How Do I Know They Are Bon

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Kait88

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So I have a 2yr old male, Sox, & an 8 month old female, Tulip, that I have been working on bonding. Both are fixed. My most recent issue was that she was not grooming him. After our longest session ever on Saturday about half way in she finally started grooming him! Yay!! They did really well all day. Sox only mounted her on their second date but did start again on Saturday (it’s been a month as of yesterday with a date every day except 3 days). I was surprised to see it again, but it didn’t bother her this time like it did last time so I didn’t interfere.

Sunday we did another all day session & a sleepover last night. I work during the week. They were doing really well & slept cuddling most of Sunday & were up and playing around 5pmish is when they start getting active. I left them for 30-45 mins unsupervised around noon to sort of test them but I also felt comfortable enough to step away for a short time. I was planning on leaving them alone today, but last night (I slept on the couch, their pen is in the living room) I woke up 2-3 times to get them to stop chasing each other.

They both give each other “pay attention to me” nips on the butt. Tulip usually does it when Sox has been grooming her & then starts to walk away. Sox does it when he really wants to be groomed and is having no luck stuffing his lil nose under hers. Usually it does not bother either of them & they just proceed to walk away. Sometimes the one the gets nipped hops around and they put their noses together & Sox will eventually start grooming her. Sometimes, though, if Sox is the one doing the nipping Tulip will run & then he sort of chases her. He usually only does it for a few seconds & stops. I usually intervene as soon as possible. It hasn’t turned into a fight. The only time they really fought was the second date they had when he started mounting her. She was just shocked the first few times & then was getting mad about it & knocking him off then trying to bite or grunt at him. She did not do this when he started mounting her again on Saturday & she looked like she didn’t even care & when he would get off of her she would just go about her business.

I went ahead & separated them while I came to work today. However, I don’t want to distrupt all the progress we made this weekend by keeping them apart during their docile sleeping/cuddling time, but I also don’t want something to happen while I’m gone & ruin all the progress by leaving them together either? I’m not sure if I am just being a worry wort & I just need to let them work out this last little bit or if I should keep them apart unless I’m there until o feel 100% comfortable. Any suggestions?

I read something on another post about cementing, I haven’t heard of this, but I did have them in a larger area all weekend & some of the time they would sleep separately but most of the day they were laying side by side & flopping down beside each other. I feel that they are there but I just don’t want the chasing to turn into circling & then a fight.
 

Blue eyes

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They are not bonded yet -- not from what you describe. They seem to be making progress but they still are working out who will be top bun.

The "stand-off" when both are facing each other trying to see who will give in first and groom the other is when Tulip is claiming to be top bun. But Sox mounting her is claiming that position as well. They haven't sorted this out yet.

You are right to not leave them be to "work out this little bit," because if you aren't there to stop it, things could escalate. You definitely don't want that especially since they seem to be making progress.

It's a shame to have to separate them at all during this method, but doesn't sound like you have much choice.

You will want to keep putting them together as often as (and for as long as) you can. When you see them all cuddly, each grooming the other, and no hint of nipping at all, and no hint of chasing at all -- and this perfection continues for a minimum of a full week (better 2), then they can be considered bonded (tentatively). That 2 week period may be referred to by some as "cementing." The real test will be once they are moved to whatever will be their permanent living location in your home (if it is different from where they are doing the bonding). The longer they were "cemented" the better their chances when moved. [Let me know if it is the case that they will be eventually moving to a location different from where they've been bonding. I could offer some tips.]
 

Kait88

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Okay good! That’s what I was thinking too! Thank you!! I do have them bonding in a separate area (I have a little hallway leading to the living room that we have a baby gate usually for bonding). Last night I let them have they’re playtime together & I put them in what will be their shared pen for bedtime & then separated them again when I left this morning.
 

Blue eyes

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I'd suggest keeping them out of the area that will be their shared space -- at least until they have fully bonded. You don't want to risk them having any disputes in what will be their shared space, otherwise they might remember that when they are put back in for permanent.
Keep using the same (hallway) bonding area until fully bonded.
 

Kait88

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I'd suggest keeping them out of the area that will be their shared space -- at least until they have fully bonded. You don't want to risk them having any disputes in what will be their shared space, otherwise they might remember that when they are put back in for permanent.
Keep using the same (hallway) bonding area until fully bonded.
I don’t really know much about the cementing process, do you have any recommendations? I’ve kept them in the hallway like you suggested & we are still doing good, but we’re having some more mounting still from Sox & grooming stand offs.
 

Blue eyes

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Patience. It can take some rabbits much longer than others to figure out their relationship. They are still in that "figuring out" stage if they are still having those grooming stand-offs. Hopefully they will eventually come to an agreement. The fact that they aren't fighting or nipping is a good thing!

The concept of cementing I understand and am quite familiar with, though I hadn't heard it called that specifically. The idea is simply that once they are behaving bonded - no stand-offs, grooming each other, etc., behaving as if they are fully bonded - then they are to remain in that same place for a week or two (minimum) in order to fully establish (or "cement") that bond.

How long they should remain is subjective but should probably correlate with how long it took them to get to that point. If two rabbits got along in two days, they likely aren't going to need a long time to "cement." Those that take longer or have setbacks may need a minimum of 2 weeks.

Regardless, the real test will always be when they are finally moved to their permanent space. It is more likely to go well if they've "cemented" long enough, if the area has been made as neutral as possible, and they aren't given too much space too soon.
 

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