BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > My rabbits attacked each other & drew blood - BONDED
Last Post by LittlePuffyTail at 11/25/2012 2:39 AM (39 Replies)
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User is Offline Crystal
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11/14/2012 7:53 PM

Hi everyone, I'm new.

I am trying to bond my two fixed rescue rabbits, one female and one male. I had the girl bunny for 3 months and decided to get her a friend. They did great during their bunny date yesterday so I adopted the male and brought him home. I put them in an x-pen with a divider in the middle. They were great all night. Today I had the day off so I decided to spend all day with them. I introduced them in an x-pen in a neutral area and they got along fine for SEVERAL hours. I put them back in their divided x-pen and went to dinner. When I came back, I found them both bleeding and one of my rabbit's eyes seems infected. I think they somehow went around the divider maybe. I will take them both to the vet tomorrow for their injuries.

I am thinking of giving up on the bonding experience because this is the most stressful thing I've ever been through. I don't think I am that good with rabbits to be doing such a difficult thing as bonding.. I wish I could just pay a professional. Please let me know if I should tough this out and keep trying or give up.


User is Offline Sarita
(Dallas)
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11/14/2012 9:21 PM
Oh dear - yes, bonding is stressful.

No matter what, I say at this point give it a break for a bit and see what the vet says tomorrow - hopefully they are both okay.

I know many people get discouraged bonding - it truly can be stressful and extremely time consuming. It sounds like today was the first session. I say don't give up on it just yet though. Let us know what the vet says and then come back on the bonding section and do a bonding journal and we will help you out.

Another thing - have you asked the rescue that you adopted them from if they can help bond them? Some rescues do...not all, it just depends on the rescue.

User is Offline Crystal
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11/14/2012 9:44 PM
Hi Sarita

Ok - I'll be back with an update tomorrow after the vet

User is Offline Crystal
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11/14/2012 10:15 PM

Bunny date:

Cage set-up:





Day 1:

Neutral area - they hung out in there for 5 hours without a problem


At 8:30, I put them back in the cage for dinner and when I came back I saw that they drew blood. Bailey's (dutch rabbit) eyelid is swollen red . Oliver's (fuzzy lop) is bleeding on his side and chin.

After I saw that, I separated them, and brought Bailey upstairs actually so that there would be 0% chance of them hurting each other again.

I'm going to vet tomorrow at 7:30am.

cries



User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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11/15/2012 2:05 AM
The xpen set-up you have is more of an intermediate cage. When first starting out, they need to have at least 3 inches between them, and preferably be fully enclosed with a roof. Even if your original bunny is not a jumper, the new one may jump over the barriers.
Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
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11/15/2012 2:24 AM
How are your buns today?

I'm sorry you are dealing with a difficult bond. Yes, bonding is terribly stressful!!! After a bad fight, it's best to give them some time off and this will allow you to have some time to calm down too. My advice is do lots and lots of research while they are taking a break. It's great to have lots of different things to try.

You may want to re-start the bonding process with stressing, like car rides. This is often helpful when buns are being difficult.

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User is Offline Sarita
(Dallas)
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11/15/2012 2:52 AM
Oh what a cute couple. I especially love the Dutch rabbits.

User is Offline Hazel
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11/15/2012 3:00 AM
Crystal, I'm sorry they are giving you such grief. Like Beka said, one panel as a divider is not enough, they still can fight and injure each other through the bars. There has to be several inches of space between their cages.
I hope everything goes well at the vet's!
"You ain't buna fide!"

User is Offline FrankieFlash
Michigan
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11/15/2012 4:20 AM
Don't give up! I almost did, several times for a matter of fact but they encouraged me to keep at it on BB and I'm so glad they did. I now have 2 happily bonded buns.

Do take a break and let all wound heal but when you go back. Put them in separate housing and do bonding sessions in neutral territories. Increase the time of their bonding sessions but always start slow. And the most important thing is to end the bonding session on a good note. For example, treats or what I did was give them pets laying right next to each other. They enjoyed that.

User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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11/15/2012 4:43 AM
Definitely don't give up! They do seem to be getting along well already. I'd just try starting smaller and shorter at first. It's normal to want to rush through the process, but it's okay if it takes a couple weeks or longer of daily sessions.
Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline Sam and Lady's Human
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11/15/2012 5:36 AM
You have a really good start, despite the fight! They definitely need a buffer between them, so they can't get to each other at all for a while. Keep at it!

User is Offline Crystal
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11/15/2012 8:44 AM

Thanks for all your support! I guess I won't give up yet even though I'm really scared.


