We have 2 adult rabbits (3 years old) and 2 youngsters (about 10 months old). They are all males.
The pairs have been bonded. The two adults were purchased together and then had a falling out after being neutered. So, they were re-bonded at about 10 months old. It was quite the process.
The 2 youngsters have been neutered and--fingers crossed--have remained very close.
For the past 6 months, this was the set-up:
Our dining room is divided by a baby gate. On one half of the room, the adults have free roam. They have cages there, but we never close them. They've been out like this for 2+ years.
On the other side of the gate, we had the youngsters in a very large (2x5) cage that was elevated. All rabbits could see each other, but there wasn't any place where they could be close.
Recently, we've made a change. This is for two reasons:
1. The youngsters have yet to grasp litter box training. We mostly attribute this to the grated floor of their cage where all poop/pee would fall through. (And that was bad for their feet, anyway.)
2. We need to begin the bonding process for all 4 buns, knowing it may be impossible.
So, last weekend, we took the youngsters' cage out, and now the dining room is separated by just one layer of gate. 2 buns are on each side.
It seems like the 2 sets of buns are getting used to each other. For the first couple of days, they would stick their noses through the fence and 1 of the adults (a dutch) and 1 of the youngsters (a lop) would try to go at it. We have two lionheads (an adult and a youngster), but they stay out of it for the most part. It's the little guys that cause all the trouble.
Now, they are all staying on their sides of the gate and not investigating too much. However, our 2 adults--who, remember, have been bonded for 3 years--have been fighting a lot. I'm attributing this mostly to stress. Also, sometimes one of them releases that I'm-ready-to-fight smell (what's that called?) and I think that gets the other all cranky.
It's been about 6 days with this set-up, and the adults are still fighting. We've tried breaking them up and confining them to their cages when they fight, but this seems to anger them even more. So, we are following the no blood/no foul rule, but I hate to see them so stressed out.
The youngsters are oblivious. They seem totally fine (though still not using their litter box). I hate to see the adults fighting, though. They are usually very close. Though, I must say, they do have a more temperamental relationship than the youngsters. It's not unusual for them to get cranky with each other once every couple of months, but they are fine afterwards.
Any advice? Last night was the first night where we left them together all night (keep in mind that, before this process, they haven't been "caged" for 2 years). Do we just keep doing what we're doing and ignore their little tiffs (which happen every hour or so and last about 30 seconds).
What are we doing wrong?