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Thread: Bonding - need confidence even though experienced

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  1. #1
    Mama Doe ShivyRex's Avatar
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    Default Bonding - need confidence even though experienced

    So....dont you hate it when you've kept rabbits for 13 years but you still get frightened when you have to bond bunnies, especially when it's not been a good start

    3 weeks ago my boy bun Buddy was put to sleep - he was 8/9 and in his life with me had 2 wives. He was bonded with Jessica for 3 years (shes about 5 now) and their bonding was fairly straightforward as was his wife before. Jess is albino, deaf and cannot see well but spritely and feisty in her own way.

    I've rescued a boy - Flopsy (renaming him Freddie). He's 5 years, fairly grumpy but this has been put down to being on his own all his life, living in a garage and children grabbing him. Hes had some treatment on his eyes and is quite underweight. They were happy to home him with me due to my experience and setup.

    So I've bonded 5 couples over the years. All varying in severity but the last two have been very easy.

    I collected Freddie yesterday and put them both in the kitchen (neutral territory) in a pen separated by a pen panel. They were pretty much ignoring each other so I thought this morning I'd go for it and see how they got on....

    Not good!! Jessica bit him on the bum and all hell broke loose which no amount of water spray would stop. I think Jessica may have drawn blood as there was a mark on her dew lap but I've checked them both over and can't see anything. She's bright white so you'd see anything.

    So they've been separated again since then. I've made the pen a bit smaller and they're still pretty much ignoring each other. It's made me pretty anxious about doing it again. I'm leaving them as is for tonight so that will be 36hours in each others company by the morning, albeit separated.

    I'm happy to give it a go tomorrow again but just wondering - given this feels like the most aggressive reaction I've seen - should I sit in the pen with garden gloves, water spray, towel ready to separate? If they go for it, how long should I separate again? I've swapped them over a few times already.

    I'm not in huge hurry - if they need to stay as is over xmas that's fine (we're going to family but have pet sitter visiting). Don't want them to get get territorial of where they are now.

    Pic for cuteness. Any advice appreciated.

    Many thanks

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    Wise Old Thumper joey&boo's Avatar
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    I'm here for you to listen & follow your thread, bonding is a scary business & we need loads of support, right? I doubt I'll have any sensible advice for you though

    Your bunnies are lovely. Your description of Jess sounded like my Boo & they have a similar fluffball appearance too. I've had Boo in a few bonding situations & she really is a strange fish. I think the flightyness of REW's can lead to more explosive episodes, they'll catch on slower I reckon & so scare easily & leap into defensive mode. But with Jess it sounds like it was more instant reaction?

    Bunny tornados scare the bejesus out of me. Years before I was on the internet my 2 bridge buns Ralph & Kitty did this. All I can remember is I was scared but it must have worked out fine as they bonded (my only bond prior to this was a love at first sight bond) -this was in the 1990's. I mention it because it was a scary start & an ultimate success.

    More recently (Feb 2019) I adopted a 4th bunny with the intention of bonding him in to a trio. My new boy & existing boy launched in to a tornado while I was taking the girls back to their room (there was a bad vibe). My OH was with them but sat very close - he still couldn't get to them in time & Rudey got a nasty tear to his side that needed urgent vet attention & gluing. This was not instantly obvious on first check so please re-examine them just to be sure. From what I can gather tornadoes involve both bunnies latching on so that can have implications.

    You mention your boy bun is thin & getting treatment for an eye problem. I'd maybe not even try again til the New Year, get some weight on him & get his confidence up

    Many people stay out of the pen, I sit in it & stroke & calm my bunnies. We stopped calling it bonding & started calling it intercepting. I just needed to be within arms reach cos they move so bloody fast . In my opinion this would be appropriate for your two xx

  3. #3
    Wise Old Thumper
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    In your situation I think I would make sure that they can't get to each other and keep them apart until after Christmas. I would not feel confident leaving a newly bonded pair with a pet sitter over Christmas, as they have to be closely observed.

    They look and sound lovely bunnies and I think the most sensible solution would be to leave it for now. When you do attempt bonding though I would use a different, neutral space to where they are now.

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    Mama Doe ShivyRex's Avatar
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    Thanks for your replies. It's so difficult isn't it. If I thought it wouldn't be a good idea I would have left him in the rescue until after xmas.

