Bunny Bonding Blues

by Kitty
(New Jersey)

Zoey Grooming Ralphie

Zoey Grooming Ralphie

I have a year old mixed breed rabbit named Zoey, who used to be bonded to her sister.

Sadly, her sister passed away and (since, Zoey has been declared healthy) we have been on the hunt for a hubby for her.

First we went to a trial period with a rabbit named Ben. Zoey HATED him and vice versa. He was over-interested in her and constantly annoyed her, they always fought.

So, after a month of that we went back to the drawing board.

We went on another trial period with a calm, sweet lionhead boy named Ralphie. They get along much better and I can see them definitely being bonded.

However, we are kind of stuck. Zoey will groom him pretty much every session multiple times. But when she doesn't groom him she is constantly trying to nip his underbelly and get him to move from HIS litter box.

We have had a lot of success with the bathtub but they have to move on from it since they do nothing when in there.

I took out the litter boxes and try to correct Zoey every time she goes to nip him because he rarely fights back, but I don't know how to stop all her territorial behavior.

Should I leave it alone and let them work it out?

How do I get them out of this rut?

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Oct 04, 2017
Spay? NEW
by: Anonymous

Is your female spayed? If not, get her spayed... it will very likely help with the bonding!

Apr 03, 2017
Neutral is key
by: Kerry - Just Rabbits

Hi Kitty,

It seems they are not completely bonded as yet as, like you say, there is still an issue over territory.

I have written lots about this subject and you can find most of the information you need in the following links...

These pages should help...

• Rabbit Bonding - https://www.justrabbits.com/rabbit-bonding.html

• Rabbits Living Together - https://www.justrabbits.com/bunny-rabbits-together.html

• Territorial Behaviour - https://www.justrabbits.com/rabbit-behaviour.html

• Neutering & Spaying - https://www.justrabbits.com/neutering-rabbits.html

(Note: It will take from 2 weeks to 2 months for the hormones to settle down after neutering.)

You may also want to note that any bonding process should be done slowly, carefully, supervised and on completely NEUTRAL territory (where no rabbit has been before!) until bonding is complete.

There are two important things to remember about bonding:

1. Understand rabbit body language. Positive signs include all relaxed behaviour: resting quietly, stretching out, flopping, and purring. Grooming, eating and drinking in each others company are positive too. Mounting is positive, unless the other rabbit is squealing - this can mean some biting is involved and should be stopped.

2. Watch for signs of aggression. Such as tail up, ears back, growling, boxing, circling, chasing and biting. Also watch for jealously in an trio dynamic. If any one of these occurs several times in a row and neither rabbit backs down you should stop them immediately. A spray of water to the head may interrupt a fight about to happen but it won't do anything to stop them once they start fighting. A gloved physical pick up or a towel used to separate them will be your only options here. (Or a bowl of water poured on them but this is a bit extreme).

The emphasis in all this is the word neutral!

If any familiar smells, sounds, sights or even objects etc are with any rabbit during bonding, they will react in a territorial way. (especially litter boxes)

The trick is to make them think about 'the now' and concentrate on the issue happening right in the moment. That's why a slightly scary situation works so well when bonding because the rabbits are forced to act on the instinct of survival rather than pride and defiance.

Don't forget, you can probably find exactly what you are looking for inside my new rabbit program. It's the result of over 30 years of research and is really easy to navigate and very quick to understand.

Take a peak here and see if it's for you...

I hope I have helped, thanks again for your question and I look forward to finding out more about you and your rabbits soon!

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