Bonding


In the time my wife and I have had pet rabbits, we’ve dealt with a variety of issues with our furry companions. From behavioral problems to life threatening GI stasis, we’ve been through a wide range of the things that can happen. None of it has deterred us from wanting to keep rabbits as pets. We love these curious, investigative, playful and exuberant creatures and wouldn’t trade them for anything. Below are things my wife and I wish we’d known about when we first started keeping rabbits as pets. I’m offering this as a resource for new rabbit owners, and I hope it helps.

Resources
My wife and I volunteer for the House Rabbit Network (HRN) They have a list of articles about rabbit care , including an excellent Bunny Basics guide that gives a brief and effective summary of bunny care. HRN also has a Blog with a variety of resources. It’s a good place to ask bunny related questions, as most of the people on the Blog are HRN members with experience fostering rabbits.
A lot of people will link to articles on the House Rabbit Society web site. HRS is a larger organization than HRN with more chapters nationwide. Both are rabbit rescue groups geared towards providing accurate information to rabbit owners.
HRS also has more articles and information on their site, including articles on keeping rabbits with dogs, keeping rabbits with cats. HRN has an article on Guinea Pigs as Rabbit Buddies
Rabbit Health in the 21st Century: A Guide for Bunny Parents is an excellent book on how to care for your pet rabbit, and includes a lot of information that isn’t readily available on the web.
How to live with an Urban Rabbit“. This book is a good overall look at bunny care. While a lot of the information it contains is available online, it’s convenient to have it in one place.

Vets
All vets are not equal; There are a lot of vets who are excellent with cats and dogs, but do not necessarily have all the specialized knowledge necessary to care for rabbits. Rabbits are considered “Exotics” and you need a vet who has an exotics specialist on staff. Check with your local rabbit or animal rescue group for vet recommendations. While your regular vet doesn’t need to have a 24 hour emergency care ward, you should find out where the closest one is, in case you need to get your pet to the vet at 3:00 am. Your regular vet is likely to have a 24 hour vet that they work with, if one is available in the area.

Health Insurance for Pets
My wife and I as well as other HRN volunteers have gotten health insurance for our rabbits from VPI. The basic idea is that you pay for the care up front. There’s a form that the vet’s office needs to fill out. You or the vet then fax it to VPI. VPI then reimburses you directly. All the vet has to do is fill out some paperwork and give you the necessary invoice. The first year my wife and I got it for our rabbits it paid for itself within six months. Rabbit care can be expensive. Be sure to read the fine print so you know what is and is not covered.

The Breeder is not necessarily the best source for information
There are a lot of people breeding rabbits who are caring, informed and knowledgeable people. Unfortunately there are also people who breed rabbits who don’t really know much about them, aside from the basics of feeding and housing them enough to reproduce and keep enough alive to turn a profit. I ask that the reliable, well informed breeders please ignore the next few lines, as they aren’t about you. I know HRN members who’ve been warned by some breeders to never take their rabbit to a vet, “Because the vet will just experiment on it.” Some breeders have also advised people to not give their rabbits hay or greens and just feed them pellet food. Anyone who gives that kind of advice doesn’t really know what they’re talking about. There is a lot of misinformation out there that, if followed, will damage the health and well being of your pet rabbit. Be aware of the source of your advice.

Rabbit Diets
Breeders will sometimes recommend feeding your rabbit an Alfalfa based pellet food. Pellets should be a significant component of your rabbit’s diet, but much of their food should come from hay and greens. The HRN article How to Choose a Good Pellet will get you started. The Calvin’s Care Corner – Rabbit Treats article gives the following advice:“An adult rabbit’s daily primary diet is basic; unlimited grass/timothy hay, restricted high-fiber pellets [apx. 1/4 c. per 5 lbs. body weight], fresh veggies [apx. 2 c. per 5 lbs. body weight], unlimited fresh water [especially in hot weather].” Anything else is secondary, and thus a treat. Rabbits are NOT omnivores. Most of the “treats” you see in the pet store are very bad for your rabbit, particularly the yogurt based threats or anything that contains sugar.

