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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > Cotton and Penny- bonding 2 females
Last Post by BB at 10/30/2008 9:38 PM (20 Replies)
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User is Offline KatnipCrzy
Holland, MI
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10/15/2008 10:02 AM

RENAMED DORA- SHE IS NOW OFFICIALLY "PENNY"!!

Yesterday I got an email from the vet clinic that I work at (day off) that someone was looking to re-home their bunny- a spayed female about 1 1/2 years old.  I have a soft spot for lops and her picture was adorable- so I called the owner and we decided that I would try to bond her to Cotton- my female Mini Lop.  The new bunny- "Dora" weighs 3 1/4 lbs and has lop ears.  I noticed that her ears are shorter than Cotton's (who is a year old)- so I wonder if Dora is a Holland Lop or a Mini Lop mixed with Netherland dwarf.

I had the vet look her over to be on the safe side- and he reports that "Dora" looks great- no health problems, ears, eyes and teeth look great and a nice personality.  I brought her home and spent the last hour setting up a cage for her.  Her cage she came with is so small- that I set up our extra dog crate for her.  I thought about using the bottom of her "old" cage as a litterbox- as it is only 2 feet long!  I have it soaking in vinegar right now to get it clean- they never tried to littertrain her with a box- but she always peed in the same corner anyway.  I hate to say it- but there really was not even any room for a litter box. 

I set up the new cage about 3 feet away from Cotton's run and gave them both veggies and apple sticks when I finally brought Dora down after the cage was as ready as I can make it today.  (I would like to add a shelf to her temporary dog cage to give her more room- but will wait until I have hubbys help).

Dora seems very happy- chewing on sticks, exploring box, completely "unaware" of Cotton.  Cotton was excited about the new apple sticks and veggies at first- but now she is sitting there watching Dora.  Cotton will let me pet her and easily accepts a papaya tablet- so she is interested in Dora but not showing any misdirected aggression to me or ignoring favorite treats.

Here are some quick snapshots of the set up of Cotton and Dora and a closer pic of Dora.  (Dora feels so small compared to Cotton- I can't believe that she is only 3 1/4 lbs at 1 1/2 years!  I would have to double check Cottons weight- but she is probably about 5 lbs.

If anyone has any suggestions- Suggest away!!!!  I have read the bonding section and links and have an idea of how to slowly proceed.  I think I will try using "stunt" bunnies also like BinkyBunny did.

 


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Cotton and Schroeder- Mini Lops Griffin- English Lop

User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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10/15/2008 11:26 AM
so CUTE! she looks like a holland lop to me. they are usually smaller (less than 4 pounds) so that would be about right. i'm so glad you have her and she's in a larger cage right now. she must be so happy! has she been using the litter?

are you planning on switching pens? i think that's one of the most important things you can do at this stage... that will get them used to each other's scents and make them less territorial of the cage space.


Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline KatnipCrzy
Holland, MI
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10/15/2008 1:33 PM

yes, she has used the litterbox and the litterbox only in the 6 hours that I have had her.  I don't think they ever gave her a chance to be littertrained.  Her cage was so small.....  It is just a little bigger than a cat carrier.

So I should switch them in the cages every cady or couple of days?  Cotton in dominant to the cats and dogs- and Dora seems much meeker (at least so far)- will that make Cotton angry to sense that a "stranger" was in her cage?  I was going to do intros in the bathtub, neutral places, etc....but I didn't think the cage thing through.  It makes sense to swap them and get them used to the smell of each other....

 



Cotton and Schroeder- Mini Lops Griffin- English Lop

User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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10/15/2008 5:29 PM
you can give Dora a couple days to settle in, but then you want to start switching them every night. leave the toys, houses, litterboxes, everything in place, only switch the bunny. be prepared for some marking poos. i think this might have more of an effect than switching just a toy back and forth. a toy can be ignored, a litterbox and cage cannot.


Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
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10/16/2008 10:48 PM
Oh, I am so happy for you. I hope that this works out. She's adorable.

Yes, you may find that they will mark more, so that will be normal. And also Dora may be passive right now, but many bunnies will be this way before they feel safe and settled in, then once they start to become more comfortable, they will come out of their shell. If she is truly meeker, than that trait be there even when she's showing confidence, but she also might be more dominant then you expect. Time will tell.

I am sending out "easy" bonding vibes your way.

Keep us updated.