We came back from the vet with oral antibiotics (which they don't like the taste of) and an eye paste... Luckily they are doing ok, but each of them has a pretty gnarly injuries right next to their eyes I separated them for now, with space in between the cages like you all suggested. I guess I'll just have to take it really slow. After they heal I guess I can try taking them for drives in the carrier or walking around with the carrier and shaking it up a bit. Thankfully I can work from home today and keep an eye on them.




User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
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11/15/2012 9:17 AM
Your lop looks pretty cranky in that pic. Is this just after the vet?
Proud to be a Bunny Hugger and a voice for the voiceless
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User is Offline Crystal
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11/17/2012 7:05 PM
The rabbits are healing really well, and I had a successful bonding session today. I put them in their carrier and slid it back and forth for a few minutes and watched them cuddle close. After that, I configured my x-pen into a tiny area and placed them inside. They laid there and nuzzled a little. I gave them some food. Bailey ate it and cleaned herself. Oliver seemed pretty scared.. he didn't eat.

I'll try this again tomorrow and everyday for the next few days. When would it be appropriate to move on to the next area? And should I try my small bathroom floor (where they've both been before) or in a small x-pen outside on the lawn?

User is Offline Crystal
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11/18/2012 8:28 AM
Another successful bonding session today. I put them in the carrier again and tilted it back and forth for 5 minutes. Oliver humped Bailey inside the carrier so I had to tilt it over on its side to make him stop. Then I sectioned off a small area in my bathroom with an x-pen and put them inside along with a bowl of spring mix. No one really ate. Oliver munched on a tiny piece that fell on the floor. Bailey was so cute.. she stood up on her hind legs and looked about. Not much room to move. Oliver just kind of laid in the corner panting with excitement/fear like he normally does whenever he's around Bailey. He mounted her a few times and this time she allowed it! After a few seconds of mounting, I pushed him off so that Bailey wouldn't be too upset. When he attempted to mount her face, I held him back and this time he actually eased off instead of dodging my hand and lunging at her with frustration. Bailey looked like she wanted to mount him once, but when I pet her she eased back. I'm starting to think Bailey isn't the dominant bunny after all. The first time they were together, she was the one who did most of the mounting! He tried to mount her as well, but he wasn't able to catch her that often. When he did mount, that's usually when the fights would break out. I guess I'll keep doing sessions in the corner of the bathroom, and after that I'll try a bigger space on the lawn which is another neutral area.

User is Offline Crystal
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11/18/2012 2:00 PM

I put them together in the bathroom again for 20 minutes and there was hardly any mounting. Then I put them in an x-pen on the lawn for another 20 minutes. They ate together, cleaned themselves, and chased each other a little. After a while, both rabbits took turns mounting each other, but not as aggressively as the first time. Bailey got more humps in than Oliver and he seemed frustrated by that. Can there be two dominant bunnies in a pair? I'm not sure who is going to win this. Luckily, there was no fighting but there was still some hair pulling, chasing, and mounting that kept me on edge the whole time. 

I also noticed that Oliver kept spraying everywhere. He would pee while running and then flick his feet back. Or he would jump over Bailey while peeing and drops would land on her back. He also ran over my shoe while peeing. I'm not sure why he's doing that. Maybe he feels possessive of Bailey towards me? Should I have let him settle into his new surroundings for a couple of weeks before starting with the bonding? He probably doesn't feel very secure in his new home yet.


User is Offline Crystal
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11/19/2012 12:17 PM

After a few great sessions, they fought again. Oliver bit me in the hand when I tried to separate them. I ended up pouring water on Oliver and that made him stop attacking. I was able to separate them pretty quickly this time and neither of them seemed to be injured at all. I separated them for 5 minutes then put them back together in a smaller space, and they were fine. They are so great in small spaces, but whenever I try to give them more room they start chasing and mounting within 20 minutes and eventually they will probably fight. How will I be able to tell when it's time to move on to a bigger space?

Small spaces:


Bigger spaces:




User is Offline Crystal
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11/19/2012 9:59 PM

In a 6x2 x-pen, they plopped down right next to each other.. lots of progress these past couple of days

Should I try to keep them together all night?



User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
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11/20/2012 1:39 AM
I wouldn't leave them together over night yet, since they have had ups and downs. Have you tried any stress bonding? It may be helpful in this situation.

