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Thread: Introducing a new rabbit to a pair or group

  1. #1
    Wise Old Thumper
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    Default Introducing a new rabbit to a pair or group

    It has been warned many times on this forum about the dangers of existing bonds breaking down when introducing new rabbits to each other. I can't remember any actual instance of this being discussed though, to enable me to quantify this risk and plan accordingly.

    Whilst I fully appreciate that nothing with rabbit behaviour can be certain, I would appreciate views and actual experiences, if anyone has any, on a number of aspects of this and whether the risk of this happening can be mitigated in any way. When I consider my previous group, I could not have ever imagined that introducing another rabbit would have caused their bond to break down. They might not have accepted a new rabbit, but that is something different.

    So my wonderings are:

    Is the likelihood increased with the number of rabbits i.e. is trying to bond 1 with 2 safer than 1 with 2+?
    Does the mix of sexes have any impact on the dynamics?
    Does the age of the existing bond make it less likely to break down or not and is this balanced by the thought that introducing a new rabbit to an established bond is less likely to work than a new rabbit to a newly established bond?
    Is a lot of it just down to the skill of the bonder?

    Any other thoughts would be welcome too.

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    Wise Old Thumper tulsi's Avatar
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    My only experience is with two brothers that had fallen out and after being totally apart for a few weeks I bonded them with a pair of happily bonded sisters.

    They have been living as a quad ever since (bonded October 2013).

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tulsi View Post
    My only experience is with two brothers that had fallen out and after being totally apart for a few weeks I bonded them with a pair of happily bonded sisters.

    They have been living as a quad ever since (bonded October 2013).
    Did the brother's bond break down after neutering and being reintroduced? Was it an easy bond?

  4. #4
    Mama Doe
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    My experiences are fairly limited, but I find first time pairs the most nerve wracking (more for me than the rabbits, probably). The trios I have had have all been mixed ages and genders. I have always done it slowly (several weeks) so all knew each other in adjacent runs and they showed no adverse behavior before they were put together. I've never had an issue with the trios, given enough time and space for them to get on. All have been neutered at least several weeks beforehand. I prefer bonding boys - girls can be feistier. My trios have been 3 boys, 2boys & 1 girl, 2 girls & 1 boy. All my trios have been one added to an existing pair. I always make sure that they are carefully watched for the first day after they are physically together (although they have always been fine) and kept everything firmly crossed that they would be OK overnight. They are usually fully introduced in an area of the garden that all are familiar with, but none have used in the previous few weeks - so it's as neutral as I can make it and they all know their way round and have plenty of safe places. It is also somewhere that I can access them quickly if needed.

  5. #5
    Wise Old Thumper Jack's-Jane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omi View Post
    It has been warned many times on this forum about the dangers of existing bonds breaking down when introducing new rabbits to each other. I can't remember any actual instance of this being discussed though, to enable me to quantify this risk and plan accordingly.

    Whilst I fully appreciate that nothing with rabbit behaviour can be certain, I would appreciate views and actual experiences, if anyone has any, on a number of aspects of this and whether the risk of this happening can be mitigated in any way. When I consider my previous group, I could not have ever imagined that introducing another rabbit would have caused their bond to break down. They might not have accepted a new rabbit, but that is something different.

    So my wonderings are:

    Is the likelihood increased with the number of rabbits i.e. is trying to bond 1 with 2 safer than 1 with 2+?
    Does the mix of sexes have any impact on the dynamics?
    Does the age of the existing bond make it less likely to break down or not and is this balanced by the thought that introducing a new rabbit to an established bond is less likely to work than a new rabbit to a newly established bond?
    Is a lot of it just down to the skill of the bonder?

    Any other thoughts would be welcome too.
    IME a breakdown of a bond in an esrtablished pairing/group if another Rabbit is introduced is far less likely to happen if the established group are related- eg siblings, parent(s) + off-spring etc.

