We brought Portia home on a trial basis to meet Tigger and Shadow to see if three bunnies would get along better than two. The plan was to keep Tigger and Shadow on the living room floor while putting Portia on the kitchen / dining room floor and allowing her a brief time to settle in. Then we were going to arrange some introductions in a neutral area and see if the rabbits might like each other.
We should have realized that as with everything else with Tigger and Shadow, things would not go as planned. They decided to introduce themselves. Shadow managed to squeeze around the gate we had blocking the stairway from the living room to the kitchen and ran down the stairs with Blaine in hot pursuit. Unfortunately for Shadow, he was both very speedy and very friendly. He raced right up to the x-pen enclosure we had Portia in and stood there with his face right up to the space in the bars. Knowing Shadow, I am sure he was thinking and saying in rabbit speak, “Hi, I’m Shadow. Who are you?” Portia’s response was to race at him full speed and nip his nose through the x-pen bars.
Blaine caught up with Shadow as he yelped and then dived under the dining room table to hide. That is the point I arrived on the scene to find two very agitated males, one hiding under the table and the other yelling, “She bit my boy! She is out of here!” I went under the table after Shadow and scooped him up to get a good look at the injury. He had a small paper cut like slice on his nose that had a couple tiny beads of blood. Next, we called the vet and found out how to clean it and what to watch out for while it was healing.
Then while Blaine comforted Shadow, I made a call to Portia’s foster family to see about making arrangements to take her back to them. They were heading out-of-town on a week-long vacation and asked if we would keep her for that time. So I made arrangements to be in touch once they were back. It was our intention to keep the rabbits separated from each other during that time.
However during that week, Tigger was determined to meet this intruder for herself. Who knows what Shadow might have conveyed in rabbit speak after his meeting. She wiggled around the barrier and flew down the stairs, this time with me in hot pursuit. However, Tigger was a very different bunny from Shadow. She was always on guard. So when she saw Portia in her x-pen, Tigger kept her distance. Instead, she was slinking around the perimeter acting very much like a small tiger on the prowl gauging the enemy. Before either rabbit could decide to make a move, I caught up to Tigger and chased her under the dining room table. Then I caught her and took her back upstairs.
After that for the remaining time we expected to have Portia, we reinforced our barriers to a double gate system. We had one gate at the top of the stairs and another at the bottom of the stairs so that if Tigger or Shadow got around one, we could still catch them before they could try to get around the other. Fortunately for us, Portia had absolutely no interest in trying to escape her area.
So, it looked like everything was set and determined. After the foster family returned from vacation in a week, Portia would be going back and looking again for another furever home. During that week of reprieve, Portia took her fate into her own little paws and started to really reach out to Blaine. Dare I call it sucking up big time? In one week she bonded herself to him in every way she could. In doing so she melted his heart, he forgave her biting Shadow and Portia found herself a permanent home. When the foster family came back to town, I called to tell them that we were making the arrangements to adopt Portia.
It was clear though in just the brief rabbit to rabbit interactions though that we were not looking at any likely three-way bonding anytime in the future. As we came to know Portia a bit more, it became clear she had trust issues and had probably been treated badly by either humans or other animals. If you approached from her rear unawares, she would whip around and rear up, batting her front paws and trying to bite. Because of this, we recognized that the decision to keep her meant we would need to keep the rabbits completely separate.
By falling in love with all three rabbits and wanting to give each of them the best home we could, we were now entering a really complicated phase. Tigger and Shadow would have the living room floor of the house. However, they were still not speaking to each other since the falling apart of their bond when Shadow became so ill with his lengthy inner ear infections. So they had side by side cages, but separate run times. Now we had added Portia in to have the kitchen / dining room floor. In order to keep rabbit order and well-being, we had to continue to have gates at the top and bottom of the stairs to keep Shadow and Tigger from being able to meet up with Portia.
Next week … living with multiple rabbit encampments …