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Bonding and Fighting? - AT A LOSS!! Can anyone advise on whats going on?

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K1marie

Lionel and Murphy
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I have previously posted about my bonding attempt - still working unsuccessfully, wondering if anyone has insight into my situation the way it is playing out. These two 7 & 8 month old , (both neutered males for 2 months) have been living next to each other cage to cage since I got them. They both like laying next to each other on each sided of their double gated areas which I now have down to a single gated (no buffer between -) so they can reach each other when they are on each side of it and they infrequently have given the other a brief head grooming or gentle bite. But when I put them together (neutral area) they end up with fur flying and ninja kicking and it appears they are fighting - they lunge VERY fast and try to bite at each other - it doesn't appear they are trying to mount - just maybe bite the other. If I had to guess what a bunny tornado looked like - I would think I have one. I break them up with a dust pan between them. Once, I pulled Lionel away and it appeared Murphy had latched on to him ( still no blood or wound I could see... it makes me wonder is he was just restaining him - though he didn't have him pushed to the ground - he just had him by the neck!! I have read that everything is acceptable as long as there is no "bunny tornado" and things don't get out of hand or injured. (They are so fast though, I can't tell WHAT they are doing. ) They haven't drawn blood - Would they if I let it go 5 or 10 seconds? They are so spastic and jumpy and fur tufts are flying - do I let that scenario play out for 5 or 10 seconds or am I going to end up with an injured bunny? I have been trying every week (or 2 weeks) in between attempts for about 2 months now. They seem SO interested in each other when they are separated. If I hold and restrain Lionel on the floor or my lap Murphy doesn't seem to care much - he'll come over and sniff, offer his head for grooming and then go do something else. If I hold and restrain Murphy, Lionel will come over, sniff him a bit in a safe spot like his foot, more so than Murphy does... he will try to give a few small nips to it ...I verbally tell him no and he basically stops and doesn't show much more interest. I don't put them face to face while restraining them unless they are BOTH restrained far enough from each other. They both just stay restrained and don't try much. Obviously I don't want one to bite the other in the face while I am restraining one of them! I am thinking they are behaving because I am restraining them and being the Alpha at that point. What I am going to try today is take them OUTSIDE in a fairly large gated area - they will have an 8ft run - I have been using a bathroom or closet thus far... I have searched and searched and when I view videos of "rabbits fighting" they are either boxing or appear to just jump over each other - not what mine are doing. I am trying to get a feel if it just looks so bad because they are so fast and fur is flying - or are they going to injure one another. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Do I just do exactly what I am doing and wait for that magic moment - or try something more creative? (I was envisioning a kiddie pool filled several inches with something like loose grass or mulch - but I am afraid they will inhale it.) They are not afraid of car rides or the vacuum. I actually taught them to be okay with both of those things My first bonded pair of males went easy - they were over 4 years apart in age though and I had one before the other.
 

Blue eyes

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I'm afraid that trying to get these two to bond is going to be a tough one. The bonding should not have begun until now (2 months after surgery). By attempting it before then, it allowed their dissipating hormones to interfere. These earlier meets have 'taught' them that they do not like each other. So this is going to be an uphill battle. Tornado fights are bad and you are describing one accurately.

When rabbits lay side-by-side when separated by a pen, it can mean opposite things. Either they like each other OR it means "hey, dude, this is my territory line and you better not cross it."

You may have to totally separate the two (out of sight and smell of each other) for a few weeks so that they can forget each other. Then you would begin anew as if they are meeting for the first time. This would require completely neutral territory. It would have to be somewhere neither rabbit has been.

I'll see if I can find a video that shows a "tornado" (if not I believe I have one as well).

So-called 'stress bonding' I would not advise anyway -- especially not with rabbits that have already been fighting as these two have.

Here's one video (you can see how they do early on, the fighting starts around 1:40 mark:
 
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K1marie

Lionel and Murphy
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THANK you . I really appreciate the input. Yes, I was wondering about them guarding their areas - though they are switched back and forth which area they are in. The poops and peeing turf war had stopped and I thought that was a sign maybe they were ready - though this morning - one peed at the border and that hasnt happend in several weeks. Thank you for the video - yes - that does look like exactly what my rabbits are doing - but I break them up IMMEDIATELY - I haven't even given them more than maybe 3 seconds - I have been RIGHT THERE . I think after one more attempt I will take your advice and completely separate them for a few weeks - I wasn't sure if that would possibly make a difference. We are going to be away and having another person coming daily - maybe I will take part of THAT opportunity to start their separation! They have pretty much free roam when they are out individually (even upstairs ) -but I do have a few rooms I have kept them closed out of and it looks like they may have some new scenery for a few weeks!)
 

K1marie

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Brief update .... Haven’t separated the boys into different areas yet . Waiting until have more time to spend . We were away and have had my Bunny Nanny watching them. Lionel broke thru the gate during play time and they had a tornado going . She was close enough she broke it up fairly quick but obviously the fact that we were away... and they are alone and confined to their cages - they didn’t crave EACH OTHER’s attentions to cuddle . So the plan still stands to separate them when I can set that up and hope they forget they hate each other !
 

zuppa

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Are you still going to try bonding them after they forget each other?
 

K1marie

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Yes . I definitely want to bond them. Do you have a suggestion for their next “first” meeting when it’s time ? I know neutral territory and all . Do I chance a negative reaction or should I start with a stress session right off ? They didn’t fight when I put them in a box together and rattled it . Car rides and vacuums don’t phase them much . I know at least one of them is frightened of my neighbors dog .... I could have him outside a penned area .
 

K1marie

Lionel and Murphy
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Very frustrating ... The two need to share one area or they won’t get as much free roaming . I am going to do a few weeks apart and see if they can forget they hate each other. I can’t imagine my one bun can possibly get more stressed than he already does when he gets startled from us or the cats walking around a corner .
 

zuppa

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You know what, I think if they don't want to get bonded why force them? Just because you want to experiment or something? I think it is simply not fair. Sorry if that's not what would you like to hear, just giving my honest opinion.
 
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It took me seven months to bond Daisy with Radio Gaga. I thought it would never happen, but after Bono passed away Daisy really needed another bun friend as her behavior was regressing and she wasn't doing as well.

I'd put them in my bath tub, and monitor from the side. Fortunately they didn't fight while in there, but would fight if they were anywhere else together. The problem was they were fighting over who would be dominate, and I spent most of the time trying to "correct" Gaga's less polite habits (such as booty nibbling, as Daisy did not like it). As I said, this went on for seven months.

Then one day I opened my bedroom door, where Daisy stays, Gaga came in . . . And bam, they were getting along perfectly! Gaga didn't spray (they're both fixed), or nibble her booty, there was no fighting, and they've been together since.

The last month of all that I was doing daily bonding sessions in the bath tub, unless I felt they needed a day for a break. I think keeping on it helped a lot.
 
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