Friday, August 6, 2010

Bunnies! (The Bonding Continues... Some More... Again...)

We seem to be making steady (if incredibly slow) progress on the bonding front these days... I've been thinking about this whole bonding process lately... I spent a lot of time looking around online for advice on how to pull off the bonding of an all-male trio, and I guess what I've really discovered is that it's probably so hard to find helpful advice because each set of rabbits will be so different. For example, I don't think any amount of googling would have located advice telling me to un-bond the previously bonded pair, bond the new rabbit with one of them, and then eventually try to reintegrate the other... but that was definitely the best approach for my guys. Look at these two:(I encourage you to click on that picture to embiggen it and check out Pedro's face...) Here's another angle, just in case:
Charley and Pedro both really need to be with other bunnies and are totally in love. Rico, on the other hand, doesn't seem to feel like the benefits of snuggles and occasional help with grooming are worth having to share his food or deal with other bunnies being in his favorite napping spot. We are making progress, though, and I think he will eventually decide it's not so bad to be around the other two... Before I get to bonding pictures, I wanted to share Charley's new trick. Sometimes when he's tuckered out, he decides to lay down on top of his pile of greens...
I guess it serves the dual purpose of reserving them for himself and also making them handy for munching without having to stand up...
Back to the topic of bonding... I think I'm getting pretty good at making changes in the bonding process to adapt to the changing situation. When this round of bonding started, I had the little guys in a small fenced area on the porch, thinking this would force them to interact and keep them close enough that I could break up fights before they got out of hand. It did accomplish that, but it also left all of them completely freaked out and resulted in Charley attacking Rico several times when he got too nervous to control himself. I took down the fence and gave them the whole porch to spread out across, and they started doing much better. No more fighting, even if there was quite a bit of mounting from Charley. After several times using the whole porch they didn't seem to be interacting enough, so I set up the fence again to confine them to about half of the porch. They had become much more comfortable with each other in the large area, so there were still no fights in this smaller area (even though Charley still gets pretty worked up around Rico), and then last night I moved them to an even smaller area with some real success. They still tend to spend a good chunk of time spread out... Charley trying to catch his breath after psyching himself out about Rico (he usually does this next to me, but sometimes over by Pedro):
Pedro sprawls out in the same spot every time: next to the doormat, between the table and the wall:
Rico's spot is on the doormat. He's looking very handsome these days, by the way (in case that's not obvious). I'm letting him have carrots at breakfast again now that his weight seems more reasonable.
Check out the adorable white belly:
One of the two major signs of progress with Rico last night was that he (briefly and half-assedly) groomed Pedro TWICE! Amazing... Both times Pedro was lured over next to Rico by a raisin (I'm amazed that Rico is my bunny with weight issues, since he is the only one who will decline raisins if he thinks he's had enough... Pedro is usually the one to find the raisins Rico opts out of eating... ), and since Pedro is the least threatening bunny on the planet, Rico felt safe giving him a little affection.
These guys don't seem to have any lingering affection from when they lived together, so I like seeing them interact again... Pedro is still a little wary of Rico, as you can see below, but that could just as easily be from how much Rico picked on him when they were bonded as from Rico's generally intimidating nature...
Rico and Charley do a lot of ignoring each other. Charley mounts him at least once each time we're out, and Rico sits patiently waiting for him to finish and politely refrains from biting Charley in the face. They're comfortable enough around each other now that they can turn their backs to each other and not get too nervous...
I don't have pictures of it, but Rico actually (briefly and half-assedly) groomed Charley's head for a moment. Charley gets so scared around Rico that you could see him trying to decide if this grooming was about to turn into biting (as, honestly, Rico's grooming sometimes did when he lived with Pedro), but Rico was just being friendly this time. Charley kills me with his behavior around Rico. He really really likes Rico, but is also really scared of him so he doesn't know what to do to express that affection. One of his patented moves, as I've mentioned before, is the forced snuggle. He begins by squishing himself between the bunny he wants to snuggle and whatever wall they are sitting close to:
When this doesn't result in biting, he pushes in a little further and fully relaxes. You can see Rico seriously considering biting him at this point, but he refrained:
After this step, either the bunny accepts the snuggle (as Pedro often will) or they get up and hop away, irritated at the fact that Charley just stole their spot next to the wall:
It breaks my heart when Charley tries to snuggle and gets denied like that... but I totally understand where Rico is coming from... Maybe the snuggles won't be so unwelcome someday... In fairness to Charley, this is pretty much exactly the technique he used to become friends with Pedro... Remember this?
Those forced snuggles were the start of the beautiful friendship that Charley and Pedro have now... Rico just isn't sure whether or not to view these snuggles as a sign of aggression. I would guess that we still have at least 6 months before I try getting everyone to live together, but the grooming was a good bit of progress, and we'll keep plugging away at it...

No comments: