So Jackie had things under control with her bunnies. 4 bonded bunnies. Quite a feat I would say. She had bonded Sally and Joey when they were really young. They had babies before Jackie could get them fixed. They had 3 and Daisy their only daughter is still with Sally and Joey. Then Jackie fell in love with Athena the beautiful white lions head. She bonded her to the group — which I had my doubts it would ever work. But work it did – Jackie has the magic touch when it comes to bonding I thought. So here is a pic from last month while they are all relaxing waiting for the hutch to be cleaned. From left to right Daisy, Athena, Sally and Joey.
So will rabbit bonds last forever? That is the question.
I think some do last forever but not all bonds will last forever. Siblings that are bonded can start to not get along in time and you have to separate them. As bunnies get to be a teenager they can be difficult as human teenagers are difficult. Rabbits from the same family or liter may not always get along. Just like humans don’t get along, bunnies may not either. The key is to always watch for signs of trouble in the relationship. Pulled tuffs of fur, chasing, circling, nipping, staying apart, eating apart, sleeping separately, etc.. These are all signs of trouble. So be on the watch out.
Jackie sent me an email about Athena and Daisy a few weeks ago here is our exchange of emails…..
JACKIE SAYS – I forgot to tell you…so, about a week ago, Daisy randomly un-bonded with Athena. I didn’t know that was possible or why it even happened. Things were going fine, then I just see Daisy chasing Athena and also, lunging at her. I had to house Athena separately…I am so upset and frustrated to have to
re-start their bonding process again. Because the first time I brought
Athena home, it literally took me 3-4 months + re-made their entire cage to bond her to both Sally and Daisy. <keep in mind Joey & Sally are the parents and Daisy is their daughter, Athena is a totally different new rabbit and all were bonded together before now>.
I’ll give you a little gist of what happened when I tried re-bonding (this in a neutral area):
Day 1 – Daisy chases, lunges, and nips Athena; Athena nips Daisy whenever they lay side-by-side for a while
Day 2 – Daisy continues to pursue Athena whenever Athena movies close to her…she chases her away
Day 3 – Daisy and Athena continuously asks to be groomed both at the same time, when no one does it, Athena nips Daisy
Day 4- They ignore each other, unless Athena comes close, than Daisy chases her
Day 5- Both continue to request to be groomed, and neither of them do it, so Athena nips Daisy
Day 6- Daisy groomed Athena….then Athena nipped her shortly afterwards
Day 7 – 9 ….. They still ask to be groomed the same time; Daisy attacks when Athena moves near; Athena only bites when Daisy lays next to her long enough
Do you know what this means? I don’t understand why both of them keep lowering their heads at the same time and asked to be groomed, yet neither of them takes on the request. Athena tends to only nip when she’s laying next to Daisy for a while. And Daisy only bites Athena whenever Athena tries crossing her path. Today, when I tried bonding them, Daisy stayed far away from Athena when possible and completely ignored her. Then I see Athena hopping over to lay next to Daisy, only to get bitten by her. I managed to put Athena next to Daisy, and Athena snuggled into her for about 10 minutes before she lowered her head and then bit Daisy’s side. I’m confused with all the signals they both give off. Do you have any ideas?
I tried putting both Sally and Joey with the two while they’re bonding, but Daisy will just go and hide behind her parents to stay away from Athena. It seems like Joey and Sally misses Athena, but I sadly had to put her separately because Daisy and her started fighting.
Before I could respond, Jackie said this – So, I re-read some parts of your bonding page, and it just makes me think: Should I just let Daisy chase Athena around?
I mean, that’s part of defining who is dominant and submissive, right?
I tried the spray bottle method, it DOES work on some degree because it’ll stop nipping or chasing, but 10 minutes later, Daisy just chases again, or Athena will just nip again. The box method works only for about 5 minutes once they’re out of the box again. <read my bonding page to understand how the spray bottle is used and what the box method is>
To update a bit on what’s going on, I saw Daisy grooming Athena…but of course, they got into a little quarrel some time after.
It confuses me most because they both give out mixed signals. Athena LOVES other bunnies, she always goes up to Daisy and snuggle into her or lay flat out and leans into Daisy’s body. Daisy doesn’t mind this, she just ignores Athena. It’s only when Athena walks up to her face that Daisy lunges/bites/chases Athena.
They continue more of the nose-to-nose thing. Daisy and Athena will both lower their heads at each other, but none of them will lick the other. When it’s lucky, they literally lay like that for a solid 5-8 minutes…but usually, Athena will be the one who nips Daisy.
