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Thread: Slow Bonding Method - Advice Please

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    Warren Scout Natalie's Avatar
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    Default Slow Bonding Method - Advice Please

    We adopted Caramel about six months ago. She's elderly, don't know the exact age, but about 9 years, and we have discovered that she has a heart problem, for which she is on the diuretic Frusol, 3 x daily and has to be kept as calm and stress free as possible. We hadn't intended to adopt a bunny, especially as we have rescue dogs, but it was a situation that presented itself when we moved house recently and being totally passionate about animals, I just couldn't leave her where she was.

    I'm a total newbie with all things bunny - learning as fast as I can - never had bunnies as part of our family before.

    She had been an outdoor bun, so initially we set up a lovely big run and hutch arrangement for her outside, but I couldn't bear the thought of her coping with the nasty cold winter outside by herself, especially at her age. So the just completed and newly decorated loft conversion (done by the previous house owners), became 'The Bunny Suite' - with signage - obviously



    It's a super big space, 6 meters x 4 meters, and full of all things bunny, tunnels, hideaways, chew toys, hay toys, litter tray, more hay stuff etc etc and I have to say Caramel took to indoor living really well considering she'd never lived indoors before.

    Anyhoo, now that she's settled and we've got her heart problem as under control as it will ever be and she's all up to date with her vaccinations and I've got a bit of a better idea of what I'm doing! I'm hoping to be able to bond her with a nice, gentle, elderly, single, neutered male bun. I have been in touch with a rescue and have passed my home check. We are now waiting for a suitable bunny to come into the rescue as all their adoptable bunnies at the moment are either already bonded, or too young.

    So whilst we're waiting I'm trying to find out everything I can about bunny bonding, I will be talking to the rescue about it as well. If it hadn't been for Caramel's heart condition and needing to be as stress free as possible, I would have let her go to the rescue for bonding, but our vet has strongly recommended that we opt for a slow bonding process.

    What I would like to know is ...

    Is it possible to use the room next to Caramel's for the new bun to be initially, for the 'living next to each other, but not with each other' phase? We would put up a gate between the two rooms so that they could see each other, and get used to each other, without being able to make physical contact. There is also a door between the two rooms, so that could be closed if necessary. The little side room, next to Caramel's room, is about 4 meters x 1.5 meters, so plenty big enough for our new bun's temporary accommodation.

    The plan would then be to set up a neutral area in the spare bedroom, away from both Caramel's room and the new bun's room, where we would do brief introductions in a small space, slowly increasing time spent together and size of space, over several weeks?

    Does that sound at all possible, or does the initial 'living next to each other but not with each other' phase also have to be completely neutral?

    Any advice would be very much appreciated.

    Many thanks - Natalie and Caramel

  2. #2
    Wise Old Thumper
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    Everything you have stated sounds very good and I certainly can't add anything. Once you get a new bun in the next room, you will be able to monitor Caramel's reactions, eg is she not bothered about another bunny being close-by, or is she getting excited. You could be lucky and get 2 bunnies which just get along straight away with no chasing etc. I have had a few bonds like this, it makes it so much easier on us. If this is the case, you won't need to separate them once put together.

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    Mama Doe loobers25's Avatar
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    Hello! I'm in a similar position. I'm doing slow bonding too due to Tobys heart condition. I have divided the room so they can live side by side for a few months and get used to each other. I also put toys and activities along the grids to distract each other from any possible scuffs while I'm out. I have over lapped the grids so no paws or teeth can get through. I have actually found that having maple in with Toby has given him a zest for life again and he seems to enjoy her there. I have attached pictures for you. I also bought Pet Remedy plug in for the rabbit room and it comes with a spray too. It is recommended to spray on bedding, or to spray on a cloth to wipe on bunnies so they both small the same . I haven't tried that but the plug in seems to work well alone! I would also say make sure their area is not high enough to climb over, my Toby can clear stair gates with no problem or higher!

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    Last edited by loobers25; 06-03-2018 at 09:49 AM.

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    Warren Scout Natalie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonibun View Post
    Everything you have stated sounds very good and I certainly can't add anything. Once you get a new bun in the next room, you will be able to monitor Caramel's reactions, eg is she not bothered about another bunny being close-by, or is she getting excited. You could be lucky and get 2 bunnies which just get along straight away with no chasing etc. I have had a few bonds like this, it makes it so much easier on us. If this is the case, you won't need to separate them once put together.
    Thank you!

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    You seem to have a good strategy & I agree with Tonibuns sentiment. I really hope its an easy bond & they get on instantly - I too have had several of these. As there is no way of knowing how bunnies will be until they actually meet I think it makes sense to play it by ear & adapt how you approach it accordingly.

    Exciting times for your lovely Caramel . I hope it goes well

  6. #6
    Warren Scout Natalie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loobers25 View Post
    Hello! I'm in a similar position. I'm doing slow bonding too due to Tobys heart condition. I have divided the room so they can live side by side for a few months and get used to each other. I also put toys and activities along the grids to distract each other from any possible scuffs while I'm out. I have over lapped the grids so no paws or teeth can get through. I have actually found that having maple in with Toby has given him a zest for life again and he seems to enjoy her there. I have attached pictures for you. I also bought Pet Remedy plug in for the rabbit room and it comes with a spray too. It is recommended to spray on bedding, or to spray on a cloth to wipe on bunnies so they both small the same . I haven't tried that but the plug in seems to work well alone! I would also say make sure their area is not high enough to climb over, my Toby can clear stair gates with no problem or higher!