    The space I have in the kitchen is small so I don't really like the thought of keeping them in that for a few weeks - Jess is used to having run of a kennel. I go on holiday on 3rd Jan for a week so not great either. I also work full time so I need them to bond on a weekend and then be able to leave them - I've done this with all my others and is just how it needs to happen because of my circumstances.

    Freddie/flopsy is no longer on eye treatment- the vet at the rescue - who is also my usual rabbit savvy vet - thinks having another bun the clean them now will resolve the issue.

    Another complication is these are outdoor buns. I've isolated the kitchen, turned off radiators and left windows on the vent to keep it cool but ideally I don't want to keep them inside too long.

    I was prepared to give them another go today in neutral territory (I only have 2 other places I can do this) but you've now put the doubt in my mind.

    I appreciate this is somewhat complicated due to REW and a bun whose had some issues. Their happiness and safety is paramount.

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    Moderator Zoobec's Avatar
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    I agree with what J&B and Omi have said. Bonding is a nerve wracking experience isn’t it! My last bond was quite smooth with some chasing and mounting and then it settled down with grooming but all of a sudden all hell broke loose and they started on each other, thankfully I had a plastic dustpan to hand and I slid it between them to separate them, luckily they settled but it took a while until they could trust each other. My other bond (2 pairs into a quad) was just chasing and mounting thankfully I think if the rabbits have a full on fight if it was me bonding, I would pull the plug on it permanently.

  6. #6
    Mama Doe ShivyRex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoobec View Post
    I agree with what J&B and Omi have said. Bonding is a nerve wracking experience isnít it! My last bond was quite smooth with some chasing and mounting and then it settled down with grooming but all of a sudden all hell broke loose and they started on each other, thankfully I had a plastic dustpan to hand and I slid it between them to separate them, luckily they settled but it took a while until they could trust each other. My other bond (2 pairs into a quad) was just chasing and mounting thankfully I think if the rabbits have a full on fight if it was me bonding, I would pull the plug on it permanently.
    Permanently? Really?

    I think I'm willing to give it a bit more of a chance than that to be honest. Yes they had a fight but it was literally 6 seconds if that. I'd want to give it another go in neutral territory from the start again before I give up on them. Poor buns they just don't know what's good for them!

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    Is there anyone who could bond them for you. I don't really like this idea but females are difficult when they are on home territory, also Jess is deaf and partially sighted, which is a disadvantage. She is probably defending herself from this strange rabbit. I would make quite sure they cannot get to one another if you are out, and maybe this is the type of bond which needs to be done slowly giving Jess time to get used to this new rabbit. Good luck!

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    Mama Doe ShivyRex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonibun View Post
    Is there anyone who could bond them for you. I don't really like this idea but females are difficult when they are on home territory, also Jess is deaf and partially sighted, which is a disadvantage. She is probably defending herself from this strange rabbit. I would make quite sure they cannot get to one another if you are out, and maybe this is the type of bond which needs to be done slowly giving Jess time to get used to this new rabbit. Good luck!
    Nope I dont know anyone who can do the bond. I've bonded other peoples rabbits before which is the weird thing. I wouldn't leave it to the rescue as they're not just a rabbit rescue and wouldn't have time to keep an eye on them.
    It's ok if I need to give them time, that's fine.

    Is having them next to each other in a pen going to help or does it just act like an invisibility cloak until that actually get together.

    I guess the first bond with Jess was easy because she was the new one but I would have expected her to be more scared then. But I guess she knows me now so less scared even on neutral territory.

    Thanks for your comment.

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    I think keeping them next to one another is the way to go especially for Jess's sake but if there is only wire between them they can bite one another, so be careful with that. Also, the boy could possibly jump over into her side. He looks a lovely rabbit! While you are away you must make sure they are both safe from one another, not too close either and with something over the top. As they are both outdoor rabbits there is a danger of them losing some of their winter coat and we are not entirely into really cold conditions. I am wondering if they would be better outside for now until you are back home to do the bonding ? You were hoping to bond them before you go away but that isn't very long to be sure they will be ok without you.

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    Mama Doe ShivyRex's Avatar
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    Actually I think I could probably cobble something together in the corner of the run - will have a play tomorrow...

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