Pineapple and Papaya: possible life savers
I highly recommend getting your rabbit(s) accustomed to dried Papaya and fresh pineapple. Many people believe that enzymes found in pineapple and papaya help break down the fur that a rabbit ingests. This is one of those things that have been neither proven nor discredited and there’s debate upon it’s effectiveness even among vets, but at the very least, rabbits love both fruits.

If you like fresh pineapple you’re in luck, because rabbits are very happy to eat the fibrous core that humans generally avoid. Remember to only give your rabbit no more than a teaspoon or a tablespoon of pineapple during any given day. Too much fruit will cause diarrhea.

Lacking the ability to vomit, rabbits can’t cough up fur balls the way cats can. As a result, fur can build up and cause potentially fatal blockages. This can result in Gastrointestinal or GI Stasis. Not all cases of GI Stasis start with blockages and it’s possible that some blockages are caused by GI Stasis. The exact relationship between a blockage and Stasis is uncertain, but avoiding fur buildup is a good idea regardless.

This is also why frequent brushing is necessary, particularly during the major shedding periods.

Calcium and your Rabbit
Rabbits metabolize all the calcium they eat. Because of this too much calcium can be very harmful to your pet. This can include various forms of Dental Disease and bladder sludge. In extreme cases kidney stones are possible. I also recommend you get Up Close and Personal with a Bunny’s Molars

Young, growing rabbits, or rabbits that are nursing, pregnant or are females being used for breeding need a higher calcium diet. That’s why high calcium foods such as Alfalfa hay an alfalfa based pellets are good for them. Adult rabbits who are not nursing or being bred however, should be on lower calcium diets. This includes Timothy hay and timothy based pellets used in place of Alfalfa. High calcium greens such as broccoli and spinach should be fed sparingly if at all.

Get your bunny fixed!
When my wife and I bought Beanbag into our home, we decided to get her four year old female rabbit Fuzzface fixed. This was done largely because the hormone reduction would make it easier to bond the bunnies and because we had a vague awareness that it would be better for her to be fixed. The vets found a tumor on her uterus when they spayed her. Fortunately, it was caught very early. In the vet’s words, “We don’t have any survival statistics, because we almost never find them this soon.” That was the first, but not the last time Beanbag saved Fuzzface’s life. We later learned that “Up to 85% of female rabbits develop uterine cancer by the age of four if they have not been spayed.” (HRN, Why Spay Your Rabbit?)
Neutered Male rabbits are less aggressive, less territorial and express fewer territorial behaviors, such as spraying.

Rabbit Litter
Picking the right litter for your rabbit can be a surprisingly convoluted process. Most clay based litter made for cats will clump around a rabbits fur. It may be ingested when the rabbit grooms which can lead to a fatal blockage. It should ONLY be used if you have a slat bottom cage that doesn’t allow your rabbit direct access to the litter. Litter made from Pine, Cedar or other aromatic wood shavings are bad for most small animals, rabbits among them. The pine and cedar oils can cause significant respiratory irritation. There is some evidence to indicate more serious ailments can result. There’s a cat litter on the market named SWheat scoop. It’s made, as the name implies, from wheat. The problem with this litter is that wheat expands in the stomach and can cause fatal blockages in rabbits. I know of two cases where a rabbit exposed to wheat based litter needed gastric surgery due to a blockage. This is major surgery and aside from being expensive, can lead to numerous health consequences down the road, assuming the rabbit even survives. Corn can have a similar impact upon a rabbit’s digestive system. Because of this I recommend against corn and corn husk based litters. Paper based litters are often a good choice, provided your rabbit doesn’t eat much if any of their litter. Fortunately, the two best options for rabbit litter are also the least expensive. Critter Country Litter ‘N Bedding is a compressed straw bedding. It shouldn’t matter if your rabbit eats it, as it’s essentially straw anyway. While it won’t provide much in the way of nutrition, it at least won’t do any damage. It’s generally cheaper per pound than most the other litters in your average pet store. You can also get Yesterday’s Mews, which is a pellet litter made of recycled news print pulp. Most of the HRN volunteers, myself included, have become fond of using the wood pellets made for wood burning stoves. These biodegrade as easily as straw and paper based pellets, which makes them a good choice for people who compost their rabbit litter. (The Magic Bunny Poo – A Composting Tale) It’s also costs significantly less than commercial pet litters. Most places that carry these pellets consider them a “seasonal” item, so stock up during the Fall and Winter so you have enough for the Spring and Summer. Your local Agway or other farm supply store will probably have them year round, or be more than happy to order them for you. Some wood burning stove pellets contain accelerants to make them burn faster. Avoid these like the plague, as the chemicals they contain will be very harmful to your rabbit. Litter should be changed every two to four days if you use a litter pan, depending on usage. You don’t need much litter in the bottom of the pan, perhaps enough to cover 90% of the pan’s bottom. Rabbits don’t need to bury their pellets the way cats do. You’re basically looking to absorb the urine and prevent their feet from being scalded by uric acid. Putting a little hay in the litter box will also be helpful. If you’re using a slat bottom cage that doesn’t let the rabbit come in direct contact with their litter, then the change frequency can be weekly, assuming you use enough liter to absorb all the urine produced in that time, and you don’t have any mold or fungal problems from the litter.

Bunny bonding, Love is in the air – sorta
Introducing two new rabbits and trying to get them to live happily together or “Bond” them can be a problematic process. A “Quick” bond is two weeks. Three Months is not unusual. Don’t get discouraged. Remember, YOU are the primate with higher brain function and opposable thumbs. Most rabbits can be bonded, given enough patience and effort on your part. These references should help:Love Match: A Guide to Bonding Your Rabbits HRN Blog: Bonding You may be advised to take the rabbits on a drive in the car. The general idea is to stress the rabbits so that they turn to each other for comfort and forget their territorial and dominance disputes. Using a car for this purpose is falling out of vogue for two reasons. First, it’s dangerous as the rabbits are harder to mange in a moving vehicle. Second, it requires two people, one to drive and the other to handle the rabbits. Finally, there are easier ways to do the same thing at home. If you have a cloths washer, you can put the rabbits in a basket on top of the washer during the spin cycle. Keep a towel handy to throw over the rabbits if they start to panic, and keep a tight grip on the basket.

An even easier trick is to put them in a cold dryer.  No, you won’t be turning it on. You’ll just out them in the dryer, and if they start to make a fuss, turn rotate the drum slowly by hand. This will be enough to keep the rabbits on an uneven footing and will allow you significant control over the situation. As a bonus, the steel drum of the average dryer will be easy to clean in the event of territorial wetting or pelleting. Side loading washers are generally too damp for this purpose, and rabbit claws can catch, bend or break in the drainage holes that line a washer’s drum. Simply putting the rabbits in a clean, dry bathtub will also provide a slippery footing and neutral territory.

Winona and Tatum got love, affection, and romp time from us for 2 weeks before a family called interested in adopting. To my surprise and delight, the family was interested in adopting both of the girls, even though they weren’t bonded to each other. I asked if they wouldn’t rather look at some of the already bonded pairs, but they were stuck on these two, having read my adoption profiles of them both. I told them that I would be happy to have them consider adopting the girls so long as they understood that bonding isn’t always an easy process. With that assurance in mind, we introduced Tatum & Winona face to face for the first time. While there was some circling and fur pulling, for the most part, the signs were positive. We quickly found that the girls got along well and were peaceful together if they were sharing snuggles in my lap. I spent time with them over the next few days beginning to bond them and hoping for the best.

This past Saturday the family came to our house bearing a gift basket for our bunnies and a beautiful set of tulips for us to plant in our garden. The 2 boys, 8 and 9 years old, got down on the ground and gently approached Tatum & Winona. Within a few minutes, both bunnies were stretched out flat soaking in the attention. The family took the girls home that day, sharing a carrier in the car to increase their growing bond by sharing the stress of the journey.

Over the past few days as they’ve been settling into their new home, I’ve received a number of emails from the family. They are all thrilled to have Winona and Tatum in their home. The buns have large adjoining pens for their homes and ultimately will be allowed to be free range once they’ve gotten comfortable in the house. The husband has taken to relaxing with Winona and a book on the couch. The 2 boys love to lay on the ground and watch both of the bunnies as they tear around and kick their heels up during romp time.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked to play host to a sweeter set of foster-rabbits. And I know that I couldn’t possibly have dreamed of a better outcome.

