I've posted here a few times recently about my new rabbit, who I named The Shark.
The name suits him, as he has a dorsal ridge of hair, and he makes a growling beeline for anyone who enters his territory. The Shark actually is a boisterous, friendly fellow, not mean at all, and although his adoption papers had 'NO KIDS!!!' scrawled across the top, he likes kids a lot.
Now, the problem. The Shark is not staying in his tank. He's in a big pen, maybe 6' x 10' (or larger) adjacent to the smaller pen of my female Rex rabbit, Petey. Petey is the temperamental opposite of the Shark. She's placid, docile, and likes to sit on her fluffy pink bed. We can tell that she likes the Shark; it's as if the plain, mousy girl had the James Bond of bunnies move in next door.
Last week, the Shark hopped the 30" pen fence at night and was found lounging next to my little tabby cat in the morning. Shark hopped back to his pen when we opened the gate.
This morning, after I came in from the barn, the Shark was in Petey's pen. Yes, I've been in the slow process of bonding them but this morning, the Shark tossed all my careful planning out the window.
Petey sniffed him all over and was fine with his presence. He inspected her food bowl, towels and hay box. As it was feeding time, I put him back in his pen to eat. I don't think they're ready to share space at meal time.
So, the question is, what do I do with the Shark at night? I do have some travel cages, but I don't think he'll like being shut in at all. He does, however, need a roof over his head.
I also have a purpose-built rabbitarium in my barn. It's a 6'x8' enclosure with birdcage wire and a roof. I did not plan to move the bunnies there until the bonding was further along -- I want it to be fully neutral territory when they move in.
Does anyone here have experience with short-cutting the bonding process? Can I assume my rabbits get along okay? Should I do what you do with horses and put out more food bowls than bunnies until I know the Shark will play nice?
I've only bonded two pair, so definitely not an expert. The first ones (Jigs & Honey) were easy, they tolerated each other with no fighting. For the first couple days they were allowed together only with supervision. Within 3 days they were grooming each other, so I only separated them at night so there was no food aggression potential. After a week they lived together 24/7 with no problems.
The second pair was not so easy. The male had been a breeding buck in a horrible environment. His owner was murdered for the weed he was growing (using the rabbit poo). No one in the family took care of the rabbits for a couple weeks. Finally a rescue was contacted and the rabbits got out, all were starved and dehydrated, some died. My boy Thor was very withdrawn, would not even groom himself and freaked out when touched. I took him as a foster, but he tamed down for me so well I fell in love and adopted him. I tried to bond him with another female from the same rescue, unfortunately they hated each other. I built him a big outdoor Rabbitat and divided it in half and fostered another female. Rykki had been a stray taken in by the same rescue. Unfortunately Thor also fought with Rykki, and she fought back. You will know if your rabbits don't get along, it is very violent and the fur flies. I put them together several times over weeks and each time the fought. I would separate them as soon as possible, but sometimes they drew blood on each other. After they had lived with just a wire divider between them for a few weeks, I came home to find that somehow Thor had jumped into Rykki's pen. There was no blood and they were getting along fine. So I removed the divider and they have been together for about a month now. I think my breaking up their fight never allowed them to establish a pecking order. Rykki definitely respects Thor's space and moves if he wants her to. I wouldn't call them "bonded", they don't sleep together or groom each other. But they do run to each other for comfort and security if they get startled. Whatever their relation ship is, it is working, and I feel better knowing they have each other for company.
Anyway....story, that is sort of a pointless long story. I'm just really glad there are other crazy rabbit people Here are pix of my buns and the big 6X26 Rabbitat.
I was looking at my barn, wondering if I could do the same earlier today because I think the Shark would like a lot of territory. Now I'm thinking I might want to do that next to my house.
My bunnies have had the wire divider between them now for over a month and there's been no spats to my knowledge. The Shark loves to steal Petey's towels through the wire, and she gets all happy and excited when he's trying to drag her towels through the fence. I guess it's a good sign that she likes it when he steals her stuff.
Your story got me feeling a little better about this. Maybe I'm being overly cautious.