and move around. We've had 8-9 sessions and she still sits still.
He is so energetic that the laundry basket created issues because she doesn't like him jumping everywhere and she takes up probably half of the basket so she would nip him to make him sit still and that made him mad.
Any tips on getting her to move around? I'm worried that when they're bonded and she wants to move around more, she may decide she doesn't like being the submissive one. Will nipping happen when they're bonded and living together?
Sure there are rabbits that can seem obsessive about things like grooming. My little rabbit group that consists of a mom and her grown babies, one of the boys Toby(RIP), used to somewhat obsessively like to groom his brothers, sisters, and mom. And he was actually the boss of the group. Sometimes he would kind of lay his head or front paws on top of them to make them hold still so he could groom them. Most of them didn't mind a bit as they love being groomed. Some would groom in return, some wouldn't, but he didn't care if they didn't. All he cared about was them letting him groom them.
Sometimes when Bugs grooms her and she doesn't in return, you can interfere and do the grooming for her so that he feels like he got something in return. Though at some point eventually, they are going to have to work it out on their own, but you intervening and doing the grooming for her can sometimes give them the extra time they need to get to know one another better and work it out instead of it not happening and getting fed up with him at the start. She may not ever end up being a big groomer, and that is something that he will have to learn to accept if they are going to be able to bond.
Like Imbrium said, they need more space, but not too much more. 2x2, 2x3, 3x3, or something like that, or slightly larger if you need to sit in there with them. The laundry basket is too small and you really only want to use it for short stress bonding, like when you use a carrier in the car. It shouldn't be used for longer sessions as it's too confining. You want the bonding space small enough that they can't avoid interacting with one another, but large enough that they can move around some and not just be right on top of each other. The alternative is giving them a large space and just allowing them to more gradually interact. The larger space works best for rabbits that are too reactive when they are in the smaller space, but having a larger space also means it can take a lot more time for them to get to know one another, as their time around one another is more gradual. So you would just need to decide which way seems to work best for your two.
You can put a litter box in there if one of them isn't guarding it from the other. Otherwise you would need to take it out. A litter box is especially good if they decide they want to snuggle together in it.
Bugs also puts his paws on her to make her sit still. I suspected it was a dominance issue and I'm glad to hear it's not. I sat in the bonding area today and I feel it helped them relax. Lola actually took a treat from me during the session which is something she hasn't done yet. They both are getting more comfortable in each other's presence.
There was some fur pulling (Bugs pulled Lola's) because Lola was guarding the litterbox and he wanted to sit in it too. I removed it and all other objects they could have tried to guard. I had in there a bowl of water, a bowl of cilantro and the litterbox. They were also doing this thing that could have been lunging, but there were no other signs of aggression. They were mad about the litterbox situation and they were trying to nip each other. I was scared (again, I didn't handle this how I would have liked to) that they were going to full-on fight and so I stuck my hand in the middle. They were also grunting. Should I have let them "figure it out"? I pushed them towards each other and offered them both a treat. With Bugs being the little foodie he is, he took the treat with no hesitation. The first time I tried to give Lola a treat, she grabbed it out of my hand and threw it. I pushed the two very close to each other and at this point, I sat in the area. Bugs started grooming Lola (without banana on her head!!!) and they did that for a while. Bugs started shoving his head under her stomach and when she didn't groom him, I pet his head. She groomed herself while he was next to her. She also shoved her face into his and it looked like she gave him a quick lick, but I'm not positive about that. This is when she took the treat. I gave them some cilantro and Bugs ate it. Lola took a little bite. I handed Bugs a piece of hay and he threw it on Lola. I was being yelled at to do some laundry so I ended the session there. This session lasted an hour and they could have gone longer which made me happy! This weekend, I'm going to have some very long sessions and keep them together until I have a reason to separate. They aren't ready to be bonded but long sessions seem to work for them.
After the session, I put their carriers in front of each other and I fed them both their veggies. I was expecting Lola to sit there and stare at him but she started eating while watching him. She didn't seem stressed. Bugs was also eating. After a while, Bugs started to clean himself and Lola mirrored him! They have learned that if they sit on my bed, the bun out for playtime can see the one in the cage and they've been watching each other. Right now, Bugs is having playtime (he gets playtime at night and she gets hers during the day) and he just flopped on the air vent (bet you didn't see that coming ) and she is watching him while she eats hay.
Why is it that the sessions go both good and bad? How do I get them to share the litterbox?
Pictures in next post!
Funny story: Last night (early this morning?) I woke up to hear thumping. Turns out that Lola isn't a big fan of thunderstorms and Bugs isn't a big fan of her thumping. It was 1:30 in the morning and Lola was running around her cage and thumping. She spilled her water bowl and looked terrified. It didn't help that Bugs was thumping too. I spent 15 minutes making sure my poor rabbits didn't scare themselves to death. On the bright side, it's good to know they are listening to each other's danger calls.
These are in order from the beginning to the end of the session.
