This post is in response to a request by Tamara, Marvin’s mom, who wants to hear more about Buttons’ and Yohji’s ‘dating days’ 🙂
I’m afraid I don’t have many pictures of the buns from those days, I was still camera-less then..
The buns were introduced to each other from the very first moment we got Yohji. Buttons was hostile, to put it mildly. She’d try to box Yohji through the cage bars, and she was so highly agitated the first few days Yohji was here. She even turned her aggression towards us, bit us a couple of times!
It is said that generally, baby rabbits are more open to accepting a new rabbit into its territory. Buttons was the exception. Here she is telling the poor boy to get his butt off her turf:
We used a row of play pen fences to give Yohji 1/3 of the living room, and secured a fine mesh onto the fences so that Buttons couldn’t hurt him through the bars.
For a couple of weeks, pee & poop wars raged all along the fences! Buttons was trying hard to reclaim her land. She’d also lie along the fences.. taking all her other behaviour into account, her lying there wasn’t a friendly gesture. Rather, she was ‘guarding’ her area, keeping an eye on Yohji to make sure he doesn’t so much as stick a whisker beyond the fences, lol!
After a while, though, she started to ignore him, which was a good sign to me. She had finally accepted the idea of sharing her space with Yohji. The mesh was removed from the fences, and I watched their interaction. Just curious sniffing this time, no more aggression from Buttons. And finally, I caught Yohji grooming Buttons through the fence! Alpha Bunny status has been secured by the little princess! This was probably about a month or two before their spay & neuter.
They remained separated for one month, post spay & neuter. The grooming continued, and sometimes they lie side by side along the fences. To help the dating process, and also in preparation of doing away with their cages, each bun got a new multi-purpose litter box:
Their litter boxes were placed next to each other, on each side of the fences. Eating is a relaxing activity for rabbits. So when a rabbit is able to eat near another rabbit, it means that rabbit is relaxed in the presence of the other rabbit, and no longer sees the other rabbit as a threat. That was what I was hoping to achieve, to get it into Buttons’ head that Yohji’s not a threat to her.
At last, it was time for some real bonding sessions. Buttons had been to most areas in the apartment, so I had to use the bedroom as neutral grounds for bonding. I blocked off an area of about 2ft x 4ft, just nice for me to sit in the middle and reach both ends of the area in case a scuffle breaks out. Sorry, no pics here at all, I didn’t think I could manage taking photos and playing peacemaker to the buns at the same time :p
Initially, Buttons chased Yohji, lunged at him, and tried to nip him. Many times, I had to hold her down at her shoulders. I also tried to bring them next to each other, and pet them so that they’d relax around each other. After a week, things got better.. although Buttons still lunged, she didn’t try to nip anymore. She just put her head to the ground and demanded to be groomed.
The second week, bonding took place in Yohji’s space, since he was the submissive one and would be less likely to react negatively to Buttons being in his territory. I bonded them over dinner, and thankfully, they were able to share a meal together on the first attempt:
After a week of dinner dates, things were going really well, so I let Yohji into Buttons’ area. She chased him, but again, no nipping, just lots of grooming demands 🙂
They’ve been living together ever since. I actually didn’t expect the bonding process to be this quick (but I’m certainly glad it was!!). I think, maybe, living next to each other for 5 months prior to the bonding sessions helped to speed the process up.
Here’s a recent pic of the furry couple: