The emotional intelligence of rabbits affects the way they behave, the way they relate with other animals and the way they handle situations. They can be logical, but even their logic is impaired by their feelings. A rabbit can have a heart-ache if it’s alarmed by a loud noise. To them, the loud noise is a threat because it was unexpected; they simply didn’t have time to prepare for it. It goes to say a lot about their behaviours. If they can have heart-aches because they are scared, then they can equally get jealous and express sinister behaviours.
Rabbits get jealous! It is simply hilarious to imagine, but it happens and it is quite common. Imagine those cute, fluffy, smart and spunky animals wagging their tails as they back away from you out of jealously.
Their jealousy is usually triggered when they feel the other bunny or pet is getting more attention than they are. Rabbits have a tendency to want to dominate the scene. They are attention seekers-they circle your feet to get your attention, for crying out loud. It doesn’t get clearer than that.
The good thing about this if your rabbit is jealous of the new pet or addition to the family, it’s simply because they are fond of you. If they are fond of you, they like you. So, when they notice their pleas for attention and cuddles go unnoticed, or your time for them is shared between them and something else, then that “something” is considered a threat. This could be the introduction of new bunny pets, or pet dogs and cats, or even loved ones.
And what do they do when they are threatened? They fight-or-flight. Before fleeing the scene, they often size up the threat to see if they have a fighting chance. If the threat is also a fluffy breed like them, then it’s likely they will try to dominate the animal, and this may get aggressive.
How Do You Know Your Rabbit Is Jealous?
Nudging You While You Attend To The Other Pet
Usually, a jealous rabbit will try to interrupt your interaction with their perceived threat. They can do this by nudging you with their nose, licking your hand or face, or even circling your feet while you engage the other pet or interact with a loved one.
Grunting To Get Your Attention
If your rabbit tries to get your attention by nudging you or flopping beside you for stroking/cuddling, and you keep ignoring it, it might start grunting out of annoyance. Beware, as this can become aggressive/destructive.
Trying To Dominate The Other Pet
A jealous rabbit can result to other destructive means to eliminate its perceived threat. If you see your rabbit constantly trying to mount the other rabbit or pet, even after it has been neutered, it’s an act of domination. Rabbits naturally believe in a hierarchy, one rabbit has to be the lead, the other the subordinate.
Fighting With The Other Pet
If the other pet resists these attempts, things might get violent as they could start fighting each other. It’s no surprise to see pet bunnies kicking and scratching each other. However, if you notice this, you might have to separate them. One bunny has to go.
Shadowing You Around
A rabbit that doesn’t feel it is getting enough attention from its owner may follow its owner in tow, hoping he/she will get the signal.
Again, a rabbit’s response to jealousy depends on its personality. While some rabbits will turn to aggression, others will result to isolation. If your rabbit spends more and more time by itself since the arrival of the new pet, it’s probably jealous.
How To Reassure Your Bunny
Engage Them While You Interact With Others
Usually, it is advisable to get bunnies in group at adoption so they can easily adapt to each other and understand the relationship with you, their owner. However, if you choose to get them simultaneously, then you have to learn to engage them while you tend to one. Even if it’s a new dog or cat, learn to keep the bunny engaged with something while you attend to the other one. This could be through the use of logic tricks, toys, treats, cuddles and so on.
Do Not Ignore Their Attempts At Bonding
If your bunny is attempting to get your attention, don’t ignore it. If they are rubbing their chins on you, circling your feet, flopping beside you, you can give them a quick ruffle, cuddle them or engage them with something.
Discipline Bad Behaviour
If your rabbit is exhibiting aggressive behaviours because of jealousy. You should correct it immediately, or else it will become a constant behaviour. Rabbits respond to a show of authority, use gentle and loving ways to discipline them so they don’t get the wrong notion.
Ensure Their Environment Is Comfortable
Sometimes, your bunny won’t mind the new addition to the family if it’s comfortable in its living space and if all its needs are provided. Needs such as lots of food, toys and tricks, spacious quarters and outdoor time.
Rabbits are just animals. They respond to what they see, not minding that their eyes are impaired, as they have bad near-sight. So, show them they can trust you.