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Thread: Rabbit nipping her sister - getting worse

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    New Kit Wellington's Avatar
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    Default Rabbit nipping her sister - getting worse

    After some advice please....

    We’ve had Hazel and Clover for just under a month. They’re 9 months old and sisters. They are rescue rabbits but were born in rescue at their foster carers, so they haven’t had a traumatic start in life.

    Clover is definitely the dominant one and nips Hazel a lot. I know nipping can be friendly, but this doesn’t look friendly She’ll suddenly run at Hazel from under a bush and nip her on the back. Hazel looks upset and moves away. She doesn’t yelp or anything, but it’s always in the same spot on her back, and she’s got a scab there now

    We thought at first it was just settling-in to a new home thing, but it’s definitely getting more frequent.

    Other than the nipping, they’re okay together, but no better than ‘okay’. Hazel grooms Clover, and Clover gives Hazel the occasional cursory lick. When they’re in their hutch they sit together, but in their run or the garden they ignore each other.

    This is our third pair of bunnies (the others are sadly no longer with us) and the others were male/female pairs and absolutely adored each other, so this is new for us and it’s horrible seeing Hazel being nipped/bitten

    Should we do something about it? And if so, what?!
    Last edited by Wellington; 23-05-2020 at 04:02 PM. Reason: Updating thread

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    Wise Old Thumper Jack's-Jane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wellington View Post
    After some advice please....

    We’ve had Hazel and Clover for just under a month. They’re 9 months old and sisters. They are rescue rabbits but were born in rescue at their foster carers, so they haven’t had a traumatic start in life.

    Clover is definitely the dominant one and nips Hazel a lot. I know nipping can be friendly, but this doesn’t look friendly She’ll suddenly run at Hazel from under a bush and nip her on the back. Hazel looks upset and moves away. She doesn’t yelp or anything, but it’s always in the same spot on her back, and she’s got a scab there now

    We thought at first it was just settling-in to a new home thing, but it’s definitely getting more frequent.

    Other than the nipping, they’re okay together, but no better than ‘okay’. Hazel grooms Clover, and Clover gives Hazel the occasional cursory lick. When they’re in their hutch they sit together, but in their run or the garden they ignore each other.

    This is our third pair of bunnies (the others are sadly no longer with us) and the others were male/female pairs and absolutely adored each other, so this is new for us and it’s horrible seeing Hazel being nipped/bitten

    Should we do something about it? And if so, what?!
    Hello

    I assume that the girls are both spayed ?

    Bonded Does are usually the least 'stable' combination, even if they are both spayed. Sometimes they will just tolerate each other, but never appear to show a lot of affection/closeness.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack's-Jane View Post
    Hello

    I assume that the girls are both spayed ?

    Bonded Does are usually the least 'stable' combination, even if they are both spayed. Sometimes they will just tolerate each other, but never appear to show a lot of affection/closeness.
    Yes, they’re both spayed.

    I was a bit hesitant about getting a pair of two girls. The rescue centre said they ‘bickered a bit’ but that it was getting better. But it really isn’t. I’ve just checked Hazel again and she’s got a few scabs on her back.

    I don’t know what to do Take one of them back to the rescue centre to be re-homed? We could ‘swap’ her for a male so the rescue centre wouldn’t be gaining an extra mouth to feed. Does that sounds callous? It’s just horrible to see them like this.

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    Mama Doe mikek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wellington View Post
    Yes, they’re both spayed.

    I was a bit hesitant about getting a pair of two girls. The rescue centre said they ‘bickered a bit’ but that it was getting better. But it really isn’t. I’ve just checked Hazel again and she’s got a few scabs on her back.

    I don’t know what to do Take one of them back to the rescue centre to be re-homed? We could ‘swap’ her for a male so the rescue centre wouldn’t be gaining an extra mouth to feed. Does that sounds callous? It’s just horrible to see them like this.
    yes, it must be worrying for you.
    most people on here have more rabbit keeping experience than myself but I think returning one & getting a different partner for the other may be a course of action that you might have to take - after all if they're not getting along too well they might both be happier with other partners.
    perhaps sEe how it goes for a while more? although Hazel's well being mustn't be compromised.
    Of course, there's no guarantee that Clover would behave better with another other partner

    I hope things get better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wellington View Post
    Yes, they’re both spayed.

    I was a bit hesitant about getting a pair of two girls. The rescue centre said they ‘bickered a bit’ but that it was getting better. But it really isn’t. I’ve just checked Hazel again and she’s got a few scabs on her back.

    I don’t know what to do Take one of them back to the rescue centre to be re-homed? We could ‘swap’ her for a male so the rescue centre wouldn’t be gaining an extra mouth to feed. Does that sounds callous? It’s just horrible to see them like this.
    In my experience, yes, two females is considered a more ‘difficult’ type of bond than male/female, however that’s not to say it can’t work, and volunteering at a rescue I’ve seen lots of cases of happily bonded females.

    I guess you’ve got a few options, and whilst you could take one of them back to the shelter, I’d personally try re-bonding them first just to see if it could work. How you do this of course is up to you, some day stress bonding is good for this (eg a short car ride in a carrier together can cause rabbits to find comfort in one another), however others don’t agree so it’s personal choice.

    Is there any way you could house them separately if you feel the nipping is getting too out of hand? If so, could this be a longer term solution if you can’t rebond?

