Should I keep my bunnies in pairs or make it a group of 4

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Hermelin

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Hi, I’m planning to bond my bunnies. Specially when I’m moving to a new apartment next month and they will get a bunny room. Which they will be able to free roam in. I’m going to bond Odin and Embla next week. Where they will get a big neutral area, two litter boxes, water and food bowls. It’s time to rebond them and I have the time for doing it and to keep watch.

The problem are that Toste will need a lot of vet visits in the future. Which means I would need to reintroduce him or let Fenris go with him. It becomes easier taking two bunnies to the vet without separating them than 4 bunnies moving around.

Either way they would get 12 hrs free roaming or 24/7 free roaming. Depending on what path I choice. Odin is used with Emblas scent. While Embla don’t react to Fenris or Odin but one problem are how Embla reacts to Toste scent where I’ve gotten bitten for smelling like him and her starting to attack the fence when she have seen him. So I’m question if it would work or that they might need time to bond. I think it would be a slow bonding process if I try bonding all four.

Don’t really know how I should do it 🤔
 

Blue eyes

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Sounds to me like it would be simpler to have the two pairs. With Toste needing frequent vet visits, taking him with one bondmate will certainly be miles easier than gathering up all 4 for each trip. That would be a lot of work!

Not sure, however, how they'll all do if each pair has to take turns in the same area for their free roam time. Sometimes the residual scent of one pair can upset the other pair. Other times the don't seem to care too much.

For what it's worth, cottontails rescue site says that rabbits do best in bonded pairs. Groups can get tricky.
 

Hermelin

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@Blue eyes I’ve noticed they don’t care about their scent being in different rooms. Embla have slowly gotten used to Toste scent.

I’ll just watch how they react and I’ll just build run with no view or split them up into different rooms. I will observe them how they will react. Maybe after all of Toste operations and vet care I can try bond them all together. When it will be less regular vet visits and having a friend will make the stress to the vet easier for Toste.

I won’t be owning 4 bunnies later on but ended up with 4 because of trouble bonding. I wanted the boys to have a friend.
 

JBun

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I guess you have to look at the pros and cons of both. Having all the rabbits together in a group can help simplify feeding and cleaning. But it can also sometimes cause the group of rabbits to have messier litter habits due to territorial competition marking, though it does depend on the rabbits involved as to how that dynamic works out.

With my group, I never had an issue about separating two rabbits for a vet visit, then returning them back to the group. There were never any problems with me doing it this way. But of course that will vary with different rabbits. Problems occurring with separating the group and bringing only two rabbits to the vet, is something that has to be considered, as it can be disruptive for some rabbits.

When I finished bonding my group, my last neutered male I tried to just add right into the whole group. It didn't work. His brother, the 'top bun' of the group, kept going after him. The rest of the group(their mom and other siblings) had no issues with their brother being added to the group, it was just the one dominant brother. So what I did was separate the two of them out to a neutral bonding pen, bonded the two of them over a couple days, then once they were getting on fine with each other, started adding in others from the group, one at a time, into the bonding pen. The rest of the group accepted him right in and the rest of the bonding went well. Once I could see everyone was getting on, I transferred them all back to their normal rabbit room and they were all fine after that. Never had any real issues over the years, but that's because the subordinate rabbits had space and places, to run away from the dominant rabbits when they got testy.

So this was just what I found worked for me. Methods will vary for each rabbit and situation. And whether a group will bond successfully will vary too. I had a pair and two single females. My plan was to bond the two females and then bond the two pairs together. That didn't work so I tried a trio then bonding in the last girl bun. No matter what I tried, I just couldn't get it to work out. The two girl buns just hated each other. But I didn't want those two girl buns to be alone for the rest of their life, so I finally decided to break up my established pair that had been together for a few years, and bond each one with one of the difficult girl buns. It was the only pairing that worked out, and the two pairs lived happily together til they passed years later.

It's all trial and error, reading their body language and behavior, and a little bit of intuition. You try something and it doesn't work, so you have to switch tactics and try something else, until you find that right situation for all rabbits involved. Which may not be the exact situation you started out wanting.
 

Hermelin

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Just a quick question, Fenris have been living with Toste for a month since she was 3 months old and before that they was side by side. There was a little chasing from Fenris side in the beginning and Toste seem to be submissive one. Fenris will be turning 5 months at the end of the next month so I’m planning to separate them as to make sure her hormones when they kick in won’t make things harder.

I know many in my country says that it’s okay to let her be with my boy. I’m just not that sure because of how baby bonds work and that when the hormones kick in how she will react. She’s a nethie so she should soon go into sexual maturity because of her age.
 

JBun

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It just depends. If she isn't showing any signs of acting too hormonal with him yet, and he isn't showing signs of getting excessively irritated with her from pestering or aggitation from her hormones, then they may be just fine to keep together until she is spayed, which should be done as soon as possible before those hormones kick in.

You're experienced enough with rabbits to know the warning signs of a rabbit getting increasingly upset or irritated, and to know the signs of escalating aggression, so it's going to be easier for you to judge if they're doing good together still and if you can just keep them together without separation, before and after the spay.

The recommendations to separate are just generally given to help avoid issues that commonly arise. And this can be primarily for new owners and people less experienced in understanding rabbit behavior, that may not understand or see the warning signs of irritation and aggression in their rabbits.

Unspayed does can sometimes be ok not having to be separated until their spay, whereas the males are just so hormonal that their behavior will almost always lead to a fight. So separating males before the hormones come in, is pretty much always necessary. And if you had two unspayed females, I would say separation may be necessary. But an unspayed female, when the male partner bun is already neutered, and with an experienced rabbit owner, is more of a judgement call.

I would probably leave them together if they were acting perfectly fine, get her spayed(bring him with her as a bonded bun partner to the surgery if possible), and leave them together post spay as long as they were still doing well being together(making sure he doesn't mess with her stitches). But it 's up to you. You know what you're comfortable with and can see the situation as it really is. If you don't feel comfortable assessing their behavior and knowing if things might escalate, then by all means do separate them when you feel it's necessary.
 

Hermelin

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Thanks for your answer @JBun, I will keep an eye on them. At the moment Fenris have only started to spread her droppings but there haven’t been any bad behaviors except me cleaning more. Toste haven’t reacted on anything or seeming stressed. She hasn’t started to pester anyone of course I’m keeping eyes on signs that might become annoying for him or might escalate things. It’s only 2.5 months until she will get spayed.

I’ve also noticed Toste becomes more active with Fenris near him and he get the courage to explore. It have also helped he dosen’t get as easily startled and she calm him down.
 

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