After they’d been adopted, I found out from a contact at the SPCA that Winona had been wounded when she first came to their shelter. One of their own surgical interns had actually fostered Winona for a while during her recovery. To that intern, I can only offer my sincerest thanks and hope that reading this story makes you feel as satisfied by the role you played in Winona’s life as I am by mine.

Thanks for doing what you do every day and for going beyond what’s expected of your job. As you can see from this story, that single act of kindness has had far-reaching ripples.
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Winona & Tatum with two of the members of their adoptive family

The strangest thing happened this morning. We had our buns out running around the house with a gate separating the foster buns. Somehow our boy Shadow got out and we found him next to Jasmine’s cage flirting away. Shadow already has a mate, Sugar and usually the two are inseparable. Even when we bonded them there was never any fighting. It was an unusual case in which we came home and Sugar was in Shadow’s pen – they had bonded without our help. But today a love triangle was formed. I picked up Shadow from beside Jasmine’s cage and placed him back next to Sugar. Sugar must have smelled Jasmine on Shadow because she attacked Shadow and the two were in a brawl. Andy and I were shocked! Talk about jealousy. I quickly intervined and then put them back together. They ignored each other. Shadow tried reconciling by shoving his head under Sugar but she just bit back. How dare he be with another bun! They spent some time apart and then Shadow attempted to give her kisses. Eventually Sugar gave in. What a soap opera to watch. It was sad that they were upset at each other but I couldn’t help but laugh because the behavior seemed so human-like. Bunnies never cease to amaze me :-)

~Erica, HRN fostermom/volunteer

We usually get a lot of questions on the HRN hotline regarding rabbits being with other pets. Rabbits can get along with other animals, although we strongly encourage the interactions be supervised, with some exceptions. Rabbits often live with guinea pigs with no problems. Regarding cats and dogs, friendships can blossom between them and rabbits. So if you currently have a cat and dog, don’t be discouraged, a rabbit can be a great addition to your furry family. Here are some pictures of adopted Tumble with her new friends. Pictures are credited to Jessica Brown. Also check out this article for more information about guinea pigs: http://www.rabbitnetwork.org/articles/gpfriends.shtml

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~ Erica, HRN foster and volunteer

Our 3 buns seem to have decided that their condo is the most marvelous place in the world and they don’t care to come out to play. (Thanks, Stephanie & Rachel, our bunnies really do love the place to pieces.) Now, I’ll admit that we also took up the giant 8×10 livingroom rug for the summer, so they don’t have all that traction. But hey, I got them a smaller 5×7 rug, that doesn’t count as a good spot to romp? I considered getting one of those woven grass or bamboo rugs, but I know it would just be automatic bunny food.

Echo and Lookout seem to love racing around together. Their relationship seems to have developed into one of older and younger sister. When in their cage, they can frequently be found flopped together on the bottom floor in the shade, Lookout using Echo’s flank as a pillow. I really have to get pictures, its priceless, especially after all the time we spent working on getting Lookout socialized. Don’t let yourself think that Beanbag is being left out, he’s getting his fair share of cuddly moments too. I always smile when I walk into the sun room and find the three of them piled together at the bottom of the second floor ramp, chilling out and grooming.

Holly is having a grand time as well. She’s becoming more comfortable with her life in our home. She’s gotten time to run around regularly and spends most of her time these days with her ears up rather than down. (This is a big improvement for a scared little bunny.) She stretches out in one of her two litterboxes (the one I have taken to calling her “safety box”, like a kid with a safety blankie), she leans her chin against the edge and drowses in the late day sun. When she’s out, she is very curious about what we are doing. She even tried to type by coming over and standing with her front paws on the edge of Matt’s laptop the other day. Its so good to see her becoming more active that I almost hate to discipline her when she does something wrong. Hopefully we will continue to see her coming out of her shell as she regains more of her trust in people.

