I need some advice regarding bonding.

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Ventura Lop

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I had been considering adding a second bunny to my family for a while, since I thought my 4 yr old male Lop would like some company. I didn't act upon it because he is such a happy boy and as I don't work he gets tons of attention. 2 weeks ago a second bunny was thrust upon us. She was a domestic bunny that the owner didn't want and was released into a park. Thankfully a friend of a friend rescued her and Snowflake (named by the rescuer's daughters) made her way to me, with a really nice 2 floor hutch. I kept her in the hutch, my bun, Mookie, has free reign in my studio apt. They seemed to be getting along through the screening, so I thought all was well. I did some research and learned that a neutral area for them to meet would be best. I set up said area, in my meager kitchen. It started out ok, but ended up with bunnies fighting. I have let them interract through screens, and they seem fine, but as soon as they get together fur is literally flying. Mookie, my boy, has free reign in my aparment. This is his area, and has been for 4 years. I really want to make this work for both of them. He can't seem to let that go.

In the meantime I plan on keeping Snowflake in the hutch all the time, which I hate. I ordered a bunny gated playpen that I can set up so she can get some run during their early morning and late night active times. Is this an ok way to operate for Snowflake? Mookie has been majorly disrupted, but he has been acting more normal now that Snow is in the cage. I want the best for both of these buns, but Mookie has been my bud for years and I feel like I have made his life a lot less happy (he hasn't played like we usually do since she came).

Not sure what to do.
 

JBun

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As in fighting, do you mean some fur pulling and nipping, or do you mean full out circling, tails raised, latching on biting, and a bunny tornado trying to get them separated?

There's a difference between the two. One is a normal part of the bonding process as they sort out the hierarchy but no real intent to harm the other rabbit, and means bonding attempts can usually continue. The other is real aggression with the intent to do harm, sometimes causing very serious injuries, and means bonding has to immediately stop for the time, with the possibility it may be resumed at a later point or may mean there is no chance of the two rabbits bonding.

I'm guessing she's not spayed yet?
 

Ventura Lop

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Mookie is Neutered, and he tried mounting her (both ways) when they met. She seemed cool with it, even grooming him (I think). I think its all him and this being his space. Not sure if she is spayed. Will this matter if he is neutered?
 

Ventura Lop

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Mookie is Neutered, and he tried mounting her (both ways) when they met. She seemed cool with it, even grooming him (I think). I think its all him and this being his space. Not sure if she is spayed. Will this matter if he is neutered?
Mookie is Neutered, and he tried mounting her (both ways) when they met. She seemed cool with it, even grooming him (I think). I think its all him and this being his space. Not sure if she is spayed. Will this matter if he is neutered?
[/QUOTE
As in fighting, do you mean some fur pulling and nipping, or do you mean full out circling, tails raised, latching on biting, and a bunny tornado trying to get them separated?

There's a difference between the two. One is a normal part of the bonding process as they sort out the hierarchy but no real intent to harm the other rabbit, and means bonding attempts can usually continue. The other is real aggression with the intent to do harm, sometimes causing very serious injuries, and means bonding has to immediately stop for the time, with the possibility it may be resumed at a later point or may mean there is no chance of the two rabbits bonding.

I'm guessing she's not spayed yet?
I don't know if she is spayed yet, but Mookie has been neutered. Is one without the other a problem?

When they first got together I saw what I thought was normal bonding, lots of sniffing, a little bit of grooming, but then it really was biting and hair pulling. Injuries. Really bad. So, yes, bunny tornado, attack attack attack. Mookie is my bonded boy, he is constantly scared now, a bit less when she is in her hutch. Snowflake is an amazing bun, super sweet, trained and loves attention, just won't take any **** when crazy Mookie decides it's his space. Again, don't know the best way. Mookie is my boy, this is his space. I ordered a metallic gating system for the buns which will be coming on tues. I plan on letting Snow out for 60 or so mins in the morning and 60 or so during their party times. Mook will be fine with this, but will Snowflake? I feel like I'm not giving her her true potential. I hate cages. Good lord I have no idea.

Just want to help the buns, but my boy Mookie is #1. Hate to say it but it is true.
 

JBun

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If she has a spay mark(like some vets will do, like a small tattoo mark in the ear or on the spay incision), that may give you an indication if she is. Otherwise it would take your vet checking her, possibly needing an ultrasound to do so. But my guess would be she most likely isn't.

Yes, her not being spayed can matter. How much, you don't know until the rabbit is spayed and the hormones have faded. Some rabbits, the hormones will affect more than others, so the change after spaying/neutering will be more dramatic. She'll have hormones influencing her behavior towards him, and so that can influence his behavior towards her, especially if she is trying to hump or nip him excessively due to the hormones. She could get spayed and completely mellow out. Or she could only calm down a little. Just depends how much of her behavior is hormonal or her individual personality. Girl rabbits, even spayed ones, can tend to be a bit more moody and bossy, but it still depends on the individual rabbit.

If you're still wanting to go ahead and try this, first off you'll need to get her spayed so that you don't have her hormones affecting the bonding process. Then wait 4-8 weeks for those hormones to fade before attempting bonding again. But realize that even after spaying, there's no guarantee they're compatible and that they for sure will bond.



While you're waiting for the hormones to fade after spaying, if they're showing any aggression through the cage/pen bars, it may be necessary to keep her in a separated room so he can have no contact with her and essentially have the chance to kind of forget about her and the fighting that happened. Rabbits can remember fights and build a dislike or resentment for another rabbit, or a fear of them. So you want them to have time and space to forget about what happened.

If they're ok through the cage bars with no aggressive behavior, especially her, then they may be fine to continue being in the same room. Though do make sure they aren't nipping at each other through the cage bars, or a possible injury could result. Being in the same room could help him calm down and learn to not be afraid of her, but definitely don't let her have any direct contact with him. Any contact where there is aggression on her part, will just continue to reinforce his fear of her. So you don't want to be reinforcing this response in him or it will affect the chances of successfully bonding later on.

If you haven't done a lot of research on rabbit body language and bonding techniques, that's what I would suggest reading up on until you're ready to restart bonding attempts. In particular the videos, so you can see what normal bonding behavior is, and what aggressive behavior to watch out for and stop. It might be the methods you're trying need to be altered and maybe slowed down to be more gradual for them to have time to get used to each others presence. Some rabbits will bond immediately, some it can take months of slow and steady perseverance to bond them. Bonding rabbits is all about finding the right technique for the individual rabbits being bonded, and also finding the right match for your rabbit. Sometimes there are rabbits that just aren't a good match of personalities and will never get along.

When you're ready to start up bonding again, a neutral area can be as simple as setting up a tarp with a playpen on it, and possibly blocking out the sides with sheets or something. Even though you're in a room your rabbit would normally consider his territory, the playpen will all be new and unfamiliar to him.





 

Ventura Lop

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Wow, thank you. Lots of great information here. I did do quite a bit of research prior to getting Snowflake, but she was thrust upon me, so not as much as I would like, that's for sure. I'm of a limited income, as in a set amount each month, so easy visits to the vet for some are a planned-for event for me. I will do my best to see if this sweet girl is spayed and if not I will obviously have it done when I can.

Hoping for the best. If I can get them happy that's all that matters.

Thanks again, I will keep you updated.

Andy
 

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