BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > Lola and Dexter Bonding - Help/Encouragement Needed!
Last Post by Hokankai at 9/08/2012 8:35 PM (5 Replies)
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User is Offline bmt87
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9/05/2012 5:16 PM

I just started trying to bond Lola to a rescue bunny named Dexter (see photo below).

We had been looking for a partner for her and it worked out that we were going on vacation and could leave her with a very experienced lady that has a rabbit rescue here and she spent 3 days helping to bond them.  Lola is a very assertive female so we thought it best to try her with a semi-timid/submissive male.

When I brought them home I initially had them in a separated x-pen that shared one side (note: it was an old folded up pen so there was NO way they could get to each other between the bars...).  They ate dinner side by side and even flopped next to each other afterwards with their backs "touching" through the separation.  After that, I let them each out to hop around and explore.  Dexter (new bun) was fine.  A little nervous of his new surroundings but hopped around and took some Oxbow pellets as treats from me which I thought was a great start.  Lola explored for two seconds and then tried to attack Dexter between the bars.  It honestly made me nervous because I don't like the thought of her teeth biting the metal - the last thing I want is her to have teeth issues or snap one off. I wasn't too surprised because this is Lola's home and she is going to be territorial.

So - we left them in the separated x-pen over night and it went REALLY well until about 6:30am when Lola started violently shaking the cage with her teeth. Luckily, I was already awake so I could get up and get her.   I'm honestly not sure if it's because she is trying to get at him OR if it's because she is used to being a free-range bun and the idea of being caged in terrifies her.  She also will freak out if she gets locked out of her cage so this is an issue we've had in the past - she is just used to everything being wide open. After this incident, we decided to let her be in her NIC condo and let Dexter have the x-pen all to himself after that.  Again, the biting the cage thing just scares me too much to risk her snapping a tooth.

When I got home from work this evening I did a quick 10-15 minute bathtub session before I gave them their dinner.  Dexter was calm and relaxed but Lola was TERRIFIED.  They did some slight snuggling but Lola tried to hop out a few times which isn't good because I don't want her to break something (jeez….this bunny is just asking to get hurt….).  I calmly put them side by side and rubbed them together and for about 5 minutes and then put them each in their respective cages and gave them their greens for dinner.  Dexter immediately started munching but it took a solid 20 minutes for Lola to calm down enough to start eating…and kale is her FAVORITE so I know she was worked up.

I am most nervous about how nervous Lola is. She just shakes like a leaf with ANYTHING that changes in her environment.  Could that be detrimental to her health?  I don't know how worked up is too much - I can just tell she is really confused and scared.  I also noticed when I got home from work she still had some pellets in her container which is unusual because she usually eats them all. She didn't seem to have as much poop in her litter box as normal but then again I could be being just a worried Momma - I emptied her litter box to make sure she is using it normally to double check. She went a TON last night marking all over the place so I wasn't too concerned.  Her nervous-ness is honestly why we wanted to find her a friend in the first place - somebun to lean on for comfort besides us...we can't crawl in the carrier with her when we need to take her somewhere (if I could I probably would).  Leave it to me have a bun that has anxiety/stress issues just like her slave...

Any suggestions you all could give me would be AWESOME. 

Calm, relaxed Dexter and nervous, freaked-out Lola (you can just see it in her eyes!)


User is Offline Skipper's Mama
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9/05/2012 6:15 PM
Dexter is such a cutie! I don't know anything about bonding buns, I'm sorry. I'm sure Dexter's calm personality will help her feel more secure once they are more firmly bonded though. It just takes time and patience. You're Lola's momma. I would say to trust your gut on her reactions since you know her best. I'm sure some other members will come by and help you out. =]

User is Offline Mimzy
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9/05/2012 7:36 PM
I think Skipper makes a good point, since she is very nervous, maybe a calm bun like Dexter would be a good fit for her to kind of balance out I don't really know a whole lot about bonding either though, only that I've heard it's pretty hard and can take some months to fully bond. I know that occasional fights are common but that if you have them bonding in a basket or something moveable, you can shake it a little so that they get scared and have to cuddle.

Another person once suggested putting the in each other's cages every few nights. Hopefully someone who knows more about this stuff can come along and give you more insight and help you figure out what and how you can go about this
 photo KenMimSig_zps025abf4b.jpg Bunmom since June 4, 2012<3

User is Offline FourTerrors
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9/08/2012 6:56 PM
Considering that neither are going to be particularly territorial maybe the bathtub isn't necessary. She may need a less scary place so that she feels comfortable enough to explore and really get to know her new partner. Try a pen in a hallway or in another bedroom or something where she has flat footing. Make sure you can still get in to break up a fight if it occurs. Otherwise you are doing really well, keep it up. I'm sure she will be sweet on him in no time.

User is Offline FourTerrors
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9/08/2012 6:57 PM

User is Offline Hokankai
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9/08/2012 8:35 PM
I agree with FourTerrors, keep the environment familiar and calm. I introduced Theo and Ariadne in the bathtub and it was a terrible experience for everyone even though they'd been interacting since she was 2 weeks old. It just wasn't an environment they felt safe in. All further interactions took place in the living room in a pen and went swimmingly.

Good luck and don't give up. Lola will be wigging out for awhile, but she'll adjust and a little change won't kill her even if she thinks it will . If your progress halts or goes south, move backwards a step and do that for another week before moving forward. Increase the number and duration of "dates", swap cages (or if Lola doesn't do well with that try exchanging cage furniture items), let them run around the room together but go back to different cages, and then make the final move. I think another thing that helped me was that when I moved them into the same cage I had to travel with them together in the car for two days and then set up a cage that looked and smelled completely different. That meant the cage became a neutral space rather than being Theodore's cage that he then had to share. Maybe when the time comes to combine them you can change something in the cage, deep clean items to get rid of her smell, move the cage/litterbox/food/whatever so that she doesn't feel like it's her cage anymore? Just a thought.

BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > Lola and Dexter Bonding - Help/Encouragement Needed!