Some of the information here may also
be useful for very shy "new" and young rabbits.
Does your bunny seem aggressive? Is she anxious and afraid? Does
she nip, growl or paw at you when you approach her? Does she scoot
around the cage as if in fear when you try to feed her, clean her
house, or simply touch her? Don't fear, and don't give up! Aggressive
bunny-human behavior is generally related to either hormones or
fear. Time and patience---and a little ingenuity---will almost surely
win over even the most tyrannical of rabbits.
THINGS TO RULE OUT BEFORE WE CONTINUE
IS YOUR BUNNY SICK? Make absolutely sure that the behavior is not
due to a physical ailment or pain. If you are not sure, take your
bunny to the vet.
IS YOUR BUNNY ALTERED? The urge to
mate and the hormones that go along with it can be very vexing to
your rabbit and can cause him or her to become more aggressive.
Rabbits that are altered tend to be calmer, as well as easier to
litter box/house train. For more information on spay/neuter click
PROBLEM: Bunny growls at and tries
to bite when you try to take her out of her cage. She also gets
very upset when you feed her or clean her cage.
A bunny's cage is his/her house--her
domain, she expects it to be a safe place where she can go to be
alone. She may feel the need to defend her home; she may be worried
about the large hand 'getting her.'
SOLUTION: Never mess with her at
all when she is in her house. Take bunny out for feeding, grooming
or cage cleaning. Put her some place where she won't be able to
interfere with your maid duties. Leave cage open and let her exit/enter
at will during play time.
PROBLEM: Bunny exhibits aggressive
behavior outside of her cage. She often nips, paws or growl when
you approach her---even for patting.
People are a lot larger than rabbits
and often make moves that the rabbit cannot anticipate. As bunnies
cannot talk, bark or meow they need to use their teeth and their
paws to communicate-often accompanied by surprisingly loud growls."
SOLUTION: Until bunny is in "Cuddle
& Play Mode" wear long pants and long sleeves when you are together.
Greet ALL advances with positive words and gestures. When Fluffy
comes tearing across the room with her teeth bared, greet her with
loving words in a happy tone of voice: "Here comes my beautiful/
handsome watch bunny! Look at you, my big tough bunny!" Bend down
to her level and talk to her, pat her, give her attention. Do this
sort of thing every time she exhibits aggression. Some people say
a short, high-pitched yelp "Ow!" may teach a biter to beware, but
I have found that more often than not it causes more anxiety and/or
FOR SHY, ANXIOUS, SCARED OR TRULY
AGGRESSIVE RABBITS: Try bringing the cage to the bathroom (or other
small enclosed area) Grab a book or magazine, open the cage and
let your bunny roam in and out at will. Let her do whatever she
wants to do: lie by your side, crawl upon you, ignore you, or just
sit in her cage. Don't grab at her or touch her at all if she comes
to you. Talk to her and let her check you out.
REMEMBER, you are trying to gain
her trust and friendship. After a few days or so of doing this (depending
upon bunny, of course), start bringing toys in with you, or maybe
some healthy bunny munchies. Let her get curious and come to you,
yet still refrain from grabbing or holding her. After a bit of time
doing this, start reaching out to her, patting her, hold her for
a few minutes (whatever she will allow) and put her back down (not
in her house). If she pulls sway, growls, grunts or paws, tell her
(firmly) she is quite rude and continue to ignore her. NEVER HIT
OR SHOUT AT A BUNNY, AND NEVER FORCE THEIR AFFECTIONS. Eventually
she will be curious. She may want to nibble on your magazine, sit
on you, or simply lie down next to you. If she scratches you or
bites you, remove her from your person and put her on the floor.
That's it. Simply remove her from the situation.
Watch and listen to your bunny for
cues about what she wants and is ready for. some bunnies do not
tike to be held, but are happy to 1ie next to you, or even on your
lap for patting. Get to know your rabbit's likes and dislikes. All
bunnies have their own distinct personalities just like you and
me, and they should be allowed to express them.