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Bonding Rescue Rabbits Gone Wrong?

Hello Everyone!

I am new to the forum, but after doing my own research (and some questionable advice from various pet shops) I figured why not ask those who will probably know the most - you all!! Also, apologies if this is a bit of a long post, but I want to give as much info as I can to potentially find an answer to our situation as we really do not know what to do!

My partner and I rescued a 2 year old lionheadXdutch rabbit called Nugget, back in November 2016. He is already neutered and an absolute angel - litter trained, cuddly, explorative, sweet-natured, very intelligent. About a month ago, we decided to get another rabbit, to provide him with companionship of his own kind as he would get very upset if we were not with him all the time(sometimes, 40 minutes of cuddles and strokes plus hours of free roam was just not enough, bless his cotton socks!!). We returned to the pet shop where we rescued him from, as they have rabbits available for rehoming.

We found a gorgeous otter mini lop, Bluebell, who is an ex-breeder and is 5 years old. She came from a woman who used to breed lops and could not keep them anymore - the other females, all 2 years or younger, got paired with males at the pet shop prior to us being able to visit potential matches for Nugget. She was the last one left and of course, we fell for her! She is not spayed as the pet shop said it was too dangerous an operation for a female rabbit, especially at her age.

*The following bonding process was advice from the pet shop owner*

The initial bonding was putting her in his cage and seeing how they got on for 25-30 minutes. The usual occurred, which we had read up on - humping, thumping etc. They started to settle down and we figured this could be the start of a beautiful relationship! We took them both home in the same carrier and were instructed to leave them alone in his cage for one week, so they could bond properly.

Fast forward to two weeks later (today). The humping etc continued and they started to flop out together by the third day, all looked well! But Nugget found a new habit, thumping through the night. We have tried covering the cage/spraying water/startling him/ignoring him and it has just gotten worse - he keeps us up from 10/11pm all the way to 3/4am with constant thumping. We have also watched the rabbits behaviour begin to turn aggressive - blood was shed from a chasing/circling match they had and they're both going bald from hair pulling and over grooming, which I expected in parts.

We have tried to let them out together but Nugget is getting more and more aggressive over humping Bluebell and is starting to nip her when she gets any attention from us - as neutral as we are trying to be in not favouring one over the other! We went out and got another cage for Bluebell this morning, as the chasing is getting aggressive (we know when Nugget isn't happy and he ISN'T happy) and both have been out on their own and seem back to normal, happy bunnies.

My problem now is, the only area that Bluebell can roam in, due to peeing/pooing/chewing (she was always in a hutch, not indoors), is the hallway, which is where Nuggets cage is. In order to get him into the living room, I need him to be supervised while Bluebell is out, which I cannot do if my partner isn't in & vice versa.

I tried one more time tonight, having them both in the hallway with lots of toys and treats and he went lunging for her, ears back, angrily humping and nipping.

Is this a match that just won't work out?! Any advice would be amazing - the pet shop are offering to take her back to re-home her alone, if it makes Nugget happy but she's already put weight on and looks much better for being with us. Are we being selfish by keeping her if both rabbits can see/smell each other?

Bluebell's temperament is wonderful, despite not being spayed but surprisingly Nugget is displaying aggression even though he was neutered back in September 2016.

As said, apologies for such a long post but any info would be really greatly appreciated! xx
Just a thought, although nugget is neutered and has been a while I believe they can still get 'urges' so perhaps bluebell is giving off the scent and he isnt liking it? Or perhaps she's marking territory and this is causing him to become more aggressive as it's his area?

Bonding should be done in neutral territory and unless I've missed it, I believe you've put them in his cage?

It could be a case of you've moved to fast and left them together too long. Hopefully someone with more knowledge will enlighten the situation :)
I can't give you a perfect solution to this problem. You could return the rabbit to the pet shop but there aren't many who would take on a 5 yr old so what would happen to her. As she has been bred from she will still be expecting the male to mate with her and of course he can't. This will lead to tensions between them.

The only way I would suggest, if you want to keep Bluebell, is to keep both rabbits apart and find a very experienced Vet who will spay her, then allow 2 or 3 months for her to settle down. Then find a neutral space where they can be introduced and hopefully they will bond.

Or keep them both as single rabbits.

Is Bluebell a good weight, was she underweight when she was at the pet shop? I wonder how many litters per year she used to have. I have had a doe spayed at 5.5 yrs old and it went well and lots of Rescues spay does over 5. I doubt you will have a happy pair if she remains unspayed.

Thanks for your replies - I immediately separated them as after I posted this thread both started to squabble and we had had enough!

Since separating, both are back to their normal lovely selves - I think this will be a 2x single bun household from now on.

We were told that she is five but was fairly underweight when we got her - they said she was off her food and was fussy but we've had her on nothing but what she had at the shop and she wolfs it down, she loves food! She's put on a nice amount of weight and her fur has become MUCH nicer - we couldn't believe how much improvement her appearance made in just a few days.

She feels VERY bony and has trouble with her back legs, she can hop but mostly waddles around and when sitting, we've noticed there is always one foot out forward. I think she may be older than 5 and bred a lot, despite the pet shop assuring us that she was always loved and cared for, it's clear she never saw anything outside of her hutch.

Thanks again for the replies, it is gutting that we were easily persuaded into attempting to bond them both but there is no way we would get rid of Bluebell now. She is too old to want to change too - it's one day at a time with kale, banana and strokes!
Aw! At least Bluebell has found a lovely home which will care for her. Maybe as you get to know her more, you might feel she would live happily with your boy. You never know! It sounds like she might have some kind of back problem and if she seems to be in pain, the Vet would prescribe a painkiller so she can remain comfortable. Still, if she is woofing her food down this is a good sign. Over breeding leeches the calcium from their bones. Thanks for letting us know.