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Thread: My bonding experience - excessive humping

  1. #1

    Default My bonding experience - excessive humping

    Hi! 1 week in to my first bonding experience, with my first rabbits, and we seem to be coming out the other side so I thought I would share my experiences in case it helps someone else in the future the way that reading other people's experiences has helped me so much. Please be kind if you comment, I am new to rabbits but experienced with animals and work on close observation to understand them as individuals, I am well aware of the things we have done that are not how it would be advised but at each step I have watched carefully and listened to my animals.
    My rabbits - Odin, approx 18 month old male, rescue but with limited history. He has been well loved but info on vaccs and neutering is unknown. My vet gave him a thorough examination and is pretty confident he has no testicles, but it is a little ambiguous as he does still have scrotal contents at times. He lived with a guinea pig but that was taken away when he was put into rescue due to policy, so he went from home with friend, to middle of petshop (PAH rescue) alone, to our place alone, to having a friend, all in a couple of months. He is a real sweetheart though, very friendly and chatty, but just seemed lonely a few weeks after we got him so I looked for a suitable friend.
    Freja - 6 month old doe, rehomed from showing home due to lack of shows this year.
    Both continental giants. I'll try and keep this brief - not my forte!
    They have lived alongside for a few weeks and from day 3 slept side by side with the fence between. Odin is very vocal generally and did a lot of honking around her and running up and down, but he settled down after a few days except if she moved out of his sight, then he seemed to panic a bit and honky run til he found her again. He has been so much happier in himself since she arrived though. Freja was spayed just after we got her, and I am aware that the advice is to leave several weeks before bonding but these guys have been so close and desperate to meet (and managed to once due to exhaustion and a misplaced box on my part) that we decided to give it a go.
    We tried a couple of brief meetings in neutral territory, and there was never any aggression on either part but intense humping from Odin. He would ease off, we would separate them, but next time it would start all over again. We felt that doing this would just mean they started from scratch each time and never progress, so last weekend we made a huge effort and planned for 24/7 bonding and supervision for as long as we could, 4 days between us, to see how it went.
    First night went ok, lots of humping but she was managing it. We had them in a small space, tried making it smaller and bigger but she very definitely preferred to have more space to get away so we went with that. I had read a suggestion to give her low places to go under to help brush him off which worked brilliantly, but he was very very persistent and about 4am she was exhausted, he needed to eat something, so I crated him within the pen and let them both rest and eat. Next morning we put them together again with plenty of food and I settled down to watch whilst researching.
    We had an entire day with a LOT of humping, a LOT of climaxing (but I managed to establish from this forum that neutered males can climax) and a LOT of hair flying around from Freja, but in between there were slowly increasing moments of resting happily side by side or bum to bum, and Freja starting to groom Odin. Hardest day of my life watching them, not knowing if I was doing the right thing or not, but we both felt that to separate would just mean it starting all over again so as long as Freja wasnt distressed or damaged we would continue. She just kept moving under the kid's chairs we put in to shake him off, and would eat when he was "at it" until he got too enthusiastic, so clearly not really bothered by him.
    By night we had to move them as our only neutral area was on the grass, really not ideal but I have a tiny cottage and there is literally nowhere else - so they went back into Odin's summerhouse (they have been swapping though to get her scent in his area) which had been completely cleaned out, washed with copious amounts of vinegar, emptied of anything that was his, and brand new bedding. We set it up with a gateless pen inside so could separate them easily if needed but they were together.
    They both ate, and then the routine went on through the night - humping, following, going under chairs, eating, snoozing, start again. The pen worked well, as it gave Freja more options to get away and have chance to eat, while Odin had a moment's breather before following her. The space seemed a good size for them.
    Next day things slowed down a little, there were more moments of grooming Freja to Odin, they slept a lot through the day, and both ate well. The humping was still intense when it happened, but less frequent, and the honking was quieter.
    That night they did well, more of the same, and the next day they were pretty chilled and were left to themselves more without observation.
    That evening things picked up a little again, and Freja's skin was starting to take a toll due to the hair loss,so I made her a little t-shirt - not sure if I was doing right, but I felt that separating them now would cause more problems and start all over again, and we couldn't just keep taking her away to grow her hair back. It was just a couple of spots on her shoulder blades he was getting her. She was quite happy with it, and we left them that night.
    Next morning all was well, a few tufts of hair, but generally good. More humping, but distracted with food for the first time. Slept all day as far asI could tell - didn't eat much (normal for them during the day) but enjoyed dinner that evening. More humping, but more communication too, not just humping but climbing over her, pushing his head under her, starting to ask for grooming etc which was good to see. Freja very obliging with this and was starting to groom him to calm him down it seemed, when she had half a chance.
    Day 5 things escalated a little again,more hair loss, more humping, but well managed by Freja, and still no sign of distress from her at all - just moving away when he was too much. Left them that night a little anxious but trusting that she could cope with him, and they were both happily eating together for periods of time too. Odin seen to be grooming Freja for the first time.
    Day 6, 2 happy bunnies. Both came running to me in the morning to see what I had. Odin interested in jumping out to explore the food I had brought (they are in half a summerhouse with a split fence, we take the tophalf down to gain access). Mild humping once or twice,possibly triggered by us visiting, easily distracted by food or vigorous stroking from us. No jealousy, and both took part in a little clicker training, Odin remembering his target training nicely and Freja having her first try and picking it up VERY quickly. Odin seen to groom Freja for the second time.
    Day 7, second consecutive day with almost no hair tufts, both rabbits coming to see us on arrival, both rabbits keen to clicker, both asking for human attention, a little humping after I stroked Freja for a while when Odin was elsewhere but it is very much climbing on her and asking for grooming rather than full on humping. Communication. Odin grooming Freja much more, mutual grooming, happy noises all round.
    Day 8, today, again very happy bunnies. No hair loss that we can see, and I left her naked yesterday. Odin grooming Freja as well as her grooming him. Sharing their space nicely. Still a little anxious quiet honking if he "loses"her but rapidly reassured once he finds he by a lick on the nose on her part.
    So that's where we are. I think the tide has turned, we are still monitoring carefully because there is always that little question mark over him, but given that this humping is literally the ONLY sign of him not being castrated and there was enough info to suggest excessive humping can be normal especially in a rabbit who has been alone for some time, we felt it was worth just giving it time. My cut off was this weekend, if things hadn't improved then we would be at the vet on Monday for another assessment. But it looks like that will be at least postponed a bit longer.
    Both are so so much happier for being together, the atmosphere in the summerhouse now is really nice, they are content, and Freja is even starting to make those lovely little happy noises while eating that Odin is so good at. Her fur is growing back, both are enjoying their food and enjoying grooming each other, and happy to be close.
    I will just add that at no point has Freja tried to avoid him - between humpings she would even seek him out to lie beside him and kept trying to groom him from day 1, and she has never shown frustration, just exhaustion on the first day from lack of rest. If she had shown any indication that it was getting too much for her and she was getting annoyed, we'd have stepped in.
    It wasn't a perfect situation, or a perfect set up, but sometimes life isn't perfect and we just do the best we can - and go with the animals in front of us.