The bunnies played tag last night. Not, the I’m-chasing-you-to-prove-that-I’m-in-charge game, but honest to goodness tag! It was a riot to watch. One bunny would zoom around a bit, then bump into or flop next to another bunny who would take off and zip around. Even Beanbag got into the act and kicked his heels up. At one point, Lookout did a lap around the coffee table and then bumped into Echo and kept going. Echo, having been bumped into, decided to run with Lookout. The two of them looked like a couple of greyhounds or race cars going around a track. Lookout also seems to be having a logical disconnect about the door of the new cage. She ran into it face first once last night, thinking she could just hop inside. Echo also had a funny moment; we were using the cage and a 5 gallon bucket to block the bunnies from going into the sun room, Echo tried to hop on top of the bucket without realizing that there wasn’t a lid. Echo ended up inside the 5 gallon bucket which is where we keep our hay!

Holly got some time out of her cage as well. (Her out time was of course separate from the other buns.) She didn’t seem too inclined to cuddle, she just wanted to explore. She nosed around, mostly staying close to the coffe table for cover. It was good to see her exploring. When it came time to go back to her cage, she put up a real fuss. She most definetly wanted to stay OUT! She was pissed when I finally tricked her into letting me grab her.

I tend to really like it when the simple pleasures are what I have to focus on in my life.

We put our 3 bunnies in their condo cage this Friday night. They explored, there was a little dominance behavior, but mostly, things were calm. Everybunny spent the night in their respective cages, and on Saturday morning, we put them back in the condo together.
On Saturday there was much less dominance behavior and most of it was based on mixed signals. (AKA Lookout puts her head down to be groomed, Echo gets scared, Echo chins Lookout’s head tentatively then runs away, Lookout chases her till she’s in a different part of the cage.) The buns spent most of the day in their condo together and we got the pleasure of seeing Beanbag curled up enjoying the sun, Lookout standing on the top floor watching the world go by outside the windows, and Echo dancing and kicking her heels up all over the rug on the top floor.
When it came time for us to head out to dinner (with fellow HRN members Erica & Andy) we put the buns back in their respective cages. Upon returning from dinner, we looked in on the bunnies and noticed that Echo was acting strange. We watched her for a few minutes and determined that her behavior was based on loneliness. She sat as close as she could to the divider between her and the other bunnies and she was acting rather sad watching them together. Interesting suprise…
On Sunday morning, we plopped all the bunnies back in the condo again to see what they would do. This time, there was no dominance behavior. Echo and Lookout are still cautious and wary around each other, but they are getting along even having occasional grooming moments together. If nothing else, we saw everybunny comfortably loafed up in different spots on the same floor of the condo enjoying the sunshine. We left them together all morning and when it came time to get ready to go out for our plans for the day, we couldn’t bring ourselves to separate them. Everyone was behaving well, so we decided to take a chance and leave them together unsupervised.
We got home after being out of the house for about 5 hours and found that Beanbag and Echo were trading grooming while Lookout watched from the litterbox. Matt stayed home with the bunnies for an hour while I went out for a meeting. When I got back, he said they had all been good as gold the entire time. We got ready to go out for dinner again, leaving the bunnies together in the condo unsupervised for the second time that day. When we came home 4 hours later, everybunny was napping. There were no stray tufts of fur to indicate any fights, most of their pooping and peeing had been done in the litterboxes, but they had made a mess with their hay. We swept up the hay and the stray poops, sprayed down the one spot where they had peed outside a litterbox, and generally tidied up a bit while keeping the bunnies on the upper floor. When Echo and Beanbag came back to the floor I’d cleaned, they decided that it smelled all wrong. Echo promptly peed right outside the litterbox, she and Beanbag both stepped in the puddle with their rear feet, then they zipped past the front of the cage and flicked their feet, spraying both Matt and I with pee. Gee, thanks guys, memo taken, don’t change the smell of “your space” when you worked so hard to get it to start smelling like home. Sigh, that’s gratitude for you!
In the end, the bunnies spent the night together last night in their new condo. When I got up this morning, Echo was loafed up in the middle of the second floor and Beanbag and Lookout were loafed up side by side at the other end of the floor. Everyone looked happy and contented with life and there were no new puddles to be cleaned up.
While they still have a bit farther to go to integrate everyone into the dynamic of a three-way bond, I believe we are now safely at the point where we will begin to dismantle the divided NIC condo. With Lookout and Beanbag, even once they were bonded enough to start sharing a cage, it took another month or so for some of the herding behavior to stop. I’m sure we’ll see more development of their dynamic as the summer goes by. I don’t think we will be putting them back in separate cages again. Hopefully, the dynamic between the three bunnies will continue to develop in the direction its been heading so far. Lookout seems to be taking her role as “top bun” seriously; she watches over the other two and tries to herd them to safety when she perceives danger. Beanbag and Echo seem to be equitably sharing their roles at the bottom of the pecking order. Beanbag has become a bit more active and outgoing since we added Echo into the mix. With a 3rd bunny to change the dynamic, Beanbag seems to bear less of the burden of Lookout’s need to keep the bunnies in her warren safe. Beanbag seems to be getting bullied less and because of it he’s been coming back out of his shell again. He’s such a gentle soul that dealing with a bunny who is really dominant makes him stop doing everything without permission. Echo seems to be giving up her scaredy-bunny routine and becoming more social. She is still feeling her way in the relationships with both of the other bunnies, but she is definetly motivated and wants to become friends.

