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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BEHAVIOR > give up on bonding? (unique case!)
Last Post by BB at 3/30/2007 5:38 PM (17 Replies)
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User is Offline manicbunny
south central KY
17 posts Send Private Message
3/12/2007 1:56 PM
I need some help with bonding my two rabbits. Ryo is a spayed female, she is around four years old. And Alex is just a little over two. I have had these two rabbits for over about two years now (since Alex was just a few months old)
 
When I first brought Alex home (neutered) I put his cage right next to Ryo’s for a week. And then I would pet Alex with a cloth, and Ryo too, and put the cloth in the cages. I also switched litter boxes too. I did this for two weeks! I moved very slowly because I knew that was best.
 
Then I brought both rabbits into the bath room for their first interaction. Ryo ignored Alex. I did this every single day for 5 mintues, then 10, then 20, and worked all the way up to 4 hours! However after the first few dates they would fight. I would back up, and let them spend less time together. They have greens in there, toys… things to hide in.
 
Ryo and Alex was spending about 4 hours together and snuggling and grooming… but a fight would always break out! The last fight… Ryo tore a chuck the size of a quarter out of Alex. I gave up bonding.
 
I got professional help before, and it turned out it was bad advice I shouldn’t had followed. I was told to let them spend an hour together and NEVER even let them touch, no matter if they looked aggressive or not. That also may had made things worse also
 
Now a over a year later I am wanting to try again. Does it sound like I will be wasting my time?
 
A lot has changed with me in that year. I was a very nervous person, and I have calmed down a lot since then. And Alex has matured since then too. I feel more comfortable now than before. In the past every time I would see one move I would almost have a panic attack because I thought they would fight. I realize that I maybe be the reason they never bonded because of me being so nervous!
 
Do you have any tips for me starting all over? By the way, I have tried everything to help bond these two, but car rides and putting a laundry basket on the washing machine on spin cycle… because I honestly thought they would kill each other if I made them stay so close. ( I really didn’t have a logical reason for thinking that)
 
Oh I forgot to mention… I spented 7 months trying to bond these rabbits… EVERY DAY
 
Thank you for your time,
Amanda, Ryo, and Alex.

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
Forum Leader
8674 posts Send Private Message
3/12/2007 3:41 PM

Your unique case sounds like one of  my cases.  Rucy and Bailey.  Though they never fully bonded, they once were tolerant of each other and would even hang out and groom each other, but there was always a bit of tension, it took 8 months to get them to get along.  They were together for over a year, , and then one day they got into a nasty fight, and I had to start all over again.   But since Rucy had health issues due to reoccuring jaw abscesses, (due to some tooth issues) I decided it was in her best interest to not bring on more stress.

I also know that when we are calm it can really help.  I know what you mean by being so tense that any movement freaks you out. I've been there too.  And that really can have a negative effect.  Sounds like you're more relaxed and that can help.   I used to bring a calming music into the place I was bonding to help me remain relaxed.  

It sounds like it's worth a try and if you approach this with an expectation that it will be okay if they decide they don't want to bond, then it also won't be so stressful.  

Did you ever try the car ride method?  This works well for many bunnies who are aggressive with each other right off the bat. 

Also, a great tool that I learned at SaveABunny Rescue was the to use a netted type kitchen strainer when introducing - or reintroducing.   When they first meet, put that in front of their faces so they can see and smell each other and that allows you to protect them if they want to fight right at the start.  

In the beginning, I also wear gloves and pet them both - mixing scents.  The gloves help me safely stop any aggression. 

Also, did one of the bunnies mount the other, or did they both try and mount? I mean is one more dominant?

Check out my bonding section, and see if that helps any.    Also in the links section, I posted helpful bonding links.  You probably have read and seen it all, but just in case.

Keep us updated!

