Marathon bonding boys

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Cgrandin34

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Hello, I am working on a bonding process that does not seem to have much in the way of advice online or through my research. I hope folks could share their insight with me.

I have a 5 year old neutered rabbit named Wendell and I decided to try to get him a companion. I contacted a local rescue for bunny speed dates. I took Wendell to the rescue and he saw about 5 different rabbits (limitations due to covid19) and Wendell only seemed to interact with other males. I know female to male bonds are best but Wendell froze in fear around all the females so much that I could see the whites of his eyes.

The one rabbit he actually sniffed and would go near was a 7 month old neutered male Moose. Moose is young so he probably remembers having siblings and how to be around other rabbits. Wendell has not been around other rabbits since I got him at 6 months old. Wendell and I are also pretty well bonded, as much as a human and rabbit can be I guess. But I figured he could have a companion of his own species.

While at the rescue I decided to go ahead with Moose and try him out with Wendell. The rescue kept both the bunnies for a week in the same small cage for microspacing and marathon bonding. I was told of a few spats but they made it seem like they were snuggling, grooming and cuddling. I have had the rabbits home with me for a week and am continuing the neutral microspacing and marathon bonding, they are together in the same enclosure 24/7 and I am camping out next to them every night to break up spats or fights.

Wendell tries to hump Moose to show dominance and although Moose is being submissive, he is not trying to show dominance back. Moose will not let Wendell boss him around. Wendell will hump Moose and Moose will hey out from under him and chase Wendell to nip at his behind. Sometimes they start a tight circle chasing each other after Wendell attempts to mount. Typically at 6am and the afternoon. Other times Wendell seems to tolerate Moose. Sometimes Moose boots Wendell out of the litterbox or Wendell hops out because Moose hopped in.

However, 70% of the time they do nap near each other, they both lay out, *mostly* eat in the same litter box and I have seen mutual grooming. Wendell will groom Moose very well and Moose grooms some of the time. Moose flops on or next to Wendell and Wendell who was never a big flopper has been flopping.

I know this type of bonding isnt very usual but I do not want to separate them and undo everything. Most online advice articles stop after "30 minutes+ sessions going well you will just know when they are bonded".
How do I know when they are fully bonded?
Are they even bonding? Both bunnies appear to be dominant and do not want to concede.
Are these tiffs or spats normal for bonded bunnies?
 

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Cgrandin34

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Hello, I am working on a bonding process that does not seem to have much in the way of advice online or through my research. I hope folks could share their insight with me.

I have a 5 year old neutered rabbit named Wendell and I decided to try to get him a companion. I contacted a local rescue for bunny speed dates. I took Wendell to the rescue and he saw about 5 different rabbits (limitations due to covid19) and Wendell only seemed to interact with other males. I know female to male bonds are best but Wendell froze in fear around all the females so much that I could see the whites of his eyes.

The one rabbit he actually sniffed and would go near was a 7 month old neutered male Moose. Moose is young so he probably remembers having siblings and how to be around other rabbits. Wendell has not been around other rabbits since I got him at 6 months old. Wendell and I are also pretty well bonded, as much as a human and rabbit can be I guess. But I figured he could have a companion of his own species.

While at the rescue I decided to go ahead with Moose and try him out with Wendell. The rescue kept both the bunnies for a week in the same small cage for microspacing and marathon bonding. I was told of a few spats but they made it seem like they were snuggling, grooming and cuddling. I have had the rabbits home with me for a week and am continuing the neutral microspacing and marathon bonding, they are together in the same enclosure 24/7 and I am camping out next to them every night to break up spats or fights.

Wendell tries to hump Moose to show dominance and although Moose is not being submissive, he is not trying to show dominance back. Moose will not let Wendell boss him around. Wendell will hump Moose and Moose will get out from under him and chase Wendell to nip at his behind. Sometimes they start a tight circle chasing each other after Wendell attempts to mount. Typically at 6am and the afternoon. Other times Wendell seems to tolerate Moose. Sometimes Moose boots Wendell out of the litterbox or Wendell hops out because Moose hopped in.