The two also grooms next to each other as well as share a meal from the same bowl without any lunging or nipping(in the neutral area), I read this could be good, right? But then again, like I said, they both give me mixed signals. Daisy literally just ignores Athena but will only start chasing her or lunging at her if Athena comes up to her face. Athena seems to really want to be close to Daisy, but her nipping usually causes Daisy to get peeved.
From what I’ve observed so far, you’re right about Daisy being dominant. She always does the lunging and chasing, whereas, Athena only does nips when she doesn’t get her grooming requests filled.
When I first got Athena, I somehow bonded her to Daisy and Sally to the extent that they stop fighting one another. Daisy and Sally grooms Athena, but Athena NEVER grooms anyone. It worked out eventually because I re-made their home structure entirely, cleaned everything to get previous scents off, and Joey loves Athena from the beginning – so there was so much distraction to give Daisy and Sally that they had no reason to bully Athena. After the distraction wore off, all 4 got along tremendously.
I am really hoping that this bonding will work. I just need to get them at least to the level where Daisy stops getting aggressive towards Athena. It would be horrible if I have to keep them separated forever, plus, I don’t have room for two cages since their current cage already takes up the entire den area.
I go back to school, so I have a month left. I am hoping to get some progress with Daisy and Athena before my quarter starts, because once it does, no one, including myself, will have time to hold a bonding session.
What do you personally think of Daisy and Athena’s situation? Should I just let Daisy chase/nip Athena? (I usually stop it before it starts).
BUNNY MAMA replied – So this is what I think, Daisy just tolerates Athena and puts up with her cuz she is there. If Athena were gone I think Daisy might notice but not care. If the only time Daisy chases Athena is when Athena gets up in her face sorta like yeah I’m here then Daisy is reminded of Athena and is like get out of here , I’m chasing you to get out of here. When they lay together Daisy is okay with that but just don’t get up in her business.
Athena seems to like to be with other bunnies but since she nips Daisy when not groomed I don’t think that makes her want to be dominant just wants some kisses.
If you let Daisy chasing Athena circling and chasing session go a little longer you could see what happens but you don’t want them to hurt each other. To be honest the only way that Lucy and Dino got straightened out was when she broke into his pen and they might have fought it out when we were not home. There was some fur from both of them around and Dino won as he is top bunny. You do include positive signs, laying next to each other, grooming themselves in front of the other and share food from same bowl. I think Daisy is pretty tolerant of Athena except when she comes near Daisy’s face but does not groom her – then Daisy gets mad. I would always be afraid to leave them in the same pen if they don’t really get along unless you can get this settled. It may just be a matter of Daisy giving Athena a good nip to send her the message leave me alone. You certainly don’t want either of them to get hurt and it’s a real possibility one would. Think about this for awhile and let me know what you think.
JACKIE responded – Your story of how Lucy and Dino straightened things out seems to be interesting… I think maybe because I stop every little conflict so the two could never determine who’s dominant.
Another thing you pointed out about Athena’s nips is that she could just be asking for kisses and not getting any. This makes her not dominant at all, and it’s very obvious now that it’s Daisy, so thank you for your thought on that!
So, I am thinking that I should let Daisy chase Athena or nip…but if I see that it’s going too far or long, I am going to separate them immediately. There’s never a full out fight…but it’s just lunging/nipping and chasing on Daisy’s part.
My thought on this bonding thing now is that… if Daisy doesn’t groom Athena, that’s fine..because Sally and Joey will. And I just need Daisy to tolerate her fully. Our first housing with all 4 (after the bonding stage), Daisy and Sally just kept ignoring Athena, but within a week they all groomed her and even became sleeping buddies. So, I think it should be good if Daisy just tolerates Athena completely… because if she does’t fight Athena, she will eventually get closer to her like before.
However, Athena will never groom Daisy. So, I don’t know how they’re going to settle the submissive and dominant roles. Does it really take who’s grooming who to settle the roles? Or can they just learn to tolerate one another enough? Or their chasing/nips will help determine their place?
I just gave them an hour bonding session. About the first half hour, it was a lot of Athena going up to Daisy and cuddling, then nipping Daisy when she won’t get groomed. And more nose-to-nose position. Then the last half hour, Daisy just chases and tries to nip Athena, causing Athena to stomp her feet and run away.
BUNNY MAMA said – it’s possible they can tolerate each other without grooming as long as each bunny is okay with that. But it seems that grooming is important to Athena. While you are trying to get them to work it out, just make sure that Daisy does not terrorize Athena and then she may become afraid of Daisy. Is Athena fixed/spayed?
