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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > How long until introducing a new bunny after bonded cagemate passes?
Last Post by Zuli at 9/03/2012 6:32 AM (8 Replies)
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User is Offline Zuli
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9/02/2012 6:24 AM

To sum up events:

Our Lab, normally an exclusively outside dog, was inside getting his monthly Comfortis. He got into my bedroom, where our bunnies reside. They saw him; he saw them; all three freaked. Ragdoll and Beatrice started rocketing around the cage, terrified, and...Ragdoll broke her back. She had absolutely no response whatsoever in her hindquarters; she could not even use the bathroom. It was decided, ultimately, that it was more humane to have her put to sleep. She was approximately 4 months old. This was yesterday.

My concern now is for her cagemate and littermate, her sister Beatrice. She has never been on her own, and she seems upset. She doesn't seem to be eating her hay or fresh basil like she normally does, and tends to just curl up in the corner. Granted, it's the corner where she (and formerly Ragdoll) normally slept curled up together, or just lounged. She also isn't tearing up her grass mats like she usually does. She did, however, gradually eat her rice stick that we gave her, and she's drinking normally. When put down in her playpen on the floor, she's been bouncing about, be perfectly honest, it appears to me that she's looking for Rags. My mother insists that I'm anthropomorphizing her.

The breeder from whom we purchased them has no more of their litter; however, he has a litter from the same parents on the way, and two adult females from the same parents. Should we get her a new friend? If so, how long should we wait? The idea was to take her along with us and have her help pick out her new cagemate, to be gradually introduced and bonded.

These are the first rabbits I've ever owned, though my mother has had them in the past, and my sister has bunnysat for neighbors, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

User is Offline RabbitPam
South Florida
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9/02/2012 9:02 AM
First, let me say I am so sorry about your loss. My condolences to you, and to Beatrice. Because yes, she is grieving. Bunnies know when a companion has gone, and older, bonded mates are encouraged to be with a bunny who has passed to learn that they have died. They do look for them if they don't know for sure, so she may have been hunting for Ragdoll. By now, she will know she is alone with you, and that's OK. If Beatrice is eating and pooping normally, even if she is refusing treats, then physically she is fine. It may take her a few days since the trauma to behave normally. You can spend more time with her, cuddle or pet her and talk to her in a soothing voice while her grief passes. It will help you, too.

My honest advice would be to not get her another companion just yet. First, she is nearing the age (5-6 months) when her hormones will start to kick in, and she will need to be spayed. It is essential for her long term health since she is vulnerable to getting cancer if she isn't. But also, her behavior will change and she will be more volatile and possibly aggressive until a month after the procedure has passed. Please don't worry about her missing a companion at this stage, because what was going to happen very soon was that both sisters were going to get hormonal, and any semblance of a bond would no longer be there as they became teens. It is not a factor in a bond that they be from the same litter. I would urge you to wait, get Beatrice spayed, and bond with her yourself for now. Let the vet examine her and set a date for the spay.

After a month, you can take her to try some Bunny Dates, where you can bring her to a rescue shelter to meet some neutered male, or spayed female bunnies. A bunny will choose a new companion and you are much better off with a pair that get along, promising a good bond, than any other member of the same litter. She will be much happier meeting a bunny that she would really like to bring home. So I would take the time to make her feel safe and secure, get close to her, and plan the dates for a second bunny in about 6 months (at the most. Possibly sooner depending on the spay.) Don't let her meet any new bunnies before being spayed because there is a high probability she'd get pregnant, even if the breeder swears a new bunny is female. (You can't tell until it's too late - even vets can get it wrong.)

It's very sad for you and your Lab as well as Beatrice, and I'm sure you are being very careful to keep them apart from now on. It's hard to live that way, but the bigger hunting dogs are hard to have in the same home as a bunny for this reason. It is no one's fault, so don't blame yourself or the dog. All dog/bunny visits need to be supervised, and as you learned so sadly, it's nearly impossible to prevent a tragic accident. My heart goes out to you.