However, 70% of the time they do nap near each other, they both lay out, *mostly* eat in the same litter box and I have seen mutual grooming. Wendell will groom Moose very well and Moose grooms some of the time. Moose flops on or next to Wendell and Wendell who was never a big flopper has been flopping.

I know this type of bonding isnt very usual but I do not want to separate them and undo everything. Most online advice articles stop after "30 minutes+ sessions going well you will just know when they are bonded".
How do I know when they are fully bonded?
Are they even bonding? Both bunnies appear to be dominant and do not want to concede.
Are these tiffs or spats normal for bonded bunnies?
 

Blue eyes

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The 30 minute bonding session stuff you are seeing is for a different kind of bonding method. That is the slow or gradual approach and is a common method encouraged for bonding rabbits. Another method is what I call the 'immersion' method and is also described at the cottontails site as the 'fast-track' approach:

That 2nd method is the one you have been doing. Usually though, it is a good idea to have some space in their area in which they can get away from each other. This can actually help them bond as sometimes they just may need a break. On the link above, there are videos that show how these bonding areas are setup. The videos shown on that site are setup outdoors. I have used this method indoors and have modified the setup accordingly. You can see what my setup looked like on my website here. (I used this method when I was attempting - stupidly- to create a trio [long story])

This is the first time I've heard of someone in the US having the bonding done for them at the rescue. I see you are in MD? Where/what rescue did that? Until now, I've only heard that being done in the UK or Australia. (I used to live in MD.)

Tiffs and spats are not normal for bonded bunnies. Perhaps they will do better if they have an area within their current area where they don't have to be in each others' face 24/7.

Males can be tricky. Aside from the suggestion already mentioned, I'd also be sure to keep in contact with the rescue and let them know how things are going. That way, if they do end up not getting along, the rescue will already have been made aware of potential difficulties. They often allow an exchange if things don't work out.
 

Black Otter's Mom

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It may be more common than you think. I had a neutered male and adopted a bunny that wasnt wanted. Poor bunny was huge, clunky and had never seen a bunny. He was raised with dogs. He did not want my doe, he fell head over heels for my neutered male. It caused tremendous jealousy from the doe as he was stomping on her turf. They were free range but i had to keep him in same room. A year later she passed, both boys neutered now and they lived extremely bonded. Just obsessive over each other. Profuse same time grooming and slobbering over each other. Both were quite happy with a gentleman suitor. Love is love and they were my rainbow bunnies. Bunnies bond with who they bond with. Must happen slowly though. Very slow and monitored as they feel the other one out. The big husky bun was 3 times the size of the other who was a 3 lb dwarf. No judgement! Bunnies fall for who they want to.
 

Black Otter's Mom

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Correction: I kept the adopted bun in cage in same room. Hell hath no furry like a jealous territorial doe. She did not appreciate the intrusion and flexed her dominance towards newbie. Poor fellow, when i let him out she chased him like maniac. He would try to hide. I had to rescue him as its not convincing stealth when a huge husky bun hiding behind a tiny plant. Shudder, she was a basic woman sometimes.
 

Cgrandin34

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Thank you! May I ask what you mean by it's more common than you think?

When I left the rescue there were 3 other male/male couples they were bonding so I was hopeful that this would work out. I have been asking the rescue questions but they only get back at me after midnight or randomly so it is hard to feel supported in the real time that I need it. They are a very busy rescue and I completely understand their priority is to the rabbits under there roof, which is why I turned to this forum.

My new guy Moose seems oblivious to that fact that Wendell just tolerates him but he does nip at Wendells bottom whenever Wendell either starts mounting him or when Wendell lays all the way out.

I gave them some run around time and Wendell seems to run away from Moose whenever he catches up, which I thought could just be chasing?
 

