Gradual vs. Rapid bunny bonding

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Jaimeh761

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Hi everyone. So we adopted a new bunny yesterday...yay! She's a beautiful New Zealand white that was rescued from a lab. She still equates being picked up with bad things so that will be a work in progress, but she loves pets and shes a very sweet girl. Our existing bunny is a male mini rex. I took him yesterday with me to the rabbit sanctuary where we did bonding tests for 4 hours. You would think size would matter, but apparently not. They were put in a pen yesterday together and were fine with each other for those 4 hours. Other than a few seconds of chasing they were perfectly fine. They even shared a "lady and the tramp" hay moment. Cut to coming home with our new girl. We set them up in a fairly neutral location. I say fairly because our existing bunny is free roamed so there isn't a room in the house he doesn't know or go into. At first they were continuing to do great, but then all of a sudden they started fighting. It was as if our rabbit realized he was home again and hey what is she doing here? We quickly intervened. We tried again but the same thing happened. The rescue really recommends accelerated bonding with 24/7 monitoring, but i just dont think that will work for us. We do have the bunnies seperated but in the same room. They have sniffed noses a couple times through the cages but its short lived and our little rex runs away. I'm ok with a slower bonding process since i work and i can't monitor them 24/7 anyways but im concerned. I am worried the fights completely set us back to square one again. I know my little guy is not thrilled. Its been a day so i know i have a long way to go. I guess my question is how mamy of you preferred slow bonding vs quick bonding? What ultimately worked for you? I take the fact that they are touching noses as to mean all hope is not lost.
 

Lucas the Bun 💕🐇

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I’ve never bonded buns,
but
I know bonding really should’nt be rushed that can lead to resentment later in their relationship.

I (if you haven’t done so) would spray everything down with white vinigar.
 

JBun

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I've done bonding both ways. Every rabbit and every situation is different, so it's really just finding what works best for the rabbits involved. Some respond to going slowly better, some do better with fast and just diving right in.

You tried going fast and it doesn't seem to be working, so slowing down is what I would try next. Maybe your little guy just needs some time to get used to the idea of not being the only bun in the house. Once he can settle down, he may realize he actually likes having another bun around. You could try and continue to let them have interaction through their cage/pen bars, provided there isn't any serious aggression going on. This way he can get used to her being around and sharing his territory in some respect.

Then when things have settled down and you feel he is ready, I would try bonding time in the bathtub. I'm guessing he doesn't spend a lot of time in there, so it will be a neutral area for them.
 

Blue eyes

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I've used both methods. It really depends on the individual rabbits. One method may work better for one pair of rabbits but not for another.

I say to go with your gut and what you think will work best.

Unfortunately, they do remember fights -- at least for awhile. If you think ( you know them best) that they would benefit from being kept separate but in side-by side areas for awhile first, then do that. Sometimes, it is a good idea to have them live side-by-side for a time (separated by a pen wall) before beginning either the slow or fast approach.

Once they've had that time along side each other, then you can re-assess how they seem to be doing. You can then decide which approach you prefer.

Whatever you decide, I'd keep the rescue informed along the way. That way, if, by chance, they end up refusing to get along, the rescue will have been following their progress. That way an exchange can be made if needed.
 

JBun

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@Blue eyes I think you and I have seen each others advice and been doing this too long. We just about mirror what each other says sometimes :p
 

Jaimeh761

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Thank you both. I think things went so well because my little guy was in unfamiliar territory. And yes i think the more our new girl is here the more he will get used to it. And yes were taking it slow.
 

Jaimeh761

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Bunny update. Unfortunately not much to report. I have been keeping my bunnies side by side but separated, and I swap them between the two areas daily. They have been better around each other in this environment. They both look like they're desperate to get out this more confined arrangement however. I attempted a bonding date today in the next door bathroom. My male bunny went straight into fight mode. I used a tennis racquet to separate him when he was aggressive. Which was pretty much the entire time. I had to eventually just pick him up to calm him down. I did put them side by side and petted both of them and thankfully no fight broke out there. So we ended on a calm note. Whole session was maybe 5 minutes. Wondering if hes just not ready yet or if i try again later tonight? How long did it take you all with a more difficult bond before it either got better or you decided the bond was not going to work? Also, is it ok for them to have individual play time outside of the living quarters area to stretch their legs? Or is that a big no no?
 

Mariam+Theo

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I would try a session tomorrow to give him a break. I wouldn't let either of them out individually for playtime because they need to accept that "playtime" now means that you have to get along with another rabbit. They can still have fun though. It is their choice if they are going to have fun during playtime, or if they are going to ruin the fun for themselves and their friend (or enemy).
 
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