Bonding issues

Discussion in 'Rabbit Knowledge Library' started by Izzybella, Jul 17, 2019.

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  1. Jul 17, 2019 #1

    Izzybella

    Izzybella

    Izzybella

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    I have recently bonded my rabbit with a rescue rabbit which went fine. However, they've been home for almost three weeks now, but they don't seem to be grooming each other or sitting beside each other much. The male rabbit demands to be groomed, which the female rescue rabbit does (I think enough to just keep the peace). However, this is frustrating my male rabbit who wants her to groom him more, and he's started nipping her a bit. It's almost like she refuses to groom him because she'd like to be dominant. She's a very chilled out rabbit and doesn't seem to care when he has a little strop with her. They do interact and seem happy living together otherwise. I've put them in a playpen in a completely neutral space. Is there anything else I can do to help them? Thanks!
     
  2. Jul 18, 2019 #2

    John Wick

    John Wick

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    "They've been home for almost three weeks" -- it sounds like they were bonded somewhere else?

    If this is the case, it's not uncommon for a bond to become shaky when they go from a neutral territory (bonded at a rescue bonder home), and then they are returned to the owner's home, which most likely is very much the owner's first rabbit's territory (in this case, your male?).

    The rescue I volunteer for recommends keeping the two newly bonded rabbits in neutral territory when they are returned, so they have time to adjust in the new environment, rather than going right into the original rabbit's territory, which may shake things up.

    ... Unfortunately, I don't have experience with bonding, but if you could let people know if the above situation i described matches your, that may help people who are experienced give advice!
     
  3. Jul 18, 2019 #3

    Izzybella

    Izzybella

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    Thank you for your reply and apologies for not giving a clearer picture of the situation. Your description is an accurate account of the situation.

    Yes, the rabbits spent two weeks being bonded at a rescue centre. They came home bonded, but without a strong sense of who was dominant. The male desperately wants to be dominant, but the female doesn't seem so keen, although she will sometimes give him a quick lick.

    My male rabbit is my original rabbit and my female rabbit is the rescue rabbit.

    I put them in my rabbit's old territory after thoroughly cleaning it and putting in new rugs, litter trays etc. They have lived together amicably, but don't seem to have got much closer since coming home. They don't lie right next to each other/snuggle. They use separate litter trays.

    I have moved them to a neutral area and the same behaviour continues. They don't fight, but they are both putting their heads down for grooming (particularly the male). The girl hops away, and the boy gets cross. He's started nipping her when she's in the litter tray to make her get out.

    Any advice would be gratefully received. Thanks again.
     
  4. Sep 3, 2019 #4

    Xiaoxiao Huang

    Xiaoxiao Huang

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    Mine bunnies are the same. The girl keeps nipping the boy when the boy demand grooming or when her request is denied. I'm a little frustrated.
     
  5. Sep 4, 2019 #5

    Izzybella

    Izzybella

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    Hi, Having watched my bunnies since my last message, it seems that it is just part of the bonding process. I think that it just takes a little longer for some pairs. My boy will demand grooming and will nip at my girl or chase her at times. I reckon that the girl wants to be top bunny too because they can often be seen with both their heads together face to face demanding grooming. She won't back down, but she doesn't react to any nipping/boxing. My boy will go over to sit with her, so I think that eventually, she will win. She's very sweet about it all and grooms him enough to keep the peace, but my little boy gets a bit cross. He clearly adores her though and runs around honking and binkying a lot. They also eat together in the same tray now and follow each other about (usually the girl is the leader).

    I just leave them to it as they never hurt each other and are getting closer every day.
     
  6. Sep 4, 2019 #6

    Xiaoxiao Huang

    Xiaoxiao Huang

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    Hi, thank you so much for your update. Yes similar situation happens to my bunnies too. My girl is an older lionhead that I had for one year and a half. She's very territorial and a little antisocial. The boy is a young teenager I just adopted. He is very energetic and sure adores her as he goes to her all the time but she just doesn't want anything to do with him and nips him away. At the beginning, he would go to her ask for attention and groomed her. After a while she started to be ok with him and didn't nip him as much. She groomed him once. After I thought they are going to form the bond, he starts going to her demanding grooming and she just nips him away. Also if she demands grooming and he ignores her, she nips him. They also start doing the head battle demanding grooming, which normally ends up with the girl nipping the boy away. The boy seems mimicking what she is doing. Whenever he hears her eating, he would run over to try to eat her food (and gets nipped away). He would start grooming himself when she's doing it. It's funny to see. He is acting like a silly boy. I feel like she wouldn't give in but the boy keeps challenging her. He never nips or grunts. My girl grunts almost every time she's grumpy or annoyed. Since I'm working from home now I just keep them together all day long. I don't think they intend to harm each other. There's no real fighting or biting, mainly the girl nipping the boy. They haven't groomed each other since the head battle starts and I'm a little worried. Maybe as you said, it takes time. How long did it take for you to observe them getting better?
     
  7. Sep 5, 2019 #7

    Izzybella

    Izzybella

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    Hi, I think they were better together after about 6 weeks when they started using each other's preferred litter tray when it wasn't occupied. Before that, there was a lot of sitting outside the litter tray eating the hay. One or the other would also lie in the tray a lot, and they seemed to respect their claimed tray.

    It was my boy who started jumping in with my girl, and she allowed him to share the tray with her. She is extremely placid, but bigger than him as she's a lionhead and he's a Netherland Dwarf.

    8-9 weeks on and they have started swapping trays. My boy is less generous about letting my girl share if he's in it first. They are free range house rabbit with an uncaged base which was my boy's original territory before I adopted his little friend.

    I think it also down to temperament. It took 6 months for my boy to bond with me, but once he did it was a strong bond. He is quite a feisty but skittish bunny. Unfortunately, he hates my husband and will lunge at him. So, if he didn't like someone, it would be obvious. My girl is very laid back and super sweet.

    I read somewhere that once bunnies are home from bonding in a neutral place, it is the female who will most likely rise to the top. Therefore, I'm assuming that she is just sitting it out until my boy gives in. It's so funny to watch because she is so calm when he gets annoyed with her and will just ignore him when he wants to be groomed and doesn't seem to care if he nips her so stops pretty quickly.

    It sounds like your bunnies are in the same situation as mine. They are bonded, but working out who is the actual boss. It will be interesting to see which ones become top bunnies.
     
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  8. Sep 5, 2019 #8

    Xiaoxiao Huang

    Xiaoxiao Huang

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    Thank you for your reply. Yes I think they are totally fine living together. It will just take time for them to love each other. It took 3 months for my girl to start showing her personality so I guess they will need time to figure it out.
     
  9. Sep 14, 2019 #9

    Izzybella

    Izzybella

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    Update: I just found my two bunnies squashed together side by side in their litter tray. :) This is the first time they've really snuggled up together, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they've come to some kind of agreement and have fallen in love. They've spent the last week with my boy chasing my girl and there's been mounting by both of them, but I just left them to get on with it.
     
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  10. Sep 19, 2019 #10

    Izzybella

    Izzybella

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    I think we're almost there :)
     

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