Cgrandin34

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The 30 minute bonding session stuff you are seeing is for a different kind of bonding method. That is the slow or gradual approach and is a common method encouraged for bonding rabbits. Another method is what I call the 'immersion' method and is also described at the cottontails site as the 'fast-track' approach:

That 2nd method is the one you have been doing. Usually though, it is a good idea to have some space in their area in which they can get away from each other. This can actually help them bond as sometimes they just may need a break. On the link above, there are videos that show how these bonding areas are setup. The videos shown on that site are setup outdoors. I have used this method indoors and have modified the setup accordingly. You can see what my setup looked like on my website here. (I used this method when I was attempting - stupidly- to create a trio [long story])

This is the first time I've heard of someone in the US having the bonding done for them at the rescue. I see you are in MD? Where/what rescue did that? Until now, I've only heard that being done in the UK or Australia. (I used to live in MD.)

Tiffs and spats are not normal for bonded bunnies. Perhaps they will do better if they have an area within their current area where they don't have to be in each others' face 24/7.

Males can be tricky. Aside from the suggestion already mentioned, I'd also be sure to keep in contact with the rescue and let them know how things are going. That way, if they do end up not getting along, the rescue will already have been made aware of potential difficulties. They often allow an exchange if things don't work out.

They only kept them for a week so not exactly bonding them for me but giving me a headstart. This rescue also does not do exchanges but only in extreme cases, and since my boys only have about 2 or 3 spats a day I doubt they would let me exchange.

What is normal then for bonded bunnies? All love all the time? No love bites or chasing or anything?

Wendell will groom Moose of his own volition and thoroughly. Moose sometimes grooms Wendell back but very quickly.

I really love Wendell and want him to be happy and fulfilled with a companion. My work hours started getting longer and weirder so I figured he was getting lonely and bored. I want to make this work. Moose is starting to warm up to me now.

I have added a hidey house to their bonding enclosure, it is one that Wendell had before but ignored. Moose now loves it and sleeps in it during the day and I think as you had mentioned, Wendell gets a break from seeing Moose's face 24/7 even though they are in the same place.
 

Me and Bun-uccino

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They only kept them for a week so not exactly bonding them for me but giving me a headstart. This rescue also does not do exchanges but only in extreme cases, and since my boys only have about 2 or 3 spats a day I doubt they would let me exchange.

What is normal then for bonded bunnies? All love all the time? No love bites or chasing or anything?

Wendell will groom Moose of his own volition and thoroughly. Moose sometimes grooms Wendell back but very quickly.

I really love Wendell and want him to be happy and fulfilled with a companion. My work hours started getting longer and weirder so I figured he was getting lonely and bored. I want to make this work. Moose is starting to warm up to me now.

I have added a hidey house to their bonding enclosure, it is one that Wendell had before but ignored. Moose now loves it and sleeps in it during the day and I think as you had mentioned, Wendell gets a break from seeing Moose's face 24/7 even though they are in the same place.
They seem quite like brothers! I don't have any experience bonding buns but they kinda sound like siblings! They fight with each other, but in the end they love each other ;)
I think they are doing well!
 

Black Otter's Mom

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Same sex bonded pairs. Eventually when they feel comfortable one will not run away and they will settle down. Bunnies need time to get used to each other.
 

Blue eyes

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and since my boys only have about 2 or 3 spats a day I doubt they would let me exchange.

What is normal then for bonded bunnies? All love all the time? No love bites or chasing or anything?
Bonded bunnies should have no spats, no biting, no chasing or anything. On a very rare occasion (as in once every few years) you may see the odd chase. But bonded bunnies are companionable at all times. Some pairs may have one rabbit that does the occasional humping with the other one being fine with it. In those rarer cases, the humping is with no biting or violence.

2-3 spats per day is not bonded. That would not be considered a bond. It could be a potential for a bond since they are still in the process of working things out.

I'd be extremely hesitant to offer 'run around' time as it gives them more space to attempt to claim territory. If you notice the size of the bonding area given for this fast-track bonding method, you'll see that they are provided with more permanent space then it appears you currently have. The links I gave earlier provide some sample spaces for comparison. You can reconfigure your current ex-pen to create a large space by making use of an existing wall. Then you don't need to bother with run around time. Anytime they are allowed out of their current area can cause a setback in the process.

So I'd suggest mimicking the approximate size of the spaces in the links given for this method. Preferably this is done in the same place they are now... just expanded.
 
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