User is Offline KatnipCrzy
Holland, MI
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10/18/2008 5:40 PM

Well, I re-named the new bunny "Penny" instead of "Dora".  After having her for a few days- i am convinced she is a Holland Lop- she is much more petite than Cotton and her ears are different- they start on the side of her head (where I can feel the start of Cotton's ears on top of her head).  Of course.... they could possible both be mixes or poor examples of a breed standard.  Either way...I adore them both.  It looks like Penny is Tort colored- so the name Penny fits- as she is kinda reddish brown with some black tips (not agouti colored).

I moved the dog crate cage closer to Cotton's cage on Friday.  Surprisingly to me, it was Penny that had a mini poop war in her cage and peed a tiny bit in a box that had been in Cotton's cage.  I had to put a short box between the cages (they can easily see over it- only about 3 inches high) to prevent Cotton from pushing her NIC cubes out further to reach the dog crate cage.  They are so interested in each other- but I don't want them to get nose to nose yet.  The other day I let Cotton out and she hopped up to Pennys cage and they both got "jumpy" and worked up- so I immediately put Cotton back and made sure they can not get nose to nose again yet.

I have them out one at a time with me at night when I watch TV- I have been taking Cotton up first and then switching to Penny.  I use the same cover on the couch for both and neither have peed on it- yeah!   (Cotton had to be watched for that even before we got Penny).  I saw the first binky from Penny tonight- it was so cute to see her happy.  She is very friendly and she will jump on my lap, flop next to me and loves to be petted.  I have yet to get any bunny kisses though (Cotton gives tons of bunny kisses).

I swapped them in their cages today for the first time.  Penny is fascinated by the room, smells, toys, etc of Cotton's cage/run.  For bedtime I did close Penny in the cage portion since I don't know her chewing or jumping history.  I don't want to wake up in the morning to a bunny that burrowed thru the plastic sheet and ate the carpet- or a loose bunny.  Cotton while interested in the new smells is not nearly so impressed with her new accomodations.  My husband is going to help me make a shelf for the dog crate and I need to buy more plastic so I can cover the carpet and attach a NIC run to the crate- I can get that stuff tomorrow.



Cotton and Schroeder- Mini Lops Griffin- English Lop

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
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10/18/2008 9:58 PM
Yeah, I'm sorry, during this time it can be a bit smelly and messy. Ech. Normal though.

One thing to keep in mind, (and you may have already) is to be careful when one freely approaches the other's cage as they can bite each other. I learned the hard way - Bailey bit part of Rucy's lip off (which was sewn back on) but that is SCARY. I mean lips are important to bunnies as they pick up food. They can also tear at eyes, cheeks, noses. So watch carefully if one approaches the others pen or use chicken wire for the first two feet around the pens, cages.

It's normal for them to "freak" out during this time. I recommend to waiit until they become rather "used to" each other's scent before bonding them, when they seem to settle down a bit. This can take a few weeks.



User is Offline KatnipCrzy
Holland, MI
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10/19/2008 5:59 PM

Swapped them back again tonight- so Cotton is in her original cage and Penny is in the dog crate cage.  I think my husband needs a Valium or something though....I saw him looking at the cages...so I asked "What?".  And he proceeded to distressingly tell me that there are poo's all over Cotton's cage now from Penny.  I explained why....again.  But he seemed so sad for Cotton.  (beats angry any day though). 

I hope this was not a mistake- but it was litterbox empty day so I emptied the box and swept up the stray poos in the dog crate cage before I put Penny back in (just because that cage is so much smaller).  I used the same towels and toys- but removed the stray marking poos.  I did not want Penny to have to lay on the poops.

I did not bother to do this in Cotton's cage as it is very large- 6ft x 3ft approx.  I figured Cotton had plenty of places to lounge without having to lay in Penny's poops.

What a hassle to switch the bunnies right now- have to keep them separate and make sure to transfer food and salad bowls right now too (Penny is being switched from old food to Oxbow).



Cotton and Schroeder- Mini Lops Griffin- English Lop

User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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10/20/2008 3:42 AM
i think you can be the judge if the poops need to be swept up or not. they should start to lessen as time goes by, it's just during this stge that things get a bit... uh... poopy? another option would be to sweep up the poos and leave them in the litterbox, so they're still there, just not on the floor. any urine you will of course want to clean up right away, but the poops are not as big of a deal.

my husband is the same way, i swear. for being so smart, they can't seem to see past the current situation. you can explain til you're blue in the face the hows and whys, but sometimes they need to see the final bonded result before it will click.

i still remember the look on his face the day i said, "Honey, you need to help me carry the bunnies into the laundry room so i can put them on the washing machine..."

priceless...


Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline KatnipCrzy
Holland, MI
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10/22/2008 5:41 PM

Well, I am still continuing as usual with the every day cage swapping.  Cotton wants to get closer to Penny- but they are not calm if they are allowed with a single cage barrier, I don't trust them not to nip and box and I want to avoid any bad experiences that will make them hate each other.  I know it has only been a week...how do you know when to allow some contact?  Would I likely have different results from face to face bathtub time?  If I can get positive bathtub time will that hopefully translate to them not wanting to box/nip/or get jumpy with only a single cage barrier?  What should my next step be?  Keep cage swapping? or try to create a positive experience of them together?  They should be really familiar with each others smell- from the cage swapping, and I comb them every night using the same comb, and they are on the same blankets on the couch during our TV time and that does not seem to upset them.  I don't want to rush them.... but I don't want to stay at cage swapping when I should be moving them forward in bonding.

I talked to my husband and told him that I am worried about leaving for Christmas (even though we have a petsitter coming in daily) and that I think it would be best to keep with separate caging/ swapping every day and hopefully being able to get the cages side by side and then some supervised bonding time until Christmas- and to not even consider housing together until after we are back- and he agreed!    Which makes me happy because I know he is not thrilled about the space the dog crate takes up in the family room.  It is in front of his saltwater fish tank and he has to work around it when he cleans, feeds, changes water, etc.

Of course that is probably easier to deal with than me being an absolute wreck for 4 days....the stress of the holidays and all the family obligations are bad enough without worrying about the buns.



Cotton and Schroeder- Mini Lops Griffin- English Lop

User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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10/23/2008 4:21 AM
mine took 3 weeks to bond (with everyday sessions). if yours are similar, i would say that if they are living together 24/7 by middle of November, you should be safe with them together over christmas. i would not rule out bonding them before that time. you won't know if you don't give it a try.

you can start bonding sessions right away. do it neutral and be prepared: water bottle set on stream, small laundry basket, phone, camera if you have one (1-2 minute videos are even better! this is helpful for seeing positions/reactions). you will likely have different results in the tub, you just have to try. sometimes being too cautious will work against the ultimate goal. take it one step at a time, keep swapping cages, but incorporate bonding as well. try and do at least 10 minutes a day, longer if you can (i'd cap it off at about an hour if it goes that long).

have you read the HRN bonding article yet? it is my favorite!


Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline KatnipCrzy
Holland, MI
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10/23/2008 11:01 AM

Well, I thought I would try a bathtub session today.  I lined the bathtub with beach towels got some gloves and barriers- and me and hubby each brought a bunny up to the bathroom.  We put them in the tub and I petted them to get their heads down and hopefully be calm. I don't think they were very scared of the bath tub because they started to get "jumpy"...so I moved them together and pushed their heads down again and petted them.  I left my gloves off at this point so they would realize it was me petting them....that was probably a mistake because as soon as I stopped petting their heads Cotton lunged to bite Penny and instead bit me on the back of my hand.  Since I did not want it to end in a scuffle...I made them calm back down- after removing the plastic dinner plate barrier my husband was wielding.  I tried to let Penny see Cotton with Cottons view of her blocked...but then Penny squealed and acted as though she wanted to lunge.  So again I made them calm down, pushed the heads down and petted their heads.  My told my husband to make sure Penny knew he was petting her (see his hand so she knew it was not a bunny attack) and he got her out of the tub, I picked up Cotton and I put them back in their cages...swapping them again.

even though we had the fan on in the bathroom, and the dogs were fussing in the other room because they were not impressed that they were baby-gated into the bedroom when we weren't there....neither bunny seemed very scared.  I reviewed the bonding links and info....and I have to admit I am a little scared to put them in a carrier together and put them in the car...I am nervous about putting them in a small enclosed area together.

Maybe I just need to give them more time cage swapping?  Even though I think that Cotton might have gotten a nip on Penny's rump...there was no out and out fight- just single acts of aggression that neither had time to reciprocate as I broke it up immediately, so there was no "winner" or "loser"...just upset behavior and me making them lay and be petted.  I guess I should not have moved them closer together...but as long as I was head petting they were fine...but the minute I no longer petted they were moving forward to each other in an aggressive manner.  Both Cotton and Penny growled/squealed/grunted at each other at some point.

Well, at least hubby did not get bit...though maybe the cursing would have scared the bunnies  .  But if it didn't I would have been managing 2 bunnies by myself- he would be too distracted by the bite to be helpful.



