Please Help - Bonding Rabbits

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megcollins95

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I have a 7 year old mini lop male named Hopkins that has been neutered (white/calico). My fiancé and I have had him for many years and felt he would love to have a friend, so we adopted Fiona from a local shelter in mid March (brown bunny). She has been spayed and we believe she is a mini lop as well. We kept them separate for a few weeks to make sure she was not sick and then began the introductions in early April. Hopkins has always been very curious about her and even opts to lay near her cage and has never shown any signs of aggression. However Fiona has always shown signs of aggression towards Hopkins. We have done fear bonding, then have gone to the bath tub, followed by putting them both in a small cage in a neutral area. We felt we were making progress, but Hopkins began to mount Fiona at one point and since then Fiona has shown far more aggression. Neither of them grunt, but Fiona nips him so much and he's beginning to run from her. We are beginning to feel defeated and do not want to put them both under too much stress for too long - we have done what was suggested online and what feels right but do not seem to be making any progress. PLEASE, any advice would be so greatly appreciated.
 

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Blue eyes

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I wish there was a sure-fire scientific method of bonding but there isn't. Each bonding is unique and some are more difficult than others.

I'm not a fan of stress (fear) bonding because I think it only 'works' with those rabbits that are already inclined to easily get along. If they were going to be an easy bond, and then they are stressed and seem to bond, the assumption is made that the stress was the catalyst rather than just an event that happened to two rabbits already inclined to bond.

If two rabbits are not easily inclined to bond, the stress (again, in my opinion) just gives a temporary and false sense of unity between the rabbits. They are simply too stressed by outside stimuli to worry about being near each other. Then we think progress has been made, let down our guard, and when they settle down, the animosity resurfaces.

Now I'll step off my soapbox. ;)

If they really aren't making progress, sometimes it is beneficial to give them a few weeks of total separation. That's a judgement call that you are in the best position to determine. You may want to switch up your bonding method. Rather than doing frequent sessions, you could try the fast-track approach (I refer to it as the immersion method). You can read more about that if you scroll down at the following site (if you haven't seen or heard of it):

Whether or not you decide to separate them totally for awhile, you can allow them in side-by-side pens for a few weeks before beginning the fast-track method.

It doesn't sound like they've gotten into any circling, fur-flying fights so there is still potential for them. Maybe a different approach is all they need.
 

Gus & Belle

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Hi, I recently bonded my two rabbits (both spayed and neutered) and had a similar situation. One of my rabbits was super nippy but the other would just run away. With mine the side by side cage worked amazing. I started with two separate cages side by side for their playtime and food time (I fed them next to each other, so they could see each other) and slowly moved the two cages closer each day, if there was any nipping I would move the cage away then slowly bring it closer the next day. In the end I connected the two cages together so there was only one panel between them (this is after about 3 weeks). Then after a month of doing that each day, I reintroduced them in a neutral space with their veggies for about ten mins. I then increased the time if there were no bad signs and after a couple of sessions in their playtime one of them started grooming the other through the bars.

I dont know if this will work for you but like the previous post you may just need a new approach, so thought I would share what worked for me.
Good Luck!
 

Gus & Belle

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Sorry forgot to add this, the sessions that I did was in a big run ( in the neutral space) with lots of toys and tunnels that were easy to access if there was any fighting just to provide a distraction. This doesnt work for all so just do what works best for you. :)
 

megcollins95

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Thank you both so much for your responses! I think that you are right and perhaps a different method would be beneficial. In my research I just hadn't seen too many other options outside of the ones we've tried, but the fast track approach may be our next step after I look into it some more. You are correct in that they have fortunately not gotten into any actual fights. We do have their cages side by side with maybe six inches between the two but we have objects between them so they cannot push the cages together and nip through them. The objects aren't obstructing their view of each other, though. Fiona also seems to be losing a lot of fur on her back and we aren't sure if it's normal multing (our other bun doesn't seem to mult very badly) or is perhaps stress or diet related. She doesn't have any bald spots but has lost a considerable amount of fur and can see on her back where it's much thicker. It is all a matter of finding what works and man it is difficult!!! I just want them to be happy so badly.
 

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