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Thread: Bonding: what should I put in the pen during first meet?

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    Default Bonding: what should I put in the pen during first meet?

    Hi, I'm planning to progress from living side by side to the first meeting of a male and female rabbit this weekend, and I'm seeing a lot of conflicting information about the size of the space you should provide for this and what should be in it (i.e. hidey houses, litter trays, toys, food). From what I can see, general consensus seems to be that food/hay is good as a distraction/for calming the rabbits, but other than this, it seems some people recommend enough space for them to get away from each other and hidey houses in case they're scared, whereas others suggest limited space and nothing in the pen they could fight over or use to avoid interaction with the other.

    In others experience, what is the best approach for this? Do you tend to add in objects/houses/litter trays for the rabbits when bonding or leave it empty? Do you sit in the pen with them or supervise from outside the pen? I'm planning to bring them inside and use a neutral area neither of them have been before and will create a pen using nic grids, so I can alter the size if needed. They will have been living side by side for 2 weeks this weekend and are showing positive signs towards each other (curiosity, low aggression, willing to eat close to each other).

    I would like the bonding to be as low stress as possible for both of them (so no stress bonding techniques like tiny spaces, car journeys, or bath tubs other than as a last resort), but I'm unsure if adding in places they can hide in is more likely to provide security or a reason to fight with each other. The same goes for space really, so any advice about these things would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Warren Veteran DemiS's Avatar
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    In my experience, giving them places to hide will just lengthen the whole process, and sometimes one bunny becomes territorial over it which makes things worse. Food is a brilliant distraction, and depending on your floor a litter tray may be needed but you need to make sure it's very well washed first. but I personally wouldn't be putting anything else in the pen. You'll need to supervise them, whether you do that inside or outside the pen is up to you, inside means you can break up fights quicker BUT there's a good chance you'll get caught up in it and be bitten if you don't wear gloves and thick clothes, also the rabbits might just hide behind you creating the same issue as the hidey houses.

    I bonded a trio not long ago and I did it in the bathroom where they'd never been before, it's also small and wipe clean. I left the door open but put a gate over the door so I could see them but they couldn't get out. On the first day my boys decided that behind the toilet was a great place to hide, and they spend most of their time there and just ignoring the other girl who was sat at the opposite side of the room. I ended up putting a small pen around the toilet to block it off. I did put the base of a carrier in there as a litter tray, because three rabbits make a lot of mess and we still needed to use the bathroom, but they were sometimes a bit territorial over it so I would avoid unless necessary. If there was any fighting I'd make a loud noise which usually stopped them, if it carried on I used a sweeping brush to break it up (trust me you don't want to stick your hands in the middle of a rabbit fight).
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    I have always used a big area with lots to do in it, plus a couple of litter trays, but it really is up to you as to how you feel is the best way for your 2. Both methods seem to work. I have 21 happy pairs! Good luck with whichever method you use.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonibun View Post
    I have always used a big area with lots to do in it, plus a couple of litter trays, but it really is up to you as to how you feel is the best way for your 2. Both methods seem to work. I have 21 happy pairs! Good luck with whichever method you use.
    Wow, I'm so jealous of you having so many rabbits! We have a few spaces we could use, though for most areas we'd need to use a pen as bunny proofing to stop them getting to inaccessible spots or wires. Downstairs has laminate flooring so I'm not overly concerned with them making a mess, might put some towels/newspaper down to give a bit of grip though.

    So we've got two very different approaches so far, which fits what I've come across in my research! Does anyone else have any suggestions/advice?

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    Wherever you introduce them, it is always best to put the boy in first then the girl. Have you been onto Cottontails website. Mairwen has done more bonds than anyone else I think, and there are videos of different rabbits being bonded.

  6. #6

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    Ok, I'll put him in first then, thanks I've had a look at some the videos on cottontails website, yes: they were pretty useful in terms of behaviour and things like that. I was just wondering what others recommended/have tried in terms of setting up the bonding space as the information out there contradicts itself so much on this point. This is the first time I'm doing a bond (in case you couldn't tell...) so I'm trying to get as much information/advice as possible before we start.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NyxTaryn View Post
    Ok, I'll put him in first then, thanks I've had a look at some the videos on cottontails website, yes: they were pretty useful in terms of behaviour and things like that. I was just wondering what others recommended/have tried in terms of setting up the bonding space as the information out there contradicts itself so much on this point. This is the first time I'm doing a bond (in case you couldn't tell...) so I'm trying to get as much information/advice as possible before we start.
    Sometimes ignorance is bliss! I did my first bond with no knowledge whatsoever. Just try to be confident and act as though this is perfectly natural what you are doing.

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    Yeah, I think I may be over-analysing things! I was going for learn as much about it as I can so I'm prepared and therefore not nervous and so I know how to react to different scenarios. But it may be that in doing that I'm a bit overloaded with different approaches and all the things that might go wrong... I think I will start off simply, with a small-ish space and hay and sit in it with them for about 10 minutes, see how they react. Then if that doesn't go well I can try adding things in to see if that helps, or if it does work, I can gradually get them used to having more space/things to play with or hide in. Wish me luck!

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    Sending lots of successful bonding vibes for you. I think it's clear from different views and experiences provided on this forum that with bonding there are so many different methods with people favouring the method which has worked consistently for them.

    Stay calm
    "The mind tells me this is our new reality, the heart aches for it to be just a bad dream" Frans Timmermans

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    Good luck - most rabbits will bond so you have that on your side!

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