Bonding - small wounds

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AshAndMaple

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Hi, so I'm bonding Ash (intact male) and Bluebell (spayed female). Background - I know this isn't recommended, but Ash is high-risk for anaesthetic and their personalities seem pretty compatible.

It seems to be going well - they both groom each other, cuddle up together etc. Every now and then there is a scuffle. Mostly it's Ash mounting Bluebell which I expected (occasionally she mounts him too) - he has pulled out small clumps of fur and in the small bald patch this has created there are some bite marks. Most of them are just red marks, but a couple look like they have broken the skin. None have bled other than possibly in the little dip of the mark themselves. Is this something I should be concerned about? I don't want to separate them when they're doing so well, but I don't want the bites to get worse and for it to get to a point where a vet is needed. As I'm typing this, Ash is grooming her ears and then nipping her back slightly. I don't think his intention is to cause her harm, and they haven't had any proper fights - I just think he's nipping her slightly too hard. The mounting seems very much dominance-based, and he's running around her in circles while she sits there and ignores him, and he's spraying and asking to be groomed etc.

Thoughts on this would be appreciated! (I am supervising 24/7 - sleeping in the kitchen with them etc. and I don't need a lecture on neutering Ash - keeping him intact was a difficult decision and it's what's right for him.)
 
Hi, so I'm bonding Ash (intact male) and Bluebell (spayed female). Background - I know this isn't recommended, but Ash is high-risk for anaesthetic and their personalities seem pretty compatible.

It seems to be going well - they both groom each other, cuddle up together etc. Every now and then there is a scuffle. Mostly it's Ash mounting Bluebell which I expected (occasionally she mounts him too) - he has pulled out small clumps of fur and in the small bald patch this has created there are some bite marks. Most of them are just red marks, but a couple look like they have broken the skin. None have bled other than possibly in the little dip of the mark themselves. Is this something I should be concerned about? I don't want to separate them when they're doing so well, but I don't want the bites to get worse and for it to get to a point where a vet is needed. As I'm typing this, Ash is grooming her ears and then nipping her back slightly. I don't think his intention is to cause her harm, and they haven't had any proper fights - I just think he's nipping her slightly too hard. The mounting seems very much dominance-based, and he's running around her in circles while she sits there and ignores him, and he's spraying and asking to be groomed etc.

Thoughts on this would be appreciated! (I am supervising 24/7 - sleeping in the kitchen with them etc. and I don't need a lecture on neutering Ash - keeping him intact was a difficult decision and it's what's right for him.)
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Sadly that’s not going to stop because of his hormones. Has he been under anesthesia before?? And it didn’t go well?
 
Sadly that’s not going to stop because of his hormones. Has he been under anesthesia before?? And it didn’t go well?
He has been - he stopped breathing for over 6 minutes. I've seen multiple vets and they've all made the recommendation that I don't try to get him neutered again. They have told me to try and bond him as he is and see how it goes.
 
He has been - he stopped breathing for over 6 minutes. I've seen multiple vets and they've all made the recommendation that I don't try to get him neutered again. They have told me to try and bond him as he is and see how it goes.
That’s too bad. Sorry to hear that. Hope all goes well
 
That’s too bad. Sorry to hear that. Hope all goes well
Thank you - if he ever does have to go under anaesthetic I'll definitely be asking them to neuter him at the same time! I just won't be risking his life unless I have to.

They do seem to be getting on really well - much better than I expected seeing as he's intact. It's just a shame he's damaged her skin 😔 it's only day three (most of the injuries happened yesterday), so I'm hoping things will improve as they sort out the hierarchy.
 
Any break in the skin has the potential to develop infection, particularly bite wounds. Initially I would maybe wipe a little peroxide on the wound to help reduce that chance. Or ask your vet how best to treat the minor bite wounds.

You could try a onesie on her, to protect her skin until they've had enough time together, that hopefully he settles down so that keeping them together works. He may eventually bite some holes through them, so just use something cheap. Unless you can find something with more durable fabric.

