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FUR EVERYWHERE! Neutered male rabbits fighting!

(28 Posts)
BoffinMum Thu 06-Feb-14 22:40:20

Our two male bunnies are about 6 or 7 months old, and they are vaccinated and neutered - they had the op about 4 weeks ago. They are a sibling pair and until a fortnight ago they were very closely bonded and groomed each other, etc. We pet them twice a day and they are very tame. However now they are having fights and there is fur everywhere. It's really quite vicious. We keep separating them as soon as they start fighting, and put the dominant one into the run, which has a little shelter. But I am starting to wonder what on earth to do, and whether there is any advice Mnet people have.

BoffinMum Fri 07-Feb-14 09:24:08

More fighting this morning.

FernieB Fri 07-Feb-14 14:30:20

It's a difficult one. When you separate them the one left in the hutch/cage makes it his territory so when the other bun comes back he is seen to be invading territory.

It could be that they just don't like each other any more now that they are older. Male buns are difficult to house together. I have a lone male who I adopted because he had been fighting with his brother. They may fight it out, decide who is alpha bunny and then settle. if they don't settle down you may have to permanently separate them.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 07-Feb-14 15:32:28

Do rabbits need their 'own' territory or could you swap their homes round?

Then they would have each others smell there and not get too attatched to one area?
They'll both need run time especially in summer. I'm guessing you'd need two runs or one would be inside.

They might go a bit OTT with 'marking' and moving things about.
But if they can still see each other, they've got company until you decide what's the next step.

BoffinMum Fri 07-Feb-14 16:29:27

Well, we have a run with a little indoor section, where they usually spend most of the day together, and a hutch where they spend the night. So far they have both been in both, so both places smell the same. I am leaving the less dominant one in the hutch when I separate them, and putting the dominant one in the run, but then the dominant one is the rabbit who does all the attacking, whether he comes back into the hutch, whether we put the less dominant one in the run, or whatever. So it doesn't seem to be that one or other has territory, it is that the dominant one always has a go at the less dominant one.

I am considering:

1. Scaring them with the lawn mower so they cuddle together for comfort.
2. Upping their food so there is less need to fight (although they are fed very well, I think).
3. Buying another hutch and run, but this will cost a fortune - they already have a big one of both.
4. Buying a wife for them, although she would be smaller initially and would need vaccinating and spaying, at great expense.
5. Rehoming one of them, perhaps the more aggressive one, and introducing a wife for the other one.

It's very difficult.
I had no idea rabbits could be like this.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 07-Feb-14 16:49:16

I've never kept rabbits but my two male GPs were fighty a few years back (though it didn't involve any physical trauma thankfully, alot of noise and 'attacks' though)

They were a year old, but sorted themselves out.
Rabbits though, being bigger, more territorial, different scenario.

If you went down the female rabbit route you'd find neutered/vaccinated does in Rescue.
But you'd end up with two pairs unless you asked them to rehome one of your boys.
Loads of Rescues will date and bond rabbits for you. Most are over-run with homeless rabbits sad. They could advice with size/age of cage-mates.

Can 2 neutered bucks live in a group setting with 1 or more females? Or would you need to have set groups of a male with his female?

FernieB Fri 07-Feb-14 19:04:08

I don't think 2 males could live with 1 female - the fighting may increase. As 70 says I think you could be looking at two male/female pairs.

snowybun Fri 07-Feb-14 20:38:39

I think you are looking at separating them completely male pairings are hard work and if they are fighting the chances are serious damage will be done. You say they were neutered 4 weeks ago it does take 6_8 weeks for the hormones to go. Adding a female would not be advisable if the males are fighting. The easiest pairing is male_female neutered and spayed and I think that maybe the answer.

BoffinMum Fri 07-Feb-14 20:55:35

Oh dear.
We did ask the vet whether it would be alright to keep them like this and he said it should be OK. Clearly it's gone rather wrong.
They were doctored on 10 January so 28 days ago. What do you think the chances are of an improvement in the next 2-4 weeks, once all the hormones have gone?
Middle son is refusing to part with either of them. We might turn into one of those families with 56 pets in the house where OCD people have to come in and help us get the crap off the kitchen surfaces.

fiverabbits Fri 07-Feb-14 21:18:40

Do you handle them ? Have you tried giving the dominant one more attention on his own, so if nothing else the other one can have a bit of peace.

FreddieStarrAteMyHamster Fri 07-Feb-14 21:20:52

This happened to my boys. Once they fight so viciously it's very difficult to re-bond them. It's harder to keep same sex pairs (especially males) together. They need to now be separated completely or they'll potentially fight to the death. Their skin tears easily and it will cost you hundreds in vets bills if they hurt each other. Keep them separate in the first instance. If you can't keep both with a female each a good rescue will swap one of your males for a female and bond them for you (a male-female pair once bonded have an excellent chance of staying together- their relationship is quite different). I ended up keeping my 2 boys (got them a girl each) and they have been happy pairs ever since (one boy died in the end and I then got another). Try not to blame the 'dominant' rabbit for fighting. Most likely his dominance has been challenged by the other coming into maturity and wanting to be the dominant one. He's just defending his status. They will both be fine with the right gal. 'Rabbit re-home' is a good website and there you'll find a rescue in your area who will help. It's really stressful I do sympathise. Good luck with it all.

Evenstar Fri 07-Feb-14 21:24:32

I am just starting the process of bonding a baby doe with my neutered male rabbit, you certainly couldn't have 2 males and one female, and I have been told that it might take a long time and also that I will need to get the baby neutered promptly as they could fight when her hormones kick in.

We are only doing this because my other boy was killed in a fox attack last week and we think it unfair to leave him alone as he is only 15 months old. I tried rescues but unless you have a hutch and run the size of a small country they will not let you have a rabbit sad

Our boys were brothers, and they were very happy together after they were neutered and cuddled all the time, but not all male pairings work out

FreddieStarrAteMyHamster Fri 07-Feb-14 21:29:47

Sorry didn't explain dominance properly. If the other rabbit submitted to the dominant one there would be no reason at all to fight. It's because he's now refusing to submit that they're fighting. A male-female pair also usually has a dominant one- but I find it's less obvious and they are much more likely to tolerate each other. The male-female relationship is totally different. My dominant male is totally soppy now he has a female and if anything she is now the dominant one (although about a quarter of his size). Their bond was easy and they snuggled straight away. So there is lots of hope that they'll be fine with female partnerships. Do keep the males apart though and please don't put a female in as a trio, that will likely increase the fighting.

SoftSheen Fri 07-Feb-14 21:31:36

Generally speaking, male rabbits do not get on well with other male rabbits once they reach sexual maturity (this is in contrast to guinea-pigs which are often kept as male/male pairs).

The best solution would be to separate them and pair them each with a neutered female rabbit, though the introductions would need to be careful. Definitely don't add a female in with the two males, as the likely result would be a lot more fighting and possibly serious injury.

If you aren't able to keep two pairs of rabbits, it might be worth contacting a rescue centre to see if they might consider taking one of your males in exchange for a female.

It is important to make sure that any pair of rabbits has enough room, especially if they are being shut in a hutch overnight (many recommend that rabbits have 24 hr access to their run). A pair of medium sized rabbits need a minimum hutch size of 6' x 2' x 2', which is bigger than most hutches sold in pet shops.

BoffinMum Fri 07-Feb-14 22:01:36

We have a big hutch that's about the size you recommend, and the run is quite big as well, plus we make an extra temporary run around it with roll up fencing in better weather, so they are not scrapping for space.

DS2 will be gutted if we have to rehouse one of them.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 08-Feb-14 10:30:46

Could you employ your DS to make a run for them?
Or look on Gumtree etc for a used one?

You will most likely end up with two pairs if you DS wants to keep the two boys, so prepare ahead smile. Where will you put the runs. Can you move them to fresh grazing. Where to store the hay?

Years ago I had two pairs of guineas (two mums + their female piglets) and they didn't create any more work WRT feeding, cleaning etc. But the pairs didn't get on so we had to make sure there were four willing cuddlers.

With 4 rabbits though , the innoculations will be more (will they give you a discount for bulk?) and any rabbit holiday home fees.

