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Trio (or quad) advice

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DanaNM

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Hi everyone,

I've just made an account on this forum because it seems like there are a lot of folks with trio and quad experience here! I have bonded I think 5 different pairs in the past, but this is my first time attempting a larger group.

Apologies if this is really long! I am mostly just looking for input from people who have bonded trios or quads themselves. I've read through the trio stickies and quite a few of the threads on this site, so I'm aware of the risks involved with trios (like splitting up the current pair, etc.).

So my situation is that I have a M-F pair (Bun Jovi and Myra), and a single female (Bonnie). All have been castrated for a long time. The pair have been bonded since probably March? My male is about 12 and his previous partner passed away in December 2019. The girls are 3-4.

I started fostering the other female in April or May (I think?). I volunteer at a rescue and she was not doing well there as she had been there a long time (getting pretty cage aggressive, etc.). My scheme was to at least foster her for a while to help her become more adoptable, and/or try to bond her with my pair to have a trio. She had a reputation for being good with other rabbits at the shelter. Of course she is an amazing house rabbit and we are very attached to her now!

So far they've been living side by side for several months. At first there was some referred aggression between the pair, but they have settled down and are not reactive to Bonnie anymore. The girls will occasionally try to "get at" each other through the fence.

I tried doing some marathon bonding sessions at a friend's house, and they went OK, but not great. I had intended to do 24/7 supervision as long as it took, but had some logistical issues and needed to end it after about 8 hours. Plus the girls were escalating to fights quickly and it seemed like I was not physically ready to stay up all night. I was thinking of resuming the next day but Myra was a bit off her food so decided to take a break. Then did prob 2 weeks of 3-4 hour sessions every other day at a dif location. Bonding is tough in that I have a small studio apartment, so I have to take them somewhere for bonding sessions, and daily sessions involving driving seemed to be too stressful for Myra and Bun Jovi.

Then I sent them over to a friend at the rescue for her to work on bonding them at her house. Things went ok until they didn't. The bonder thought maybe the two might not accept Bonnie ever and she would have to get used to being third wheel. All of that said, neither I nor the bonder have actually spent that many hours with them all together. So my hope is that with the right space and enough time the trio would eventually work.

In a few weeks I will be moving, so will have ample neutral space, plus a long car ride to get to the new location. I am trying to decide if it might be a good idea to try dating the whole group with a possible 4th rabbit to see if that helps the dynamic with the girls. I don't want Bonnie to be third wheel! Plus there are so many eligible buns at the rescue and I would love to be able to give one a good home. It also might be possible to just bond Bonnie with another and have two pairs, but I would much prefer 1 big group.

What a folks thoughts on adding a fourth? Has anyone found that it helped? I've heard of it happening with the right rabbit but don't know how common it is.

If I do add the fourth, would it make more sense to work on the second pair, then combine them, or just work with all four together? I do want to be careful with Bun Jovi. He is in great health but is an old man, and I don't really want him getting caught in a bunny tornado.

In either case (trio or quad), what do people think about driving with them all together in the same carrier (or crate), and then keeping them together at the new home under constant supervision until they are bonded? Does that seem like it will be too stressful? It's about a 3.5 hour drive to our new place. The three didn't used to fight in the carrier, but then after their stay with the bonder they were not getting along in the carrier. But I would be sitting with them to break up any scuffles.
 

JBun

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Trios can be really hard, because rabbits seem to be more inclined to pair up and the third can get pushed out or excluded, which can lead to aggression issues and the bond breaking. You can also risk breaking the bond of your pair when trying to introduce a third. The only time that I would ever consider a trio is if all three rabbits at bonding, take naturally to each other and the bond is an easy one. I'm very doubtful a difficult bond for a trio, will end up successful. And it is sounding like your 3 would be a difficult bond to make.

I did have a trio at one point. The bond was fairly easy and they were together for a while until I had a single bun that just wouldn't bond in with them, so I decided to separate into two pairs. Right now I have a group of 6 that were a quad and pair until I bonded them together. Though the quad was a group of 5 previously until their brother died. I couldn't bond the pair in for several years, as the female was pretty dominant and would cause issues with the dominant bun in the group. But now she is older and blind, so it made it easier to integrate her and her companion in with the quad now.

