Common Behavior Problems In Rabbits And How To Solve Them

While rabbits are such adorable and naturally friendly creatures, there can arise moments when due to circumstances surrounding them, they develop behavioral problems such as aggression, destructive behavior, bossiness, hates being picked up and so on. If your rabbit suddenly goes unfriendly and destructive on you and you are concerned about how to get such behavioral problems solved, this article might just be all you need. Here we would be taking a look at common behavior problems in rabbits and how to solve them.

When a rabbit who is naturally friendly develops behavioral problems, it is only logical for its owner to source for answers and solutions. So how can we explain reasons behind behaviors such as your once friendly rabbit being aggressive towards people, refusing to be carried, refusing to use its litter box, digging your carpets and chewing the cage bars?. In answer to that, such behavioral problems can stem from general distrust of humans due to an unpleasant past experience, boredom, stress, altered feeding and so on. When such cases are taken care of, your bunny returns to its free-spirited and social nature. Be that as it may, there is also a need to visit a vet when you notice such traits who can then advise you on further steps to engage.

Having said that, if your rabbit has shown some traits you simply are not comfortable with, and you are deep in thoughts of how to correct those traits, then you just might want to read on. Let’s explore those common behavior traits in rabbits and how to solve them.

1)  Hates Being Carried

It’s not a usual thing from the standpoint of rabbits for them to be randomly picked from the ground. When that happens, a rabbit imagines the very worst such as the fact that it has been picked by a predator. To get your rabbit to feel comfortable being carried, you need to get it to trust you by giving it positive experiences that indeed being carried is not a horrible thing.

2)  Digging Your Carpet

One thing you simply can’t take away from rabbits is their curiosity. They express this by digging, tunneling and chewing things. So if your rabbit chews your carpet or your furniture, it’s just your rabbit doing rabbit stuff. You can’t train it to stop this but what you can do is that you can cover up the chewed part of your carpet with another piece of carpet and then provide your rabbit with interesting rabbit toys that it can play with and destroy. Such toys can be newspapers, blankets, towels, cardboard, and similar stuff. You should also remember to regularly provide it with food and hay just in case its chewing things is out of hunger.

3)  Chewing The Cage Bars

Although rabbits love chewing, this behavioral problem is triggered by fear, stress, and frustration. Now you may ask what makes a rabbit get stressed, fearful or frustrated. The simple answer is when they don’t have access to everything they require. Such things are space, water, food, safe hiding places when they feel scared, safe environment against predators, toys, toilet areas, companion rabbit, and enough time to hang with you or other humans. To see things from the standpoint of your rabbit and look for ways to ease the situation. When that is done, the cage chewing would naturally stop.

Other signs that your rabbit is frustrated, scared or stressed are altered feeding, repeatedly going around the enclosure, over drinking, over grooming, refusal to move, sitting hunched, altered toileting habits, playing with the water bottle and hiding frequently. In such circumstances, asides from providing it with needed things, you might also need to take it to a vet just to make sure it’s not sick.

4)  Bad Litter Box Habits

Generally, rabbits are clean animals that always use a latrine for toileting. However, if your rabbit has bad litter box habits, it just might need some training on how to use the litter box. You can find out how to train your rabbit here. Alternatively, such behavioral problem can be exhibited by a rabbit that is not neutered. So if your rabbit has not been neutered, you will most likely need to do that.

5)  Aggression Towards You And People

Rabbits are known for being friendly and cute, so when you come across a rabbit that exudes unfriendliness by biting, growling, kicking, and scratching you or anyone that comes around, then there is a need to be concerned. To answer your concerns, rabbits can be aggressive when they feel their environment is not secure when their routine or environment is changed when they are not neutered and their sexual needs are unmet. In this situation, all you need to do is neuter them. They can also be aggressive when they are trying to defend themselves and their territory when they are deaf and you approach them unexpectedly thereby startling them, when they have health issues or when they don’t trust humans. Remember, if your rabbit has not been with you from birth, there’s no telling what unpleasant things it had to go through in the hands of others before becoming yours. Such things must have come together to form its current behavioral problem. Let’s look at these causes and how to solve them.

A)   How Do You Secure Your Rabbits Environment?

To start with, rabbits are prey animals to predators higher than it on the food chain such as cats, dogs, foxes, and snakes. So if you have some of such predatory animals around, expecting your rabbit to be all warm and friendly would be you having a tall dream. What can be done in this situation is that you construct a predator-proof enclosure and exercise run and fix in hard wire to surround the enclosure such that nothing can crawl in, and your rabbit can’t burrow out. Alternatively, you can opt for indoor housing, rabbit proof your home and place your rabbit in an ex-pen or a room where it would be absolutely free from the threat and fear of predators.

