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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > W.R.W.A. or, The Circle of Bunny Love
Last Post by BB at 9/24/2006 9:06 PM (4 Replies)
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User is Offline barbara elliott
21 posts Send Private Message
9/19/2006 3:52 PM

It depends on whether we're optimists or pessimists that day: the arena of bonding is either called W.R.W. (World Rabbit Wrestling Assoc.) or, the circle of bunny love. Our little family is trying to get along.

Here's the story, my friends. Like I said, about three weeks ago I brought home two new rabbits (yes, unintroduced) to Jhumpa, my now ~8~ month old (neutered) male mini-lop. One of the buns was a rescue (Chloe, another mini-lop, who is not currently in the bonding arena because she's getting over some snuffles) and the other, who I just plain couldn't resist, is Scout, a very young agouti Netherland dwarf bunny. It's Jhumpa and Scout I've been working on introducing. (Scout's gender is yet to be determined, I suspect he's a boy, and he's not neutered--yet) Jhumpa and Scout have gotten to the point that I don't worry about skirmishes through cages (there was one in the beginning) and they sleep in separate cages next to each other. Today was our fourth day in a row doing serious introduction sessions, and I think I understand the dynamics of what's going on enough to ask for help! I've read all I can on bonding--here's where we stand:

"Neutral Areas" are hard to come by, since we live in a small apartment, and Chloe is currently quarantined in the bathroom. The first three days we tried to make an artificial neutral space with an enclosed pen, but I don't think it really fooled them. Tonight we did the bonding on our kitchen table, and that seemed a bit better; it's also a lot easier for us to be in on the action. As for the action: Scout is totally submissive to Jhumpa, and hasn't tried to nip once. Jhumpa totally scares him and he flattens himself down and freezes like, "yes, my master". He hops around Jhumpa sometimes, and the first three nights seemed interested in sniffing Jhumpa's bum. (what does that mean in bunny-speak?) Jhumpa is the top bunny, and he seems rather pissed off at having another bun in his 'castle'. (though he's fine if Scout is caged) Jhumpa does a lot of ignoring, but he definitely wants a piece of Scout, and definitely will go in for a bite if Scout is anywhere in range. I've heard the stuff about car rides and vacuums and spraying water, but here's the problem: Jhumpa's a pretty relaxed bun who's gotten accustomed to traveling, isn't put off so much by the vacuum, and isn't really thwarted by water, either.  On the whole, on his own, Jhumpa is a relaxed, adventurous, loving bun--generally pretty happy and sometimes kind of stubborn.  I love him!

So here's the big question--thanks for listening to our story--how do I get Jhumpa to relax and decide he doesn't need to take a chunk out of Scout? Just time and patience and hope and love? Any other ideas?

Thank you! Hope you and your lovely bunnies are doing well!
Sincerely,

Tabby and Benny and Jhumpa and Chloe and little Scout ;-)

p.s.  Tonight, Jhumpa wanted to sniff Scout's bum for the first time.  Does this mean something?


User is Offline Gravehearted
Campbell, CA
2442 posts Send Private Message
9/19/2006 8:31 PM
it sounds like you've been putting in a lot of time and energy into the bonding. I wonder what else you can do - since it doesn't sound like car rides or vacuuming are going to help. Sniffing is likely part of thme checking each other out, and esp if Scout isn't fixed yet it could be part of the issue. If Scout is indeed a boy - bonding two boy bunnies can be difficult - esp before Scout is neutered.
~ bunny mom to to HRH Hareiette, Viktor the crazy Krum and Pandora, prima binky ballerina ~ Save a life, Adopt!

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
Forum Leader
8673 posts Send Private Message
9/22/2006 12:03 AM

Sniffing the other's bum is a way for them to figure out if where the other bunny stands For example, If female, is she ready to mate, if male, is he displaying a dominant scent.  HOWEVER, most of the time rabbits begin to smell the bum of the other right before they try to mount.  Or they test out how the bunny will react prior to mounting  - as sometimes mounting a bunny that doesn't want to be mounted can turn into a nasty fight.

That's why many bunnies will turn around and nip the sniffer!  They are saying - "Don't even think about it! Buster!"

So though Scout was displaying submissive behavior, by sniffing Jhumpa rear, he may be trying to manipulate his way towards a mount - he may be testing out some dominance

You don't have an impossible situation, but you certainly have a huge challenge.  First, like Gravehearted mentioned, both are males, which can be tough.  Second, Scout is not neutered.   Talk about male hormones - Even though Jhumpa is neutered, Scout's scent as an intact male, can deliver a territorial message that will make Jhumpa want to fight over territory.  

Is there any way you can determine the sex.  How old is Scout?  His eh hem "jewels" should show soon.

