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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > Bonding 6 Rabbits
Last Post by Snowytoshi at 8/28/2012 1:02 PM (20 Replies)
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User is Offline Brandy
30 posts Send Private Message
8/17/2012 10:03 AM

I have 6 house rabbits, 3 males and 3 females, all fixed, and all rescues. They are currently living in bonded M/F pairs. However, this means I have to make them take turns running around. My goal is to let them all be free range with no fences at all (the whole house is bunny proofed). Currently I split my office into three homes so they each have their own space but can see and smell each other all the time. This has been the situation since March.

 

A couple weeks ago I took their relationship to the next level and we had a play date at petsmart (totally neutral and rather stressful) that went super. I got a play pen to use at home since it it hard to find neutral territory in my house and one of my buns is a head tilt so it is hard for her to travel (poor girl was hit in the head by former owner). She is so spunky and demands to be included in the bonding action! So every night I put all 6 rabbits into the play pen and I sit in the middle at first just to make sure they are settled. After everyone is calm I sit outside and watch. We are now up to 2 hours of play time and things are going really well. They are doing the “I’m cooler than you” stretch out and kick their feet behind them lounging. There is the occasional chase and hair pulling between two of the males, but I can just tell them NO! and it stops.

 

My question is, how do I progress to the next level? I will continue with the play pen until the two boys work things out, but what then? I’m not sure how to make the leap safely to let them run in the house. Also, how do I convert the sectioned territory that the girls would surely defend, into a space they are willing to share? I can rearrange the furniture and clean with an enzymatic cleaner, but is that enough to erase territorial boundaries?

 

Thank you so much for your guidance.

 

 IMG_7760

 


User is Offline Sarita
(Dallas)
Forum Leader
17822 posts Send Private Message
8/17/2012 10:19 AM
What a cute photo. I have never bonded a warren but I used to volunteer at a rescue that kept all the rabbits in a group.

It is definitely a different dynamic from a trio or a pair. I think that you may not have the territorial problems with a group as much as a pair...I think if you can just slowly increase the space weekly then it will probably not be a problem.

I'm interested to see how you progress - keep us updated.

User is Offline IsabellaRobyn
Scotland
526 posts Send Private Message
8/17/2012 10:28 AM
Wow what a task! Such a cute photo of them all. I don't have any answers but I'm really interested to see how this goes it sounds like such a nice way to keep buns!
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User is Offline bullrider76543
Joplin MO
1291 posts Send Private Message
8/17/2012 11:54 AM
WOW if you succeed I will have to try that I have wanted to do that with mine cause they all have to take turns out.
 photo bbsignature_zps33af2ebb.jpg

User is Offline CinnabunMom
in the TARDIS
1194 posts Send Private Message
8/17/2012 5:15 PM
Yes, please keep us updated! They looks so sweet and cute!
chair1-1

User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
Forum Leader
15666 posts Send Private Message
8/18/2012 3:14 AM
I agree exactly with what Sarita said, it definitely is a different dynamic. Are the only ones you have an issue with the two boys? Maybe put the other four together and do traditional bonding sessions with the two boys? My other thought would be to put them together in the space you have in mind and just watch them like a hawk. A little chasing is to be expected, as long as they aren't viciously fighting.
Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline Brandy
30 posts Send Private Message
8/24/2012 7:32 AM
You are right, it was two of the boys. Panda declared himself king and Houdini was not about to be humped. I ended up putting just the two of them in the playpen together for an evening (I sat right next to it incase things got too intense) and let them work out their differences. Panda ended up remaining king.

This weekend I'm going to try to let everyone run around in the house, but not in each other's home spaces, and see how that goes.

In general I am seeing the traditional chasing and hair pulling when Panda demands to hump someone. Houdini was the only bun that would go round kicking with him. I got nabbed once breaking them up, but it was my fault for sticking my hands between them. I'm relieved they seem to have it resolved now. I'm not quite ready to let them stay together without careful supervision. Bunnicula and Becky nipped at each other a couple times, but nothing major. Gary freaks out if anyone gets too close and runs in a panic, he's a huge chicken. If I am in there with them he spends most of his time on my shoulder.

I am going over to a coworkers house on Sunday with all 6 to visit with his son, who has serious disabilities. We think the various fur textures and sizes will be interesting to him. He's just starting to connect with animals and really enjoys petting the dog and horse he has contact with through his therapy sessions. I think that will be just stressful enough to help strengthen their bond. Becky and Gary are certified therapy rabbits so they will be totally cool with it. Depending on how Panda and Bunnicula do I would like to get them certified as well. I know Sophie just does not have the temperment for it. A hospital would totally freak her out so her and Houdini will never go that route. I think she will be fine with this quieter setting though.

User is Offline britt and yeti
Edmonton, AB
207 posts Send Private Message
8/24/2012 7:40 AM

if you're worried about your females defending theirs and their husbuns "sleep space" i suggest a nightly rotation. 

move the couples into their neighbours house for a night.. and continue the twirl night after night... eventually take down the gates and have your office as their open bedroom. 

#my2cents

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User is Offline bullrider76543
Joplin MO
1291 posts Send Private Message
8/24/2012 7:58 AM
How did you start the whole thing? And how big is the playpen? I would soooooo love to get mine to all get along.
 photo bbsignature_zps33af2ebb.jpg

User is Offline Brandy
30 posts Send Private Message
8/24/2012 9:32 AM
Britt and yeti, thanks for the suggestion! I will give it a try and see what happens.

