Why are my bonded rabbits are fighting?

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kiwit

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I have 2 rabbits. A boy and a girl. The boy is a Holland lop and the girl is a Flemish Giant which is about 3 times the size of the boy. I got them when they were 8 weeks old and they have been best friends for the past 3 months. yesterday my holland lop suddenly get very aggressive towards the FG, he chased her around and bite her and pull out a lot of furs. It seems like rough playing in the beginning, but the FG rabbit gets annoyed and bites him back and they start boxing. because of the big difference in size, I separated them during the night to prevent serious injury, today when I put them together, they got into some major fights. It doesn't look like playing at all, they bite each other's faces and butt and box. I don't know what to do. they used to be best friends, they used to snuggle and groom each other, and the HL bunny used to follow the FG everywhere. I believe he was the submissive one. The male rabbit was neutered a month ago. I haven't neutered the female rabbit yet because the vet suggests waiting for a year for the flemish giant since they reach sexual maturity much later. Also, he acts very differently. he used to scratch me when I hold him for too long, now he just relaxes in my arms, I am wondering if he is sick? Does anyone have any suggestions? (PS. the cage is spacious that I can lay in it, plenty of food and treats, they have full access to the entire house and the garden during the day, eating normally, both love attention from human, I can't really think of anything went wrong)
 

ArtistChibi

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I don't think there's a time frame limit on Flemish Giants. Does the 6 months of age apply to Flemish Giants like they do for others?
While Googling that information, I found a post from 2014 regarding something similar for spaying a Flemish Giant. Spaying a flemish giant | Rabbits Online Pet Rabbit & Bunny Forum
As for why your Holland is suddenly aggressive toward your Flemish, have there been any changes in their environment lately? Is it possible the bonding regressed? That, I cannot answer.
 

kiwit

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I don't think there's a time frame limit on Flemish Giants. Do the 6 months of age apply to Flemish Giants like they do for others?
While Googling that information, I found a post from 2014 regarding something similar for spaying a Flemish Giant. Spaying a flemish giant | Rabbits Online Pet Rabbit & Bunny Forum
As for why your Holland is suddenly aggressive toward your Flemish, have there been any changes in their environment lately? Is it possible the bonding regressed? That, I cannot answer.
Hi! Thanks for the link! my flemish is only 4 months old, so it cannot be spayed yet.
I made the cage bigger a few days ago, I don't know if that will influence their hierarchy. The Holland lop seems quite upset about something. they were grooming each other and cuddling the day before. i am not sure if it's the bonding regressed. they don't act very territorial, they pee and poo in their litter box.
 

Blue eyes

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If they are fighting now, absolutely separate them. The more they fight now the less likely that they will bond in the future. You do not want them to fight -- ever. A single serious fight has the potential to prevent them from bonding in the future.

As for the boy having been neutered 4 weeks ago... it can take us much as 6-8 weeks after surgery for those hormones to completely dissipate. Until then, those hormones can affect behavior. This is another reason to separate them for now.

Another note is that when your boy came back from the vet's, he would have had a completely different odor. This can make the one that remained home think that this is a different rabbit entirely. When it does come time to try bonding them, it needs to be approached as if they are 2 stranger rabbits meeting for the first time --- go slowly.

Since the girl is still intact... again those hormones (of hers) can change her behavior. Her hormones can affect the behavior of the male since he can sense them. They can can affect her too and make her grumpy -- not the time to try to bond her.

So, in short, baby "bonds" never count as true bonds. The story you describe is an age-old one. Two babies cuddle and love on each other and then suddenly turn on each other. It is not at all uncommon.

I'd suggest completely separating them until after she is healed from her spay. You can have them in side-by-side areas so they can still see each other, but don't let them interact at all. You don't want to risk another fight which could sabotage their chances of bonding in the future.

Here's more on bonding from my website:
 

Morchall

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I have a female continental giant (which are closely related to flemish giants) and I was told 6 months for spaying, both by someone who has raised many giant rabbits and by the vet who spays and neuters all their rabbits. Ours was spayed at 8 months with no problems, I think waiting a whole year is not necessary. if yours is 4 months it's most likely safe to get her spayed in 2-3 months.
 

kiwit

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I have a female continental giant (which are closely related to flemish giants) and I was told 6 months for spaying, both by someone who has raised many giant rabbits and by the vet who spays and neuters all their rabbits. Ours was spayed at 8 months with no problems, I think waiting a whole year is not necessary. if yours is 4 months it's most likely safe to get her spayed in 2-3 months.
thanks for the information! I will check again with the vet!
 

kiwit

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If they are fighting now, absolutely separate them. The more they fight now the less likely that they will bond in the future. You do not want them to fight -- ever. A single serious fight has the potential to prevent them from bonding in the future.

