Should I let my rabbit nip to assert dominance?

Help Support RabbitsOnline:

en16649

Active Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
27
Reaction score
3
Location
England
Hey there,

Currently bonding two female rabbits. One is a bit moody and bites the other on the bum and then the smaller one goes a bit nuts and hops around everywhere.

Obviously I’ve been keeping them seperate and bonding them in smaller neutral territory. They seemed to be getting along ok and eating together, but occasionally the older one bites the smaller one on the butt and pulls fur. This morning the younger one accidentally squished under the barrier seperating their cages and the older one bit her on the bum and wouldn’t let go.

The more I read it sounds like she’s just establishing dominance and to some degree it sounds like I have to let her do it and stop intervening so she can just get it over with and establish dominance.

Thoughts? Obviously I don’t want the smaller one to get hurt!
 

John Wick

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 29, 2019
Messages
554
Reaction score
700
Location
United States
Remember that rabbits cannot "talk" to each other, so nipping is a natural way for rabbits to communicate. Without that communication, the relationship cannot develop to an extent. That being said, a nip that latches on is distinctive from a small communication nip.

I'd allow some nipping, but if it's repetitive or seems to be veering into bullying, I'd stop it-- especially if the receiving-end rabbit isn't actually doing anything to assert dominance in the first place. Absolutely stop it if it is obviously hurting the other bun significantly (i.e., latch on and not letting go) or it escalates into a fight.

Also note that if this does not decrease over time, it could be that the two are incompatible and the nipper is simply not open to accepting a bond with this particular rabbit.

Please see here for some guidance on bonding: Bonding Bunnies , Bonding rabbits together - WabbitWiki , Bonding Archives | BinkyBunny
 

Preitler

Loony bunny guy
Joined
Jul 19, 2015
Messages
2,028
Reaction score
1,766
Location
Austria
Nipping is already some steps up the escalation scale, but still is rather normal when sorting out and settling things. Other than with humping, when nipping the other doe is expected to get out of the others eyes. Not doing so or not being able to can be recieved as an affront.

Imho it is very important how their space is structured. No dead ends. Severel "raceways" to get moving. Areas that are shielded from others so they can go out of each others sight. Second levels can help.
You write about "their cages". I wouldn't have them where there is their territory, or that they have their individual cages and just meet outside, but have them bonded in a neutral territory which niether claimed a part of as her place before. I think thoroughly rearranging things could do the trick in a pinch.

And, as John Wick said, keep an eye on it. It can happen that two rabbits are not compatible, but I think it's way too early to give up.
 

en16649

Active Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
27
Reaction score
3
Location
England
Thanks for the advice. Their “cages” are currently a repurposed dog crate with a divider between none of them had been in before so it was a neutral space and I was swapping them between regularly to get them used to sharing the space, the squeeze under was accidental.
I’m currently bonding them in the bathtub, it seems they get on pretty well other than the occasional nips. Older bun seems to just settle and sleep and only nips when the other comes near her.
She’s been like this before with a previous rabbit I bonded her with and they eventually got on well and lived together, but that was a similarly sized bun and I guess I’m so worried because the new one is around half her size!
 

JBun

Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Sep 10, 2012
Messages
11,158
Reaction score
6,743
Location
Utah, , USA
Latching on and not letting go, is not just asserting dominance, it's aggression with the intent to do harm. You definitely do not want to allow this to happen. This could result in serious injury. This rabbit isn't just trying to sort out hierarchy and be the dominant rabbit in this instance, this is outright aggression.

Now this could be because the small rabbit came into the other rabbits territory, but if the bigger rabbit is behaving this same way in neutral territory during bonding, then you will need to stop the bonding process and reevaluate, and maybe do some more research on rabbit behavior, the signs of aggression, and bonding methods, before resuming your bonding attempt, if you decide there's still a chance they could bond. If you continue to try bonding them while this type of aggression is occurring, your risk a serious fight breaking out, which could damage any future attempt of trying to bond them.

You don't mention if they are both spayed or not. If they're not spayed, the bonding process should stop until they are both spayed and have had 2-8 weeks for hormones to subside, before attempting bonding again.





 

Latest posts

Top