Bonding two spayed females

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stevesmum

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I hope there are success stories out there when it comes to bonding two spayed does. Because only the bunny chick seems to advocate for it when I look around online. Today we went to the humane society with Cali, our spayed 4 year old doe. She lost her partner Steve two weeks ago but has been doing pretty well. She met 3 bucks and they were all very pushy with her. Nipping and mounting and all that. One of these she hated and they almost fought. I decided to try a female just for the hell of it and this was the best meeting. No aggression or rude behaviour. Mostly ignoring. Cali had kind of shut down a bit. But in general she is a very easy going rabbit. Anyway we chose this 9 month old spayed female and brought her home. They are housed side by side in near identical enclosures with space in between so they can't get at each other through the bars. Tomorrow evening will be their first date. So my questions are:
1. Is this pairing doable? Has anyone achieved it and if so any tips?
2. How do I coordinate out time for them in non neutral territory? They can see each other frolicking about and I don't want hurt feelings or jealousy
3. The bunny chick says give them a teensy bit of space during dates and expand it slowly. Other sites say give them enough room to be able to escape each other if needed. Huh? Which one should I try?
Thanks in advance for thoughts and advice.
 

Parcel

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I am in the same boat as you but have successfully bonded females in the past- it can definitely work if you take the necessary steps and are patient. Ultimately, the method you choose will all depend on how they act around one another. What I have found to work is doing a short initial stress-bonding session then seeing how they react in a decent sized space. If there's fighting, chasing, or fur pulling, take it back a notch and do more stress bonding in a smaller area. Since your current female is submissive, you shouldn't have too big of a problem. You just have to be consistent with your sessions and repeat what works. Remember, always end on a good note.
 

Blue eyes

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I'm actually not a big fan of stress bonding. My opinion is that it may help/work for those bunnies that are already inclined to get along. But it can have the opposite effect on rabbits that are already iffy. The stress can cause a false sense of security that will eventually blow up once the stress is removed.

As for size of area, most bathrooms are well suited to the task. They are usually small, but not so small that one rabbit can't hop away if desired. It rather meets both requirements of having a small space (not a large room) that is not so small that it forces them in each other's faces.

Rescues often have female bonded pairs, so it certainly is do-able. However it will ultimately be up to the individual rabbits as to whether or not they will bond.
 

stevesmum

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So we had the first date. In the bathroom as suggested and it went ok actually. The new younger female did go after Cali a bit but stopped when I intervened and seemed to listen when I spoke, telling her to "Be nice!" After a few minutes she even lay down next to Cali for a rest. Cali, as expected, was more submissive about the whole thing. No aggression on her part whatsoever. We ended the date after the bit of lying down because we took that as quite positive.
 

stevesmum

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Today's meeting started out pretty much the same. The new younger rabbit (haven't named her yet) gave Cali a good couple of nips to assert herself. My husband tried giving them each a treat and got bit by newbie. Cali wouldn't eat any. But then newbie decided to lie down next to Cali again and Cali groomed her for a second or two. Progress! We let them lie next to each other and gave them pets, then ended on that good note.
 

stevesmum

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When does all the chinning slow down?? These girls are going to rub all the fur off their chins when they're out and about. Some things get chin rubbed up to five times in a row. Rabbits are ridiculous.
 

JBun

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Does it ever slow down? My glasses get constantly chinned by one of my rabbits. Never mind that she already did it 2 seconds ago.
 

stevesmum

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Similar date tonight. My husband took a shower while I supervised the date. I thought the running water might act as a bit of a stressor but it had no real effect that I could see. There was a bit of grooming by both parties. This newbie bunny is high strung, energetic and bossy. I hope this match has a chance of working out.

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stevesmum

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Well tonight's date was a disaster. Three attempts at fighting. Cali wasn't backing down much tonight. Someone growled. Fur flew. I hated to separate them on a bad note but there just wasn't any positive time to end it. Should I try the bathroom one more time and if it's more fighting then maybe move them? Or should I try a car ride or similar stress bonding? Is this how ladies are supposed to behave??
 

stevesmum

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They're still fighting :(
We have done the last two dates as follows: start with 5 minutes together in an empty laundry basket on top of the dryer while it's going. Then move to a neutral space. All they want to do is fight. Both of them are aggressive and neither one backing down. It's been about a week and I feel like each date is going worse and worse. Any advice??? Is this doomed?
 

Watermelons

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I would be giving them a break from each other. As in keep them so seperate they forget the other one exists for a few weeks. Then try again.

Rabbits can hold a grudge.

The more they are allowed to fight the worse their chances of this ever working will get. Seperatr rooms. No smelling each others smells in a common area. Totally seperate cage areas and free time areas.
 

Blue eyes

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How often have you been doing the meet-ups in the bathroom? Is it just once or twice per day for the past 4 days?

If I'm reading your post right, they were in the bathroom doing meet ups from the 26th to the 29th. It seemed to be going well. But then it sounds like you switched them to some other space on the 30th which did not go well?

Is this correct?

If it is , then it sounds like they were switched too soon. The few meet-ups that are going well in the bathroom sounded good. It's good to keep that that going, then, for longer and longer periods of time. In other words, the meet-ups should get progressively longer until they are able to easily be together for hours at a time. I wouldn't change their location until that positive relationship has been going on for awhile. Any change has the potential to cause problems.

Now that they've had scuffles and you've tried (apparently unsuccessfully) the stress bonding (which I personally don't think helps), the next step will depend on how severe the scuffles have been. If they have been vicious and/or they seem to be just waiting to "get at" each other again, then it would probably be best to give it a break and give them time to forget their animosity. This could mean keeping them out of each other's sight and smell range for a week or two. Then begin all over again in the bathroom.

If they aren't at each other's throats, then maybe it would be ok to go to back to where progress had been made -- in the bathroom.

The key is not to rush things. When they are showing progress, that's great. Just let them progress at their own pace. You want to see long-term, positive interaction in one space (the bathroom, for ex.) before daring to move them to a new space. One rescue I spoke with suggested waiting a couple weeks after two rabbits seem perfectly bonded before bringing them to a new location. It is that change that can cause territorial issues so you want them to be "good and bonded" before changing locations.
 

stevesmum

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Thanks so much for all the good advice. Unfortunately due to the fighting and the new bunny having a bit of a health issue we made the difficult decision to give her back to the humane society and work with them to find a male that will get along with Cali. It's a no kill shelter so I know she will have a home there until someone gives her a forever home. I wish it could have been us. Another complicating factor is that we have a six month old baby and so I don't have the time for intense bonding sessions. Otherwise I would have just spent days on end with them until they decided to declare peace. But realistically I need a more straightforward match. So we will try to find an adult male that will treat Cali like the queen she thinks she is. Thanks again for all your help. I'll update when we find someone.
 
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