Cotton and Schroeder- Mini Lops Griffin- English Lop

User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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10/23/2008 1:36 PM

do you have a washing machine? you could try them in a small laundry basket on top of the washer. the noise and vibration is a very strange sensation to them that can almost mimic a car ride, but you can be right there just in case. this can serve to make them scared of the environment, not of each other. honestly, i don't think that's abnormal for a first meeting at all. i have some bonding videos incl. some washing machine ones on my youtube account if you want to watch them (username: Beka27)

also... if the beach towel is removed and they're on the bare (dry) floor of the tub, that should take away some of their traction and might make it more difficult to lunge.

continue cage swapping along with daily bonding. swapping can only do so much (get them used to each other's scent and prevent them from becoming territorial of one cage over another). the real "meat and potatoes" of the bonding is the actual time together. we've all been at this point where you are scared that they're going to get hurt, but it is a process you have to go thru to get to the final outcome.



Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
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10/23/2008 7:44 PM

I agree that you may want to start with stress bonding - washing machine, car rides. If you want to have quick access to get to them if they fight in an enclosed space like a car carrier, try a box, but hover over so they can't jump out. if you do the car ride, carry them separately to the car, and then ride in the back seat with them while your husband drives. Of course, be safe, and just ride around your neighborhood, plus the constant turns will add to the "stress bonding"

Here's a great link about car ride stress method http://www.sandiegorabbits.org/behavior/bonding.html




User is Offline KatnipCrzy
Holland, MI
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10/25/2008 11:46 AM

I am happy to report that I had some successful stress bonding time with Penny and Cotton today.  And by successful I mean they were in the same plastic bin together on top of the washing machine for 15 minutes!  There were some instances of hair pulling, but I would swirl/make them slilde back and forth and that instantly broke up any squabbles.  So even with the washer running, I did still need to do various taps on the box or washer to not let them get used to the current noise/vibration.  I had to put a lid on the bin because Penny was like a Mexican jumping bean and I had to scrape her off me twice before my husband grabbed the lid.  (The bin I used was something that I had custom made a hamster cage out of...a clear rubbermaid bin with air holes drilled along the top and the middle of the lid is cut out and replaced with hardware cloth (wire), attached with washers and bolts.

Even though they both had incidents of wanting to hair pull each others bottoms, Penny is the only one that lost some tufts of fur.  And after 1 break up of a squabble, Penny ended up with her front half on Cotton's back (did not appear to be mounting, just how she ended up after sliding around).  Neither of them tried to mount each other...just some hair pulling.  And while they were together in the bin, I don't know that I would have considered them huddled togther.  At this point they did not seem to get comfort from each other, but they could be made to tolerate the other.  Even the hubby admitted that he did not think the buns would be side by side in the box, he thought the whole washer/box bonding was going to last less than 30 seconds.  But I am happy to report that we had 15 minutes of them together and I made sure to end the session while they were not squabbling.  So while I would have loved to see them "cuddling" I will settle for "frozen" next to each other. 

I told my husband "Think of all the laundry we are going to get done!" 



Cotton and Schroeder- Mini Lops Griffin- English Lop

User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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10/25/2008 4:06 PM

^^^lol! it was the same way with me, for a few days there was barely a dirty sock or dishcloth in the house...

i would do this for a few sessions, and then after about 5 minutes of washer time, see if you can transition them to the bathtub. carry them in the bin to the bathroom, shake the box side to side if you need to while you walk and then place them in the tub with some favorite veggies. try it with no towel in the bottom and see if that helps.

do you have the water bottle set on stream? if one moves aggressively towards the other, spray 'em. this should stop them and they'll have to get the water off. if you wait till they are in a full fight, the water will not be enough to break them up.

also, if they are frightened of the vacuum, you could put it in the bathroom (or right outside the door) and have hubby switch it on, the sudden noise should be enough to stop them in their tracks.



Meadow..... Photobucket ...... Max, my angel bunny

User is Offline KatnipCrzy
Holland, MI
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10/27/2008 10:18 AM

Yesterday we did another washer bonding, and there were less scuffles, we also introduced the water bottle peace enforcer.  While they clearly disliked being squirted, there was no grooming between them.

Today we tried the tub without a towel, there were a couple more scuffles, Penny seemed to be the instigator, although Cotton was not completely innocent.  I tried putting parsley in there between them- but neither of them would consider eating.  They sure seem to know that scuffling results in getting squirted.  So they would have times were they would just sit there....they could see each other but would not/could not approach each other without scuffling.  I tried to "pet them down" and that works for Cotton I would see her release her tense posture...but Penny stays pretty tense. 

