Rabbits/Female Rabbit

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Question
QUESTION: Hi,

I hope you can help.  We have 2 rabbits who are approximately a year and 9 months old.  We had our male rabbit neutered when he was young but did not have the female spayed.  These rabbits (from what we were told) came from the same litter and we did get them when they were a babies.  Recently our female rabbit got out of its cage and because this rabbit was so fast it was difficult for us to catch.  We have woods all around us and back up to state forest.  We attempted everything to get this bunny back into her cage.  The bunny would stick around the property, darting into brush then eventually under the shed but she would always continue to come around the rabbit hutch.  Finally after 3 days we caught her in a have a heart cage.  She was livid to say the least.  She ran back and forth in her cage banging up against the cage.  She has always been the more agressive out of our 2 rabbits.  Now though, she seems freaked out when our other bunny hops over to her.  She quickly jumps away everytime he attempts to do this.  These bunnies used to be best pals cuddling up next to one another but now our female bunny is acting oddly.  We think she escaped because she was in heat but her behavior now is so odd.  I don't know if you have experience with this but any advice would be helpful.  Thanks, Robin

ANSWER: There are a lot of unknown factors involved with this situation, so I'll do my best to help. First things first, get her spayed. By the age of 2 she has about an 80% chance of developing cancer, and that risk keeps climbing higher as she gets older.
She could be pregnant, which could explain her avoiding her friend. Whatever the case, she's been outside and exposed to who knows what in those three days. She could be traumatized by the experience.

In any case, it sounds like the bond was broken and you'll have to attempt to re-bond them. Start with sessions in a bathtub where they can't escape but still have room to have their own "space". You could also take them for a car ride in the same carrier which would stress them out enough to seek each others company. Either way, you're starting from square one, so you must remember to supervise all "together play time" until they're re-bonded.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the quick response!  Yes the bond does appear to be broken.  If our female bunny did get pregnant it would have been from a non domestic rabbit.  However, I have not seen any rabbits around so I'm not sure that's what happened.  She definitely was traumatized but I think most of it happened when she was chased by the dog in our yard (the dog got out while we were trying to get her) and when she was caught.  Honestly while she was out running around she appeared to be happy getting the freedom and as I said she always came around to the hutch.  If she were to be pregnant with a non domestic rabbit do you know how that would work in terms of babies she may have?

Answer
The babies (and mom, at this point) should be tested for communicable diseases. Rabies would be my biggest concern. I'm not really sure what else you can do in terms of the babies. I would communicate with a vet on that when you go for a check up.

I hope this helped.

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Christine Whetstone

Expertise

I am not an expert on wild rabbits, only domesticated rabbits. I can answer questions regarding habitats, behavior, diet, health, pairing/bonding - pretty much anything having to do with owning a rabbit.

Experience

I've owned indoor rabbits for the last 10 years. During that time I've gained experience in areas like bonding exercises, understanding behavior, warning signs of sick bunnies, how to handle more serious illnesses (GI stasis, abscesses, eye problems, etc.) and more. It's rare that I come across an inquiry that I do not already know the answer to.

Organizations
House Rabbit Society, supporter of local rabbit rescues

Publications
http://ilovemyhouserabbit.com/

Education/Credentials
Personal experience beats the pants off of a degree, in my opinion.

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