When your bunny is exhibiting aggressive or rude rabbit behavior, you may wonder why this is happening. If you are adopting a rabbit from a previous home, then there is always the possibility that your little bun was in an abusive or unsafe situation that has taught her to be aggressive for protection.
There are also other factors that can result in changes in your rabbit's behavior. To help you figure out what's really going on with your bun, we have put together a few tips for navigating potential aggression issues.
Thumpy Doesn't Necessarily Mean Grumpy
Rabbit thumping is an activity that is usually associated with a rabbit warning everyone of impending danger. This can be for any number of reasons.
They saw a shadow that confused them.
They smell smoke. (from burnt toast, a lit cigarette, or a distant wildfire)
They spotted a predator, which may or may not be a real threat.
They are afraid of their new human and are unsure whether you are friend or foe. (might be learned)
It is good to remember that rabbits thumping is their way of protecting the warren. Thumping can be a sign of trust and protection, but it is always a sign of fear on some level. It is definitely an action that you will want to pay attention to.
Understand Your Rabbit’s Pain and Illness
Rabbits are good at hiding if they are in pain or sick. Sometimes they will let you know by letting out a distinctive rabbit scream. This can make it easy, however, if your rabbit isn’t eating, has decreased feces output, or has other changes in behavior, take your little bun to the vet. When rabbits don’t feel good or are in pain, it is common for them to be aggressive. Taking them to the vet will help quickly rule out any health issues.
Spay/Neuter Your Rabbit
If your rabbit is healthy, it is time to get your rabbit spayed/neutered. By neutering or spaying your rabbit, you are able to rule out hormones. Rabbits that have reached sexual maturity, tend to be more aggressive and territorial. This is more common in female rabbits than in male rabbits. You may hear that breeding your female rabbit will help calm her hormones. This may be a temporary solution but her pregnancy will only last 4 weeks and then you will have a litter of bunnies to take care of. Breeding is never the answer to help with hormones.
Understanding Learned Behavior
If your rabbit is spayed/neutered and is still displaying aggressive behavior like rabbit thumping and noises, it is time to accept that it’s a learned behavior and it will take some time to have your rabbit learn to trust you and her environment. The most common reason why rabbits are aggressive is because of fear. First, access the environment that she is in. Are there any factors that could potentially scare her? Do you have a new puppy, or a new piece of furniture near her cage? Basic rabbit care teaches us that we should try to eliminate anything that could potentially spook her.
Then slowly introduce yourself to her. Speak softly and move slowly when you are around her. A common and effective system of behavior modification is theTTouch method. This method gives you the tools to slowly and safely introduce yourself to your rabbit and associate yourself as a positive presence, not a negative one. Aside from this method, you have a few options to try yourself before bringing in a professional. Try taking an old piece of your clothing that has your scent on it and lay it in your rabbit’s cage. Put a few treats on top of it to encourage her to investigate.Simple techniqueslike this one will help change your rabbit’s learned behavior.
Please keep your patience while you are trying to work through your rabbit’s aggression. Your little bun can become a joy to be around and can give you endless love when they know that they are safe. Rabbit care can be difficult, but with the help of Rabbit Hole Hay you can read up on current information. We also stock thehighest quality hayto keep your small pet happy and healthy! Did you know a rabbit's diet should consist of at least 80% grass hay? If you're curious about the different types of hay and need help choosing, download our Hay is for Rabbits eBook!