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How to Make a Rabbit Less Aggressive | Pet Rabbits

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So a lot of people contact us to ask us what to do about a bunny who has become aggressive. And most people will tell us that the bunny was not aggressive when they acquired him or her but has progressively become more so while living in their homes. This is a tricky question because the very first you want to do with a rabbit is get him or her spayed or neutered so that whatever behavior you’re seen is not just hormonally driven behavior. Once the bunny is spayed or neutered, if you continue to see the same level of aggressiveness, then you want to start working with the bunny because bunnies are not born being aggressive toward human hands.

That’s something they learn and they learn it because they’re scared of the human hand approaching them. So let’s take a look. We’ve set up this cage not because it’s a bunny’s regular cage, it’s not. This is just a demo cage that we can show a couple of techniques for approaching bunnies that will reduce aggression. So, one thing to remember is when you buy a cage in a store, if that’s where you get your bunny cage, if you can, avoid cages that have very small, front opening doors. Rabbits are prey animals and like most prey animals their eyes are placed in the sides of their head, so that they can’t see very well directly in front of themselves. And when you have to get a rabbit out of a front opening cage, the rabbit will just see something moving toward its head or its face and may lunge at whatever that object is, and it could be your hand. So, what you want to do s get a cage with a door that’s big enough to comfortably fit your hand in without having it centered right at the rabbit every time you open it. On of our volunteers has noticed that if you put your head in, the top of your head in, the rabbit tends to be more comfortable than if you first address the rabbit with your hand. But I’ll show you what I do.

I open the cage door here and I always give the rabbit a chance to back off and to move away. I never continue to move toward a rabbit if the rabbit backs off. Without stopping, waiting and trying again. And that respect of the rabbit’s space pays huge dividends because the rabbit learns very quickly that it doesn’t have to get away from you. Well, this is great, how do you get a rabbit out of the cage? Open the door, right? So when you’re working with a rabbit who is aggressive, and I’m told by the adopter that this rabbit used to be very aggressive and she’s been working with her for a while now and the rabbit is less aggressive. But what you want to do now with a rabbit who will lunge at you, is use your hand carefully on the side of the rabbit’s face rather than directly in front. So you bring your hand in, let’s see, how will we arrange this? Loretta, may I have you? There you go. You bring your hand into the cage without moving directly toward the rabbit. Without reaching your hand in and grasping the rabbit. You bring your hand in and pause about six inches from the rabbit’s eye. Pause your hand so that the rabbit doesn’t see continued motion towards its head. So that it has a choice about what to do. I move my hand and I pause. the rabbit’s exploring my hand now. I bring it in again on the side rather than directly in front and I pause. And then what I do is I start touching the rabbit’s head very briefly. There, I touch her head and I remove my hand. I touch it and I remove my hand. Touch remove my hand.

Touch remove my hand. Touch remove my hand. Why am I doing this? Because I am removing my hand to keep under the rabbit’s threshold of tolerance. The rabbit may or may not want you to touch her head and you’re giving her an opportunity to react and let you know what she wants. If I touch and remove my hand and touch and remove my hand and then I bring it in and the rabbit turns toward it, she may be asking me to move it out or she may be asking me for more grooming. In this instance, she’s asking me