I guess I wouldn’t call us done with this bonding process yet. But I can safely say that we have reached a major milestone.

I’ve been sick this week with what has turned out to be phneumonia. This is the second time I’ve been significantly sick in slightly over a month’s time, which is very frustrating for someone who’s constitution normally allows her to defy a winter full of Harvard student germs from all points of the globe. Needless to say, I’m a bit frustrated and unhappy with the experience. Were it not for a very understand boss, I’d likely be frantically worried right now about my job prospects.

The bright spots in my week have been my husband, family, friends, and our 3 rabbits. (Oh, and Erica’s post about the baby bunnies.) Matt has taken charge of making sure that our rabbits continue their bonding process as well as getting their romp time and meals each day. (Oh how lucky I am to have a partner who has become as smitten with these silly furballs as I am.)

Bonding sessions in the livingroom this week went fairly well, at least for some definitions. There was a little bit of herding behavior and nipping from Lookout, aka Little Miss Mom as I am now starting to think of her. She got squirted for her bad behavior and immediately backed off which is a huge improvement from our early bonding sessions between her and Bean where she’d have to get soaked before she acknowledged the water as a disciplinary. Otherwise, there was a bit of curious nosing at each other, a bit of grooming, and a lot of Echo running away. She really is going to end up being the first bunny ever to be below Beanbag on the pecking order if she keeps this up.

Everybunny got separate romp time as well as the bonding time. I was delighted and relieved to have Lookout and Beanbag spend an evening romping a bit and cuddling under the coffee table. I was especially glad to see Beanbag kicking up his heels and dancing around a bit, he even indulged in a game of chase with Lookout. He’s so quiet and reserved most of the time that its always good to see him let loose and play. (Now that I’ve seen both, a fun game of chase between two rabbits and herding or running another bunny out of claimed territory are two very different things.) Its still not uncommon in their romp sessions to see a little bit of herding behavior from Lookout. We’ve come to expect it. But this week, they’ve been getting along very well. I watch them during the day as they snooze side by side in the sunshine, paws tucked in forming that goofy bunnyloaf pose that rabbits feel so comfortable with.

Echo has been having a grand time romping in the way that only adolescent bunnies really can. My old roomate used to call this particular behavior “getting chased by snigglets”. Most bunny owners call this behavior doing binkies. So what’s a snigglet you ask? Snigglets are those invisible flying bugs that cats are always watching or chasing. In the case of bunnies, the snigglets chase the bunnies instead causing them to pop up in the air, twirl, skitter sideways, and unexpectedly flop. Being an adolescent, Echo is still having a great time learning all the things she can do with those spring-loaded hind feet for jumping power. This week, she ran sideways like a crab for at least 5 feet, popped straight up in the air, clearing the top of the coffee table by a good foot, and figured out how to use my slipper comforter as a ramp to slide back to the ground after visiting my on the couch. she’s been so busy romping, that neither my husband nor I has gotten a single face washing from her all week. Though maybe she hasn’t washed my face because I smell like I’m sick right now. Come to think of it, she hasn’t been spending a ton of her romp time coming up to me to get scritched either. Maybe she knows I’m sick? I wouldn’t put it past her.