JACKE answered – yes, Athena is spayed. They’re all fixed. I have increased the bonding time, and I hold bonding sessions 2 times a day.
So, I see Daisy groom Athena again… Multiple times in a bonding session, but then Daisy would still attack her when Athena annoys her. I hope this can count as progress somehow…
BUNNY MAMA replied – Daisy is saying I groom you, now your turn to groom me and Athena doesn’t and there in lies the problem. Can’t you try some banana or critical care or something on Daisy’s head to encourage Athena to groom her?
When you say attack her I assume its just chasing and little nipping and Athena does not get hurt or feel threatened?
JACKIE said – I tried bananas and Athena doesn’t really lick Daisy, she just nibbles the banana pieces off her forehead or ignore the banana overall. Daisy doesn’t seem to get mad when Athena doesn’t groom her. Usually, Daisy would just pick her head back up and do other things when Athena doesn’t want to lick her.
She just chases Athena away if Athena literally comes up to her face.
I still see a lot of snuggling on Athena’s part. She keeps snuggling up to Daisy, and Daisy doesn’t bite or lunge, she just sits there.
When Daisy chases and nips Athena, Athena just runs away but she comes back again later. Their little quarrel never gets bad or anything, they chase a few times per bonding session…but it never goes on long enough for me to interfere (usually last far less than 10 seconds). Athena does thump when she gets lunged at.
So some time had passed and then I asked Jackie how bonding was going. Here is her update:
JACKE wrote – Bonding is okay. They actually took a step backwards and kept chasing/lunging for three days straight, but then it went back to a mixture of grooming and nips. Not sure how the progress is going or how far I am to get her actually bonded.
Also, Athena has been peeing and pooping everywhere but her litterbox :/ Don’t know why the loss of litter habits happened.
BUNNY MAMA wrote back –
If Athena lost her litterbox habits, it’s a sign of showing dominance or marking her territory to other bunnies so everybun knows that land is her land. I think it’s one more way Athena is trying
to demonstrate to Daisy she is dominant or wants to be. Gosh I sure wish that would all resolve before school starts for you again.
JACKIE said a week later – I see… Yeah, the cleanest spot in her (Athena’s) current accommodation is her litter box. She keeps that specific spot clean because she likes to sleep in her litter box with all the hay in there. She pees and poops everywhere else! So, I have to clean her cage and change her blanket/bedding several times a day.
School starts for me this upcoming Monday. I will have time to bond them, but once the weeks go by, it’ll get more tedious with the workload for sure.
Considering that Daisy grooms Athena AND still nips/lunges at her – do you think this is progress from before, or at all? I am kind of confused if the bonding sessions are getting worse or better. Daisy still continues to get annoyed with Athena, so there are some nipping and lunging, but at the same time, she grooms her several times per bonding session (usually within seconds of grooming, she will nip/lung at Athena) Athena does a lot of nipping too. I mean, there are days where Daisy is in full annoyed mode with Athena, where she isn’t having any patience with her. And these are usually the times where I lose all hope and think that the bonding progress has gone downhill. Oh – and I hear Athena grunting more often now during the bonding sessions.
I let them both run around the living room together starting yesterday night. They both ran around, binkied (it was so cute!) and both laid stretched out on the floor near each other. But usually when Athena gets too close, Daisy will get up and chase her away.
I am hoping so bad that progress will be made, I really want all of them to be together again. It breaks my heart seeing that she can’t live with them because Daisy and Athena are in a little quarrel right now.
BUNNY MAMA replied – well I think the bonding sounds about the same. I still think Daisy is dominant but just tolerates Athena. When Athena gets in her face she gets mad because Athena won’t groom her. Athena wants to be groomed too and Daisy isn’t grooming enough to satisfy her either. I am really not sure if they will ever get this settled. Its simple to me both of them just need to take turns grooming each other and it would be fine. So Daisy grooms and when Athena doesn’t groom back immediately she gets mad and nips and chases it seems. Athena doesn’t want to groom (must be a lionhead thing cuz Gracie only groomed Dino, never, ever Baby in months of bonding). So you are into it for a month so far. Hmmm not sounding too good to me Jackie. If I were you, I would set a deadline date and if you don’t see some major improvement I would stop but this is your call. Brad and I tried bonding Baby and Gracie for months and months – like 3 or 4 months. This is sounding a lot like Baby and Gracie did and they never ever got along it was a constant Gracie chasing and nipping Baby and Baby would never ever groom Gracie….we didn’t know to stop but in retrospect we never should have let it go as long as it did cuz we didn’t know any better. Remember bunnies have personalities and it could be that Daisy just does not like Athena. Keep me posted.
