Rabbit hormones

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Rabbit hormones

Post by GreenBean on Thu May 15, 2014 9:44 am

After seeing the hormones kick in with our last foster girls (who were due to be neutered) and having read so much about how the hormones will drive most bonded pairs apart unless they're neutered (is this true for boys as well as girls - I seem to have read more about girls?) I was just curious about how it all worked in the wild where they obviously live in groups, compared to domestic rabbits.

Is it the lack of space that domestic rabbits have compared to wild rabbits that makes fighting more likely as they're in a more intense environment, or is it that females in the wild will be pretty much constantly pregnant, so their hormones work quite differently which leads to different relationships?

Hope this question makes as much sense written down as it does in my head...?
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Re: Rabbit hormones

Post by FluffSlave on Thu May 15, 2014 11:03 am

I can't give you an answer to most of it, but I know that the rule of thumb is that not neutering will quite often drive most pairs apart regardless of gender.

I'd imagine that space in the wild vs. space in captivity is a huge factor though.
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Re: Rabbit hormones

Post by cheryl'n'bruce'flo on Thu May 15, 2014 6:18 pm

No the Bucks are really obnoxious too. They spray and circle you as part of a mating dance and then if you are really worry they will attack your feet and or hump them.

And wildies fight a lot. The warren network has lots of small spaces each of which are inhabited by a doe. The 'corridors' of the run go through these spaces and the does can be pretty territorial when other buns pass through. If you sit and watch the wild buns out and about at dusk you will likely see a few scraps. But mostly when they are out in the open they are on predator watch.


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Re: Rabbit hormones

Post by Sparky on Thu May 15, 2014 6:51 pm

Apparently even rabbits in the wild prefer to live as a male / female pair. The group size is dictated by the quality of the ground. Soft ground in which tunnels and warrens cave in more easily house larger groups of rabbits as the living quarters require more maintenance. Hard ground where there is less risk of cave-ins house smaller groups of rabbits. (Source: Anne McBride, RWAF conference 2013)
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Re: Rabbit hormones

Post by gentl on Thu May 15, 2014 7:45 pm

Sparky wrote:Apparently even rabbits in the wild prefer to live as a male / female pair. The group size is dictated by the quality of the ground. Soft ground in which tunnels and warrens cave in more easily house larger groups of rabbits as the living quarters require more maintenance. Hard ground where there is less risk of cave-ins house smaller groups of rabbits. (Source: Anne McBride, RWAF conference 2013)

Quite interesting-and logical. Thanks for adding this Sparkykins. Some of us hoomins know that when you buns sit and spend so much time gazing during the day you are either a) solving the worlds problems or b) working on the equations pertaining to the mysteries of the space-time continuum or if you are Daisy B and Molly you are planning your next misadventure.
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Re: Rabbit hormones

Post by GreenBean on Fri May 16, 2014 9:30 am

Thanks for the replies, it's all very interesting and makes sense that in a domestic situation it's more intense than how they'd naturally organise themselves both in terms of space and companionship. Also that not having essential maintenance jobs to do that both keep them occupied and use up energy leaves them more energy left to translate into stress.

The buck circling and spraying sounds charming too haha!

My husband did call me out to the garden last week to investigate the 'strange yellow dots' all over the girls' fur - I think he thought it was some sort of parasitic attack, but I'm sure you've all guessed they'd just been having a good spray at each other!
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Re: Rabbit hormones

Post by Sixer on Fri May 16, 2014 2:42 pm

Nothing like a good spray!
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Re: Rabbit hormones

Post by Sparky on Fri May 16, 2014 9:58 pm

Tell hubby to count himself lucky if they are only spraying each other  Laughing 

Hormonal buns have led to more than one bath for Humum...
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Re: Rabbit hormones

Post by GreenBean on Tue May 27, 2014 4:04 pm

Ha! My current girls are older and spayed so there's been none of that sort of thing going on lately!

I have another hormone related pondering - I've heard several people mention unspayed female rabbits getting a bit aggressive/ territorial where they might snort or bite someone they considered to be invading their space. Does this still happen sometimes with spayed buns or is in usually related to hormones? Not something I'm having an issue with, just curious!
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Re: Rabbit hormones

Post by c.bolduan on Wed May 28, 2014 4:07 am

Bubbles is spayed but you can have a go to take her dish or worse enter her digging box in7/10 you will be snorted, trowel or lurched on. No matter what season we are in. Must be a territorial thing Very Happy No Wave 

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Re: Rabbit hormones

Post by cheryl'n'bruce'flo on Wed May 28, 2014 8:35 am

Flo was spayed as early as possible before the homones really kicked in. She still snorts and lunges. I often think to myself how lucky she is to have found a home with me as she would probably have been vicious with people who wanted to cuddle her. She is now 7 and she will now tolerate nose rubs but only if she has come to me for a treat and she has one in her mouth and she knows there is another in my hand! One of Bruce's favourite things to do when he is bored is to agitate Flo. She will be all snuggled down and he will run in front of her repeatedly, not close enough for her to lunge but just close enough to get a grunt from her. There is really no reason for him to do this other than for his own amusement. I play games with Flo when she is in the mood. This involves rolling a ball or one of the wheeled toys towards her and she will pick it up and throw it. Or I will wave one of the rabbit rattles at her and she will box it. She gets quite noisy during these activities but I know she enjoys them as she stays and engages whereas when she loses interest she just moves away. I think rabbits like Flo are really misunderstood because they almost seem to lack socialisation skills. It took me 6 months to bond her and Bruce mostly because she was just so defensive and he is quite confident and bolshy in many ways. It took possibly a couple of years to really see confident mutual grooming to go one between them not because she wasn't happy but more because it just takes a long time for her to pick up the cues I think. She is not scared in any practical sense. She will charge down any other animal that enters the garden, she will stick her nose up the vacuum nozzle, she will come and sit on me when I have something she wants and not leave until she gets it, she will dig at me if I am in the way. But she will not actively seek affection from me whereas Bruce will. A lot of this stuff is, I think, due to her wildie genes (Flo's mother was brought to the RSPCA as a stray and found to be pregnant. All her siblings were agoutis like her but none of the others were as highly strung). But even the fancy rabbits like Bruce are only a small hop from their wild cousins behaviours and I just think some buns show it more than others. Whilst does are definitely more changeable in their behaviours I don't think that the grunting lunging behaviours are exclusive to them.


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Re: Rabbit hormones

Post by GreenBean on Fri May 30, 2014 9:54 am

Thank you both for your input. Flo sounds like a spirited bun haha! And she and Bruce sound very entertaining together!

It's great to hear of animals that aren't too interested in human contact being appreciated for, and allowed to be, who they are. Do you manage okay if you need to handle Flo for any reason?
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