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Thread: Pair Bond Re-Bonding and Trio Bonding

  1. #1
    New Kit
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    Default Pair Bond Re-Bonding and Trio Bonding

    Coco – F
    Stella – F
    Wolfie – M

    We are trying to introduce a third rabbit (Wolfie) into a bonded pair (Coco and Stella), but are running into some roadblocks and would love advice from the community.

    Coco and Stella have been pair bonded since birth. We got them both from the same breeder who produced two different litters at the same time, but the breeder kept these two together from the onset for us. We’ve had no issues with them for two years now. We decided to get a third (Wolfie) who is only eight weeks old. We left Coco and Stella with the vet while we went out of town for a few days to get and bring Wolfie back.

    When we get back, Coco fell ill and she had an overnight stay in the ICU at the vet’s. While she was out, we tried to bond Stella and Wolfie (because we assumed Stella was the dominant of the bonded pair). Stella is five times Wolfie’s size, but is still trying to hump him. We did try bonding techniques in small spaces to get them cordial. Stella did some light nibbles and even an ear nibble/lick (couldn’t quite tell) so things aren’t awful, but not great.

    Coco returned from the vet and is recovering well! Unfortunately, when we brought her back home, Stella began territorial disputes with her. What was once shared is now having to be worked out again. Coco and Stella share a two-story hutch and the same open play and run-about space. We caught Stella chasing Coco and they began tornado procedure (even finding tufts of Coco’s hair on the ground). That night we separated the two (Coco on the top half of the hutch and Stella on the bottom, both blockaded from each other). Meanwhile, we decided it best not to introduce Wolfie any further. He has been in a completely separate room and we plan to keep it that way until he is old enough to get neutered. At that point, we will try to trio bond.

    Our main concern now is getting our original pair rebound. All of this has transpired over the past two days. As of this morning, we took Coco and Stella to a neutral part of the house and confined their space. They first started exploring the area and were distracted by the newness. Once that shine was over, we saw some more back-and-forth. They started a minor chase/tornado, but we broke that up quickly. We did some forced smoosh facing and petting to (hopefully) remind them of their prior bond. Coco is our little adventurer and she seems back to casing the containment unit with Stella following her around. They both seem to be eating and things seem generally okay. We’re just concerned about knowing when it might devolve and how we get them back into the same hutch, tornado/fight free moving forward.

    Any advice on:
    1. How to re-bond Coco and Stella effectively?
    2. Why Stella began territorial disputes?
    a. I assume partly because of Wolfie’s introduction to the household?
    3. Was a hierarchy never established given their bonding at such a young age that now they are finally working through that?
    4. What is the best approach at this stage to introduce Wolfie into the mix?

  2. #2
    Administrator KarenM's Avatar
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    Bumping for you.

  3. #3
    Wise Old Thumper
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    In my view you have two issues going on here. The first is obviously the introduction of a new rabbit, Wolfie. The second, and what you are dealing with now, is the breaking down of the previous bond between Coco and Stella. In my view this has probably been caused by Coco's illness and stay at the vets. This can be caused when one rabbit is not feeling 100% and the other rabbit takes advantage of this and tries to change the dynamics of the pair. It could also be caused because Coco started to smell different to Stella after the stay at the vets. The situation between the pair could also have been slightly destabilised after the attempted introduction of Wolfie.

    In my view, excluding Wolfie from the scene for the moment is probably the right thing to do. If Coco is now 100% healthy, I would do as you're doing and concentrate on getting Coco and Stella happy with each other again. I would keep them confined to the smaller, neutral space for several days and only when that seems OK, would I try to return them to their original hutch. It would probably also be helpful if you fully cleaned and tried to neutralise the hutch first with something like vinegar.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
    Moderator Zoobec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omi View Post
    In my view you have two issues going on here. The first is obviously the introduction of a new rabbit, Wolfie. The second, and what you are dealing with now, is the breaking down of the previous bond between Coco and Stella. In my view this has probably been caused by Coco's illness and stay at the vets. This can be caused when one rabbit is not feeling 100% and the other rabbit takes advantage of this and tries to change the dynamics of the pair. It could also be caused because Coco started to smell different to Stella after the stay at the vets. The situation between the pair could also have been slightly destabilised after the attempted introduction of Wolfie.

    In my view, excluding Wolfie from the scene for the moment is probably the right thing to do. If Coco is now 100% healthy, I would do as you're doing and concentrate on getting Coco and Stella happy with each other again. I would keep them confined to the smaller, neutral space for several days and only when that seems OK, would I try to return them to their original hutch. It would probably also be helpful if you fully cleaned and tried to neutralise the hutch first with something like vinegar.

    Good luck!
    I agree with this As there are issues with the girls, I wouldn’t attempt to introduce Wolfe until he has been neutered, and wait 6 weeks post neuter for his hormones to subside. The smell and sight of him around may be causing referred aggression in the girls now. Are the girls spayed?

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

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