Trying to bond two female bunnies

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cwebster

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Am trying to bond 8 yr old Dutchess with 8 month old Abby. Both are spayed (Abby was spayed 2 1/2 wks ago). Have let them see each other by putting them in separate cages outdoors each day. They live indoors in separate floors if a two story cage. Abby pushed the indoor cage divider aside (two story indoor cage) and invaded Dutchess’ space, so i have had to put a brick on top of the divider to keep her from doing that. Have tried letting them meet with supervision in a neutral space (living room) but Abby chases Dutchess. Am hoping they will bond soon. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 

PeanutsPlace

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you usually have to wait 4-10 weeks for the hormones to calm down. So maybe wait for the hormones to calm down then continue?
 

cwebster

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Abby still chases Dutchess in a neutral space outside the cages. Dutchess seems desperate for a face grooming. Would it help to put something on their faces to encourage face licking?
 

Hermelin

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As long the chasing isn’t turning into small circles, tonado or biting the chase is okay. It’s okay with short chases but if it get too much I will distract my bunnies to make the one chasing stop as to let the other bun rest. Chasing can be common when bonding. I’ve had chasing among my bunnies instead of humping but as long there no aggression in it I let the short chases happens.

When you separate them always make sure they end the bunny dates on a positive note either by you cuddling them, when they are relaxed/ignoring each other or munching as to make the date a positive experience.

You can put something on the forehead if they seem that they can be so close while being relaxed with each other or that you cuddle them. I know that when I bonded my bunnies the first time, when the girl wanted to be groomed I would cuddle them both while they pressed their heads as to create a positive experience. I did the same during the rebond I’m going through at the moment but now they are grooming each other, so I don’t need to step in.
 
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I bonded two female rabbits, two females is he’s but not impossible. I found putting them in a stroller and going for a walk for a minute or two before a bonding session helped.
 

Blue eyes

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If a space is too large, that can encourage chasing. The initial encounters should be in a limited space. I'm not so keen on the idea of putting stuff on a rabbit's forehead. Some think it helps. If Dutchess wants the grooming, that is a more dominant trait. Abby seems to be rejecting that idea by chasing her. Limiting the space will discourage the chasing and hopefully give them a chance to be near each other.
 

cwebster

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Have been trying to bond Dutchess with Abigail. Started with scent swapping. Have let them see each other from separate cages daily outside 3 hrs per day. Abby sneaked into Dutchess’ upper storyof our two story cage so had to seal off the staircase.Abby was spayed on March 21 but still chases Dutchess when i try to let them out together. Have tried to use water mist to discourage this but Abby doesnt seem to mind it. Should i hold them next to one another in a towel? Put a box for them to hide in while they are out of the cage? Dutchess and the male we sadly lost (Arnold) bonded very quickly. Dutchess seems kind of afraid of Abby and runs instead of standing her ground.
 

JBun

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It may just take more time for them to gradually get used to each other. Some rabbits are harder to bond than others. Some chasing will happen in bonding. It's how they sort out the hierarchy. You just don't want it being excessive or escalating.
 

cwebster

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Am still trying to bond Dutchess and Abby. They dont fight or chase each other,but Abby pushes Dutchess’ side with her nose so Dutchess hides in a litterbox in the cage until Abby leaves. Have let them play together outside the cage repeatedly with supervision and inside their two story cage with supervision. They do not lick each other. What else can i do to help them gain more trust in each other? Both are spayed. Dutchess is older and Abby is younger. Thanks.
 

Blue eyes

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So they aren't fighting or chasing. They are getting along? How are they living -- side-by-side cages? same cage? Not sure I'm following their progress. How much time are they apart? How much are they together? Are they sharing the same litter box, bowls, housing? Maybe a photo of their current setup.
 

cwebster

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Abby lives in the bottom and Dutchess lives in the top layer of a large two story indoor hutch. There is a stairway which i can close or leave open. They also spend about five hours per day outside in sde by side large wire cages. I let them run loose in the house for a half hour each day. They seem to get along except that Dutchess seems afraid of Abby. Abby goes up and down the ramp and Dutchess stays in her box/tray because Abby nudges her. They each have their own litter box and food and water bowls.
 

JBun

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Are you doing a regular bonding process each day, where you have them together in a neutral space, for an increasing length of time as the bonding process continues over the days/weeks? Running loose in a larger area isn't the same thing if they don't stay near each other so they can get to know one another, sort out their hierarchy, and form a bond. If they don't stay near one another, then a smaller space is needed, like a 3x3 pen, bathtub, or bathroom, etc. Otherwise they just avoid one another and no bond is able to form very well.




A larger room can sometimes work, as long as they aren't acting overly aggressive and trying to fight. But half hour isn't long enough each day, and it can take a lot longer for the bond to form, if it is able to form at all. But if you want to do it in a larger room, I would be gradually increasing the time to several hours a day, carefully supervised.

Another thing that might also be helpful is keeping them in side by side pens all the time until their bond is formed and you can keep them together permanently, if this is something that's possible for you to do. This way they can always see each other and get used to each others presence a lot better.

Nudging isn't necessarily behavior that you're needing to stop from happening. The rabbits have to have interactions where they can sort out hierarchy, or they'll never be able to form a bond. Though you do need to be watchful to make sure it doesn't escalate into too much aggression or a fight could break out. Minor chasing and nipping can be normal. Excessive chasing, excessive nipping, circling, does need to be stopped. If there are ears pinned back, tail raised, increased circling, jumping over the other rabbit, or actual biting happening(eg. latching on or trying to go for the belly), immediate intervention is needed, and bonding may not be able to proceed, depending on how bad the aggression is and each rabbits reaction.
 
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I bonded two females, it took forever and their bond was never that strong, but they lived together for many years. The only reason I know their bond was not that strong is because one of them died so I got a male to keep my remaining female company for her last year of life. The bond between them was so much stronger. They were always snuggled up together and grooming each other. The two females rarely groomed each other or snuggled. So sometimes you just have to accept that.
From what I have read bonding two females can be the most challenging but not impossible. And from my experience I have found bonding male/female is the “easiest.”.
What finally did the trick with my two girls was taking them for rides in a stroller together.
 

cwebster

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Thank you both for your replies. Will keep trying, now that the weather is nicer they are getting 5-6 hours side by side in outdoor wire cages. Am trying to give them more close contact inside as well.
 
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