 


User is Offline manicbunny
south central KY
17 posts Send Private Message
3/12/2007 3:53 PM
thanks! yeah, i checked out the bonding section good job
the only mounting was on day one. Ryo was the mounter, the mounting lasted a few mintues. However Alex is the one who starts fights.

no i have never tryed the car rides. in the past i thought if i forced them to be that close together they would kill each other. although now i realize that wasnt very logical for me to think. after a couple of weeks of swaping their cages and litter boxes i think i will try to reintroduce them for the first time in the car.

User is Offline manicbunny
south central KY
17 posts Send Private Message
3/12/2007 3:54 PM
lol, i forgot to mention.. just something kinda cute.
Alex would try to fight Ryo and bully her around.. Alex is barely a pound, and Ryo is 7 lbs!!

User is Offline Fiver
Lakewood, Colorado
22 posts Send Private Message
3/12/2007 4:03 PM
We are not experts. But we went on a couple of car rides that seemed to help. We had the same worry you did, that a fight may break out before you get them in the car. But with all the comotion of carrying rabbits and putting them in the car, there was not time. In addition, the rabbits were too busy wondering what was going on to fight. At the end of the 20 minute ride, it looked like they would never stop embracing each other out of love again.

I will say, that our rabbits were bonded at the House Rabbit Society. The problems broke out about a week after they came home. We had the male for about 4 months who was 6 months old when he was paired with our female from the society. So the problems seemed to be with them both settling into his bachelor pad. They did seem right for each other all along, as when they were separated, they always wanted to get back together. The Society experts coached us through the whole affair.

This makes us wonder whether it would not be best to turn the problem over to the House Rabbit Society. Do you have one near you? If you do, you might give them a call and see if they would be willing to take them for a week.

User is Offline Fiver
Lakewood, Colorado
22 posts Send Private Message
3/12/2007 4:12 PM
We forgot to ask one other thing. How slick is the bathroom floor and how roomy is it? We put our rabbits together down in the laundry room inside a fenced area about 30 square feet. The conrete floor was extremely slick. As you know, rabbits have only one speed when angry, in attack mode. They don't know how to move there feet slow enough on a slick surface to get traction, so they "spin their wheels". This gives you the opportunity to keep them apart with some device like a broom with very soft bristles. Just watchout for their eyes.

User is Offline manicbunny
south central KY
17 posts Send Private Message
3/12/2007 4:24 PM
the bathroom is large. i am not sure of the square footage. the floor would had been slick if i didnt put a blanket down to prevent it. lol
when i do that again i will just let them slip. thanks for that bit of advice!

User is Offline manicbunny
south central KY
17 posts Send Private Message
3/12/2007 4:26 PM
also, no i dont have any HRS anywhere near me. just a bunny rescue in nashville that gave me some bad advice

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
Forum Leader
8674 posts Send Private Message
3/12/2007 8:12 PM
Posted By manicbunny on 03/12/2007 6:53 PM
thanks! yeah, i checked out the bonding section good job
the only mounting was on day one. Ryo was the mounter, the mounting lasted a few mintues. However Alex is the one who starts fights.

no i have never tryed the car rides. in the past i thought if i forced them to be that close together they would kill each other. although now i realize that wasnt very logical for me to think. after a couple of weeks of swaping their cages and litter boxes i think i will try to reintroduce them for the first time in the car.


I do just have to offer a heads up - Though it is rare, rabbits can fight in the car! I had one of those rare pairs.  Rucy & Bailey fought there when the car would slow down or stop. Also another member, Fujoe, has a pair that seem to fight when they are put under stress.  But again, this really is rare, and usually stressing helps with aggression. But you might want to have someone with you for the first couple of rides or at least just drive around areas where you can quickly pull to the side, just in case.

Okay, now you're off, take a deep breath, relax and dive in, and let us know how the swim goes.

