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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > Bonding a blind bunny
Last Post by LittlePuffyTail at 10/21/2012 9:01 AM (8 Replies)
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User is Offline Tvgbunny
3 posts Send Private Message
10/15/2012 8:59 AM

I have a 9 y.o. Asterex named April Jean Castlebury who has outlived 4 husbuns. She lost her recent mate about 2 months ago and seems lost. She often spins around and gets dizzy. April has always been a very easy bunny to bond and desperately needs a new friend.

I brought home an 8 y.o. male named Henry since he was the least likely to get adopted at our shelter, Red Door. He is a very gentle bunny, loves to be held and pet by humans. I doubt he has ever been around other rabbits.

I decided to do the dates in April's Xpen so she wouldn't get disoriented. She is not the least bit territorial. After a date, Henry returns to his pen, which is right next to hers. I often swap their blankets and litter so they can get accustomed to the other's smell.

So far my bonding dates are going so-so. At first, April would become alarmed at the smell of a new bunny and lunge/nip. Henry seemed to be shocked at this and started nipping back at her hips/butt. As long as I am petting them, both buns will snuggle together. Once I stop, Henry nips at her butt and she gets freaked out, runs away and starts spinning.

On their 5th date, I put a little banana on both of their heads. Henry licked it from April, but once it was gone, he tried to nip her again. April was always been a big groomer in the past, but now she seems to only push her head down to be groomed, which means she cannot smell the banana on Henry's head.

 I'm looking for advice on how to advance this process and curb Henry's desire to nip at April.  Both buns are near the end of their lives and I'd like to make them happy for the rest of it. If I can get past this hurdle, I think their dates can progress and I won't have to be petting them to keep Henry calm.

User is Offline Sarita
18873 posts Send Private Message
10/15/2012 12:05 PM
Welcome. That's so great that you adopted Henry for your Asterex.

I'm guessing that Henry is just fearful - new place, sensory overload, etc.

Also is Asterex your blind bunny? I'm just guessing she may be since you mention she spins around.

Are you sitting in the pen with them during introduction? I'm guessing that you are.

I'm doing alot of guessing her and not much help...maybe if you can clarify these questions, we can try and help you more.

User is Offline jerseygirl
15721 posts Send Private Message
10/15/2012 5:35 PM
I love this! Your having adopting an 8yrold rabbit and having a 9yr old. Lovely story and I hope you have success in bonding them.

I think it's just a case of plugging on. How long have you been doing bonding work? How regularly?

They should come to know what to expect before too long and relax more. Hopefully then you'll get a break through.
Whoever says "It's only a rabbit" has obviously never loved a rabbit.

User is Offline Tvgbunny
3 posts Send Private Message
10/15/2012 6:45 PM
Hey everyone!
To clarify a few things, I am an experienced bonder and adoption counselor at Red Door Animal Shelter. I've always had good luck with my bondings for myself and other adopters- although a few didn't work out in the end. I've just never worked with a blind rabbit before.

I have 3 elderly girl buns of my own, plus a couple foster buns, 2 chihuahuas and 1 cat. Ah the rescue life!

I brought Henry home about 2-3 weeks ago and for the first 10 days, I just let them sniff each other through their adjacent pens and exchanged their blankets and litter. We started "dates" last week and I always sit in the pen with Henry and April (the blind asterex girl) and give them LOTS of pets. Henry is much bigger than April, and he can be a big clumsy dope when he jumps around in her pen.

At this point, she has accepted him in her space and is always looking for a cuddle. She only gets spooked when he nips her behind. He seems to be very comfortable in her area, flopping down, eating her hay and cleaning himself, so I feel he is not threatened or scared of her in any way. Henry seems to really love the cuddling as I pet them. But when I stop, he will nip April's butt.

Usually I would move a date to a neutral area, like the bathtub, but I don't want to disorient April by taking her out of her secure environment. I'm probably being overly protective, but I worry that if April starts spinning, she may crash into something and hurt herself. I'd like to figure out a way to keep Henry calm, so I can back off and let them interact without my constant petting.

I hope this helps to give everyone a better idea of what is going on.

User is Offline jerseygirl
15721 posts Send Private Message
10/15/2012 8:19 PM
Sounds good!

Re-reading my earlier question "how long have you been doing bonding work?" It does sound odd! I had meant bonding work with these 2 rabbits. Not questioning your experience. Though its nice to learn of your work with the Red Door Rabbits.

I'm not sure if blindness would really effect things overly. Especially if long term blind and she's also used to being with other rabbits. They do seem to use their other senses more , even seeing-eye buns. Mine that is blind seems to cope so well but he is a little skittish with other rabbits. He bolts quickly but after time he gets more confident and will sit side by side with another.

Do you think giving her a place to run too would help or hinder?

I agree about not moving spaces. If she's ok with him being in her area then continue I think. That's a good sign.

With Henry, yes you do want to divert him from the nipping behaviour. It should decrease once he gets used to her smell and they spend more time together. What about trying a noise diversion? Shaking a can of coins when he goes to nip. It might distract him enough. Though I don't know how April will go with the noise....Mmm. Do you use a squirt bottle? A jet of water at him won't effect her.
I'm trying to think of a visual deterrent to use.
Whoever says "It's only a rabbit" has obviously never loved a rabbit.

User is Offline jerseygirl
15721 posts Send Private Message
10/15/2012 8:28 PM
I've just remembered the L shape pen also. Have you used that in bondings before?
If April does well with mentally mapping new space, this may be an option. The L shape allows one bun an area to run too but doesn't completely separate like a hiding box might.

Perhaps something to try if Henry starts getting too bossy toward her in her habitat.
Whoever says "It's only a rabbit" has obviously never loved a rabbit.

User is Offline Sarita
18873 posts Send Private Message
10/16/2012 3:28 AM
I wonder if Henry needs some Rescue Remedy to calm him down from nipping April.

I hope that you will participate in the forum for bonding, care, health too as you have so much to offer, it would be great to get your input.

User is Offline Tvgbunny
3 posts Send Private Message
10/20/2012 3:20 PM
Hey Everyone,
Sorry I haven't posted a recent update. Last date was 5 days ago in a neutral spot. April seemed comfortable in a new environment, but Henry soon attacked her, which really freaked her out and I had to cancel the date. ( the threee of us were watching the presidential debate, so maybe the tension made Henry cranky ;0) You know how it goes, two steps forward, one step back. Been busy with the shelter so I wasn't able to have another date since then.

Their 2 pens are side by side and I noticed that April hangs out right next to Henry's side of her pen. Henry, however, keeps on the opposite wall, away from her.
Can you explain to me how the L shape pen works? I've never done that. I am going to use a water spray bottle since it won't harm April. Although I always recommend the car ride method, I've never tried it myself, but now i might have to!

And thank you for reminding me about the Rescue Remedy. I will definitely put some Henry. Our next date will be tomorrow night, so I hope it goes well. Will keep you posted.

And if I can squeeze it into my schedule, I'd love to help with forum advice. I've learned an incredible amount of stuff at Red Door- bunny health, diet, disease, behavior. We recently had our first Bunny 101 class and it was amazing how much long-time owners had learned!

Thank you for what you all do to promote the BUNNEH!

User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
Forum Leader
13440 posts Send Private Message
10/21/2012 9:01 AM
I would try the car ride (or washing machine) method. It seemed to help when I had one boy that was pretty aggressive.
Proud to be a Bunny Hugger and a voice for the voiceless
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