If he's not old enough yet, then be very very careful when he reaches sexual maturity.   A horrific nasty fight could break out when his hormones are in full force. And if they fight, rabbits can hold grudges!

Ultimately, the easiest way to bond is when every bunny has been altered.

Keep us updated!  


User is Offline barbara elliott
21 posts Send Private Message
9/22/2006 11:15 AM

Unfortunately, I can't be more specific about Scout's age or sex until his vet appointment--I don't think he's going to let me any where near his 'jewels' ...and you know how they can hide them, too!  Jhumpa was a 'girl' till he came home from his spay--I mean, neuter.  Scout does seem pretty young, though; I'd estimate he's four months old (if they usually arrive at the pet store around 12 weeks?). 

 

Thank you for the good advice. There hasn't been any mounting yet, but Binkybunny, your insight into Scout's behavior sounds right on. I don't know for sure that he's a boy, but very soon he'll have his "new bunny" checkup, and we'll determine his spay/neuter date. Thanks for the warning about when he gets bigger--I'll keep that in mind. It didn't know that a bunny's smell--literally--could be threatening to another bunny.

We'll keep at it.  I have hope that patience and time will work this out.  I'm happy with whatever progress we make, as long as this doesn't stress them out too much.  Jhumpa hopped over by Scout's cage and stretched out yesterday, almost like he wanted to stay near him.  Now that I'm talking to other "bonders", I don't think I have a worst-case scenario.  Jhumpa's a stubborn bun, but also very loving and even-tempered.

One more question--I know fighting is bad, and bunnies hold grudges, but they also say that you've got to let them "work it out" and establish dominance. Does every nip consistute a fight? What's the line between fighting (bad) and determining who's top bunny? I'm so paranoid, don't let any bite-attempt land; I don't know if I intervene too much.  Any/every time Jhumpa lunges, I stop him before he gets to Scout, but I don't separate them...

It's interesting to watch this; I see a lot of behaviour I haven't seen before. Someone should do one of those "bunny language" translations for bonding!

Thanks again! All the best!


User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
Forum Leader
8673 posts Send Private Message
9/24/2006 9:06 PM
Posted By tabby on 09/22/2006 2:15 PM

One more question--I know fighting is bad, and bunnies hold grudges, but they also say that you've got to let them "work it out" and establish dominance. Does every nip consistute a fight? What's the line between fighting (bad) and determining who's top bunny? I'm so paranoid, don't let any bite-attempt land; I don't know if I intervene too much.  Any/every time Jhumpa lunges, I stop him before he gets to Scout, but I don't separate them...

It's interesting to watch this; I see a lot of behaviour I haven't seen before. Someone should do one of those "bunny language" translations for bonding!

Thanks again! All the best!


Bunnies can work out who's going to be the top bunny without actually fighting. However, one will HAVE to become passive as two stubborn dominant bunnies will not bond.  They may tolerate, but they are subject to frequent squabbles. Do you notice one being more passive then the other? If so, offer comfort to that one so it will be easier for that bunny to accept that role.  You may also be rewarding the behavior so maybe he'll be less likely to change from passive to dominance. Here are acceptable "working it out" methods:
  1. Nipping at the body (not the face), Though a little nip to the forehead is also normal if one is expecting to be groomed and the other refuses. Usually nipping while chasing is the norm.  It's okay as long as ONE of the bunnies is running away.  If they are standing up to each other, (ears back, tails up) then you need to put them side to side & pet them both and try and keep them relaxed.  Their own heighten fear and aggression can turn into a very nasty fight.  
  2. Mounting: Allowing the mounting, (never allow a bunny to mount another's head)>  Pet the one that 's getting mounted to help them through it. If one is mounting for too long, over 20 seconds) then push the dominant bunny off for a minute to give the passive/bottom one a break and keep aggression down, but allow the mounting to continue.  The mounting will happen until one accepts a passive role.  And letting the passive one take a break will make it easier for that one to accept it.  Sometimes the dominant bunny just wants to be sure his/her point is being made and will push the passive one too far.  So that's what you are trying to avoid.  
  3. Chasing: Again, it's okay to allow this to happen, as long as it doesn't get out of hand. You have to give the chased bunny a break, or he'll be forced to fight.  Stop any circling as this usually turns into a fight. 

Best thing to do is make things relaxed.  Pet them both, talk to them both in a soothing voice.  It not only helps them, but because that can actually help relax you during this time, it can create a more calm environment all around.

Funny that you mention a page with body language - I am working on a "Bunglish" page - (which is what I call Bunny Language - it will show pictures of actual body language and what it means.)

For now you can check out Rucy and Bailey's bonding journal and this really great site regarding bunny body language.

Keep us updated!

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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > W.R.W.A. or, The Circle of Bunny Love

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