  2. #2
    Wise Old Thumper joey&boo's Avatar
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    It was the perfect outcome though & thats all that counts.

    Its not like there are any universal bonding rules - I believe knowing your bunnies & reading their behaviour is the key thing, exactly as you've done

    Conratulations to you & your bunnies

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    Thank you for posing this and well done for this result, which has happened because you have observed your bunnies and made, in my view, clever decisions. I particularly liked the idea of the protective t-shirt You won't find that in any of the bonding articles/advice, but it clearly worked well and importantly was tolerated well by your bunny.

    I think that anyone attempting a new bond will be very much encouraged by your post

    The only element missing I think is a pic of the happy couple.

  4. #4

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    So encouraging!

    I'm currently sat in our bonding space with our two contemplating the 24 hour method.

    We're getting lots of mini spats and I wonder if we're just starting again from the beginning each time.

    Sent from my SM-A705FN using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Alpha Buck Orenoko's Avatar
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    Sounds like you are doing well. I had to bond this time last year and it's so stressful! You're never sure if you're doing the right thing or if it's going to end in tears. I remember when I was a teenager I lost a rabbit and a friend wanted to get rid of hers so I adopted her for my remaining female rabbit. I had no idea there was a bonding process (this was pre internet) so we just chucked them in together. Luckily they seemed to get on amazingly from day one, but I shudder to think what could've happened. Hope things continue well for your pair, sounds like Freya is very patient bless her.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omi View Post
    Thank you for posing this and well done for this result, which has happened because you have observed your bunnies and made, in my view, clever decisions. I particularly liked the idea of the protective t-shirt You won't find that in any of the bonding articles/advice, but it clearly worked well and importantly was tolerated well by your bunny.

    I think that anyone attempting a new bond will be very much encouraged by your post

    The only element missing I think is a pic of the happy couple.
    Thank you, this means a lot to me.

    Thank you for all the lovely comments, I really appreciate it, it's been a hard week - I honestly think this is one of the most stressful things I have ever done, but it is worth it to see them together. Each day now they are just happier and happier, we expanded their space a little so they could go outside yesterday and they have coped brilliantly, and we see more and more cuddling together, chilling out apart (ie Odin leaving Freja to sleep), and mutual grooming. But most of all, the past couple of days they have both been so keen to see us, running over in the morning, and Freja even did a little binky for my husband this morning which made his day!!

    I am working on the photo, but not quite sure how to do it yet, I'll get one up when I can!!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dollyanna View Post
    Thank you, this means a lot to me.

    Thank you for all the lovely comments, I really appreciate it, it's been a hard week - I honestly think this is one of the most stressful things I have ever done, but it is worth it to see them together. Each day now they are just happier and happier, we expanded their space a little so they could go outside yesterday and they have coped brilliantly, and we see more and more cuddling together, chilling out apart (ie Odin leaving Freja to sleep), and mutual grooming. But most of all, the past couple of days they have both been so keen to see us, running over in the morning, and Freja even did a little binky for my husband this morning which made his day!!

    I am working on the photo, but not quite sure how to do it yet, I'll get one up when I can!!
    Glad it still going well Bonded rabbits are wonderful to watch.

    There's advice in the 'stickies' section of the forum regarding posting pics. Someone will probably post some help here soon too. I can't because I don't post pics

  8. #8

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    Last edited by dollyanna; 28-09-2020 at 06:44 PM.

  9. #9

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    Sorry that's huge!!

  10. #10

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    So, things have been going so well, they've been grooming lots and seen a lot more of Odin being really lovely. I had given them some outside space 4 days ago, not much, and that seemed to go ok so then 2 days ago I increased it again. Seemed to be ok, but today has clearly been a humpy kind of day - both have dropped a bit of weight which matches when he is overenthusiastic (though both very much still eating) because of the constant exercise. Freja has been naked for 5-6 days but tonight I noticed a few small nips in those bald patches so I've put it back on her for tonight to protect her. Both still happy, but Odin is more anxious and I think that's where the humping is coming from. Not sure if something spooked him/them or if it's a response to the increase in space :-/
    Will watch carefully tomorrow and see how things develop. And won't be changing anything else until they settle down again and put on a bit of weight.
    This is so hard, especially with the uncertainty about his status. But I can't see that he would have settled down as much as he did if it was purely hormone driven, and even though he is following her and humping it isn't very intense, more mounting than humping really.

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