Aside from separating them, that's about the only way to protect her skin. I guess unless you put an e-collar on him. That would likely stop his ability to hump and nip her.

Just be aware and be cautious, if he overdoes the humping, she may at some point get fed up. This is when serious fights can break out. So keep a close watch for any of those signs of growing agitation. Also make sure he's not mounting her head or he could get a nasty bite right in his privates.
 
Any break in the skin has the potential to develop infection, particularly bite wounds. Initially I would maybe wipe a little peroxide on the wound to help reduce that chance. Or ask your vet how best to treat the minor bite wounds.

You could try a onesie on her, to protect her skin until they've had enough time together, that hopefully he settles down so that keeping them together works. He may eventually bite some holes through them, so just use something cheap. Unless you can find something with more durable fabric.

Aside from separating them, that's about the only way to protect her skin. I guess unless you put an e-collar on him. That would likely stop his ability to hump and nip her.

Just be aware and be cautious, if he overdoes the humping, she may at some point get fed up. This is when serious fights can break out. So keep a close watch for any of those signs of growing agitation. Also make sure he's not mounting her head or he could get a nasty bite right in his privates.
Thank you for your reply.

I keep applying a little Flamazine to the area on her back as I have it on hand - I also have leucillin which I have considered using, but I was told by a vet once that some rabbits get irritated by it so I thought maybe Flamazine was a better option... unfortunately they both like the taste of it though so I might switch to leucillin. He keeps spraying her so I am concerned about the possibility of infection. When rabbits are bitten, do vets recommend a course of antibiotics as a precaution? I know my vets are very hesitant to use any medication unless absolutely necessary - but I wondered if that's something to ask them about or to wait and just keep an eye on the wounds.

I do have a medical shirt which I know would fit her. She's never worn it, so I'm not sure how she would react. I'm a little concerned about her overheating as my house gets quite warm, but if Ash is persistent then I might put it on her and turn the heating down - at least until the wounds heal so he can't do further damage.

When she does get annoyed with him, she's getting on top of him and humping him for a few seconds which he definitely doesn't like! On day one I did separate him twice out of concerns that it was getting rough, but things have improved. I'm still occasionally spraying his forehead with a little water to get him to leave her alone when I can see she's getting more and more agitated and I'm concerned about a fight starting. I've taken time off work to bond them, so I still have the next 7 days to supervise them. I'm a bit concerned about what could happen when I return to work, but I'm hopeful that they're getting to a point where they're sorting out the scuffles without needing intervention from me. I do have a pet camera set up, so at least I'll be able to check on them from time to time to make sure they're okay. He's only tried to mount her head once - then he realised within seconds that he was at the wrong end and adjusted himself! 😂 So thankfully I'm not too worried about him doing that.

He suddenly leaps up from napping (while she is also just napping), and starts harassing her - mounting and chasing - out of nowhere. Is this normal dominance behaviour? Or does that suggest it's something hormonal seeing as she's not doing anything to question his status as the potential dominant rabbit?
 
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He suddenly leaps up from napping (while she is also just napping), and starts harassing her - mounting and chasing - out of nowhere. Is this normal dominance behaviour? Or does that suggest it's something hormonal seeing as she's not doing anything to question his status as the potential dominant rabbit?

Imho, humping for dominance is a doe thing. Bucks have other things on their mind (guess what he was dreaming about :D), and they sometimes use their teeth when trying to get in postion, if the bite marks are at her back that might be the reason. It's hormonal. and although it was worse with my young bucks it didn't go away. No spraying her yet?

My free range house bunnys are a spayed doe, Dotty, and an intact buck, Pacino. At some times of the year he still spends hours following Dotty around, but she just keeps hopping away. My previous buck did the same. The good thing is that Dotty is such a patient girl. No way to tell how yours will settle this.

