Categories
Household-Waste-Disposal

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

We usually think of rabbits as cute and cuddly, but they can also be aggressive fighters, attacking each other or even us.

Sadly, countless rabbits are rehomed or neglected because they are considered aggressive. The truth is that aggression can usually be rectified. Lets have a look at the most common reasons for aggression.

Un-neutered or un-spayed

Castrating male rabbits and spaying females is vital for many reasons, one of which is that it will help reduce aggressive behaviour, particularly towards each other.

If your pet rabbit is usually friendly and suddenly becomes aggressive, suspect pain. If you are picking them up when they have a sore back or leg, for example, they may try to protect themselves. If you suspect something is hurting, get them to your rabbit-savvy vet for a full checkup straight away.

Rabbits that are not used to being handled can view their owners as a threat when they try to pick them up or stroke them. They will act like they would in the wild when faced with a predator; freeze, try to run away or show aggression. A hutched rabbit has nowhere to run so may use aggression.

If your rabbit is being aggressive, but you are sure they are not in pain, ask yourself whether they might be afraid of being handled, and why. Are you suddenly appearing where they didn’t expect you to be? Speak to them as you approach so as not to startle them. Always use a calm, quiet voice.

Build confidence

Try to let your rabbits come to you rather than approaching them. Sit on the floor with some treats handy and sprinkle them near yourself, not so close that they have to touch you to get them. Do this over a period of days to build up trust so they come closer and closer and will eventually eat from your hand and ultimately be happy with you touching and stroking them.

Unsuitable accommodation

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

Rabbits are very active and athletic animals and a hutch is simply not enough!

Being confined to a restricted area does not allow a rabbit to be a rabbit. They can not do the things they need to do – run, dig, jump, rear up or forage for example. This makes them frustrated, unhappy and often causes health problems. Rabbits that can not stretch up tall develop spinal deformities that are painful when they are handled, which can result in aggressive behaviour. So get their accommodation right and you’ll have happier rabbits.

Protecting their territory

Some rabbits can show aggression towards their owner when a hand is placed into the hutch to fill their food bowl or to remove dirty bedding. To the rabbit this is seen as an invasion of their territory so they treat the owners hand as a threat and display territorial aggression. Again, you need to build up trust with your rabbits to prevent this.

Hormones

Rabbits can display aggressive behaviour towards their owners or perhaps companions during the spring – the rabbits’ natural breeding season. This aggression is hormonal and indicates a normal desire to defend their territory and ward off any rivals. This behaviour can often disappear by the end of the summer and may not reappear until the following spring. This behaviour should be reduced by neutering (males) and spaying (females).

Loneliness

Rabbits are very social animals. Because they are prey animals they feel safer when they are with other rabbits who can help them keep a lookout for dangerous predators. Single rabbits don’t have this family group to rely on and so they are nervous and sometimes that nervousness shows as aggression. Once your rabbit is a member of a group or a pair they will feel far less lonely, less nervous and more confident, although sometimes a rabbit will be aggressive towards a human in defence of its friends!

Babies

Female rabbits will follow their instincts and defend their babies. Sometimes this will happen if they have false pregnancies, build a nest, and believe they have a litter. Whether your rabbit really has kits or simply believes she has, respect her space around her nest and if she is aggressive, leave the nest alone.

If your rabbit tends to be very protective of food, usually pellets, it’s probably best to remove the focus. You can do that fairly easily by not feeding pellets in a bowl. Instead, sprinkle them across the floor, or better still, hide them in the day’s supply of hay. That will encourage your rabbits to eat hay (which is far more important for a healthy bun anyway) and find the pellet bonuses scattered through it.

What can you do?

Neuter, this will reduce the hormonal reasons for aggression.

Provide the correct environment, it removes the frustration and pain caused by being unable to move properly. Aim for an area of 10ft x 6ft and 3 ft high at all times, and places to dig, forage, hide, jump, stretch up tall. (Hutch can be 6ft x 2ft x 2ft, but better for the run to be 3ft high)

Provide correct diet. Eating hay keeps rabbits busy, frustration free and healthy.

Learn to handle your rabbits correctly, so that they’re used to it and not scared

Never use punishment as a training method. In most cases of aggression, the problem worsens as soon as the owner tries to reprimand the rabbit as the owner appears threatening.

Aggression when you try to pick them up?

If you think this is due to fear or nervousness then try this gentle programme designed to teach your rabbit that you are not a threat.

Biting is an unwanted behavior that some rabbits display. Because rabbits naturally live in social groups, they have a need to establish a social hierarchy. In the wild, rabbits use many methods, such as biting, lunging, and snorting, to develop a dominance order. Domestic rabbits still have the tendency to exhibit this dominance behavior, but when it leads to the injury of a human companion, there are steps that can be taken to modify the behavior.

Although social behavior is a major reason for biting in rabbits, not all rabbits bite to display dominance. Rabbits are prey animals and may bite if they feel threatened. This defense mechanism can be seen in domestic rabbits.

Predisposing factors

Rabbits bite for a variety of reasons. Juvenile and intact male rabbits have a tendency to bite due to raging hormones that alter their behavior. Stress can also cause a rabbit to bite. When a rabbit is stressed, it may bite or lunge to avoid an uncomfortable situation. Owners should interact with rabbits in a calm and soothing manner to help avoid this behavior.

Generally, rabbits bite because they have a need to assert dominance, defend their food, or protect themselves from a predator.

Biting to assert dominance

A dominant rabbit may bite an owner for no apparent reason. Indoor rabbits may suddenly nip at their owner’s hands and/or feet when they move too close to the rabbit’s territory. Dominant rabbits may also bite in this manner to tell the human to move away from an area.