I started by creating home spaces in the same room and letting them see/smell eachother. They would take turns running. This process started when I had just 4. When I let them out if they faught through the bars they lost their run time. They got a treat if they hopped right past the other buns. Then I got the new pair and added them to the rotation.

A few weeks ago they met for the first time at Petsmart and it went well, so I started with the playpen. It is made for dogs and about 45 inches in diameter. I can sit with my legs out streight. I will post pictures later tonight. I have to upload them. I started out sitting with them to help prevent fights and gradually left them alone in there while I sat next to it. I use lots of snacks to distract them.

User is Offline Brandy
30 posts Send Private Message
8/24/2012 9:32 AM
This is a link for the play pen- instant neutral territory

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...02_s00_i00

User is Offline IsabellaRobyn
Scotland
526 posts Send Private Message
8/24/2012 9:48 AM
That's cool how the play pen has a floor - really is instant neutral hah !
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User is Offline bullrider76543
Joplin MO
1291 posts Send Private Message
8/24/2012 10:11 AM
that is so cool!! I am gonna have to try that!!! I bet it would be a good travel tent if I am visiting my moms too!!
 photo bbsignature_zps33af2ebb.jpg

User is Offline Cristina
Texas
128 posts Send Private Message
8/24/2012 9:44 PM
Please keep us updated as you go along! ANd I would LOVE more info on how you first began bonding them. To be honest, to get 6 buns to sit still for that photo without pulling hair, and biting is incredible to me! So you are obviously doing REALLY well! I started off with one male bun and tonight found myself with 3. And ALL males. *sigh* I love all 3 but am in the same boat as you. I don't like letting them out one at a time. Especially when one hides under the bed because he doesn't want to go back to his cage. It cuts into the other buns play time and isn't quite fair to the others. My first bun was a free roam bun so I'm not at all used to this take one out at a time deal. My ultimate goal is to get all 3 boys bonded, but worst case scenerio, just 2. I am completely stubborn and am ready to put the time and hard work into it. Although I won't force them,a nd if they don't get along then that will be that.

I had read that bonding males isn't impossible, but extremely hard. Which worries me, especially with bonding 3 males. You have given me hope that i can be done though! My situation is different since I am minus the 3 females, not sure if that helped your case or not... any info and tips you had would be FANTASTIC!!! And I was also wondering if they are all fixed? I haven't had the boys fixed yet and am thinking I need to wait until I do before I try to bond them. Good job with your buns and keep up the awesome work! I am so happy you posted this and I will be reading up on all your awesome progress! How is the bonding going this weekend?
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User is Offline Elrohwen
Hudson Valley, NY
Forum Leader
7322 posts Send Private Message
8/25/2012 3:33 AM
I don't have any experience beyond pairs, but I've read that as you get to more bunnies it's easier to add new ones. They kind of don't notice the difference between 4 buns and 5 buns, or 5 and 6, and just accept new comers.

I can't wait to read your updates! So far things sound really good and you can probably just increase their range, like Sarita said, and their time all together.
- Elrohwen

User is Offline Brandy
30 posts Send Private Message
8/28/2012 5:11 AM
So the way we started was with four, the last two are new to our home. Gary and Becky lived in the bedroom while Houdini and Sophie lived in my office. In March I split the office in half with NIC pannels with a small "no bun's land" in the middle. That way everybun could see and smell each other. I would let them take turns running around. If there was a fuss at the fence, the running buns gave up their free time for the evening. If they hopped past without a fuss they got snacks. It only took a couple days for the fussing at the fence to stop. After a month of living in the same room I started to use regular bonding techniques such as bathtub visits, just with all four rather than just a pair. It's a good thing they get so much exercise because I do a lot of bribing with snacks.

Then Panda and Bunnicula came. They were originally going to be fosters, but I just couldn't give them up. They met through the fence for a couple weeks, then we went to Petsmart, which is where this post starts from.

At this point all 6 buns are running around in the evenings together. Panda and Bunnicula still tend to chase/nip at Houdini, but it is mild enough that I can stop it with scolding them verbally. I think because of all of his fur they don't quite get he is a rabbit. Is that possible?

I took down the fence in my office so the original four are all living together. They get along great except when it comes to food. When I put down pellets Houdini and Sophie make a beeline for Becky and Gary's dish. Becky and Gary hide in their burrow, so they end up not eating. This is particularly not good because Becky has chronic health issues and I have a hard time keeping her weight up. Sophie tends to be on the chunky side so she doesn't need a double portion of pellets. Any ideas? I love them being able to live together without fences, but I have to figure this out.

Panda and Bunnicula still go to their enclosure at night because there is still a bit of fussing that I don't want to end in a fight if I'm not there to supervise.

User is Offline Snowytoshi
263 posts Send Private Message
8/28/2012 6:29 AM
Aww how cute! The only problem is that I see seven bunnies in that picture

User is Offline Brandy
30 posts Send Private Message
8/28/2012 8:00 AM
LOL The chrochet bunny is Wendell. He is the traveling stuffy for another bunny forum I chat on. I couldn't miss out on the photo-op. Wendell had to move on so unfortunately not part of the on going bonding process.

User is Offline Snowytoshi
263 posts Send Private Message
8/28/2012 8:26 AM
May I ask what the other bunny forum is? I like joining all of them

Again your pic is adorable <3

User is Offline Brandy
30 posts Send Private Message
8/28/2012 10:55 AM
Rabbitsonline.net Just as a warning, there are also breeders there. I found this forum because I found myself getting angry with how breeders view and house their rabbits.
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