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Thread: Difficult Bonding

  1. #1

    Default Difficult Bonding

    Back in April my wife and I got our first rabbit, a gorgeous male lion headed called Moku, and things have been going great. He's free roaming, litter trained, doesn't nibble or dig, he's just the perfect bunny! After a few months we noticed that he kept grooming a fluffy alpaca door stop we own. We thought he might be getting lonely so we started reading everything we could find on rabbit bonding, trying to decide if we'd take the plunge. After another few months (October) we found another beautiful lion headed rabbit, called Migi, and brought her home. We put all our reading into practice and although the bonding got off to a rough start by the end of two weeks the two were grooming, flopping and following each other around.

    Fast forward to the start of December and the problems start. Moku was about 9 months old, Migi 5 months. Moku has been neutered almost as soon as we'd got him, and now that Migi was old enough she had an appointment at the vet to be spayed the next week. Migi was pee marking everywhere, pooping everywhere, and loudly honking while circling and sometimes humping Moku. He didn't seem to mind too much to begin with but after a week whenever he heard the honking a fight would break out and it got so bad they had to be separated and kept in cages again. We took Migi in for her spaying the next week and it turns out she's actually male! So the spaying becomes a neutering and we grit our teeth hoping we can bond them back together. Our vets tell us that since they were bonded before Migi's hormones kicked in there's a good chance we should be able to bond them back together once the hormones are gone again, but we're encountering a few problems.

    By now it's the end of December, and most of Migi's hormones should have gone, indeed we've seen drastically improved behaviour in most areas and he's no longer pee marking everything, but the honking and circling behaviour is still there. When we still thought Migi was a female we obviously though this was mating behaviour, but I'm guessing now that it's some kind of dominance display? I can't find any explanation for honking and circling that isn't mating behaviour, has anyone got any other suggestions?

    On our few attempts to bond them again since Migi's operation they've generally ignored each other until Migi honks, and then it's fighting again. They've shared food from the same bowl at the same time while they pressed their faces against each other, shared a bit of a banana together, and they'll be fine, then the honk and they're at each other's throats.

    Sorry for the long first post, but I thought it better to include as much information as I could rather than too little. Please let me know if there's any other details I can provide too.

    We realise that bonding two males isn't ideal and it's going to be a difficult journey, but we love both of these bunnies and want to do what we can, so if anyone has any suggestions please let us know.

  2. #2
    Moderator Zoobec's Avatar
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    Hi, and welcome to the forum I would think that Migis hormones had well and truly kicked in and that would have contributed to the falling out. Are you bonding in a small neutral space where neither rabbit has been before?

    Binky free at the bridge Boots, you will never be forgotten xxxx

  3. #3
    Wise Old Thumper
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    Hi, welcome to the forum and I love their names

    Yes, as Zoobec said you should be trying to bond them in a neutral space. You should make sure that any litter trays etc are disinfected to remove any traces of scent. Also I think you should separate them and try putting them together again only after a good six weeks post neuteras I think it's likely that Migi is still experiencing some hormonal issues.

    It's a shame that you were given a male rabbit instead of female, but it's not impossible to bond two males. I'm assuming that although they were previously fighting, that no actual injury occurred. You might just need to expect it to take a bit longer. Sending lots of good bonding vibes.

  4. #4

    Default

    Thanks for the replies. I assumed Migi's behaviour was probably hormonal but I'm glad to have it confirmed by people with more experience than me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zoobec View Post
    Are you bonding in a small neutral space where neither rabbit has been before?
    We're bonding them in the bathroom as they are rarely ever in there and neither has a claim to it. We tried the bath tub the first time round but Moku would constantly jump out of it before he'd even noticed Migi. Instead we partition off a part of the bathroom for them to bond in. This worked well the first time but the handful of times we've reintroduced them since there's been no progress.

    Quote Originally Posted by Omi View Post
    Also I think you should separate them and try putting them together again only after a good six weeks post neuteras I think it's likely that Migi is still experiencing some hormonal issues.
    Once Migi had healed from surgery our vet suggested we try introducing them again, but we've abandoned it now until at least next month as Migi is certainly still calming down.

    Quote Originally Posted by Omi View Post
    I'm assuming that although they were previously fighting, that no actual injury occurred.
    Usually fur pulling is the worst it gets, but on one occasion, the day before Migi's operation, Moku did give her an injury that drew blood. We only noticed this a short while after the fight but by that time they were already cuddled back together. As soon as we realised Migi had been injured we separated them, and the vet didn't seem to think the injury was too much to worry about. I have heard that rabbits always remember a fight so this does worry me a bit. Despite being injured Migi still seems very keen on Moku, they can get quite close and it's only when Migi honks that a fight breaks out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Omi View Post
    I love their names
    Thanks! My wife and I speak a little Japanese, and found ourselves drawn to Japanese names. Moku has very natural gray and brown colourings, so my wife named him the Japanese for "wood", and Migi is entirely black except for her front right paw which is pure white, so I named him the Japanese for "right". They're odd names, but they fit our bunnies and they've both managed to learn them so they must like them too : )

    Here's the two of them playing pre-fall out.

  5. #5
    Wise Old Thumper
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    Aww thank you for posting pics They're extremely cute

    Yes, I too have heard that rabbits always remember a fight, although I don't know how much evidence there is for that and more importantly whether remembering actually changes their attitude towards the other rabbit and to what extent. In my view it probably varies.

    As you're thinking, I too would give them some time apart and then retry in the neutral space.

    Sending peaceful bonding vibes when the time is right

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