Now 2 Happy Rabbits, the Arrival of Bob
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Rabbits are happier pets when living as a pair, male and female, and it was time to find Babe, a partner. She was now over six months old and was ready for the vet to make her infertile.
So, as I was passing the vets, went in to arrange her operation. Now to access to the vet’s, I needed to go through the pet shop. Yep right passed the rabbits, and I could not resist having a quick peek.
Plenty of Rabbits
There were plenty of pet rabbits to choose from, unlike when Babe found me, lops and lion heads etc., but only one male Dutch. All the other rabbits in the run were in a huddle.
But this grey and white standard Dutch, the smallest one, was on his own in the back in the corner. I liked him; he would make an excellent partner for Babe! But it was too soon; I will have to think it over and headed for the vets.
A Partner for Babe
The reception was busy, and by the time it was my turn, I had almost made up my mind. I just needed to know when Babe would be having her operation. My turn, the receptionist booked Babe in, six days to wait; then seven to ten days for Babe to recover. I went back through the pet shop and left with a grey and white Dutch rabbit, now known as Bob.
They had to live apart for at least sixteen days. So, Bob had the vacant hutch, Babe lived in the house, and one at a time in the garden. Until Babe went to the vets, then Bob had it all to himself until she had recovered. The only problem I had was getting Bob back into the hutch. But on the plus side, they were going through the first stage of bonding.
Bonding a Pair of Rabbits
Bonding rabbits should be easy if you go about it the right way, but there is no guarantee of success. The first stage is to keep them apart but close enough to see and smell each other. Then when they are ready, put them together on neutral territory, but this was a problem for me. Babe already had the run of the house, and the front garden was not fenced. All I could do is hope sharing the garden and leaving their scent would make it neutral ground.
Babe went to the vets, had her operation and came back the same day. After two days in the cage and five more in the house, she was back in the garden. But she was showing signs of aggression through the wire of Bob’s hutch again. After a few days, with no hostility from Babe, they were getting friendly by the patio gate.
I hoped the time was right for them to complete the bonding, opened the gate and stood back. Bob went head to head with Babe, who promptly nipped Bob and chased him across the lawn. I stood watching them in case they ended up fighting. But they only ran around the garden for a couple of minutes, stopping one at each end.
They both started eating grass while watching one another, and slowly moving closer until they were head to head. Then Babe started grooming Bob, and when Bob reciprocated I knew their bonding was complete! Had they viewed the garden as neutral territory, or was it down to sheer luck? I will probably never know, but Bob could finally move into the house.
House problem bob
Unlike Babe, Bob was not in the cage, that first night, but was free to roam with Babe. I assumed that having Babe’s company would be enough to keep him occupied, as it had all day.
Oh, how wrong could I be! The rabbits had been chewing the furnishings, some a bit more than others. Thinking it was all down to Bob, I had to prepare the cage for a guest that night. But during the day I caught, both rabbits reshaping a table leg. So, it was not all down to Bob, but the pair of them, and a first for Babe.
Now I am not house proud, and the damage is not easy to spot if you are not aware of it. But if the rabbits keep this up, it is going to be a big problem, and I loved having both rabbits around. So, I had to find a solution.
Rabbits are not intelligent and survive by instinct, and as far as I knew, were not up for behaviour control. But will chew and try to eat anything, this was not going to be easy to change!
So, Bob had to stay in the cage at night, while Babe was free to roam as usual. Now, like Babe, Bob was not a happy bunny in the cage, but it worked. Babe split her nights between Bob and me and did not chew again. But this was only a short-term solution.
Bob was out during the day and would try to eat the rugs, curtains and chairs. But as I was there was to stop him, the damage was minimal, and he slowly stopped attempting to chew.
It had taken a month for him to get control of his teeth and give up. So, it was time to try again! That night I did everything as usual, except put him in his cage before his good-night-treat. I went to bed, followed by Babe, leaving a bewildered Bob in the lounge.
Now due to him having no self-confidence when faced with deciding what to do. It was ten minutes before he arrived at the open bedroom door, where he stood bobbing his head. He was making me laugh, but he could be there acting like a nodding dog in the back of a car all night. There was only one thing to do; I picked him up and put him on the bed.
I had little sleep that night, due to Bob moving around on the bed. But he decided to lay down in the end, and I had an hour to sleep before sunrise. When Babe, as usual, jumps off the bed and wakes me up. But neither of them had exercised their teeth that night.
Over the next few nights, Bob got into the new no gnawing routine to become a fully-fledged, free-range pet rabbit. So, finally, I could relax and enjoy life with two rabbits as my, almost constant, fun-loving companions.