Unbonded buns and depression...

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jastas

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Hi guys!
I have a bunny wellness question....we have 2 bonded rabbits (minilop brothers) who are pretty happy with each other, and we also have a British giant who isn't bonded to them. They have all been neutered, and lived side by side or at least in cooee for a number of months. They are all roughly 8 months old.

We have attempted some short bonding sessions with them on neutral ground with generally OK results; some nipping from the British giant, but no major signs of aggression. Until, of course, they went back into their own pens, and then they would try to get at each other once back in their own territory!!

They were indoors for a while (3 weeks in side by side separate pens) until we moved the little ones outdoors. Hes still indoors with the Rrun of the place. Now, while you'd think that would be heaven for him, the British giant's behaviour has changed. He's always been a calm rabbit, but he now seems...lost? Like he needed the little ones presence even though he wanted to fight?

He is eating and pooping, moving about and still loves his pats, but just not as much get up and go as when the little buns were closer to him. Is what I am describing normal or am I being dramatic 🙃?

Any advice welcome!!
Cheers
Jas.
 

WhiteBunnyEcho

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I would recommend trying to bond them again, I know it may seem impossible but my two bucks took a really long time and they drew blood when I was trying to bond them and now they are very attached to one another. You can definitely get there if you work towards it a lot and be patient. I recommend car rides with all three bunnies in the same carrier with someone supervising Or driving for you. Even just swaying the carrier back-and-forth slightly with them all inside can give the desired results of stressing them just a little bit so that they seek each others comfort, which helps the bonding process along. And when the time comes to finally house them together, be sure to thoroughly clean everything in the rabbit pen that they will be sharing and buy new toys etc. so they are not being territorial. You may even want to switch locations for a bit to let the rabbit’s scent fade. I wouldn’t be too concerned if he still acting mostly normal. but I do think he sounds a little lonely, rabbits are very social animals and thrive with companions. If you’re able to bond them, I would definitely suggest trying to do that again! 😊
 

jastas

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Thanks so much for your answer! You're right, it's a good idea to bond them. I'd hate for our British to be sad...that being said, I am bonding them RIGHT NOW :)!!! The three of them are doing well, it's been 30 min so far. We have had licks and grooming and a couple of binkies and flops from the Giant. He has this thing he does though which I think the little buns find quite annoying- he smells underneath them? They are OK for a bit and (I'm not sure if he nips them?) then they jump? I separate them from that time and let them have a bit of a separate play in the same area . That being said, the little buns lick his feet, which he finds quite ticklish 😉! What would you suggest from here in?
 

jastas

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Oh, yeah! We are building a brand new hutch for them all, as the 'hutch' we bought online was ...ahem...inferior...
So they will go into the brand new one, with a brand new run as well.

Suffice to say, we have become a rabbit family 👪 😄
 
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WhiteBunnyEcho

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That’s great! It sounds like an amazing start already!! I’ve never had experience with a bunny sniffing under another bun but maybe it has something to do with the scent glands needing cleaned? Not quite sure but that’d be my first guess.

also, if you’re using a crate/carrier, sway it as your bun goes to sniff or any other behaviors that will cause a fight. Swaying the crate will deter the bunny from doing anything. I had to do this a lot while bonding my bucks because my Netherland used to attack my lion head every few minutes.

I had to keep my boys separated for about seven months after they were neutered because they for some reason unbonded and started attacking each other. but with a lot of time and patience, they eventually bonded again And are now happily sharing a pen with my two girls. You can do it! Just be patient! :)
 

Catlyn

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I wouldn't try the stress method if the normal neutral space bonding is working for you, which it seems to be. Rabbits are sensitive to stressing situations, and bonding in on itself is a stress. Adding extra to the amount might cause someone to have a gassy fit, especially if any of your buns are known to have a more sensitive gut than most others.

Now about the sniffing under thing, i doubt it has anything to do with helping to clean scent glands. They're not the easiest to clean for a rabbit by themselves, and most wouldn't appreciate the help there. Ear crowns and eye cleaning are more favourable.
I had the same quirks showing when i bonded Storm both times. Lümi went straight under his belly or bum with his nose, and he would gently nip if Storm hopped away. He never did anything beside that and eventually it stopped. I guess he wanted attention?
Iris also stuffed her face in his belly and in his chest. I guess she wanted to be groomed but chose the wrong undersides for that. She eventually found that she needs to tuck her head under his in order to get a chance. Now, sometimes when the lady gets spooked and goes to hide, or wants to snuggle, she'll essentially shove herself into his "armpit."

Some sites have said that if rabbits are still a bit hostile towards one another, they might aim to bite the others' sensitive spot right under there, so you would have to read their body language to understand what the rabbit means with the actions.
 

jastas

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Ah! Thanks so much for that advice. I have observed that one of the minilops (Butternut) loves to groom the British Giant (his name is Buncephalus...don't ask! My son named him! 😀). Buncephalus is happy to sit and let it happen (and as one of his ears is as long as half of Butternut, then it's a very long time), but so far there is no reciprocation from him to them. I am always ready to pat them both whenever they flop together and are peaceful, to increase the good vibes.

Now, he sniffs them all over, but when they present themselves to be groomed, he refuses! Then comes the undercarriage sniffing and every so often that nipping! Such anti-social behaviour!

I have been very quick to reprimand him by separating them and saying 'no', and I know he is aware as he stops himself when he sees me watching him. But it's not love of the other bun stopping him 💔 😕, just a sad mummy face!
 

Catlyn

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No worries, your big boy might come around and start to like the other brothers enough to grrom them in return. If he won't, then just peacefully coexisting is equally awesome.
Storm would never groom Lümi although the white boy was relentless on showing his affection.
It took some time for him to start grooming Iris as well, and he also nipped her sometime during bonding. Eventually they settled and no more nips occur, albeit Storm is still rarely seen kissing his wife.
 
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Not all rabbits get along, and not all rabbits that live together are "bonded." I have had several pairs of rabbits that were not bonded. If I put them in an 8 foot cage, one would stay on one side of the cage, and the other rabbit would claim the other side of the cage. Sometimes they would exchange sides, but spent very little time together. I knew someone with a herd, and sometimes she would have to remove a rabbit from the herd for not getting along. I am down to two rabbits right now. They are good friends as long as there is a fence in between them. They have different medical issues. I find it easier to monitor their health that way. Both of their cages are in the same room, and they take turns being outside of their cage. But I do know what fun it is to have a whole "family" of rabbits together.
 

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