Others in your family mean well, but there has been a great deal of new information on the care of bunnies just in the past decade, so if you read the info. section on the site, you may get some tips for Beatrice that you didn't know and your mother never heard of. It's very good info. and helpful in making a good home for her to feel happy and safe with you.

I hope I was helpful here. {{{{{{{{{{{{Hugs to you and Beatrice.}}}}}}}}
SPIKE, my snuggle bunny (aka Spikey Marbles)

User is Offline Zuli
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9/02/2012 12:42 PM
Thank you for your condolences. My older sister, to whom the Lab belongs, blamed herself in this (though I believe I've been successful in convincing her otherwise); we'd been very careful to keep them separate, fearing that something like this would happen, and we thought the door to my bedroom was shut completely. Unfortunately, as is obvious, we were sadly mistaken.

Thank you as well for the valuable information! We were thinking a sister would be easier for her to bond with. A friend of a friend, who is experienced with rabbits, suggested giving her a couple of months? And I am planning on having her spayed. The problem is, so far, finding a vet that I would trust to do it, and of course waiting until she's the proper age.

I didn't bring Ragdoll home with me. Even after, well... I'll be honest, I didn't handle it well, even after taking a Valium. :/ I couldn't handle bringing her home to bury her; neither could my sister. However, I put the towel we'd wrapped her in to take her to the vet in with Beatrice. So far, though, she's... She's acting like she's doing a bit better. I'm honestly not sure at this point.

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Bay Area
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9/02/2012 7:30 PM

I am so sorry!  How incredibly heartbreaking. We all know the devastation of losing a bunny that many others, who don't know much about rabbits, may not fully understand.  And I know that the way it happened made it doubly painful for you. Hugs. 

It is good to be concerned about the bonded mate left behind. Though, your mother is right in some ways as it is very easy to anthropomorphize, rabbits can have reactions to the loss. Yours may also be reacting to the stress of that day which may have caused a gi slow-down, but it absolutely possible for a bunny to react to a loss of a mate as well. When my bunny Jack (now RIP), lost his mate, he would not eat, and stopped playing at night like he usually did.  I had to hang out with him during meal time to encourage him to eat.  It took him a couple of weeks before he was back to normal.   I did get him another mate later, and when Jack passed away, Vivian, his new mate reacted very strongly - She ripped up everything. She tore up her blankets, her bedding, her toy bunny buddy, which she used to always groom.  She definitely seemed to look for Jack, (she would go back and forth to the places they hung out together, where before she would just go and hang out with him, never just bounce back and forth.  Then she began hanging out in one place that that he chose to hang out by himself  -- a location she never hung out before).  It tore my heart out.   I made a point to spend as much time with her as I possibly could. Tried to work by her, read by her, make phones calls by her.    And we just sort of comforted each other.  She stopped tearing up things after a few days and seemed to accept it a bit. And slowly she got used to being the "queen" of the place.  

I ditto everything that RabbitPam has said.  Great advice, and once you get to the time in which you are thinking of spaying her, check out our thread about vet resources.

Ragdoll is at peace now and as we say here to those bunnies that have passed over --- Binky Free Ragdoll!  Which can mean several things depending on what you believe (or don't believe in) -- we accept everyone here.   Can mean a bunny is now free of pain, or can mean a bunny is free on the other side to binky! (or however you want to mean it).   

Hugs to both you and Beatrice. 

User is Offline Zuli
8 posts Send Private Message
9/02/2012 7:51 PM
See, it's stuff like this that makes me wish I lived in a larger area! I live in Mississippi, and though a "large" town by MS standards, we don't have a lot of things here, or within a reasonable driving distance. The closest listed exotics vet is more than a hundred miles away, and I've spoken with her before; she charges more than $300 for a bunny spay, and that's unfortunately not including the price of gas. I've been, no pun intended, vetting other doctors around my area (of which there are several, thankfully) regarding bunny spays, but...engh. I'm still unsure of them! One claims that she's used...I honestly can't remember which antibiotic, but it's one of the ones that's typically harmful to rabbits, on her own bunnies when spaying/neutering them. When she noticed my outright hesitation towards further questioning (this was a flat-out deal breaker when speaking to other vets), she did offer to use other antibiotics at my discretion. Others say that they used it, too, and some even required that they be fasted! There was one that was promising, and I'll have to give them another call and check them out some more.