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    Quote Originally Posted by loobers25 View Post
    Hello! I'm in a similar position. I'm doing slow bonding too due to Tobys heart condition. I have divided the room so they can live side by side for a few months and get used to each other. I also put toys and activities along the grids to distract each other from any possible scuffs while I'm out. I have over lapped the grids so no paws or teeth can get through. I have actually found that having maple in with Toby has given him a zest for life again and he seems to enjoy her there. I have attached pictures for you. I also bought Pet Remedy plug in for the rabbit room and it comes with a spray too. It is recommended to spray on bedding, or to spray on a cloth to wipe on bunnies so they both small the same . I haven't tried that but the plug in seems to work well alone! I would also say make sure their area is not high enough to climb over, my Toby can clear stair gates with no problem or higher!

    Sent from my GT-I9195 using Tapatalk
    Thank you! And thank you so much for taking the time to add photos - what a lovely set up! Where did you get all the dividing stuff from? Have your bunnies spent any time physically together? If not yet, I'm wondering how you were planning to do that? I'm thinking that after the two rabbits have lived side by side together for a while, that I will take both buns to a neutral small space for their first physical meeting. And I'm thinking that the meeting will just be a few minutes, I am planning on building up the time and space for their meetings over time.

    In their initial side by side living I was thinking that I would interchange their hideaways and toys from time to time so that they can both get well and truly used to each other's smell.

    I rang the rescue to get advice on the long bonding process but unfortunately he only knew about their own, quick bonding process, so I'm still a bit anxious that what I have in mind to attempt will be successful.

    Sorry about all these questions, I'm just so excited to find someone else in such a similar position as me!

    Just one last question - how did you find Maple? Did you have an idea regarding what type of character your new bun would need to have to increase the chances of her bonding successfully with Toby? I'm really keen to try to get it right, but have so little experience.

    Thanks, and no worries if you don't have time to answer all my questions lol, I have gone on a bit - it's a fault of mine lol - over talking!

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    Warren Scout Natalie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joey&boo View Post
    You seem to have a good strategy & I agree with Tonibuns sentiment. I really hope its an easy bond & they get on instantly - I too have had several of these. As there is no way of knowing how bunnies will be until they actually meet I think it makes sense to play it by ear & adapt how you approach it accordingly.

    Exciting times for your lovely Caramel . I hope it goes well
    Thanks How long do you think they should live next to each other before I attempt their first physical meeting - which will be in a small space, neutral territory.

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    I think you are the best judge of how long. You could go straight ahead, wait a week etc. Sometimes side by side just frustrates the bunnies. A lot depends on their personalities and how you sense they are feeling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Natalie View Post
    Thanks How long do you think they should live next to each other before I attempt their first physical meeting - which will be in a small space, neutral territory.
    I'm probably the wrong person to ask as I've never done the living next to each other thing; I've always got my bunny from rescue & started bonding straight away & stuck with it til its done. My first instinct would be to try Caramel with new bun soon after he arrives. It might be that its instant love & a really uneventful bond - if it was super calm, no chasing or humping, it wouldn't really make sense to do anything but let them stay together. You'll get a really good gauge on how to proceed after first introductions. Some people believe rabbits in sight s/smell of each other but not able to interact can get frustrated, others believe its a great way to get them used to each other. I myself don't have an opinion as I've no experience.

    Timescales kind of go out of the window too - I think how long will depend on how long the bunnies decide to take. You'll just have to see how they go x

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    Mama Doe loobers25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natalie View Post
    Thank you! And thank you so much for taking the time to add photos - what a lovely set up! Where did you get all the dividing stuff from? Have your bunnies spent any time physically together? If not yet, I'm wondering how you were planning to do that? I'm thinking that after the two rabbits have lived side by side together for a while, that I will take both buns to a neutral small space for their first physical meeting. And I'm thinking that the meeting will just be a few minutes, I am planning on building up the time and space for their meetings over time.

    In their initial side by side living I was thinking that I would interchange their hideaways and toys from time to time so that they can both get well and truly used to each other's smell.

    I rang the rescue to get advice on the long bonding process but unfortunately he only knew about their own, quick bonding process, so I'm still a bit anxious that what I have in mind to attempt will be successful.

    Sorry about all these questions, I'm just so excited to find someone else in such a similar position as me!

    Just one last question - how did you find Maple? Did you have an idea regarding what type of character your new bun would need to have to increase the chances of her bonding successfully with Toby? I'm really keen to try to get it right, but have so little experience.

    Thanks, and no worries if you don't have time to answer all my questions lol, I have gone on a bit - it's a fault of mine lol - over talking!
    So my plan is to put them in the bathroom, big pile of hay in the middle covered with lots of munchies like dandelion. Then I'll keep throwing munchies in to distract them. I will end the meetings on a good note, I'm not going to rush so will keep repeating this. If after a few meets all is going well I will clean, neutralise their bedroom, wash all their fleeces etc. I would only do this at a time when I was going to be off work for a while.

    I took Toby to the rescue (before I knew about his heart) and I wouldn't if done so if I'd known. I chose maple because she didn't show aggression to him and put her head down to be groomed. Toby didn't respond but i thought it's better than a fight . I would go to the rescue without caramel and look for a bunny who has a nice temperament, ask how they have been around other bunnies at the rescue etc. I think you will know, you'll have a feeling who will be right for her.

    I am doing it slowly as I really want it to work and I don't plan on taking maple back if it doesn't work out. But rescues will help you if it doesn't work out for you. I might start bonding bathroom sessions maybe in may as Toby has been stasis a few times so getting his health settled.

    Oh and the grid is called NIC grid it's actually designed for shelving units but I honestly wouldn't be without it! I've used it time and time again through the years, it's good also for protecting furniture etc. It's got other names too but I would recommend the metal one , not the colourful one that I have. Metal is better in case of chewing. I hope I answered everything! Xxx

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    Bam & Charlie

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