BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > First Experience with Bonding
Last Post by Elrohwen at 6/20/2012 4:24 AM (11 Replies)
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User is Offline amagiri
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5/17/2012 10:33 PM

I currently have two rabbits.  My female is Mince, and we've had her for about a year.  We adopted a male, Pilgrim, last month.  They're both spayed/neutered and are around 2 years old.  We let them meet first at the rabbit haven where we adopted Pilgrim, and it was a mostly positive experience.

Right now, their cages are next to each other (with a bit of space in between).  We alternate letting them out to run around the apartment, and sometimes they will go up to each other's cages and sniff around.  Sometimes it leads to Mince following Pilgrim around while in the cage or Pilgrim trying to lunge at Mince through the bars.  I try not to let this happen, and I spritz them with a bit of water to deter them.  They also lie down around each other, which I've read is kind of an insult?

I've never bonded rabbits before, and I want to make sure neither of them end up getting hurt.  We have a few possible neutral areas.  Basically anywhere with tile, so that's the laundry room, bathroom, and kitchen. 

Pilgrim is a shy rabbit.  He doesn't seem to trust us the way Mince does, but I'm not sure if it's just his personality or if he just needs more time with us first.  He growls at us sometimes, but he lets us pet him more than before.  Still, should we wait until he's more comfortable to start bonding?


User is Offline Sarita
(Dallas)
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5/18/2012 4:10 AM
No, you don't want him to be too comfortable. His discomfort may actually make the bonding easier with Mince - the idea is that the stress will bring them together quicker. That's the idea anyway.

User is Offline Sarita
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5/18/2012 4:10 AM
Well now that being said, I guess I should also say, you should see what happens now and if you find it's not working (you want to take it slow anyway) then you can try other things to help progress the bond.

User is Offline amagiri
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5/19/2012 11:00 AM
Thanks for the advice.

We tried a couple of bonding sessions in the kitchen. We laid out a rug because I didn't want them to slip and slide. They had a few scuffles, but we pulled them apart quickly. From what I can tell, Pilgrim is almost always the aggressor. Mince retaliates, but she never picks the fights. She sat quietly most of the time, which was cute.

How can I encourage Pilgrim to calm down?

User is Offline Sam and Lady's Human
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5/19/2012 12:08 PM
From my own experience, aggression was from fear. Keep the rug out, sliding is ok for bonding sessions you might try only feeding them their greens or pellets while they are in a session, sit with them close of course because some rabbits have food aggression. Mine didn't, and eating together I think really helped Sam ( the aggressor) calm down. If Mince will let you, you can also try holding her in your lap or securing her on the floor and grooming her, letting Pilgrim come up on her own terms and sniff her/ figure her out. Or offering Mince treats while petting and letting pilgrim come up on her own ( and reward with treats). Craisins work really well because they are really small, and you can get away with giving a little more dur ing sessions IMO.
I also would scooch them together and groom them at the same time, ( damp washcloth or paper towel) and they would relax a bit more that way too.

User is Offline amagiri
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5/23/2012 8:09 PM
Posted By Sam and Lady's Human on 05/19/2012 03:08 PM
From my own experience, aggression was from fear. Keep the rug out, sliding is ok for bonding sessions you might try only feeding them their greens or pellets while they are in a session, sit with them close of course because some rabbits have food aggression. Mine didn't, and eating together I think really helped Sam ( the aggressor) calm down. If Mince will let you, you can also try holding her in your lap or securing her on the floor and grooming her, letting Pilgrim come up on her own terms and sniff her/ figure her out. Or offering Mince treats while petting and letting pilgrim come up on her own ( and reward with treats). Craisins work really well because they are really small, and you can get away with giving a little more dur ing sessions IMO.
I also would scooch them together and groom them at the same time, ( damp washcloth or paper towel) and they would relax a bit more that way too.

I think you are right about the aggression from fear.  It seems like the more scary noises or sudden movements there are, the more likely Pilgrim is to lunge at Mince, so we have cut those out.

So far I think that grooming Pilgrim and letting Mince hop around gives pretty good results.  Mince does not attack, and we can keep Pilgrim calm.  Sometimes when we are petting him, Mince comes and rests by him.  Maybe she has a crush on him hehe.

Unfortunately, Pilgrim is usually too scared to eat during bonding time.  He's a very nervous rabbit.


User is Offline Elrohwen
Hudson Valley, NY
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5/24/2012 3:20 AM
I agree about aggression coming from fear. My girl was humpy and wanted to be near my boy, but my boy was the one who honked and lunged when he felt scared and uncomfortable with her. Stressing may help - I put them in a laundry basket and shook them around for 30 seconds or so and it calmed them down for a bit. It sounds like you're found a pretty good method of keeping him calm by petting him. Over time he'll see that she isn't going to attack him and they'll both calm down around each other.

It sounds like it's going really well, actually. If you can keep him from starting fights long enough, they'll probably become buddies really quickly.
- Elrohwen

User is Offline amagiri
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5/28/2012 2:15 PM
Hmm something happened during today's bonding session. Mince has done it once before, but I had forgotten about it.

She came up to Pilgrim and seemed to sidle up to him so that they were facing opposite directions. I thought she was being nice, but then Pilgrim freaked out and hopped away suddenly. I think Mince may have bit him on the butt? The last time was the same way. I'm not really sure what she's thinking.

User is Offline amagiri
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6/03/2012 7:46 PM

Today, we decided to put them in the bathtub.  After we put Mince down, she hobbled straight for Pilgrim and hid behind him!  It was very cute!

Unfortunately, Pilgrim still had some issues with nipping.


User is Offline Elrohwen
Hudson Valley, NY
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6/11/2012 5:14 AM
What you described, with one sidling up and nipping the bum, is pretty common. My female does it constantly and my male hates it. haha. At first it did cause issues, since my male would turn around and growl at her when she did it, but eventually he learned to just run away from her or ask for groomies instead. Your guys will figure it out, just make sure to watch Pilgrim for any aggression when she's annoying him like that.
- Elrohwen

User is Offline amagiri
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6/19/2012 10:22 PM
The bum nipping actually hasn't happened since then. Rabbits are so unpredictable haha.

Unfortunately, Mince seems to be getting fed up with being nice to Pilgrim. She's started fighting back when he tries to nip her. Sometimes when he reaches his head out to sniff her she'll kind of shrink back, presumably because she's scared.

Tonight they had a scuffle or two, but we separated them quickly. The two of them didn't take off any fur or anything, so I suppose it was not that serious. Pilgrim also groomed himself during bonding, which he doesn't really do normally.

It's hard to say how much progress has been made, but I'm prepared for it to take awhile if it comes to that.

User is Offline Elrohwen
Hudson Valley, NY
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6/20/2012 4:24 AM
It still sounds normal. Some nipping and scuffles are bound to happen and as long as they're not trying to kill each other you'll make progress eventually :-)
- Elrohwen

BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > First Experience with Bonding

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