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Bonding Tips

Stormybun

New Kit
Hi! 🤍

Last week, I adopted an 11 lbs chinchilla rabbit, Gabe, to bond with my 3 lbs lionhead, Stormy.
They went through a little speed dating process before, and the rescue insisted they were a fantastic match. Also, Stormy had a bad encounter with another rabbit after Gabe, which left her extremely upset, so we didn’t want to force her to meet more buns.

Their bonding has been going pretty well; there is no aggression, just a few scuffles from startling one another. Fortunately, Gabe is starting to realize that he’s so large, and Stormy is so small and jumpy. He’s started acting a bit more gentle towards her, and he ends up flopping down and sleeping for most of the bonding session while she runs around like a toddler on a sugar rush.

Most of the time, he attempts to lay his head down for her to groom; she doesn’t understand or doesn’t see him and ends up walking away. Because of that, he would run after her and try to mount. It never seems aggressive, but since he’s so much bigger than her, we have to block him before he can do anything. However, yesterday, it looks like he’s stopped doing that for the most part and just keeps trying silently.

I’ve just encountered one issue, and that seems to be Stormy, who is too jumpy and energetic. I would have never considered her energetic before, but with Gabe, she can’t stop running around and licking him, and eventually, he starts getting annoyed by her. She has yet to lick his forehead, which he has tried to get her to do multiple times. Instead, she keeps licking his butt and ears.
I don’t know how to get her calmer so he stops getting annoyed.


(Stormy has been extremely happy after their bonding sessions though! It’s so nice to see her happily hopping about.)
 

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I assume both Rabbits are neutered and the neutering was done at least 6 weeks ago ?

Are you bonding them on neutral territory ?

I think you might be intervening too much. I realise that’s because you are worried about a much bigger Rabbit harming a small Rabbit. But they need to be able to establish who is going to be boss. Mounting is one way they will try to show dominance. That’s one reason why attempting to bond a very large Rabbit with a much smaller one can be challenging. If you keep stopping the mounting behaviour then Gabe will want to find other ways of showing he wants to be boss. So he is likely to chase and nip more. This will probably make Stormy ‘jumpy’

Are you just putting them together for a short time then separating them again ? That can mean that every time they meet they are having to start the establishing who’s boss process off from the start all over again. I have always found it to be better to do 24/7 bonding, only separating if a fight occurs.

Mounting, chasing, nipping and fur pulling is a normal part of the bonding process.

 
I assume both Rabbits are neutered and the neutering was done at least 6 weeks ago ?

Are you bonding them on neutral territory ?

I think you might be intervening too much. I realise that’s because you are worried about a much bigger Rabbit harming a small Rabbit. But they need to be able to establish who is going to be boss. Mounting is one way they will try to show dominance. That’s one reason why attempting to bond a very large Rabbit with a much smaller one can be challenging. If you keep stopping the mounting behaviour then Gabe will want to find other ways of showing he wants to be boss. So he is likely to chase and nip more. This will probably make Stormy ‘jumpy’

Are you just putting them together for a short time then separating them again ? That can mean that every time they meet they are having to start the establishing who’s boss process off from the start all over again. I have always found it to be better to do 24/7 bonding, only separating if a fight occurs.

Mounting, chasing, nipping and fur pulling is a normal part of the bonding process.

Yes, they are both fixed!

I love Gabe, but I will admit a rabbit of his size was not my first choice. Stormy has seemed to develop a liking towards him, and they have been so peaceful together since their first meeting.

She’s been so happy after their bonding sessions since we brought him home, and she immediately starts looking for him once I move him into his separate enclosure.
He seems very indifferent towards her, preferring to sleep or eat instead of engaging with her.
(Their bonding sessions have been in the bathroom, and they’ve been slowly working their way up to bigger spaces.)

Stormy has always been a very jumpy bunny. She’s very easily startled and can’t sit still for long unless she’s asleep.
The rescue advised me not to let Gabe mount her. However, he did manage to do so a few times without any issues. He has been allowed to do all other behaviors.

No one has been chasing or nipping the other at all, luckily. Their bonding sessions have been quite long, and as they’ve been peaceful with each other, I decided to allow them to continue working out their relationship. I was actually going to move them into a 24/7-type bonding space tomorrow!
But I can try to be less involved and let them work it out without interfering too much.

It may sound odd, but Gabe has been trying to assert his dominance mainly by laying his head down for Stormy to groom him.
Stormy has made no efforts to assert her dominance.

Their bonding session earlier actually went extremely well. Stormy finally groomed Gabe’s head. She has always been rather aggressive with her grooming, so he took a few tries to relax and let her do it fully. It seemed like he was getting very slightly less annoyed by her energy. Gabe had started demanding a treat, and as soon as I grabbed the box, Stormy ran over, and they ate right next to each other.

I also appreciate the link! I will read through it. :)
 
I always
Yes, they are both fixed!

I love Gabe, but I will admit a rabbit of his size was not my first choice. Stormy has seemed to develop a liking towards him, and they have been so peaceful together since their first meeting.

She’s been so happy after their bonding sessions since we brought him home, and she immediately starts looking for him once I move him into his separate enclosure.
He seems very indifferent towards her, preferring to sleep or eat instead of engaging with her.
(Their bonding sessions have been in the bathroom, and they’ve been slowly working their way up to bigger spaces.)

Stormy has always been a very jumpy bunny. She’s very easily startled and can’t sit still for long unless she’s asleep.
The rescue advised me not to let Gabe mount her. However, he did manage to do so a few times without any issues. He has been allowed to do all other behaviors.

No one has been chasing or nipping the other at all, luckily. Their bonding sessions have been quite long, and as they’ve been peaceful with each other, I decided to allow them to continue working out their relationship. I was actually going to move them into a 24/7-type bonding space tomorrow!
But I can try to be less involved and let them work it out without interfering too much.

It may sound odd, but Gabe has been trying to assert his dominance mainly by laying his head down for Stormy to groom him.
Stormy has made no efforts to assert her dominance.

Their bonding session earlier actually went extremely well. Stormy finally groomed Gabe’s head. She has always been rather aggressive with her grooming, so he took a few tries to relax and let her do it fully. It seemed like he was getting very slightly less annoyed by her energy. Gabe had started demanding a treat, and as soon as I grabbed the box, Stormy ran over, and they ate right next to each other.

I also appreciate the link! I will read through it. :)
I usually find that with 24/7 bonding the issues with mounting and chasing, if there is any, does not go on for so long as it can do if they keep being separated.

Personally I would not rush into increasing the bonding space. They need to be able to live together 24/7, be relaxed, showing mirroring behaviour eg one Rabbit starts to self groom, so the other Rabbit copies them. Eating together, or at least very near each other and generally relaxed together before you slowly increase their space.This is likely to take at least a week, if not much longer. It can take several more weeks before they show any real affection such as snuggling up together to sleep. So don’t be disheartened if Gabe seems indifferent to Snowy at the moment. Gabe asking for his head to be groomed is him trying to let Snowy know he’s boss. The fact that she has now started to groom his head is a positive sign. Hopefully if you can do the 24/7 bonding their relationship will progress. If you increase the space to quickly then this can trigger lots of chasing, nipping and mounting.

As you say that Snowy is a ‘jumpy’ Bunny, not a chilled out one, keep a close eye on her poo output. If she gets too stressed her GI tract motility will slow down and the first sign of this happening is a reduction in the size/amount of poo she produces, even if she’s still eating.

Please keep us updated about how you get on 😃
 
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