B)    How Do You Get Your Rabbit To Be Less Territorial Or Defensive?

When a rabbit is territorial there are possibilities that it would display actions such as unexpectedly moving forward when you attempt to clean its sleeping area or its litter tray. Also if it is a house rabbit, there is a possibility of it nipping your feet when you are in its way. In such circumstances, avoid cleaning your rabbit’s enclosure or territory when it is there. If you desire to clean its litter box or sleeping area, then move it to the exercise run and return it when you are done. On the part of a house rabbit that is territorial or bossy, you can take the easy way out by not getting in its way or you can correct its character problem by making a high volume screech when they nip at you. That’s the way rabbits communicate pain. Alternatively, thump your foot or hand and turn your back to it, this tells it that you disapprove of its actions.

Also if your rabbit gets defensive when you try touching it or clipping Its nails, simply wrap it in an old blanket or towel. This would restrict Its movement and would get it to be more relaxed for you to have your way with it.

C)    How Do You Handle Their Health Issues?

Aggressiveness in rabbits can also be triggered by health issues, pain, or hormones. In such circumstances, all you really need to do is take your rabbit to a vet to get checked and treated.

D)    How Do You Get Your Rabbit To Be More Trusting?

When your bunny shows eagerness to fight and make a fuss over everything, it just might be because of a lack of trust which stems from a nasty past experience. In such circumstances, you can win it over through patience. Spend some time buddying up with it on ground level. So sit or lay down around it and cajole it to come to you with food or treats you know it can’t resist. When doing this, avoid making unexpected movements and speak to it in a low toned and loving voice. Let your bunny get comfortable with you picking it up or stroking it.   

6)  Aggressive To Other Rabbits

Rabbits may be social, but they are also territorial. So if your rabbit is aggressive to other rabbits, it simply is trying to mark its territory. Now, this may be a problem if you are trying to get another rabbit to keep your rabbit company. So how do you get your territorial rabbit to bond with another rabbit?. Let’s discuss that.

How Do I Get My Rabbit To Bond With Other Rabbits?

There are several ways to get your rabbit to be less territorial especially when the other rabbit was purchased to give it company. For the basics, you should be ensured that they both are spayed or neutered. Secondly, put them in adjoining cages as putting them in a single cage can cause a fight. Thirdly you can take them out of their cages and introduce them to each other in an unfamiliar environment. If that does not work, then try feeding them close to each other. When this is done, the territorial rabbit would gradually welcome the other rabbit’s presence. For other ways to get your rabbit to bond with other rabbits, you can visit here.

How Do I Make My Rabbit Know I’m Displeased With its Behavior? 

For starters, never hit your rabbit when you are displeased with its behavior, it only leads to more aggression. What you can do is to make a loud shriek to communicate that you are hurt or thump your hand or foot and walk away or say aloud No and place your hand over its head and hold it firmly to the ground for thirty seconds to a minute. This would tell it that you are displeased and you are the boss of it. If it backs away from under your hand, repeat it till it learns and stays still or slowly lifts its head.

You can also take what it has. This means to bully it. Enter its space and take what it loves. For instance, if your rabbit is sitting in a spot it likes, tap Its butt. In the rabbit world, this means move. If it refuses, apply force and shove it. This would tell it you mean business. Then sit or lay in that spot for as long as you like. With this, you have shown it you are unhappy with it and that you are bigger and badder than it.

Also if your rabbit has learned to be submissive it would most likely show it by lowering Its head when you walk pass by. If this is done acknowledge Its submission by gently rubbing its head or calling its name. If you don’t, it would consider you a snob and rude.

Related Questions

How do I get my rabbit to be less aggressive and territorial without neutering It?

Simply meet its sexual needs by getting another rabbit or letting it hump you. Whenever you are not down for the humping, simply show your rabbit that you disapprove of its behavior by following the tips above and walking out. Also, ignore it when it protests by thumping. 

Why Does Your Rabbit Bite When You Feed It?

Well, sometimes it may mistake your hand for food. Other times it most likely is aggression. So squeal loudly. That would be you telling it that you are in pain.

On a final note, correcting a rabbit’s bad behavior takes time and patience especially if the rabbit learned Its bad behavior from a tender age. So try and be firm but understanding when solving its behavioral problems. Also, remember that de-sexing a rabbit is a solution to many common behavioral problems of rabbits.

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