Before you call animal control on me, let me explain. Scout and Savannah did not like each other. In fact, they hated each other. It was purely for my convenience that I wanted them bonded and they wanted nothing to do with the situation. I admit it, ok?

So Friday night we were spending time on the living room floor again where we had reached some level of tolerance when out broke a fur-flying bunny-ball fight that took half a spray bottle and two shoes to break up. I scooped up two soaking wet freaked out bunnies and cradled them together in my arms. After a long conversation about getting along (which if they understood, they didn’t show it) I looked for a new neutral space for them to spend some time.

I’m in the middle of moving and my house is in shambles but sitting there in plain view was the very neutral dryer. In went the buns. It didn’t take them long to nip at each other but a slow turn of the drum and all footings were lost and those freaked out buns couldn’t possibly fight.

Here is a shot of them in the dryer.

In the dryer

After a few minutes in the dryer, they headed to the washing machine. Out of order, yes, I know, but this time they were in a box on top with the washer on agitate.

From there the box went to the floor and Jazz sat watch over them for a bit.

Here are the silly boxed buns.

Boxed Buns

When finally I had the patience to watch them again Savannah and Scout, two very freaked out bunnies, joined me and Rocky back in the living room.

The five of us (Savannah, Scout, Rocky, Jazz and I) spent the night on the hard wood floors (sold the couches already.) I literally had the spray bottle in hand and squirted each scuffle in my half sleep. Finally at about 4:30am things went quiet and I drifted off to an uneasy achy sleep on the floor thinking that the buns had decided to get along. Jazz woke up at 5:30 (thanks for sleeping in) and when we got up, I found Savannah and Rocky, but no Scout. The fighting had stopped because Scout had gotten out and was now happily snoozing under the dining room table. AHHH!!!!

Well, long story still long the buns are all living together happily in the kitchen. They are getting along well and are sharing, cuddling, grooming, and playing. It is amazing and I cannot believe that it is here!

Special thanks to Erica and Andy for their help and confidence and to Suzanne for her constant bonding advice and support. Also to Jazz for watching over the buns when I was at whit’s end and for helping clean up the food (and not food) pellets left about by the buns.

And here are a few shots showing why it is all worth it. Got to love them!

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Our bunnies got a bit more exposure to each other this morning while Matt and I were dressing for work. Its become habit to grab the rabbits after we’ve showered and let the three of them romp around on our bed where we can keep an eye on them (with a litterbox just in case). Echo continues to be a bit of a scaredy-bun. She runs and hides from the other buns as often as she can. She frequently uses Matt and I as a safe hiding spot, tucking herself in beside a hip or elbow, where she feels like she won’t have to deal with the other buns. Invariably, the other buns come over to nose at her and she zips away to the other side of the bed with a pitiful little noise of consternation. Its rather silly since the other two rabbits are being very gentle with her. But the good news is that there was at least one instance of 3 noses communing voluntarily this morning. Its a step in the right direction.

Beanbag is opportunistically using this change in the dynamics as an excuse to chase tails and agressively groom feet. He tries to maneuver himself and one of the girls into a position where he can mount them, but usually fails. Its good to see him taking some initiative and not being the beanbag he was so aptly named for.

Lookout has been remarkably good about this entire process so far (with much ensuing praise and pets from Matt and I). She occasionally nips at Bean or Echo, usually when someone grooms a bit more agressively than is comfortable. For the most part though, she doesn’t act agressive unless its in reaction to someone else’s behavior. This is a huge improvement for the bunny that was pulling clumps of fur off Beanbag every chance she got when they were first bonding. She has taken to “herding” Beanbag a little more often in their cage during the day, but he’s been nimble enough to avoid her most of the time and we are hoping that a new Leith Petwerks cage which should be arriving this evening, will change the dynamic and discourage her from herding him. (We are hoping that the cage, as neutral turf to everybunny, will become a good place for the 3 of them to continue working on bonding and eventually all live together.

-Liz:HRN Member-

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