User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
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9/03/2012 1:34 AM
I just want to offer my condolences on the loss of Ragdoll. Such a tragic situation.

RabbitPam and BB gave you some wonderful advice.

I'm assuming you've checked the House Rabbit Society list of veterinarians?

There doesn't seem to be any listings for MS but maybe there are some others that are near you?
Proud to be a Bunny Hugger and a voice for the voiceless

User is Offline Zuli
8 posts Send Private Message
9/03/2012 1:56 AM
I have, and I checked the Alabama listings. Every doctor there is an even longer drive, through much worse traffic and highway conditions. The closest is in Birmingham, which is a good 150 miles away; the next closer is more than 200 miles away. :/ I'm just in one of those cities where there's a surprisingly small variety of services available, and more variety is far enough away to make things stressful. I'd be hesitant to make a 30 mile drive with a sick or injured rabbit, because of the awful condition of our streets and highways (taking sweet little Ragdoll the six miles across town on our pothole-ravaged streets was nerve-wracking in itself), much less a 100 mile or more drive. Especially since, because of familial obligations, I'd most likely be forced to make the drive alone. That's not stress that I would want to inflict on Beatrice, or any other friend we may eventually find for her.

There are vets here, some of whom do advertise as dealing with exotics; the vet that does work out of the locally-owned pet supply store (as opposed to PetCo) advertises as dealing with exotics, even though the store...doesn't actually sell very much in the way of small and exotics supplies?? You can't even buy food there; literally the only thing I've seen there for bunnies was a food bowl.

I've been slowly but surely trying to speak with vets in the area regarding Beatrice; the problem is, a lot of the staff on-hand simply don't know procedures and costs, and it can be sometimes difficult to get the vet him/herself on the phone, as they can understandably be quite busy! As she's only four months old, and I've read in numerous places that it's best to wait until they're five to six months to spay, I'm going to take my time with the vets here, and see which one's services would be best fit for my little girl.

User is Offline RabbitPam
South Florida
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9/03/2012 4:42 AM
I think you're doing the right thing by researching the vets now, giving yourself a couple of months to find someone right for her. I know how hard it is to find one that is experienced and within driving distance. 2 more suggestions: first, try looking up rabbits on They list rabbits being adopted out by shelters. You can search by zip code. My thought is to check out these shelters near you, or rescues or even fosters, and ask what vets they use to do their speuters. Often a rabbit is given away after having the procedure done, and usually by an experienced vet who does a lot of them. So they may know someone good to recommend.
My other idea is to ask the breeder who they use. Just because you are not buying another bunny there, doesn't mean you can't call and ask for a recommendation. Might not be a good vet, but might be more local and if the breeder has had a good experience, worth checking out.

A long drive for a spay is not so bad for her. It's the regular treatments and follow up if needed that is a problem with travel. A good spay will run $200-400, so you can have an idea. Some shelters cost less. It's a one-time procedure. A few hours in a car carrier won't be bad for Beatrice, and if she stays overnight and possibly one more day, she may be fine to travel home.
You're doing great with this. My condolences to your sister, too. I can't imagine how terrible she must feel.
SPIKE, my snuggle bunny (aka Spikey Marbles)

User is Offline Zuli
8 posts Send Private Message
9/03/2012 6:32 AM
I've actually looked on Pet Finder, too, and...unfortunately, the closest to me is in Birmingham. I guess a lot of people in Mississippi just don't do rabbit vet visits. >.o Asking the breeder is a good idea--I honestly hadn't thought about that! I'll call them soon and ask, since they live fairly close, maybe a 10, 15 minute drive. They likely use someone local.

Again, thanks for all of your help, everyone. It's been a definite relief in all of this.
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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > How long until introducing a new bunny after bonded cagemate passes?

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