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Thread: Troubleshoot Bonding for first time

  1. #1
    Young Bun
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    Default Troubleshoot Bonding for first time

    Hi all, am attempting bonding for the first time and have read multiple sources but lots of different methods out there.
    I have a 7 month old neutered female house rabbit Maggie who we have had for 3-4 months, she is allowed in all parts of the home other than the bedroom. Her main room is our study which she is confined to overnight. She is very confident and not scared of any visitors we have around so we wanted to get a male neutered companion.
    Have adopted a similar sized neutered male Teddy from a rescue who did some initial bonding in neutral territory outside and they mostly ignored each other with some mild chasing but overall got on. I then drove them home in the same carrier, I brought them home and built a small enclosure out of grids with two litter trays in the study.
    They got on very well but I separated the enclosure with grids overnight as I noted Teddy did not eat as much as Maggie was dominating the food bowls and the hay racks as well as both litter trays. They were kept in view of each other overnight.
    The next day they cuddled very soon after taking down their partition and Teddy groomed Maggie and slept together a bit but again Teddy was not eating as much as I would have liked and seemed a little nervous of Maggie. I was studying in the study so could view them all day. I kept them together for about 6 hours and as they were doing well. There were 2-3 times I noticed Maggie stopping Teddy from entering a litter tray (where there is a lot of fresh hay.)
    I nipped to kitchen to make a snack and while I was out I heard a lot of noise. Found them fighting with Teddy's hair everywhere.

    I have now changed the room the enclosure is in to our living room, there unfortunately is not enough space in our bedroom for this and have wiped the floor with vinegar and used bedding that I have washed. Made an enclosure with grids with a partition with each rabbit on either side. Teddy is now eating. Difficult to tell if I am doing the right thing. My basis for separating them was that Teddy was not eating well and then the fight made me feel separating them with shorter introductions might be a better idea.
    Any advice?

  2. #2

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    I agree with what youíve said. Seems like youíve just moved too fast to me. Go back to shorter sessions in a smaller and neutral area possibly. Also only introduce new items eg litter trays and food slowly and one at a time as this may cause issues if you add lots of thing for your bunny to get territorial over all at once then this can lead to a fight, especially if the items havenít been cleaned and removed if each bunniesí scents. As well as this, to resolve the issue of guarding litter trays and food it is recommend to get another litter tray so that you have at least two incase one bunny is guarding one in particular, same with food bowls Iíd say, even if this is only temporary and you can reduce this later. The bunnies have clearly not established their bond and dynamic yet as it looks like youíre female is going to be dominant. Therefore, donít leave them together unsupervised even for a short period of time as you have already seen that a fight can break out and lead to injury at any moment potentially in which case you will need to intervene to prevent harm. If a fight breaks our again, Iíd say remove the bunny initiating the fight first to stop it and not reward the behaviour, but make sure you put her back with the other bunny providing he is not hurt as bonding sessions should always end on a positive note to build up positive associations with the other bunny. Also encourage the male when he is with the female by rewarding him through petting him or with food to help him feel more comfortable and not fear the other bunny, although his confidence wonít develop all at once and may happen over time so be aware if this. Hope it works out!

  3. #3
    Wise Old Thumper
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    The female is being territorial - is it possible for them to be bonded at the Rescue? If not what about the bathroom? I imagine Teddy is not eating as much as you would like as he is in unfamiliar territory but as long as he is eating something I would not worry as when he feels more settled he should resume normal eating habits. They are both young so this should make it easier for them to bond with each other and as you say they were cuddled up not long ago so there is definitely hope. Territorial behaviour is so strong in the female rabbit that it surpasses her need for companionship, until she accepts the other rabbit.

  4. #4
    Young Bun
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    I set up a small area in our bedroom which is mostly unfamiliar to Maggie for 20minute twice daily dates today. They mostly were ok, Maggie was very comfortable flopping and lying down next to Teddy. Teddy was very nervous and mostly sitting in corners but she did lick Teddy a few times. A few times when he approached her she suddenly got up and looked like she was going to nip but backed down with some reassurance from me petting them both.
    I still get the impression from some small episodes of growling from her when he sniffs her backside that she is very dominating.
    I think the rescue is a little busy, they're small I can speak to them but I think if I still have issues in a week I may need to look for places to bond them outside of our home, mostly due to my lack of experience with bonding.
    Any good bonding services in South London/Kent anyone can recommend?