So a few more weeks had passed and Jackie was still doing daily bonding sessions and the news was not so good. Daisy and Athena were still not getting along. Here is what Jackie said – “As with the bonding, it seems to be getting worse with Daisy and Athena. I noticed they don’t interact during bonding sessions. They would stay far away from each other, so I had to try and find a smaller location to get them to interact, which didn’t turn out too well. Daisy is either grunting/lunging at Athena or completely ignoring her. It has been very stressful for me to bond because I don’t have much time, but still manage to squeeze an hour out for bonding sessions around 2-3 AM in the morning. I am not sure when to give up with this bond, unfortunately. It did take me 3-4 months straight the first time I brought Athena home… so I am hoping it would take the same amount of time to work eventually. The only thing I haven’t tried, it to take the two to my grandmother’s house for bonding (which helped when I first got Athena). I just haven’t had the time to visit my grandparents.
To make matters worse, it seems like Sally is turning on Athena too. But, it’s not so bad. I see her chasing Athena when I let them out for play/exercise time sometimes, but most of the time they are totally fine with each other. I sincerely hope that Sally won’t unbond with Athena too…
I am planning to retry again after the week break (from school) of bonding and see how things go…”
Bunny Mama said – Not good news. I really have to sound advice for her on how to get them to bond. She tired a lot of my tricks already (like mashed banana on the head of the dominant bun to get the submissive bun to eat the banana so the other one thinks its getting groomed).
So a few more weeks passed and Jackie gave me this update – “I actually would like some advice on Athena and the other bunnies…
Since I’ve gotten busy with classes, I have no time for anything besides letting my rabbits out for free time. Haven’t gotten to bonding Athena for about a week.
Basically, in my other email, I told you that it seems like Sally also unbonded with Athena… So, I would like to know your thoughts on this. Athena seems really lonely by herself, which breaks my heart. But bonding Daisy and her has not been progressing much lately. And on top of that, Sally isn’t getting along with her either.Joey gets along fine with Athena. I just don’t want to split the family up (like Joey and Athena, and other cage- Sally and Daisy) because the trio is very close to each other. When do I know I should give up on the bonding?”
Bunny Mama replied ”
So when to stop trying to bond. With Baby and Gracie it was obvious but we didn’t know any better. They hated each other and never ever showed any positive sign beside grooming themself with one eye toward the other the entire time.
These two would not go near each other, would not eat food while the other one was there. They even sorta glared at each other like the sight of the other rabbit made them sick. For real.
If you are getting positive signs from both of them then you could keep going. I just get the impression from what you’ve said so far is that Daisy has no desire to be with Athena and tolerates her at times but then Athena comes close and Daisy chases her away. I don’t see that changing. If you think that Athena is lonely and depressed then you might have to move Joey or Daisy (which ever bond you think will work best) over to be with Athena since you don’t want her sad and alone after all.
When is your next school break? Maybe don’t try bonding Athena and Daisy until Christmas break and stop unless you get positive signs from both of them quickly. I was always amazed that the bond worked in the first place. When you are ready to try again spend some time reading the bonding section on Binky Bunny
You might find some helpful into there too.”
So a few months has past since I last updated this page with Jackie’s saga. Unfortunately the bond took at first and then as the buns aged, Athena (the white Lions Head) just would not groom any of the other bunnies. Daisy was at odds with Athena and the chasing, nipping and circling seemed to get worse and worse. I suggest to Jackie that she put Athena separately and leave the trio (Sally, Joey and Daisy) together. Daisy was having what seemed to be a nervous condition with rapid breathing and we thought she was being stressed by Athena and the bonding sessions. Daisy is still breathing rapidly but she seems to be normal for the most part now that Athena is away from them. Jackie has been spending more time with Athena to get Athena to bond to her and not another bunny. So although not what Jackie intended when she brought Athena home, the new arrangement is not so bad. So bonds don’t always last forever and you must always be on the look out for signs of trouble.
Here are some pics that Jackie shared with me….adorable they all are.
Oh my gosh little Joey sound asleep is adorable. Its hard to get a pic of a sleeping bunny because they wake up when they hear any sound. Precious for sure. Thanks Jackie for sharing!
If you have a specific question about your rabbit, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.