Posted: September 13, 2011, 11:40 p.m. EDT
Q: I had my two female rabbits spayed three days ago and they were getting on great until suddenly yesterday one of them turned on the other one and began to chase and attack her. When I tried letting them out together again this morning they did the same thing. I don’t understand why this is happening as they got on well before being spayed. I have them both in the same room so they can see/smell each other, but they are separated — one in the cage and the other out of the cage. Can you suggest why this might be happening and how I can help them become friends again? It is heartbreaking to see them acting so horribly toward each other as they got on great (they are sisters and have been together from birth).
A: Sometimes when rabbits leave the home they come home with other smells on them and it can cause them to fight. I find that same-sex, bonded pairs of rabbits get into fights like you describe more than opposite-sex, bonded pairs. We have had many same-sex rabbit couples live a long, bonded life together, so I don’t want you to give up hope.
Now that they have fought and been kept separated, you need to start the bonding process to get them back together. During the bonding process, you need to keep them in separate pens but next to each other. Every day take them out into a neutral pen (one neither lives or plays in alone) to spend time together. Start off spending about 10 minutes with them in the pen making sure they cannot fight with each other. Offer veggies to encourage them to eat together. Every day expand the time they are together until you have them together for a half day, then a full day, then a day and a night. Once you have done that, keep them in an exercise pen for five days and five nights. After that let them out for short play times together until they are back to being totally bonded.
In some case we have had to add a rabbit of the opposite sex in to change the dynamics of the relationship. Which means you would have three bonded bunnies. If you do have to do this, the third rabbit needs to be neutered and you will want to do dating to find a male rabbit that your female rabbits approve of.
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