I decided to write a little bit about rabbits bad behaviors, because something I saw while grooming two rabbits at a client's house last Saturday.
Many people mistake rabbits Natural Behaviors for Bad behaviors and as surprising as it may sound, some times such behaviors are caused by well-intended owners.
While I trimmed one of the bunny's nails, I observed the caring owner, tapping her fingers in a rapid manner in front of the bunny's bend a bridge. She was going back and forth with her fingers until the bunny charged at her. She was doing this repeatedly for several minutes and every time the bunny attacked her she laughed and started again.... I chose not to say anything until last night, when I received a text message from her saying that her bunny was being aggressive. Do you have any guesses yet?
Rabbits just like any other animal will learn from us good and bad behaviors. In this case the bunny wasn't having fun with the owners playful tap, instead she was feeling provoked and threatened. The owner was having so much fun watching the bunny getting mad, she thought it was cute, on the bunnies eyes such interaction was destructive and provocative.
Growing up my brother used to do almost the same to our family's cat, he would pretend to hit the cat so it would fight back, soon after no one could pet the cat because he had associated hands with provocation.
Rabbits are no different, if you use your hands in a positive way you will help your rabbit to appreciate your touch instead of despising it.
Because rabbits are prey animals and in the wild they are only lifted up when they are about to become someone else's dinner,they do not like being held by their scruff or loose skin behind their neck. I saw a breeder doing that at a show and I wanted to choke her. Rabbits naturally do not like to be held as that isn't a natural thing for them. As we domesticated rabbits and brought them in from the wild we wanted to hold and cuddle, but we need to understand that rabbits rather be on the floor. That's natural to them. Different from cats and dogs, momma rabbit do not carry their babies from their scruff. In fact she never carry them at all, so when you adopt a rabbit and you want to carry him or cuddle with him, you must to develop a relationship based on trust first, then use a firm and gentle firm that makes your bunny feel safe, holding a rabbit by the scruff does the opposite of that.
I heard of children who chases their bunnies trying to catch them, that's the worse thing a person can do to a bunny. Being a prey animal, rabbits instincts associates being chased with a predator attack, so please teach your children to never chase a rabbit. That bad human behavior triggers the rabbits Natural behavior of running away and hiding, slowly he will run every time he sees a human.
Rabbits are naturally a floor creature in the wild the only time a rabbit is picked up is because he was caught by a predator,as you can imagine that is a frightening experience, however if held securely and gently ,a rabbit can learn to tolerate being held. If trained from early age some even enjoy being held, however we cannot expect all rabbits to feel the same. We can help them feel safer by securing their hind feet in our hands and using a calm and soothing voice while petting them. Never just leave your rabbit's foot dangling as he will feel unsafe and kick in an attempt to free himself.
Territorial behavior toward cage or hutch:
We have heard people complaining about rabbits who are jealous of their hutch/cage and its belongings. Wouldn't you feel frustrated if people would rearrange your stuff all the time?
My recommendation is to instead of fight back with your rabbit making matters worse, you should let the bunny play in a different room, while the daily or weekly cleaning is being done in his home. By doing that you will break the cycle of aggression and keep peace with your rabbit.
Rabbits are very quiet and they do get scared easily. They thump to warn others of dangers. Loud noises will frighten your rabbit, a scared rabbit will run from you. Try to minimize loud noises and move your rabbit to a different room when you have to vacuum.
Chewing, digging and marking:
Although the behaviors mentioned above are natural rabbit behaviors it can be obnoxious to us humans. As they reach sexual maturity around 3-6 months the best you can do to help your rabbit is to spay and neuter. Many people wait until their rabbits are displaying bad behaviors to consult a rabbit savvy vet regarding getting them fixed, however the sooner the better for your rabbit and you.
Spay and neuter prevent many cancers for both male and female and it helps to minimize hormone driven behaviors like marking, chewing and digging.
We can all learn from this and do better in understanding the nature of animals and see thru their eyes and instincts.
I hope this will help you pay attention not only to your rabbit's behaviors, but stay tuned with yours as well.
Welcome to my Blog. I hope to inspire you to develop a wonderful relationship with your rabbits. I will share my thoughts and daily updates here. I hope you enjoy!