You can give her places to hide, like cardboard boxes, boards leaning against a wall, or a very low table where he can't even try to mount her. A path to keep hopping away - no dead ends - might also help, like running around something in the center of their pen, if space permits.
 
Yeah - I'm pretty certain the bite marks on her back are from him getting grip of her because I've been watching them - he's a bit smaller than her so they're about as far up as he can reach! I have spotted him nipping her sometimes other than that to try and tell her who's boss. Unfortunately he is spraying a lot - and her back end in particular is quite mucky :( I just hate that occasionally I can see it in the fur around her eyes, because I can't imagine it's good if it's getting in her eyes.

So far Bluebell has been extremely tolerant of him - she either stays still and puts up with it, or hops around while he chases her. There've only been a couple of times where I've been concerned she might be about to retaliate.

At the moment I have them in a tiny pen while I'm bonding them (1mx1m) - it's made out of panels and I'm planning on following the method where you slowly expand the space so they have less opportunity to become territorial about it. They have nothing in there at the moment except a water bowl in the centre while hay is scattered all around it. I'm considering putting a litter tray in there to hopefully make cleaning easier, but I don't want them fighting over it - I might use a large cardboard box cut into a tray rather than their normal litter boxes so it doesn't smell of either of them and they can easily escape. A lot of the smell at the moment is urine too (understandably!), so I don't know how much that'll improve!

I think there probably isn't going to be enough room in the bonding space for hiding places, but once I've moved them back into the bedroom they were sharing (they were in separate pens), I'll definitely be giving them lots of places to hide and explore.

Did Pacino stop spraying Dotty after a while when you were bonding them? I want them to be able to wander around my house, but not if he keeps spraying! His litter habits were perfect when he was in a different room to her, and he never sprayed at all until I put them in the same room as each other. I'm expecting daftness at certain times of the year, but I don't know whether I need to accept that he'll go around spraying everywhere daily or not?
 
Imho, humping for dominance is a doe thing. Bucks have other things on their mind (guess what he was dreaming about :D), and they sometimes use their teeth when trying to get in postion, if the bite marks are at her back that might be the reason. It's hormonal. and although it was worse with my young bucks it didn't go away. No spraying her yet?

My free range house bunnys are a spayed doe, Dotty, and an intact buck, Pacino. At some times of the year he still spends hours following Dotty around, but she just keeps hopping away. My previous buck did the same. The good thing is that Dotty is such a patient girl. No way to tell how yours will settle this.

You can give her places to hide, like cardboard boxes, boards leaning against a wall, or a very low table where he can't even try to mount her. A path to keep hopping away - no dead ends - might also help, like running around something in the center of their pen, if space permits.
both will hump, just just a doe thing. Mine did
 
I wouldn't want to use an antibiotic unless there was an actual infection, or if dealing with cat or dog bites that are higher risk bites, or a very deep wound. I would just treat it like any superficial wound that we would get. Clean it off with some sort of antimicrobial; like the flamazine, leucillin, hydrogen peroxide, etc. Just something to kill the surface bacteria, that's rabbit safe, but that's not going to gunk up the fur and/or draw either rabbits undue attention to the area and initiate grooming there. Which the flamazine might, as would other creams and ointments, or using something like alcohol or iodine that stings (though if you monitor and distract til the sting goes away, these might be ok). If you aren't sure about any of this, discuss your concerns with your knowledgeable rabbit vet.

If she'll tolerate the shirt, I would use it. It will protect her back, not only from his teeth, but also from his urine, and any debris getting in the wounds. You can also more easily wash his sprayed urine out of the shirt, over trying to get it out of her fur.

Preitler has more experience with this type of bonding situation than most of us here on RO, when dealing with intact males being with spayed does. So all those suggestions are things to take into consideration. When we're talking about an intact male rabbit around a female, even a spayed one, it's never about dominance from the male. It's always going to be hormonal mounting and humping. Your female, it will be dominance.

