Caring for a rabbit entails many things, from picking the right cage, which you can find if you check out this post, to the proper cleaning routine or food. You can learn more from our recommendations on how to take good care of a rabbit and how to make him or her less aggressive. The following guide is focused on this particular aspect.
Your bunny might be sick
Not all health problems have visible symptoms so, no matter how much of a loving rabbit parent you are, you might not know that your pet is sick. In case your rabbit suffers a sudden change in behavior, that may be because he or she experiences, and wants to be left alone.
In the wild, rabbits prefer to hide when they are wounded or suffer due to an infection or a disease. It is their way of protecting themselves from predators. When you keep your rabbit in a cage at home, he or she can’t easily find a place to hide and can consider you a potential threat.
What you can do is to take your rabbit to a vet and check for any possible health issues. Overgrowing teeth can cause soreness in the mouth and discomfort, and bladder infections are not easy to spot by someone who is not a veterinarian.
Another thing that you might not be aware of is having a rabbit that has impaired hearing or vision. Without these senses, a rabbit can feel threatened, hence the aggressive reactions. Learn to approach your rabbit gently and get him or her accustomed to a routine. This way, you will be able to reduce the aggressiveness that creates such problems between you and your pet.
Rabbits can be very territorial, and that happens due to mating strategies. Therefore, what you can do to reduce aggression in your rabbit is to consider neutering your pet. Rabbits reach sexual maturity rather quickly, and that happens between three and nine months of age. Once this happens, even bunnies that used to be friendly will turn aggressive.
Females are more aggressive than males, and they consider their cage their nest, which means that you will have a hard time trying to clean, replace food and water, or perform any other task. For females, neutering is a solution, as the removal of the reproductive organs will stop the production of the hormones responsible for the increase in aggressiveness.
Don’t believe the rumors that say that breeding a female rabbit will put a stop to the aggressive behavior. While nursing her babies, she will become even more protective, so you will just end up with a big issue on your hands.
Male rabbits have a different type of aggressiveness. They will not jump to attack you most of the time, but they will not tolerate other rabbits. In case you have multiple pets, that can become a real issue. If you touch one rabbit and then another, the scent will trigger an attack, and that means that you won’t be protected.
Neutering a male rabbit will reduce aggressiveness, but it may not always be the case. If the aggressive behavior persists, this may happen because your rabbit just got used to being aggressive. If that’s the case, you will need to work with your pet to change his ways.
What is learned aggression?
Don’t forget that rabbits are quite fearful animals, and at the root of their aggressiveness fear is always to be found. When you reach out to take your pet out of the cage, that can be considered by the rabbit an act of aggression he or she must protect against. Therefore, the pet lashes out and bites.
Naturally, you withdraw your hand. And that’s how a pattern is created. The bunny realizes that by trying to bite or scratch your hand, he or she managed to eliminate the danger. Therefore, your pet found a weapon to use for protection.
Un-learning this type of behavior is a long process for rabbits. As the owner, you must have a lot of patience and show your pet that you won’t withdraw when attacked and that you mean him or her no harm.
Avoid confrontational events
The way you handle your rabbit matters most. You need to be gentle and move slowly. If you try to grab your pet, or chase him or her around the cage, even without any ill intentions, that only creates a scary situation for your rabbit.
Rabbits are easy to scare, and that means that sudden movements, talking loudly, and other similar behaviors will be triggers for their natural fear to manifest. Also, it is essential that you allow your pet to feel safe.
Don’t reach inside the cage to lift your rabbit; instead, let him or her come out of there without extra help. You need to cultivate your bunny’s trust through small things like this.
You will have to create a routine that your bunny can get used to. For instance, you should feed your pet at the same hours every day, and routine cleaning should also follow a schedule. The safer your pet will feel, the better the relationship you will have with him or her.
Get your rabbit used to your scent
Rabbits have a very sensitive smell, and they react to scents. To avoid any injuries, and, at the same time, get your pet bunny to become familiar with your scent, here is what you can do. Find an old shirt or any other item of clothing that smells of you and put it close to the rabbit. Allowing your pet to investigate in his or her own time will help create the bond you are hoping for.
To get your bunny used to your presence, here is another trick. Wear some thick boots and step inside the cage. Your bunny will try to bite your ankles, but, seeing how that doesn’t work, and also that you’re not there as a threat, he or she will reduce the violent behavior.