  5. #5
    Young Bun
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    @tonibun unfortunately Maggie has spent quite a bit of time in our bathroom as well, really is only our bedroom she doesn't have unrestricted access to. She has only been in the bedroom after a few escapes about 5 times.
    Thanks for your responses even for reassurance!

  6. #6
    Young Bun
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    SO as posted elsewhere Teddy unfortunately got so stressed he developed stasis which was highly stressful for him and us. Initially I was uncertain if it was all stress related but time has revealed it 100% was!

    After the rabbits fought in the study (Maggie's old room) I made side by side grid enclosures in living room thinking it would make Maggie less territorial.
    Think bonding stress, moving Teddy from study to living room and also noise (TV washing machine cooking) was too much for him and he stopped eating drinking and went into stasis.
    Due to this I moved Teddy into Maggie's old room (the study) to free roam and Maggie is now free roam in living room.
    It has taken him weeks to recover in his behaviour and eating habits but I think he is back to normal. One ongoing issue is that he is so used to being in a small cage that he finds free roaming nerve wracking!

    I would like to try bonding them again but not sure how best to proceed
    Issues
    1. Am nervous to move Teddy from his room in study as he enjoys the peace and quiet of the study and also took so long to settle in the first instance
    2. The study would not be a neutral area if I move Maggie back in
    3. Maggie is a free roam bunny who would get bored and possibly distressed by leaving her in a small enclosure.

    I live in a two bedroom flat
    1. Main bedroom only has space 1 x 1m for bunny dates in neutral area
    2. Bedroom 2 is the study
    3. Bathroom is now neutral as Maggie has barely been in there in last month
    4. Open plan kitchen/living room which is currently Maggie's territory

    I have grids to make small enclosures and 1 cage. I also have a baby gate.

    Any recommendations of tactics for bonding them both considering both rabbits personalities. If it wasn't for covid-19 I would be outsourcing bonding as the first time was stressful enough!

  7. #7
    Warren Scout Motty's Avatar
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    Whilst we wait for someone more knowledgeable to hop along.

    How long has Teddy been in the study (Maggie's old room)? I wonder if it long enough for her to forget it was hers as it now all smells of Teddy. In which case you could try and introduce her into "his" room to see how they get on. I'm sure I have read that males are less territorial than females

    Good luck with whatever you try

    Richard

    Sent from my Moto E (4) Plus using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Wise Old Thumper
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motty View Post
    Whilst we wait for someone more knowledgeable to hop along.

    How long has Teddy been in the study (Maggie's old room)? I wonder if it long enough for her to forget it was hers as it now all smells of Teddy. In which case you could try and introduce her into "his" room to see how they get on. I'm sure I have read that males are less territorial than females

    Good luck with whatever you try

    Richard

    Sent from my Moto E (4) Plus using Tapatalk
    This is what I was wondering as well. It might also make Teddy feel a bit more confident and less likely to be stressed.

  9. #9
    Wise Old Thumper
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motty View Post
    Whilst we wait for someone more knowledgeable to hop along.

    How long has Teddy been in the study (Maggie's old room)? I wonder if it long enough for her to forget it was hers as it now all smells of Teddy. In which case you could try and introduce her into "his" room to see how they get on. I'm sure I have read that males are less territorial than females

    Good luck with whatever you try

    Richard

    Sent from my Moto E (4) Plus using Tapatalk
    I agree!

  10. #10
    Young Bun
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    Thanks all, very helpful. So probably the best option to start the introduction would be to split the study in half with grids to minimise disruption to teddy. So they can see and smell each other and once they're used to each other can start play dates in the bathroom? What do you think?
    Teddy has been in Maggies room now for a month so I think it will smell like both of them.
    Once i set it up tomorrow will try and add a photo.

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