So do you have an aggressive rabbit? That’s expected. They might be cute, furry animals but they can also pack a mean punch-or in this case, bites, kicks and scratches. The one thing you should console yourself with, if you’re a pet owner, is: it’s not about you. Rabbits are emotional and because they are emotional animals, they just act based on their feelings and instincts at the moment. Because we love them; we have to help curtail nasty anti-social behaviours and channel them positively.
What Is Aggressive Rabbit Behaviour?
There are several behaviours that are seen as aggressive for a rabbit. Aggressive rabbit behaviours include scratching, biting/nipping, kicking, thumping loudly or plain out chasing you around. They do that to convey anger and to defend themselves whenever they feel threatened. Imagine trying to feed your new rabbit and it latches onto your hand and starts nipping at it.
You struggle with the bunny and finally get it off you, all the while surprised at the behaviour, but instead of staying down, it chases you around. You come back a few hours later and you try to lift it up to get it out of its cage (wrong move) but the moment you do; it kicks and scratches at you. This is so weird.
Why does my rabbit hate me, you ask?
It doesn’t hate you. Rabbits are not genetically predisposed to aggression. It is a response to threat and the need for self-preservation. What this means is that you can help them get better. You can help them combat this behavioural problem and return them to the cute, cuddly pet they are.
Why Is My Rabbit Aggressive?
Here are a couple of reasons your rabbit might act out;
- Your rabbit is scared: If your bunny is scared, it’s because it’s not used to being handled by you. It has to adapt to you to get comfortable relating with you otherwise it sees you as a predator.
- It doesn’t like its new home: Rabbits don’t like confinements or small spaces. They love to move around, play and discover interesting things in their environment-the exercise is good for them. So, if you must put them in a cage, it has to be a large and well-ventilated cage, otherwise they don’t need to be kept in cages.
- It’s trying to tell you it’s in pain: If your rabbit has hurt its back or buttocks region and you try to pick it up, it might get aggressive. When you notice a sudden change in your otherwise calm rabbit, it is trying to tell you something; take it to the veterinarian.
- It hasn’t been sprayed or neutered: An unsprayed or uncastrated bunny can get aggressive if it hasn’t mated yet, as a response to hormones. Even if you help them mate, they may get more aggressive during their pregnancy period and may suffer complication during and after child-birth. This can be both stressful and dangerous for you and your bunny so you should get them castrated (for bucks) and sprayed (for does).
- It is protecting its own: A bunny can get aggressive if it thinks any of its possessions is under attack. The bunny might feel threatened if it thinks you want to take away its kits, its food (especially pellets) or cage.
- It needs companionship: When your bunny is lonely, and needs other furry animals like itself, it might become aggressive. Bunnies usually stay in pair. They are gregarious. They feel safer when they are with their kind, so the absence of other bunnies breeds nervousness, which results in aggression. They simply want friends, and sometimes, you’re just not enough.
How Can I Combat Aggression In My Bunny?
Whenever you notice signs of aggression in your rabbit, there are certain actions you can take to solve the problem.
- Never physically hit your bunny.
- Get them neutered or sprayed to reduce aggression caused by hormones.
- If they get aggressive when you pick them up, stop picking them up for a while. During which you can try alternative ways to bond with them; stroking their furs or talking to them might soothe their temper.
- If they don’t like their environment or place of abode, you can spice it up by adding toys to play with; enlarging the cage size or taking them out of a cage; increasing their outdoor hours to enable them to exercise and explore their surroundings.
- If you notice your bunny is lonely, you can organize steady play dates with owners of bunnies or simply adopt a few extra pets. This largely depends on your capability; so, choose a path you can commit to.
- If they get aggressive when you try to take food from them or touch their kits, you can disguise your intention. Maybe you can distract them when doing so, or alternate one for the other. If you would take the pellets away, replace with chewing toys or something else the bunny is fond of.
Bunnies are not born aggressive. Aggression is a response to threat. If you want your bunny to feel safe around you, you should take the necessary steps to achieve this.