As for the boy having been neutered 4 weeks ago... it can take us much as 6-8 weeks after surgery for those hormones to completely dissipate. Until then, those hormones can affect behavior. This is another reason to separate them for now.

Another note is that when your boy came back from the vet's, he would have had a completely different odor. This can make the one that remained home think that this is a different rabbit entirely. When it does come time to try bonding them, it needs to be approached as if they are 2 stranger rabbits meeting for the first time --- go slowly.

Since the girl is still intact... again those hormones (of hers) can change her behavior. Her hormones can affect the behavior of the male since he can sense them. They can can affect her too and make her grumpy -- not the time to try to bond her.

So, in short, baby "bonds" never count as true bonds. The story you describe is an age-old one. Two babies cuddle and love on each other and then suddenly turn on each other. It is not at all uncommon.

I'd suggest completely separating them until after she is healed from her spay. You can have them in side-by-side areas so they can still see each other, but don't let them interact at all. You don't want to risk another fight which could sabotage their chances of bonding in the future.

Here's more on bonding from my website:
Thank you! I will keep them separate until she is spayed and healed. The male rabbit is the one acting weird tho, he used to be so sweet and easygoing with other rabbits, now he is the feisty one. wondering if that's because of the hormone change.
 

JBun

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Even though your female is still young, there is a slight chance she could be pregnant. Males can have viable sperm up to 6 weeks post neuter. Her being pregnant and him pestering her could explain the change of behavior and aggression. A doe getting pregnant will affect how she reacts to male rabbits after this. Her change of behavior could also affect how your male is reacting to her.

With your males change of behavior, if he is also not eating or eating much, then he could be developing GI stasis. If he is eating normally, then the change of behavior could be due to the problems with him and your doe. With you, he could be mellowing because of the neuter. With your doe, he could be frustrated with her because he is still hormonal and wants to mate, and she's pregnant and wants him to leave her alone. Or it could just be his changing hormones due to the neuter, but also changing due to maturing.


Any time a change is made in a rabbits environment, it has the potential to affect their behavior. It can cause unusual aggression in a bonded pair or territorial marking behavior.
 

kiwit

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Even though your female is still young, there is a slight chance she could be pregnant. Males can have viable sperm up to 6 weeks post neuter. Her being pregnant and him pestering her could explain the change of behavior and aggression. A doe getting pregnant will affect how she reacts to male rabbits after this. Her change of behavior could also affect how your male is reacting to her.

With your males change of behavior, if he is also not eating or eating much, then he could be developing GI stasis. If he is eating normally, then the change of behavior could be due to the problems with him and your doe. With you, he could be mellowing because of the neuter. With your doe, he could be frustrated with her because he is still hormonal and wants to mate, and she's pregnant and wants him to leave her alone. Or it could just be his changing hormones due to the neuter, but also changing due to maturing.


Any time a change is made in a rabbits environment, it has the potential to affect their behavior. It can cause unusual aggression in a bonded pair or territorial marking behavior.
Thanks for bringing GI stasis to awareness, I haven't heard of it before. Although I think they are ok, they are eating too much pellet instead of hay, I should be more careful.

UPDATE:
They are doing well again! on the 3rd day they are ignoring each other and the male one started running away from the female. the next day the female approached him and groom him, he accepted it. and now they are laying next to each other. He put his head under her head then she groomed him. But when she put her head under his he does not groom her back. he seems quite mean to me. He used to follow her and groom her a lot. I am not sure how to interpret his actions.
 

Blue eyes

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They need to be separated even if they appear to be doing well again. By allowing them together, you risk another fight. If that happens, it can prevent them from bonding for real in the future (after she's spayed). There is no benefit to allowing them together at this stage-- only risk.

As mentioned already, his hormones can be in flux for up to 6-8 weeks. That means they are still dissipating and his moods can change at the drop of a hat. When/if that happens, then a fight could start. Her hormones can also kick in at any moment and cause her to be the aggressor. It simply isn't worth the risk to be allowing them to have any contact until after she is healed from her spay.

It is fine to allow them to see each other by being in side-by-side areas. They just shouldn't have any actual, physical contact.
 

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