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Recently Spayed Rabbits Suddenly Fight

What can be done to prevent fights between two bonded female rabbits that turned on each other after being spayed?

By Caroline Charland
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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Reader Comments
I'm told that nobody has heard of this happening before but I would be exceptionally wary of re-bonding fighting same sex rabbits. I had two spayed females (5 lb chinchilla & 8 lb velveteen Rex) who had been living together famously for close to a year after a tough professional bonding. Both had been spayed for over a year and a half prior to the bonding. For the last 8+ months they were exceptionally loving to one another. Grooming, snuggling, always near one another. The day before yesterday they had a spat and we separated them. They went right back to being very loving to one another until they woke me yesterday morning in another fight. My beautiful baby chinchilla, the older of the two, was injured so badly that she died in surgery yesterday afternoon. The injuries were horrific to behold and trying to find a rabbit savvy vet on Sunday on Labor Day weekend was almost as bad. Please!! I don't care how many sites or experts tell you that it's "worth it to force the bond" it isn't. I've lost a very sweet and loving girl who meant the world to me in such a horrific manner. Worse than MY loss: my sweet bun lost her LIFE. I would give anything to have both of my girls living in separate rooms being "lonely" but alive again. And tell me how one goes about day-to-day normally with the other rabbit whom you also love but who just killed your "baby"? It simply isn't worth the heart break if your bonding or re-bonding efforts fail. Our bonding efforts were a "success". It only takes seconds for a life ending injury to occur. Nobody ever mentions that fact. Please! Don't ever try to force a bond between rabbits. They either like one another or they don't.
Misty, Jupiter, FL
Posted: 9/1/2014 10:26:26 AM
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