EDITED ADD IN:  I forgot to add.  Did Alex bite after being mounted - was he getting tired of it? WIth mounting, allow a bunny to mount, but for only about 20 seconds at a time, and let the other bunny get a minute or two break before allowing the mounting to happen again.  It is important for them to establish who's boss, but to prevent aggression from "being mounted" it's advised to make sure the mounted one gets a break before they lash out.  Also it can help to pet the mounted bunny while s/he's being mounted.    (I know you may have done this, but since I don't know for sure, I wanted to offer those tidbits!)

 


User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
Forum Leader
8674 posts Send Private Message
3/12/2007 8:27 PM

Welcome lecasler!   You are so right about how the slippery floor hinders an attack.   Sometimes they get too freaked out and forget all about their nemisis, and it turns into the stress method of bonding (like car rides)

 


User is Offline manicbunny
south central KY
17 posts Send Private Message
3/13/2007 12:55 AM
No Alex didnt bite or get fed up. he laid there like a pancake with his eyes bulging out. lol!
but that was well over a year ago. there isnt any telling what they will be like now.

User is Offline Faye Perry
Leicestershire, UK
114 posts Send Private Message
3/13/2007 1:44 AM

Hi Manicbunny

I have two female bunnies who we've had for almost a year, Mable and Booboo.  we had every intention of them living together happily ever after.. until they reached their 'teenage bunny from hell' stage.

They love each other of that i'm sure but i just can't seem to trust them together... they get on (we've had weeks when they cuddle and groom but i didn't trust them enougth to leave them overnight) but their always seems to be this tension in the air.  I can't relax when we let them out together lately since the last bout.

About 3 months ago they had been getting on ok, when they decided to go and sit in one of their cages, next thing i know they are fighting!! The trouble on this occasion was because they were in a cage it was really difficult to split them up, or reach in to stop them, I ended up with my arm and hand ripped to shreds trying to get them apart.  I managed to pull mable out (don't quite know how) and they were still going for each other as I was doing this..Mable was kicking out and got her leg caught in the cage bars, then she just flopped over my leg, i seriously thought for that split second when i looked down that she was dead!! Booboo was still coming for her, Mables leg must of got free and she was back up trying to get back into the cage to fight!!!!

Whenever we have them out together, Mable will groom Booboo, and expects to be groomed back but Booboo doesn't really bother.  Car rides go well but when they get back they go off and lie on their own...

They have only had 3 fights since being spayed, but now i would rather keep them seperate and chilled rather than trying again and stressing everyone out.


User is Offline manicbunny
south central KY
17 posts Send Private Message
3/13/2007 8:03 AM
wow! sorry you are having such a rough time with your two. mine only got in one major fight, where they latched on to each other and drew blood. all of their other fights was fur bulling and some kicking. this would freak me out so bad...
when rabbits just have minor disagreement it looks to me like they are trying to kill each other.

after the bad fight i stoped trying to bond them for about a whole year, so that tells you how much it got me shook up

User is Offline Fiver
Lakewood, Colorado
22 posts Send Private Message
3/13/2007 9:11 AM
Sounds like you are getting some good advice. That is interesting about the fighting rabbits in the car. I know that making it a two person operation was a lot easier than one person. I drove while my wife sat in the back seat, supervised the rabbits and ensured they behaved. Still, they never seemed to be close to fighting. One reason may be they get very stressed whenever they are carried or do something out of the ordinary. I would be curious about the background of these rabbits who could compose themselves quickly enough at a stop sign to start battling.

Too bad about no House Rabbits Society nearby. I inferred from the experts at the House Rabbits Society here in Colorado that some rabbits will simply not bond. That the rabbits must have some say in who they pick. I could have misunderstood, especially after reading some of these other stories that seem to indicate that with enough patience, almost any pair will bond. I thought we had it rough, but we only suffered for one and a half weeks. At least so far...

Anyway, I did think of one other trick: We mushed up a banana and smeared a little of it on the forehead of one of the rabbits. Our rabbits cannot resist a sweet treat even if they want to kill each other. It got them grooming each other for a little while anyway. Of course, a person must watch how much banana is given to the rabbits.

