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Rabbit Behaviour Change After Having A New Partner?

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Abi :)

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Hey guys!

Basically we bought Bambi and her brother Thumper almost a year ago, when we first bought them home they were scared and always hiding, but eventually Thumper came out of his shell. He loved being pet and stroked and loved hopping up onto the seat next to be at the desk whilst I was doing my homework. Bambi on the other hand was quite... difficult is the word I'll use. Obviously not all buns are the same but Bambi is a pretty skittish bun, she hates being near people, she hates being stroked, she hates being picked up and hates being groomed. In her early years with us it was a very big struggle to clip her nails and groom her when she was shedding (it still is a huge problem) but we only came near her whenever necessary to avoid causing any unnecessary stress.

In April unfortunately her brother Thumper passed away due to EC, it was all very sudden and we were all very heartbroken. We had to give her Panacur treatment and switch her rooms around as we needed to disenfect the surfaces which Thumper had come in contact with (as advised by our vets), during this time I was feeling sad and alone as Thumper usually liked being around me and Bambi made and effort to not be. I tried hard to bond with Bambi and eventually she was okay with a quick pet and was fine being in my presence which was a massive improvement and I was extremley happy about!

A couple of months later we decided to adopt a partner for her (as we could see that she missed bun company and it would be better for her mental health in the long run) , and so we adopted our handsome male rex- Duke.

Duke has been with us for a couple of months now and has really settled in well. He loves his food and hay, he loves playing with his seagrass ball and he loves Bambi very much (I often see them cuddling together and grooming each other). Although I thought I had established a 'bond' or a mutual 'acceptance' with Bambi it seems that after Duke came home she hates me even more than she did before! I can't even go near her veggie plate without her running away, every time I enter their playroom she runs away so fast she often slips over. I have tried so many methods but she seems to be so terrified of me but i don't understand why. I sit down on the floor with veggies, and even talking to her but she still seems to be terrified. Any ideas why she changed so much?

Note- Bambi is 1 year old and is spayed, and Duke is 1 1/2 years old and is neutered.

I'll attach a few pics of them for whoever would like to see them-
Screenshot 2020-09-08 at 17.26.31.pngScreenshot 2020-09-08 at 17.26.37.pngScreenshot 2020-09-08 at 17.26.43.png
Screenshot 2020-09-08 at 17.26.52.pngScreenshot 2020-09-08 at 17.26.57.png

Thanks for reading this incredibly long post! I look forward to reading your replies! <3
 

JBun

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It sounds like Bambi is the type of bun that is either nervous of or just less trusting of humans, and relies more on rabbit company for the feeling of comfort and safety. Without her friend there she had no choice but to try starting to trust you, so you saw a little bit of progress. But then you got her a new friend so she no longer had to try and have that trust in humans.

Some rabbits are just more timid and harder to build trust with than others, for what ever reason. And these ones just take a lot more effort and time to build that trusting relationship with. What I would try is spending time with her just by herself, in a smaller area(eg bathroom, enclosed pen, etc), to try and build that bond with her. If her bunny companion is with her then she will always resort to turning to him first. And using the smaller area is essentially using the technique that would be used for bonding two rabbits. The smaller space is so she can't just run away and hide and avoid you. She needs to get used to your presence and learn that she can trust you. So this is what I would try, though with one caution. Sometimes separating a bonded pair could lead to problems. So this is something to consider before trying this. And this method may not work. Sometimes with rabbits, it's a matter of trying a whole bunch of different things until you hit on the one thing that works. If one method doesn't seem to be resulting in progress, don't be afraid to try something else.
 
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Abi :)

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It sounds like Bambi is the type of bun that is either nervous of or just less trusting of humans, and relies more on rabbit company for the feeling of comfort and safety. Without her friend there she had no choice but to try starting to trust you, so you saw a little bit of progress. But then you got her a new friend so she no longer had to try and have that trust in humans.
Some rabbits are just more timid and harder to build trust with than others, for what ever reason. And these ones just take a lot more effort and time to build that trusting relationship with. What I would try is spending time with her just by herself, in a smaller area(eg bathroom, enclosed pen, etc), to try and build that bond with her. If her bunny companion is with her then she will always resort to turning to him first. And using the smaller area is essentially using the technique that would be used for bonding two rabbits. The smaller space is so she can't just run away and hide and avoid you. She needs to get used to your presence and learn that she can trust you. So this is what I would try, though with one caution. Sometimes separating a bonded pair could lead to problems. So this is something to consider before trying this. And this method may not work. Sometimes with rabbits, it's a matter of trying a whole bunch of different things until you hit on the one thing that works. If one method doesn't seem to be resulting in progress, don't be afraid to try something else.
That makes so much sense! Thanks for that! Although Duke gets stressed when not around Bambi and I don't want to make him get stressed if I can avoid it, is there any way I could try it without separating them?
 

JBun

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Distract him with an activity(chew branch, dig box, food), or if you have someone that could sit and spend time with him while you are with Bambi. You could also try being in a smaller space with both of them together first and see how it goes. You would need to gauge if him being there helps or holds her back. There's never any one right way with rabbits. What works for one rabbit and set of circumstances, may not work for another rabbit.
 
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