    I’m sure someone more knowledgeable in bonding will offer advice on other different alternatives. But I’d just say to try not give up too early as bonds can change and develop over time (mine took 3-4 months to bond but now they are perfectly happy together). Also, I think a lot of rabbits are extra active and feisty at this time of year with some calling it ‘spring fever’ so this may also be adding to the situation I’m creating extra tension.

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    New Kit Wellington's Avatar
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    No, you’re right about Clover. Although maybe with a male who stands up to her a bit more she might behave herself. I’ve emailed the rescue centre and her foster carer for advice. Her foster carer had them since they were born so he knows them better than we do. We’ll monitor the situation and if it gets worse I guess we’ll have to consider taking one of them back

    Almost worse than that though would be just carrying on having a pair of rabbits who don’t really like each other. Our previous rabbits had such a strong bond and that was one of the things we loved most about them - seeing them lying pressed up against each other all day, or grazing on the lawn about an inch apart We’ll never have that with these two

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    Quote Originally Posted by mismatchbunnies View Post
    In my experience, yes, two females is considered a more ‘difficult’ type of bond than male/female, however that’s not to say it can’t work, and volunteering at a rescue I’ve seen lots of cases of happily bonded females.

    I guess you’ve got a few options, and whilst you could take one of them back to the shelter, I’d personally try re-bonding them first just to see if it could work. How you do this of course is up to you, some day stress bonding is good for this (eg a short car ride in a carrier together can cause rabbits to find comfort in one another), however others don’t agree so it’s personal choice.

    Is there any way you could house them separately if you feel the nipping is getting too out of hand? If so, could this be a longer term solution if you can’t rebond?

    I’m sure someone more knowledgeable in bonding will offer advice on other different alternatives. But I’d just say to try not give up too early as bonds can change and develop over time (mine took 3-4 months to bond but now they are perfectly happy together). Also, I think a lot of rabbits are extra active and feisty at this time of year with some calling it ‘spring fever’ so this may also be adding to the situation I’m creating extra tension.
    That’s interesting about the time of year. Fingers crossed that’s what it is.

    We could separate them temporarily. We can put a barrier between upstairs and downstairs of the hutch, and let them out into the garden one at a time. The downstairs bit of the hutch opens out into their run, which they have access to 24 hours a day, so only the ‘downstairs’ rabbit would have access to the run. Not a huge issue in the short term, but not do-able on a permanent basis.

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    Default Rabbit nipping her sister - now injured

    Update on this situation - sorry it’s long but I’m worried.

    We noticed yesterday evening that Hazel was limping and not putting weight on one of her paws. We checked her but couldn’t see a wound. This morning she was looking very sorry for herself, so we phoned the vet. I explained about the paw, the scab on her back, and the way the rabbits are behaving towards each other. The vet thinks the hurt paw may also be a Clover-inflicted injury.

    The vet has prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine. She told us to keep the bunnies entirely separated until Hazel has perked up, and to bring Hazel in to see a vet if there’s no improvement in the next couple of days.

    Hazel is eating hay, and moving around the run a bit, but not her usual self. The vet also said to be sure Hazel is pooing. Always hard to tell when you have more than one rabbit, but now that they’re separated, we’ve cleaned out the litter box and will check that Hazel’s using it.

    I talked to the vet about the bonding problems. She said we may need to consider breaking them up. So either returning them both to the rescue centre to be re-homed separately and taking a bonded male/female pair, or just returning one, and ‘swapping’ her for a male.

    This would be a last resort, and a sad thing to have to do, but if they’re going to be unhappy together, its just not fair to leave them together.

    It’s horrible when things go wrong like this

  9. #9
    Wise Old Thumper
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wellington View Post
    Update on this situation - sorry it’s long but I’m worried.

    We noticed yesterday evening that Hazel was limping and not putting weight on one of her paws. We checked her but couldn’t see a wound. This morning she was looking very sorry for herself, so we phoned the vet. I explained about the paw, the scab on her back, and the way the rabbits are behaving towards each other. The vet thinks the hurt paw may also be a Clover-inflicted injury.

    The vet has prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine. She told us to keep the bunnies entirely separated until Hazel has perked up, and to bring Hazel in to see a vet if there’s no improvement in the next couple of days.

    Hazel is eating hay, and moving around the run a bit, but not her usual self. The vet also said to be sure Hazel is pooing. Always hard to tell when you have more than one rabbit, but now that they’re separated, we’ve cleaned out the litter box and will check that Hazel’s using it.

    I talked to the vet about the bonding problems. She said we may need to consider breaking them up. So either returning them both to the rescue centre to be re-homed separately and taking a bonded male/female pair, or just returning one, and ‘swapping’ her for a male.

    This would be a last resort, and a sad thing to have to do, but if they’re going to be unhappy together, its just not fair to leave them together.

    It’s horrible when things go wrong like this
    I'm afraid this would be my view too I'm sorry that Hazel is possibly injured and hope she soon perks up.

  10. #10
    Mama Doe
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    Could you try a trio with a boy in the mix? It could change the dynamics between the girls enough to be workable. Hazel needs to be fully recovered before you do anything. I would be tempted to pair up Hazel & new boy, then add Clover so she has to deal with 2 others, rather than a straight 3 way bond which could work out more stressful for Hazel. If she has the backup from Bun 3, then the Clover effect is diluted between them.

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