It looks like your sessions are on a carpeted area? I dunno that I'd risk having no safe place to pee if they're on carpet, so rather than removing the litter box, you could try adding a second small box on the opposite side of the pen so that someone can't guard both at once.
I'll for sure try that later!
I'm excited for that moment when they finally get bonde . Can't wait! I love reading your blog
I just had a session and had a ton of breakthroughs, but also a ton of more issues appeared. Lola flopped during this session! She definitely seems to be more comfortable moving around lately. They absolutely hate sharing a litterbox, but they wanted to be in the one the other was in. Now it seems that Bugs is the nervous one. I think that because I was in the bonding area, he felt he had to "protect" me from her. Whenever she would approach me, he would nip her and she would nip him back and you know where it went from there. I was bitten while I was trying to get them to stop, and oh boy, it scared the living crap out of me. Should I stay out of the area next time? After Lola would flop (it happened twice), Bugs would walk up to her and sniff her head then she would grunt and jump up while nipping his him! Why is she so defensive? I believe that if she'd stay there, he would flop next to her because he loves snuggles! They also shared a piece of cilantro which was absolutely adorable! They both took turns taking bites out of my apple.
I'm still confused as to whether I should let them figure it out when they get into a scuff. I feel like if I didn't break it up, it would only get worse.
I will post pictures in the morning. I didn't get many as my phone was almost dead (I still haven't gotten that new darn charger) and all of my energy is drained. I'm preparing for finals in my advanced English class (I just majorly tooted my own horn, sorry ) and we have a huge algebra test coming up and I'm terrible at math so I just know I'm going to fail. I've also been working a lot more hours but I'm not complaining about that. The bunnies will need their 6-month checkup soon (Bugs is due for his and she has to come) and I'm preparing for that to be quite a bit of money as Lola decided she needs to have her first health scare, not even a week after she comes home. (Link to thread).
If being in there seems to make things worse, then do consider staying out of there and just carefully using a broom to break things up if needed.
Though if you do want to sit with them, if they do things where you think one will get upset with the other, I would intervene by giving head rubs to calm the situation. Like when she was laying down and Bugs approached her, start giving head rubs to keep everyone calm. Or if Bugs is near you and she approaches, start giving head rubs. I wouldn't let Bugs behave defensively of you. I think you should intervene particularly on those occasions. Remember, you're the boss bunny, not him. So do a gentle head press, or stomp your foot, or such to let him know that you're in charge and not to do that. Though in other situations, eventually they are going to have to sort things out, but for now it might be the most helpful to keep things calm as they are sorting out their feelings.
I wouldn't let them act defensively of their litter boxes. I would put them together in the litter box and give head rubs to see if that helps or find some way to stop the defensive behavior. If I couldn't stop the defensive behavior I would remove the litter boxes.
Here's the pictures
I understand how u feel with failing math. Fractions are the worst.
I think I may try setting the x-pens up next to each other this weekend so they get used to each other's presence.
I did end up taking the litterboxes out. They did share veggies and a bit of apple, so I know they aren't completely opposed to sharing their things. I think cage switching has been really effective. There was some territorial pooping lately, but that doesn't bother me.
In the second picture, you can see that I got them both to sit in the same litterbox. Lola lowered her head and when Bugs didn't groom her, I gave her some pets. Bugs nipped my hand and when I pulled away, he started grooming her head! I think he was saying "enough. It's my turn now". I'm going to try and have long bonding sessions probably tonight, Saturday night, and Sunday night. I may try and have a 2-hour one tonight, but only if they are doing good. In a week or two, I am going to try and have a 6 hour+ session but of course, I'm not going to rush anything. The sessions lately have been getting longer and longer so that's a good sign.
I know you said you wouldn't use a spray bottle, but I think I may try it because if one bites the other, they may learn that they shouldn't do that. I would give head pets after they get sprayed so they wouldn't get angry.
Really enjoy this and the pictures are adorable
I apologize for not posting an update after last night's session.
Last night, the sessions went the same as all the others. They had a couple of scuffs but snuggled a lot. Lola groomed Bugs during this one though! I will add pictures.
Today, we went to Petsmart and got some new toys. The bunnies did great in the car. Lola nipped Bugs once when he moved away from her, but no scuffs happened. I put them in the cart and they were both terrified. They were snuggling in the cart though. There was a scuff that happened when yet again, Bugs tried to walk away from her. I broke that one up and I pushed them together again. I probably looked crazy lol. They didn't have any scuffs after this. We got home an hour and I just put them back in their cages because I worked 7 hours today and I'm not in the mood to go sit in the bathroom for an hour. I don't want to force myself to have sessions because I want this to be an enjoyable experience for both me and the bunnies. I will attach pictures of the Petsmart trip and all of the toys we got. Rabbit toys are expensive!
The first 6 are from last night and the last picture is of all the toys they picked out. Don't mind the hay/cardboard/other bunny related things in the background
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