I was leaning over the side of the tub, ready to squirt if necessary, and Penny got a majority of the squirting today- but once she actually reached up and boxed the squirt bottle...LOL. 

 



Cotton and Schroeder- Mini Lops Griffin- English Lop

User is Offline KatnipCrzy
Holland, MI
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10/28/2008 5:50 PM

I did washer bonding again for 20 minutes today.  They still scuffle but without nearly the intensity as it used to be.  So I would have to say that I am seeing some improvement in the fact that they can be made to tolerate each other and while there is still some fur pulling....they don't have the grunting/growling lunges that were so scary the first day.

I moved their cages closer together- they were about 5 inches or so apart- I moved them about 2 inches apart- I used a piece of wood 2x4 to prevent whichever bunny is in the NIC enclosure from pushing the sides completely up to the dog crate.  I don't think they are ready for nose to nose with only a NIC barrier yet. 

In the box I used for bonding...they will both start a scuffle, but neither of them have tried to hump/dominate.  I thought I might see that...but maybe they are not comfortable enough yet?

(I am updating this post as much as I am- mainly to remind myself what I did, how it went, etc).

The first day I thought I would probably NEVER get them to not fight, but here it is about a week later or so...I while I have a long way to go, I have a lot of hope and faith that this will work and they eventually will be buddies.  On Friday I will try to get some video footage- my hubby should be able to video it for me.



Cotton and Schroeder- Mini Lops Griffin- English Lop

User is Offline MarkBun
Richmond, CA
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10/29/2008 6:59 AM

I found a large pet carrier and car rides were the only way I could get my two not to fight together.  If they start up in there, I just shake the carrier and it stops.

The road to bonding can take some time, and female to female is the hardest one.  But things seem to be progressing in a relatively normal fashion.



My bonding quest with Maryann - Read about a less than easy bonding with two buns - but they did bond!

User is Offline KatnipCrzy
Holland, MI
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10/30/2008 1:21 PM

Yesterdays bonding session seemed to go well, they scuffled only at the beginning and then ignored each other.  As they changed positions and moved they were not jumping on each other and the end of the session was 10 minutes of them not fighting at all- not contacting though either.  But I was able to pet them, move their bodies, etc without that starting another hair pulling match.  And the scuflles were much less intense- almost half- hearted scuffles.

Well, today was a completely different story.  They would start scuffling and would not want to stop.  If I stopped them, thesecond one of them moved even a fraction- it would start all over again.  Water/squirt gun seemed not to deter today.  So I had to wear a pair of winter gloves to even get them to stop the biting/whirling.  And even then only knowing that I had to stop on a "positive" note is what kept me going to get the session not to end mid-fight.   The bin was wet from squirting them at first and with all the hair pulling today- the bin is practically lined in fur!

I am not sure why today went so rough.  Either this is a normal bump in the road or the bunnies could tell that I was upset.  I was home sick from work today and got crappy news about some deaths in the family- so I was feeling blah but I waited to work with the buns until I felt calm- and I did not think that I was showing any negative emotion.  I had even thought that after the washer bonding session I would try them in neutral territory and set up the NIC pen to do that- but needless to say I was not up to putting them in a pen together.

Fortunately they have not "hurt" each other- just the hair pulling.  I have seen some attempts at face nipping- but the bunnies seem to move out of that position before I even need to try to stop it.  I have not seen any wounds on either- just the tufts of pulled hair.  I was in the habit of combing nightly- but I stopped that when I started bonding as I figured it would help protect their bums better not to be combed nightly.  And oddly enough even though Penny starts the scuffles just as often as Cotton- it is mostly Penny's fur that get pulled out.  Penny does get some of Cotton's now and then- but they are so opposite colored (white with grey shading and blue tort) that it is obvious whose fur is whose.  I hope to have hubby try to video tomorrow.  I can not tell who is dominant- it seems to be equal- and maybe that part of their problem.  Cotton will show more relaxation (relaxing ears and "unfreezing") in the bonding box than Penny will- but Penny is still getting used to me and learning to trust me more, so that could be why too.

The only change was that 2 days ago we moved the cages closer together- so they are about 2 inches apart (there is a 2 x4 preventing the NIC cube pen from being pushed against the dog crate cage) and they were previously maybe 5 inches apart.

Edit: my husband works alot- but on the days that he is home I could try car bonding.  That might be my next try- maybe the washer is not scary enough any more.



Cotton and Schroeder- Mini Lops Griffin- English Lop
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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > Cotton and Penny- bonding 2 females

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