But if you have two happy pairs instead of two very angsty boys (and the trauma for you) then it's worth it wink

SoftSheen Sat 08-Feb-14 20:19:28

It sounds like you have a good set-up in terms of space. However, it is, unfortunately, still very likely that you will have to split the males up. Better do it sooner rather than later as rabbits are quite capable of inflicting nasty injuries on each other when they fight.

BoffinMum Sat 08-Feb-14 20:46:35

OK, popped into the vet to ask advice. She suggested putting a bit of mesh in the hutch to divide it into two, so they can smell each other but not fight. DH has done this, and also divided the run this way as well. The vet said that she has done this with her bucks, who also kept fighting. She said the hormones still had a couple of weeks to go before they disappeared, so there was a small chance we might be able to reintroduce them in a fortnight's time, but the odds were against the rabbits getting on, as they it would have become a learned behaviour. However she said as long as they could see and smell each other, we did not need to adopt another pair or have one rehoused and replace it with another one.

DH tried putting them together in the run before he put the mesh in, but the dominant one immediately went for the non dominant one, who became very afraid and scampered off. DH squirted the dominant one with water and he did stop chasing the non dominant one but given the poor thing's evident fear, it was clear the mesh had to go in there.

Once the mesh was there they rubbed up against it and lay down side by side, so this is probably a good sign.

BTW they have a predominantly hay diet, 80%, plus 10-15% fresh vegetables and the rest pellets. They probably eat better than we do. grin

FernieB Sat 08-Feb-14 22:01:25

Clearly they can't live with each other and can't live without each other. I hope this arrangement works out.

BoffinMum Sat 08-Feb-14 23:05:25

'nature, innit. wink

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 08-Feb-14 23:18:26

I always think that two male animals ( I keep two male guinea pigs but I reckon you can apply to most animals) wouldn't choose to live in a 2 male group.

My boars would probably love to replicate themselves with a hareem. But instead, the only females they've lived with were their mums and sisters.
When my two went to Boarding I asked that they weren't put within wheeking distance of sows in case they got narky with each other.

It's a very artificial situation but it means they have company.

If your rabbits can side-by-side they can still 'chat'. My boars don't cuddle up, but it's enough that the other one is there.

So though your rabbits wouldn't have the close comfort of another rabbit, it's more than a lone rabbit would have.

BoffinMum Sat 08-Feb-14 23:22:01

I think that's fair enough. Ultimately it's about what seems to make them happy, and if the vet thinks a bit of mesh will achieve that, I suppose that's the way forward.

19claire88 Sat 08-Feb-14 23:53:05

I have kept rabbits for 15 years unfortunately males normally end up fighting its a natural instinct as they would do in the wild. They need to be kept separate with individual hutches and grazing area.
I've found rabbits that live next to each other separated by mesh I will still try to fight and damage the lip and nose area.
From reading on rabbit forums rehoming one and pair the remaining with a neutered female is the best option.

Midori1999 Mon 10-Feb-14 02:01:39

The (extremely knowledgable and experienced) lady who runs the rescue I have homed several rabbits from would disagree that neutered males can't live happily in pairs, or even in a trio with another female. However, there's no doubt that some pairs, regardless of what male/female mix they are, just don't work and this often begins to become a problem as the animals mature.

I do agree though that in your situation adding another girl is likely to cause an even bigger problem, as you already have two buns that don't get on. I also agree that they can fight through mesh, so if you plan to keep them this way you need two layers of mesh with a gap between.

I do think though that the best thing for the rabbits would be to contact a reputable rescue and try and 'swap' one of your males with a neutered girl, or adopt two girls so you end up with two male/female pairs.

Adequate housing cannot be stressed enough and rescues are very particular about this for a reason. Rabbits need space and stimulation and should have access to at least 48sq ft as the bare minimum 24/7.

BoffinMum Mon 10-Feb-14 13:08:39

Our vet advised us that sometimes two boys get on, sometimes they don't. We can't swap one as DS2 will be bereft. The mesh thing seems to be working and they both lie down companionably next to each other and hang out. The dominant bunny has had a bit of aversion training and is chasing a bit less when we do put them together, but the less dominant one is very scared when the mesh isn't there.

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