I would forgo the traditional small bonding space that's used for bonding fixed rabbits, and provide lots of space and places she can get away from him and limit his ability to pester her when she's getting fed up with the attention. When bonding fixed rabbits, you're using a smaller space so they can't run away and hide, and avoid interaction. So that they can get acquainted with each other more quickly, and also sort out their hierarchy.

You're dealing with a completely different dynamic when you have an unneutered male, and a spayed or unspayed female. It's not about dominance or territory at all for him; over food, litter boxes, their area. He won't become territorial over anything, only she will, and he'll more than likely let her, happily, if she'll just let him occasionally do what his hormones are driving him to do. All he's thinking about is her and being with her. So bonding in this situation is more about her getting used to him, her learning when to 'tell' him off when he's bugging her, and giving her the places she needs to get away from him when she needs her space.

So I would suggest giving her all the space and places she needs, to have a break from his excessive attention. I really like Preitlers suggestion of trying a low crawl space. High enough it's comfortable for her to go under, but low enough he can't try and mount her. Along with shelves and tunnels, and no dead end spaces where she might feel trapped.

If there's a chance for this bond to work at all, you don't want your girl bun to feel trapped and overwhelmed by him. The bond may progress more slowly, but it will also help reduce the likely risk of her becoming overwhelmed and agitated by his excessive attention if she knows she can get away from him when she needs her space.

Unfortunately spraying is part of having an intact buck, and why many people decide on getting them neutered. Though, as these two settle together, it will likely happen less often.
 
I wouldn't want to use an antibiotic unless there was an actual infection, or if dealing with cat or dog bites that are higher risk bites, or a very deep wound. I would just treat it like any superficial wound that we would get. Clean it off with some sort of antimicrobial; like the flamazine, leucillin, hydrogen peroxide, etc. Just something to kill the surface bacteria, that's rabbit safe, but that's not going to gunk up the fur and/or draw either rabbits undue attention to the area and initiate grooming there. Which the flamazine might, as would other creams and ointments, or using something like alcohol or iodine that stings (though if you monitor and distract til the sting goes away, these might be ok). If you aren't sure about any of this, discuss your concerns with your knowledgeable rabbit vet.

If she'll tolerate the shirt, I would use it. It will protect her back, not only from his teeth, but also from his urine, and any debris getting in the wounds. You can also more easily wash his sprayed urine out of the shirt, over trying to get it out of her fur.

Preitler has more experience with this type of bonding situation than most of us here on RO, when dealing with intact males being with spayed does. So all those suggestions are things to take into consideration. When we're talking about an intact male rabbit around a female, even a spayed one, it's never about dominance from the male. It's always going to be hormonal mounting and humping. Your female, it will be dominance.

I would forgo the traditional small bonding space that's used for bonding fixed rabbits, and provide lots of space and places she can get away from him and limit his ability to pester her when she's getting fed up with the attention. When bonding fixed rabbits, you're using a smaller space so they can't run away and hide, and avoid interaction. So that they can get acquainted with each other more quickly, and also sort out their hierarchy.

You're dealing with a completely different dynamic when you have an unneutered male, and a spayed or unspayed female. It's not about dominance or territory at all for him; over food, litter boxes, their area. He won't become territorial over anything, only she will, and he'll more than likely let her, happily, if she'll just let him occasionally do what his hormones are driving him to do. All he's thinking about is her and being with her. So bonding in this situation is more about her getting used to him, her learning when to 'tell' him off when he's bugging her, and giving her the places she needs to get away from him when she needs her space.

So I would suggest giving her all the space and places she needs, to have a break from his excessive attention. I really like Preitlers suggestion of trying a low crawl space. High enough it's comfortable for her to go under, but low enough he can't try and mount her. Along with shelves and tunnels, and no dead end spaces where she might feel trapped.

If there's a chance for this bond to work at all, you don't want your girl bun to feel trapped and overwhelmed by him. The bond may progress more slowly, but it will also help reduce the likely risk of her becoming overwhelmed and agitated by his excessive attention if she knows she can get away from him when she needs her space.

Unfortunately spraying is part of having an intact buck, and why many people decide on getting them neutered. Though, as these two settle together, it will likely happen less often.
Great - thank you for all the information!

Yes, I definitely like the idea of giving her somewhere with a low ceiling where he can't mount her.

I might try the shirt - I'll do my best to clean her off first mind. She pure white so it's very obvious where the urine is! 🫣

Okay, so they're in my kitchen at the moment as it's a neutral space. I have a looot of cleaning to do in the spare bedroom they were in before - but I'll try to make a start on that tomorrow and move them in once it's ready. Do you think I should go straight from the tiny space they're in now to giving them a huge room to run around?

That's good to know. I would like to think he'll settle and not be as bad, but I guess only time will tell. I can put up panels to protect my walls and he can run around their room and the kitchen, it would just be better if he could run straight from their room, down the carpeted stairs and hallway and into the kitchen. But I'll have to see.
 
Did Pacino stop spraying Dotty after a while when you were bonding them? I want them to be able to wander around my house, but not if he keeps spraying! His litter habits were perfect when he was in a different room to her, and he never sprayed at all until I put them in the same room as each other. I'm expecting daftness at certain times of the year, but I don't know whether I need to accept that he'll go around spraying everywhere daily or not?

Nope, that's something I have to live with. He doesn't spray all year round, he has his times, and does most of it outdoors, but sometimes there is something to mop up. They are banned from the only room with wood flooring.

I didn't plan to make my last buck, Herr Hase, my housebunny, he just ventured into the house in summer and behaved perfectly, and I when I ran out of hutch space I gave it a shot. He was the perfect house bunny for over a year, but looked somewhat ölonely, so I got Dotty spayed and put them together:

Getting female spayed to bond with intact buck, what to consider?
 
I've put Blues in a medical shirt - so we'll see how that goes 🤞 so far Ash keeps trying to dig at it, which isn't great but she jumps away from him and it won't be going through the material. I think it's safe to say she's not thrilled with me at the moment though!
 

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Poor girl 🥰

That's looking very promising! See how it goes with the shirt, if it's still on her. If it helps more than it causes problems, I'd keep it on. But if it seems to be making her more upset than is helpful to prevent him nipping her back, then I'd remove it.

For expanding their area, because they seem to be getting along and doing well together where they're currently at, I would keep them there, but expand the pen. I'd maybe double the space and see how that goes for the next few hours. If it's too much at once, you'd likely see any problems in the first 2 hours.

If there are no issues after 2 to 4 hours and they're still doing well together after the added space, I'd increase it a little more, and a little more every few hours, until they have the whole kitchen space (if that's where they still are), if possible.

Once they have that whole area, I'd maybe give them a day or two in there while getting their permanent room all ready for them. I'd suggest dividing off a smaller space in the room to start them in, maybe 4x8. Then if they've been fine together in the kitchen during that day or two, I'd move them to their new room, into that smaller divided off space.

Then see how they do for the next few hours. If it sparks some territorial behavior from her or hormonal behavior from him, you'll need to give it enough time to settle back down. When they've been ok for a couple hours together, I'd suggest the same space expansion procedure as you did in the kitchen. Expand a little, give a few hours. If all is good, expand some more every couple of hours, until they have the room.

Now this isn't a procedure set in stone. It's just a guideline, to change as needed. If you try something and it's not working, revert back to what was, or find what does work best. Or if things are going really well and you feel you can push things a little faster, try it. I tend to proceed based on the feel I'm getting from my rabbits body language. If I don't feel a gradual space expansion is necessary because the buns have done so well, I'll just immediately open up that extra space to them, or move them right to their new space.

It's all based on their body language and their response. So if you know rabbits pretty well and how to judge good and bad body language, it will help you in determining how to proceed in their bonding.
 
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