The only thing I can think of is watch them closely to see why the fight breaks out. It sounds like you are doing that. I know when we first put them back together under close observation, the female "Chloe" went to groom the male "Fiver" on the forehead. She licked him for a short time and then nipped him. Fiver, a little under 3 pounds and almost 1/2 the size of Chloe, took off after her. At least it gave us the idea of what to watch out for. Whenever, Chloe would start to groom him (or eat banana), we would keep her from doing it too long. In the end, it seemed that they really wanted to be with each other and that fighting meant separation and restriction of the size of their territory. (Separation means they each get half the upstairs. Our rabbits have it rough.) But they seemed to have learned that fighting is not worth it. Chloe stills seems to find the best tasting food is what is in Fiver's mouth. So she takes if from him. Fiver, appropriately named from the book "Watership Down", seems to know there is always more food available. Anyway, good luck.

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
Forum Leader
8674 posts Send Private Message
3/13/2007 9:58 AM
Posted By lecasler on 03/13/2007 12:11 PM
Sounds like you are getting some good advice. That is interesting about the fighting rabbits in the car. I know that making it a two person operation was a lot easier than one person. I drove while my wife sat in the back seat, supervised the rabbits and ensured they behaved. Still, they never seemed to be close to fighting. One reason may be they get very stressed whenever they are carried or do something out of the ordinary. I would be curious about the background of these rabbits who could compose themselves quickly enough at a stop sign to start battling.




Both of the bunnies that would fight in in the car had some rough backgrounds.  Rucy was dropped off at animal care and control in the middle of the night and because she had medical issues, the House Rabbit Society took her in, got her back to health and socialized her (she was considered an attack bunny at one point.)  And that's where I came in, I brought my first bunny Forrest (he has passed now) and they bonded in three days.  But later, when Bailey was brought into the mix, she was having nothing of it.  Bailey was brought into the Animal Care and Control as a neglect case.  Very thin, spine issues etc etc.    

They were some tough cookies!


User is Offline manicbunny
south central KY
17 posts Send Private Message
3/13/2007 10:08 AM
Ryo and Alex do actually have some history.

Alex is from petco before i knew any better. i got him when he was three months old, and he was neutered. i have the certificate and i know for a fact he is neutered... since he has no balls and the vet also said so. Supposivly petco gets there bunnies from a horrible, horrible place that breeds tons of rabbits in cramped conditions with little concern for health, and neuters at just a few months of age.

Ryo was a meat rabbit. i dont know much about how she lived her life, but i know it wasnt with love. shortly after saving her (rescued her from a commercial meat rabbit breeder) she got GI stasis and had difficulty recovering.

User is Offline Fiver
Lakewood, Colorado
22 posts Send Private Message
3/25/2007 7:10 AM
I am not sure if anyone is still looking at this issue, but... One of the techniques I mentioned above was to put your warring bunnies on a slick surface so they will have trouble getting traction when trying to kill each other. This gives you time to intercede and keep them apart. I read on another site how some people will put their rabbits in the bath tub. This provides a slick surface and yet keeps them together. The person writing the article said not to do this. Apparently, rabbits can suffer pulled ligaments or similar injuries in this environment. I did not think of this when I recommended putting the pugnacious rabbits on a slick surface. There may be some risk of the rabbits pulling something when trying to fight on a slick surface. However, I may be worrying too much. Often, our rabbits will become frightened for whatever reason while on a hard wood or tile floor whereby "spinning their wheels" while seeking cover. Does this mean we must cover all our floors with something which provides traction? At any rate, I thought I should make you aware of the possible risk.

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
Forum Leader
8674 posts Send Private Message
3/30/2007 5:38 PM

lecasler - I have never  heard of this as a danger.  Many rabbit experts recommend slick surfaces for bonding, but I am interested in what you have discovered regarding pulled ligaments, etc.   Can you post the link to the article you are referring too?  I will add this my "ask the experts"list. 

.

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