A larger group is a different dynamic than a trio, but somewhat similar to a quad. It can be that in a quad the two pairs stay mostly with each other with some interaction with the other pair, or it can be that they all bond together well and spend time equally with each bun. But it also can happen that 3 may bond together and one gets left out. I would say this isn't the norm though. With my six, they pretty much spend time equally, but the buns at the bottom of the hierarchy do tend to spend less time around the bun at the top and more with the lower hierarchy buns.

If you are determined to have a group, I would try for a quad over the trio. Two ways to try that bond. Bond your pair, your single, and the new bun all at the same time. Or bond your girl with a bun she really likes and let them settle with each other, then attempt bonding the two pairs. One way may work better than the other depending on their personalities.
 

DanaNM

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Thank you for your response! It's nice to hear from someone with a range of group experience.

It is so hard to know with the trio when to try harder and when to give up. It's very hard to stay motivated when you already have 1 happy pair as well! I also don't really want to put Bun Jovi through the ringer with bonding.

I think you're right though. And I'm thinking I don't even want to work on bonding Bonnie with another at the moment unless I can get a really good match.
 

DanaNM

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Well it's been a while since I updated this. I am moving this weekend though! I haven't been doing any bonding sessions, but have kept up with pre-bonding.

I took all 3 on a quad date with this younger bun at the shelter that I just am obsessed with, and it went OK?? He was neutered a couple weeks ago, and basically just chinned everything at first and really paid no mind to the other buns. He had some nice nose-to-nose interactions, tried to mount everyone in turn. Nothing turned to fights, the others would just run away. So I think it was positive?? I think a bond between him and Bonnie would be very possible, still not sure about the group though. When he started mounting Bun Jovi, BJ ran away while spraying him, and then thumped for a while. No aggression though, and they certainly didn't hate him. The girls were OK, one fur tuft pulled by Myra, but not too bad.

I'm considering taking him as a foster-to-adopt when we move. I can have all the buns together in the car and then just plan to keep them together in the new spot, assuming all goes well. If it doesn't work out, I can always bring him back, or maybe I would end up with two pairs.

What do you think?
 

DanaNM

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Just thought I would give a little update on this, and get a bit more advice! So I ended up adopting the 4th. I tried for the quad when we moved. All the M-F combos were great, and the girls were making progress, but the boys were fighting pretty badly. I got some pretty bad bites and didn't want to risk them getting hurt, so I decided to go with 2 pairs for the time being. The new pair (Bonnie and Cooper) got along right away and everyone has been doing fine. That was back in December.

We will be moving again in early March, this time cross-country. We are planning to rent a van and drive with all the pets. I'm thinking maybe of trying the quad again by transporting them all together? I've heard of folks with tough bonds moving cross country and having bonded buns by the time they get there. My only concern is that Bun Jovi tends to shut down in stressful situations, and then when he's relaxed again turns into a mounting machine. That was what caused the issues when working with the quad. But I have a suspicion that the space was not neutral enough by the time they started fighting, because by that point they have been in the room for several days. When I would move them into a new spot or put them in the carrier together, they weren't too bad.

I might start up some pre-bonding before we leave. Currently the pairs get alternate free-roam time in the same space, but I haven't been swapping pens or litter boxes, and their view of each other is mostly blocked (I did this to minimize marking, because the boys were having some pee wars). The other thing that's changed is the newest bun, Cooper, had been neutered relatively recently when I first attempted the quad, I think only about 3 weeks. So on this next attempt he would be less hormonal, and have the benefit of some pre-bonding with the others.

What do you think? The drive will probably take us 4 or 5 days.
 

Blue eyes

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The idea of bonding while moving could work... however, it will be imperative that there is someone available to keep a close eye on them the entire time they are together (in the vehicle and during any hotel stays). If they decide to fight, someone needs to be able to break it up.

On that note, you'll also need to have a plan B if they do decide to fight.
 

DanaNM

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Thanks! Yeah I would likely split them up at night in the hotel for at least the first night to make sure everyone (including me) could rest, and I would be driving with my husband so one of us could monitor.

I moved with all four in one carrier on the first attempt at bonding and they didn't fight at all on that drive, which was only 4 hours. I would def have an extra carrier ready in case i needed to separate on the journey as well.
 
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