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You really *need* to only allow them to share a NEUTRAL space together, and not have any access to going behind enemy lines into the other one's space!! Of course Monty would take extreme offense if an interloper is in his(her?) space. That was inevitable, and preventable.
Rabbit Rule # 10 --- "My space!! Enter at your own risk!!"
Start over. Re-Boot!! Create a space that neither one of them has ownership of. Kitchens are usually a good one, and floors are usually not carpeted. Smooth floors even bring an element of equalizing the situation. I try to give the rabbits **at least** about 9sq ft/rabbit for a bonding arena. (and that is a ratio that works for Hoppy Hours too ---- with MANY rabbits having a giant play-date). Too small of a space, or no where to get away and take a break from the other rabbit can be a recipe for intimidation and trouble.
If it was my rabbits......:
I sit them side by side (SNUGGLY!) between my knees on the floor, and then spend about 30 minutes with them cheek-to-cheek, while I am petting both of them and getting each other's smells on the other one. They are so close together, and noses facing forward---so there is no opportunity to bite the other one. That is how their first encounter goes when I am bonding rabbits. Lots of positive stroking, immersion into each other's space and smells, CALM and very controlled and very equalized, and the threat of a stranger is decreased.
The next step I take is to allow them to sort of face each other (not centered straight-on because of their blind spot), with a decent handful of hay and good sprinkling of cilantro in it in front of them --to share. Eating together can be a socializing experience, and a positive experience. The bonding experience MUST be a positive one to progress, and if it becomes aggressive---it needs to be diffused or a diversion, or stop all together. Sometimes just standing over them loudly saying 'NO' can be enough. I stand right next to them when they are doing this eating exercise, so I can reach down and subdue any hint of aggression before it can escalate.
Once they have eaten, and realize that the other rabbit probably isn't going to instantly attack them, they start sniffing and hopping around in the enclosure, and may come closer for a look-sniff at the other one. Just keep reminding them that YOU are there by your dominant presence. Put on your Hulk-Hogan costume. There are a lot of things you can do to keep them focusing partly on you, and not each other so much. It can actually be entertaining if you get creative. I've experimented with quite a few diversions with interesting successes, and even done public demos of bonding tricks that help to keep things low-drama.
Those are some of my best basic bonding secrets.
Set the stage for success:
*Middle of afternoon during normal naptime is when they tend to be more chill.
*Make sure they are NOT hungry or thirsty when you start the encounter (hungry rabbits can tend to be more aggressive, and 'hangry').
*Have some neutral new 'toys', boxes, 'props' spread out in the bonding arena when they are moving about more freely.
*Have a very large litterbox that they could share comfortably, with plenty of hay in it. (make sure the litterbox is clean and neutral of urine smells!!) If you don't have a huge litterbox, or mortar-mixing pan etc---just use a big open-top cardboard box that is short sided like a litterbox. Costco has big produce boxes that the sides can be trimmed down.
* Don't allow yourself to get distracted, or someone could get hurt. Allow yourself plenty of time to focus on them only. I don't even have my cell phone within reach. Maybe a bottle of water is all.
Rabbits are very predictable, and they nearly always do things for a reason. Understanding and anticipating their behaviors can be a real tool in your favor. Body language can also be very telling about their next move. So being fully engaged and not distracted is really important.
Good luck!! Take your time, don't rush things......
On Wed, Jun 9, 2021 at 7:27 PM David L. Fisher <dlf@...> wrote:
Oops, I may have spoken too soon. I let the newcomer out again (as I
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