Can there be two dominant bunnies in a pair? I'm not sure who is going to win this.
They will continue to try to dominate the other until one submits.
Proud to be a Bunny Hugger and a voice for the voiceless
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User is Offline Crystal
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11/20/2012 7:09 AM
They seemed really comfortable in that x-pen set up so I kept them in there at night and slept where I could see and hear them. They didn't fight. Bailey is relaxed and independent and Oliver is more insecure and will follow Bailey around close for the most part. He seems to be the dominant one now. I've seen him circle her if she's away from him for too long. I don't think it's aggressive, but I still tell him no because he doesn't seem relaxed when he's doing it. She groomed him once that I saw which was great to see I haven't seen him groom her even though she will present her head to him sometimes. Whenever she lays down, he will lay down next to her and they will take naps together. I am a lot more comfortable now around them but still keeping my eye on Oliver who acts like a needy, obnoxious child although he is older than her. I hope they will be bonded soon.

Oliver is not great with his litter box. He is ok with peeing in the litterbox, but I will sometimes find a urine stain outside the box next to it and have to clean it up and move the box over it. He will leave pellets everywhere. Should I work on the pellet training after they are finished bonding or during?

User is Offline Crystal
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11/20/2012 10:09 AM

User is Offline bullrider76543
Joplin MO
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11/20/2012 10:41 AM
sorry, I have been there before, and wound up with 12 stitches from trying to break them up from fighting
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User is Offline Crystal
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11/20/2012 9:37 PM
Bailey has groomed Oliver on several occasions. No fighting. When would be a good time to try cementing them?

User is Offline Crystal
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11/21/2012 9:02 AM

I'd really like to try cementing in their permanent room tonight. Do you think that's a good idea? They will have spent nearly 3 full days together. The past 2 days they've been extremely well. They act like they're in love, eating, laying, napping, and playing together. There has been no fighting or mounting. Oliver is the dominant one as he will nudge Bailey if she is sitting in his spot and she will move. She has also groomed him, but he has never groomed her.. I hope this won't be a source of tension between them later. Right now it doesn't seem to be a problem for Bailey. 

What I'm worried about is that the permanent room was Bailey's old room and so she might decide that she wants to be the dominant bunny in her old territory. I am planning to remove the legs from my bed so that they can not go underneath the bed and fight. I will also use brand new sheets that don't smell like Bailey. I will also wash my own sheets in case they have any lingering Bailey smells. In the beginning I will keep them in an x-pen until I can get Oliver's marking under control. Then I will slowly give them free-roam which is what Bailey had before. Should I spray my room with Febreeze or something? My room has carpet.

Please share advice! I think I'm almost there

Here are pictures and videos of them together over the past couple of days. Bailey binkies everytime I open up the pen for exercise time. She usually jumps much higher than in the video.


User is Offline Crystal
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11/21/2012 9:12 AM
I forgot to add, Oliver did some flops next to Bailey so I think he's pretty happy.

My bunnies have different personalities. Oliver is more cautious of people but is very food-motivated. He still likes some attention at times. He likes to flop. Bailey loves people and loves being pet and being massaged. She likes to binky.

I also noticed that Oliver has a bony lower spine? Is that common in all small lops? Or should I feed him more.

User is Offline lmais
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11/21/2012 9:14 AM
I wouldn't spray anything that they can lick/chew on with febreze, I feel like all those chemicals could make them sick. Maybe just vacuum, wash linens, etc. Make sure it's really clean. Ruby often won't recognize a blanket as hers after it's been washed, so that should help.

Love the grooming video

User is Offline bmt87
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11/21/2012 11:05 AM
I agree with Imais on the spraying Febreze thing. When I was trying to bond Lola I kept her out of her space for a few days and sprayed everything with a water/white vinegar mixture and it seemed to help a little but I wouldn't use any chemicals.

And your lop is SO FLUFFY I WANNA DIEEEE! (I hope you know that I am referencing this when I say that...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82utG7Q3G_k) but seriously...omg so cute!
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User is Offline lmais
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11/21/2012 4:01 PM
lmao, bmt I LOVE THAT. Pretty much applies to every time I see/touch a rabbit

User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
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11/22/2012 1:27 AM
They look super adorable together. Good luck with the cementing. Just make sure to stay nearby for the first little while in case any fights break out.
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User is Offline Crystal
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11/22/2012 8:34 PM
So they've been in the same pen together for 4 days non-stop. I was able to leave them alone unsupervised without a problem. So I finally brought them home tonight and set them up in my room, which was where Bailey used to live. Bailey humped Oliver! It didn't lead to a fight, but now I'm worried that I should separate them? I thought they were fully bonded but now I"m not sure..

User is Offline Crystal
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11/22/2012 9:25 PM
Oliver groomed Bailey, but then he tried to mount her though not aggressively. She jumped away. Should I separate them tonight or let them work it out? I am sleeping right next to them.

User is Offline Hokankai
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11/22/2012 9:50 PM
I would wait to leave them together. It hasn't even been a week yet and Oliver didn't really get a chance to settle in before you started bonding. His personality is going to continue to emerge, and things may change.

The spraying is a territory thing and is very common for bonding rabbits or rabbits put into a new territory.

Keep an eye out for submissive grooming, as in when the dominant bunny places its head down to demand grooming and the other submitting. Once you have a consistent dominant bun you should be ok. They still sound a bit shaky.

User is Offline Crystal
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11/23/2012 3:17 AM
Thanks. So I should separate them and rebond? They've been at my moms house (neutral territory) the past 4 days and have been together all day/night. They were doing everything together with no aggression or mounting whatsoever. They basically were bonded.. I trusted them that I could leave the house with no one watching. Now I am back at my place where there is no neutral territory. Please let me know how I should continue the.bonding process here

User is Offline Hokankai
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11/23/2012 5:25 AM
"They've been at my moms house (neutral territory) the past 4 days and have been together all day/night. They were doing everything together with no aggression or mounting whatsoever. "

This is because they were both in an unfamiliar territory, so they acted bonded to feel better. Until you see the same behavior in your own home in their own territory...they aren't bonded.

I would continue the bonding process with a cage swap. Put him in her cage and her in his cage. This gives them an opportunity to get used to living with the other's scent. I would leave them like that for a couple days with additional bunny dates throughout the day. Since you've done some stress bunny dates (rocking the carrier), it's time to do some normal ones to see if the behavior continues in a regular, non-stressful environment. ]

Do not leave them together all day/night until your extended bunny dates show the SAME dominance pattern on a consistent basis in a normal environment in their own territory.

When you see one actively submitting to the other for SEVERAL DAYS during your bunny dates, and have zero fights, take them both out of their cages, rearrange the cage into one, clean all the objects well so they don't have the smell of either one of them, and put them in the cage together. That way the cage isn't his or her's and they can begin marking their combined cage together. Watch them carefully and if there's an incident, separate them again and give it another week of extended bunny dates and try again.


User is Offline Crystal
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11/23/2012 8:38 AM
Thanks Hokankai.

Hope everyone had a great thanksgiving!

So last night after I set up the x-pen, they each took turns mounting one time which is when I last posted. There was never any aggression or fighting so I decided to let them work it out while I supervised. There was some hovering throughout the night but no more mounting. By morning, Oliver was cuddling by Bailey as much as possible and she has groomed him.

User is Offline Hokankai
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11/23/2012 8:45 AM
Good luck with your bonding ventures. Every bonding experience is difference since each rabbit is different. Follow whatever flow seems to be working for you.

User is Offline Crystal
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11/23/2012 6:37 PM
My bunnies are bonded There has been no more mounting since last night. They are both grooming each other.. it's so cute! I'm so happy because it started off rough.

User is Offline tanlover14
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11/24/2012 9:41 AM
I just came into this thread - but I have a bonded trio and definitely know the adventures and frustrations of bonding.

Just so you know -- some buns will continue to hump and switch dominance continually and some will always stay the same. My buns have been bonded now for about 5 months and they are still having small dominance battles which has never escalated into fighting. They all groom each other and they all hump each other but as long as there's no fighting, it's perfectly fine. Just wanted to warn you so you don't think they are becoming unbonded.

Compared to some of the horror stories on here, your buns weren't too bad! (Besides the injuries!) But usually the bonding process is just as stressful for us as them so I'm glad you kept with it!
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User is Offline Crystal
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11/24/2012 10:34 PM
Thanks tanlover! That makes a lot of sense. I'm really glad that everyone encouraged me to go through with the bond since I think they were actually an easy match. The injuries could have been totally avoided if I knew what I was doing at first.. but in the end they were okay and it took less than week

What I wish I did differently
1) be confident with separating the bunnies.. i found towards the end that pouring water on them worked really well at breaking up a fight and also calming them down
2) don't take your eyes off the bunnies for a second during the first few days
3) use 2 separate cages the first couple of days

What I would recommend to others based on my experience
1) try to take a week off work or work from home so you can put them together more frequently/for longer periods of time in a brand new area (family member's house) - it seems to be the fastest way to get them used to each other
2) just accept that there will be a lot of tension and mounting in the beginning.. it fades away over time so stay calm and know how to separate them when a fight breaks out
3) by watching them you will just know how much you trust them together, and that helps you decide when to push forward with bonding

User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
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11/25/2012 2:39 AM
Thanks for sharing your bonding experience. Glad things have turned out well.
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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > My rabbits attacked each other & drew blood - BONDED

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