Bonding Males

Discussion in 'Nutrition and Behavior' started by TwoBunsInAPod, Jul 25, 2019.

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  1. Jul 25, 2019 #1

    TwoBunsInAPod

    TwoBunsInAPod

    TwoBunsInAPod

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    Hi!
    I'm the current owner of four beautiful rabbits. My small collection contains two mixed dwarfs (both 1 year old) , one lop ear lionhead Holland mix (1 year), and a giant Flemish (turning a year the end of August). They are all de-sexed/altered.

    I'm currently having a bonding issue.

    ... And I never owned rabbits prior to this.

    My two dwarfs are from the same liter and were cage mates until about 6months of age, when they were altered due to hormonal aggression. Ever since then, it's been attack on site. I haven't even attempted to bond my Holland and Flemish as they were only supposed to be fosters.

    My current set up is that they are all housed in their own pen (4 feet long, and two feet wide; my Flemish is in a slightly larger pen). Each pen has two facing neighbours. I will switch my two dwarfs twice a week. I unfortunately do not do the same for the Holland and Flemish as they often stress from the change and will attack their neighbours through the bars; which they normally don't do with their current arrangement.

    My bonding plan so far is the following (*they meaning my two dwarfs):
    They seemed to pass the bathtub stage, as they just went to each side of the tub and ignored one another. Only sometimes coming into contact to groom. There have been some off days where they try to bite the hind quarters, but those are were few and far between. I believe I managed to come close to bonding my dwarfs after many days with them in the tub; as one day they were roaming my living room ignoring one another. Until one chased and bunny tornado the other. Panicked, I pulled them apart with my bare hands, which left me with a really deep cut. This has also left my scared with the idea of bonding. I'm worried that if they bunny tornado again, one of my dwarfs may end up severely hurt, or even killed.

    It's now been two months since that bunny attack, and I've been slowly regaining my confidence with bonding. I will often pick them both up and force them to sit side by side on my lap. They seem to not mind. Whenever I try to place them back into the tub. They will either try to attack, or groom. They now do not ignore one another. I have attempted to place them back into my living room. I will often place one on one end, and hold the other. Whenever I try to let them both roam, one will dart to the other. Fearing a bunny tornado, I will scoop one up. I can only assume this is hindering my bonding process, but I cannot bare to risk another attack.

    I'm currently moving and cannot spare room for my current set up. I do not want to rehome my little buns before giving this a fighting chance.

    Any advice, tips, or tricks are welcomed!
     
  2. Jul 25, 2019 #2

    Blue eyes

    Blue eyes

    Blue eyes

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    Are all of your rabbits males?

    One potential problem I see is putting them in the large, not-neutral space of the living room after just a few days of success in the bathtub. When rabbits seem to be making progress in a certain area, it is a good idea to keep them going in that same area for longer. You want them to bond as much as they can while the going is good.

    Whenever it is time to move them to a different area, the potential for tussles exists. If the area is considerably larger (eg. living room) the chances of tussles is increased. If the area is not neutral (where either has been before) then the chances of tussles increases again. So there's a double whammy -- not neutral and large. This scenario has the likelihood to cause issues even if they had been bonding perfectly for months in the tub.

    Is this living room also where the other pens are?

    Another factor, which may work to your advantage, is that you are moving. Bonding right before a move can be pointless anyway as location is so critical to the process. If I were you, I would hold off on the bonding attempts until you move to the new place. But what you do the moment you bring them into the new place will need to be thought out carefully.

    If you plan to keep all 4 rabbits, were you hoping to bond them into 2 pairs? If so, I would suggest establishing two separate rooms/areas -- one for each pair. Even fully bonded pairs can have a breakup from the mere presence of a 3rd (or 4th) rabbit. Keeping them apart should help the process.

    Another consideration would be to see if you want to try pairing them differently. The mixed dwarfs have already shown plenty of negative signs and honestly don't seem inclined to be a steady bonded pair. Some people will trudge on but I am less inclined to try forcing a bond that doesn't show much promise. It's too much stress for the rabbits and for me (imo). Breed or size makes no difference when it comes to bonding. So any 2 of your rabbits could potentially bond with each other.

    There are alot of factors to consider with your situation and your upcoming move. I wish you luck and success.
     
  3. Jul 25, 2019 #3

    TwoBunsInAPod

    TwoBunsInAPod

    TwoBunsInAPod

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    Hi!
    Yes, all my buns are male and altered.

    My pens are not in my living room, and I normally will have all four out at one point in the day for an hour or two of play. So I assumed that the scent in my living room is the same as my "pen room". My dwarfs were both "bunny bonded", but that quickly turned sour when the teenage months hit. If I'm able to bond the dwarfs, I planned to bond my Holland, then my Flemish into the trio. As my Holland showed to be promising as he allowed my king to mount when I attempted a trio bond. But as for now, if I'm able to bond my dwarfs I'll be hopefully able to share one pen between the both, and then hopefully will have room for all four in my move. Unfortunately, I am downsizing so I'm losing the ability to have a "pen room". Hence why I'm desperate to bond my males.

    I didn't mention it in my original post, but my Flemish is a bit of a bully towards to other buns. I assumed it was due to his young age, as I got him from a livestock farm who couldn't keep him. He was removed from his mamma-bun at only 4 weeks, and placed into a cubed shelving unit with no other cage mates or human interaction. He's pretty much scared of everything still. I only received him when he was 9 months back in January. I'm waiting until his a year of age to attempt bonding him with my others (end of August).

    I really wish to keep them all, as I'm already their second home, and I want to give them all the best possible housing.

    Thanks for the advice! :)
     
  4. Jul 25, 2019 #4

    Blue eyes

    Blue eyes

    Blue eyes

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    The scent in the living room being the same as that of the pen room is a negative when it comes to bonding. It is not neutral as both rabbits have been in that space. It is the riskiest place (aside from their actual pens) to put potential bondmates that have not developed a solid bond.

    If you want to do a trio, then the trio should be bonded all at once. It is not advised to bond a pair and then add in a 3rd. That is the most problematic way to create a trio. Always best to introduce all 3 at the same time so they can figure out their dynamic. Adding a 3rd rabbit to an existing bond risks breaking the original bond.

    I think your best bet would be to wait until you move and then place the three together in a new space all at once -- neutral for all. (Or try all 4)
     

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