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Thread: Help Interpreting Bonding behaviour

  1. #1

    Default Help Interpreting Bonding behaviour

    I've recently started trying to bond my 9month male lionhead (neutered at 6months). So far we've had two unsuccessful bondings and one currently ongoing. The first quickly became hatred after they had a fight - they couldn't share the same space for more than a second or two. The second bonding failed because he was bullying the other bunny (she was a lot smaller) when she didn't show affection (although there was a small amount of mutual grooming). She was getting very stressed and scared and seemed to be not eating so we called it a day for her safety. This new bonding is bringing out new behaviour - she is a 2yr lionhead lop, similar size and likes to nip.

    The rescue centre generally uses an initial stress bond technique (I know there are many differing opinions on this, each has their pro's and con's and I don't want this thread to become about that) - the rabbits are carried around in a carrier for a few minutes before being introduced into a smallish run. I have seen this many times (not just with my rabbit) and I know what to expect. However, this time I am really confused. On initially meeting, they ignored each other, for quite a while. Lying down and grooming themselves. I have read that this is good. However, whenever they came together (usually him going over to her) she will nip him on the nose and he would dart away. This has continued for two days now after we took them home.

    They are in puppy pen with a barrier down the middle now as she would always nip him and occasionally it looked like it would escalate into a fight. We have no choice but to separate them in this situation because we both work and we couldn't risk leaving them. Worryingly with the barrier in place she will sometimes actively try and nip him through it (we have a double barrier in place to prevent this now). I'm confused as its not out and out aggression (ie looking to fight), she won't go for him violently although she has crossed her enclosure just to nip him. Occasionally she pulls fur doing this.

    I read that the indifference is good, but they show no other positive signs. There has been no mounting which I would expect. They are living side by side in this way at the moment. We have introduced them once more in the garden so as to be neutral and it was exactly the same although it almost escalated into a fight due to using a small run. Our bunny is visibly intimidated by her now. Is there any future in this? Sorry for the long post, any help or advice is really appreciated as this is getting me down.

  2. #2
    Forum Buddy Zoobec's Avatar
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    Has the latest rabbit been spayed? If so how long ago?

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  3. #3

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    Yes, she's spayed a long while ago I think. Previous owner got her from the same rescue centre and they won't let a bunny go unless it's been neutered/spayed. I believe the previous owner had her for a year but could't get her to bond with her rabbit. Unfortunately the owner became attached and had her living separately for a year.

  4. #4
    Warren Veteran joey&boo's Avatar
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    its stressful when things don't go smoothly during bonding & when rabbits take their time

    How significant are the nips ? Have they ever caused injury?

  5. #5

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    No, no injuries. I don't know if just a dominance thing or not as the signals seem mixed. I'm wary of letting the behaviour continue through fear of injury. Strangely, tey had a period of about an hour last night where they loafed side by side against the partition with no incident. I thought we had a breakthrough and then her previous behaviour returned. What I find unusual is that her behaviour is constant whether or not they have been stressed or the territory they are in. She simply seems... aloof and unapproachable.

  6. #6
    Warren Veteran joey&boo's Avatar
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    Boo (one of my girls) was nippy during her last bond & it got better over time ... lots of time. She is a bossy thing & still noses in to her bunny friends flanks to move them on but she largely keeps her teeth to herself now (very occasionally she has a little fur pull)

    What I think helped was getting them to have nice experiences together - nice piles of forage worked for mine as did petting them all at the same time on the floor. The second tactic only works I guess if your bunnies like strokes. Mine would all approach to see me & we'd try to stroke them in the same place, direction, style - it was OH's idea "I know how empathetic bunnies are". I'm sure they began to associate proximity to each other more positively.

    Of course some bunnies just seem very reluctant to bond. They are all so different. I hope some more ideas come along soon. C'mon aloof missy bunny!

  7. #7

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    Actually, she's really good with us. Petting together may work - I'll give it a try if I get to stay in close proximity!

  8. #8

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    Sorry to revive an old thread, but i realised I hadn't thanked those who posted. Also, the issue was solved - we took Dusty and Arabella back to the rescue centre while we went away on holiday. A week later, Dusty had been bonded with two beautiful Mini Lops. Guess it just needed the right bunny/ies! Now, if only the litter training would sort itself out...

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