    I have had one established bond break down when a third Rabbit was introduced. The established pair was a Buck and a Doe and the new-comer was a Buck. All neutered years beforehand. Strangely enough I was unable to reconcile the Doe/Buck but the two Bucks bonded and I then bonded the Doe with another Rabbit (a Buck).

    I have found that more problems can arise with referred aggression- ie when an established bond can see/smell a new intake but not actually meet him/her.. So if I were going to try to introduce another Rabbit to an established pair/group I would not place the newcomer anywhere near the established bond until it was time for them all to meet in a neutral environment.

    I am sure I will be told I am completely wrong though !! I make no claims to be any sort of 'Expert' xx



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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack's-Jane View Post
    IME a breakdown of a bond in an esrtablished pairing/group if another Rabbit is introduced is far less likely to happen if the established group are related- eg siblings, parent(s) + off-spring etc.

    I have had one established bond break down when a third Rabbit was introduced. The established pair was a Buck and a Doe and the new-comer was a Buck. All neutered years beforehand. Strangely enough I was unable to reconcile the Doe/Buck but the two Bucks bonded and I then bonded the Doe with another Rabbit (a Buck).

    I have found that more problems can arise with referred aggression- ie when an established bond can see/smell a new intake but not actually meet him/her.. So if I were going to try to introduce another Rabbit to an established pair/group I would not place the newcomer anywhere near the established bond until it was time for them all to meet in a neutral environment.

    I am sure I will be told I am completely wrong though !! I make no claims to be any sort of 'Expert' xx
    Actually your views are very similar to my own, but remember I have zero experience of bonding (yet) I very much agree with your first paragraph based on my experience of my Rexes' bond and your point about referred aggression just makes sense in my view. I agree there will be others who have different views and different experiences. There will be so many variables in people's experiences, that trying to make sense of it is difficult, but I'll keep trying

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimmer View Post
    My experiences are fairly limited, but I find first time pairs the most nerve wracking (more for me than the rabbits, probably). The trios I have had have all been mixed ages and genders. I have always done it slowly (several weeks) so all knew each other in adjacent runs and they showed no adverse behavior before they were put together. I've never had an issue with the trios, given enough time and space for them to get on. All have been neutered at least several weeks beforehand. I prefer bonding boys - girls can be feistier. My trios have been 3 boys, 2boys & 1 girl, 2 girls & 1 boy. All my trios have been one added to an existing pair. I always make sure that they are carefully watched for the first day after they are physically together (although they have always been fine) and kept everything firmly crossed that they would be OK overnight. They are usually fully introduced in an area of the garden that all are familiar with, but none have used in the previous few weeks - so it's as neutral as I can make it and they all know their way round and have plenty of safe places. It is also somewhere that I can access them quickly if needed.
    It's encouraging that you've had no issues with your trios and your experience is based on trios with different sex mixes. I also find it interesting that you have done the bonding outside.

  8. #8
    Mama Doe
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omi View Post
    It's encouraging that you've had no issues with your trios and your experience is based on trios with different sex mixes. I also find it interesting that you have done the bonding outside.
    I've got a lot more space outside than I could ever create inside- plus there are other animals inside (eg dogs, cats) - so it makes sense for me. The rabbits live outside anyway and are less disturbed / stressed by the daily routine, dogs, etc. and only have to concentrate on being rabbits.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimmer View Post
    I've got a lot more space outside than I could ever create inside- plus there are other animals inside (eg dogs, cats) - so it makes sense for me. The rabbits live outside anyway and are less disturbed / stressed by the daily routine, dogs, etc. and only have to concentrate on being rabbits.
    Yes, similar here although I don't have additional animals inside. My concern is that I have nowhere to sleep outside, espceially at this time of the year

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omi View Post
    Yes, similar here although I don't have additional animals inside. My concern is that I have nowhere to sleep outside, espceially at this time of the year
    What makes you think you'll be sleeping? Interesting thread, I've always thought this risk is of the much warned about, little experienced variety. In fact Janes experience is the only one I can recall reading. Referred aggression, now I do believe that to be a very real risk.

    Above is just my thoughts, I've only bonded the one trio.

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