The most important step in correcting this behavior is to avoid rewarding the rabbit for biting. When a rabbit bites you, it may be easiest for you to move away, but this reinforces the biting behavior. Instead, you should assert dominance over the rabbit by:

• Making a sound when the rabbit bites you.

• Placing your hand on top of the rabbit’s head and very gently pushing it to the floor for a few seconds. This exercise will help your rabbit understand that you are the dominant one in the relationship.

• Placing your rabbit in its cage for a short time-out. This step is best used if the first two steps do not work. Your rabbit should associate good behavior with freedom from its cage.

• Spaying or neutering your rabbit. Altering removes the hormones responsible for reproductive behaviors. These hormones can increase the chance of a rabbit developing a biting habit.

Biting due to food aggression

Wild rabbits constantly compete with each other for food. When food is scarce, rabbits will fight with each other to defend what food they are able to find. This behavior is evident in domestic rabbits and can become a problem if rabbits bite their owners during normal feeding times.

Although you are providing your rabbit with a plentiful amount of food, you are still seen as a threat. In a rabbit’s mind, the food must be defended no matter how much or how often it is offered. In addition, the action of placing food in the cage and then removing your hand correlates with the way rabbits investigate food in the wild. Wild rabbits will move in to closely examine a food source, but then they will move away quickly.

Food aggression is one of the most difficult behaviors to understand and correct. A few measures that may help alleviate biting due to food aggression include:

• Move your rabbit’s food bowl to a different area of the cage every day. Moving a food bowl helps prevent rabbits from recognizing the bowl as their territory. Rabbits will then be less likely to defend the bowl when it is moved and when they are being fed.

• Help your rabbit understand that your hand means “giving of food.” When rabbits begin to associate your hand with something good, they should refrain from aggressive behavior. To practice this technique, feed your rabbit outside of its cage by holding onto a long treat such as a carrot stick or piece of hay while your rabbit eats it. This will help your rabbit understand that the hand is providing food, not taking it away.

• Disperse food throughout the cage. Feel free to place food in your rabbit’s cage in places other than the food bowl. This helps prevent the rabbit from getting too attached to the food bowl itself.

Biting in self-defense

While rabbits are more prone to running away from danger, they may react by biting, lunging, and snorting if they are unable to make an escape, such as while caged. They may exhibit this behavior when they are being approached/picked up by a human being. Rabbits that display this behavior are usually just acting out of fear.

With any rabbit behavior problem, the solution rests in a proper understanding of rabbit behavior. A few steps to help your rabbit refrain from biting in self-defense include:

• Approach your rabbit from above its eye level. This will allow your rabbit to constantly see your movement. Rabbits have a blind spot below their chin and can be easily frightened when approached at eye level.

• If possible, reach through a top door in the cage to pick up your rabbit. Approaching a rabbit from above is far less intimidating than 10 fingers approaching at eye level.

• Understand that expectant and mother rabbits are only trying to defend their nests. These female rabbits are acting strictly out of instinct. If your rabbit is under the effects of motherly hormones, try to limit physical interaction. “Protection of young” is an extremely common response in female rabbits that are not fixed.

Patience is the best method to solving biting in rabbits. Use positive reinforcement when the rabbit displays appropriate behaviors. In addition, handle the rabbit regularly in a calm and reassuring manner so it finds human handling to be a normal occurrence. By handling a rabbit in this manner, you will help your rabbit be calm and relaxed when interacting with you and others in your household.

It is important to remember that rabbits are sensitive animals that can easily feel vulnerable. While it is important to be firm, remember that rabbits can quickly become traumatized by shouting and angry behavior. If you truly frighten them, they will remember this and may no longer trust you.

Discipline for a rabbit, therefore, does not depend on shouting or punishment but on actions that can be interpreted as dominant. The aim is to redirect poor behavior without causing your pet distress. Rabbits will know if they have done something wrong during play if they are immediately put back into solitary, for example. Some owners also use spray bottles (see below) for small misdemeanors like a bite.

There are other ways to discourage poor behavior, though, so read on to find out how to maintain a healthy bond with your pet while also teaching them to behave well.

Show Your Dominance

One physical action that can communicate your displeasure is to place a little pressure on your rabbit’s back. Rabbits do not like to think that their movement is being restricted. This technique can be effective if they become overly annoyed or even vicious when you don’t give them extra treats, or when you stop playing with them. Don’t press hard enough to cause discomfort, however; simply place your hand there to remind them of your position of strength. Do not persist with this technique if they show any distress.

Using treats can help them to understand right from wrong as well as reminding them that you’re in charge, but don’t overdo it. Offering too many rewards will undermine your position of dominance.

Adopt a Voice of Authority

Rabbits are bright and perceptive. Indeed, many people are not aware that a rabbit can pick up simple commands just like a dog. Training them in this manner is not easy, though; it can take time and effort but can be well worth it in the end.

Your rabbit will quickly pick up simple instructions like “no,” but try not to sound too angry when you give these commands. Once “no” has been mastered, you might be able to move on to more complex instructions such as “don’t do that,” and “come here,” as well as telling them when they need to jump off your lap.

Getting rid of bad habits can take a bit of work, but once your pet starts getting used to these commands, they will begin to understand what you do and don’t want them to do.

Purchase a Spray Bottle

Cat owners will be familiar with the use of water as a deterrent, and your rabbit will react to water in a similar way to a cat. Don’t be too dependent on spray or use it to stop them chewing, but when they do misbehave, then a quick spray with a dominant “no” can quickly change their habits. Try it a couple of times when necessary and they should get the message.

Remember not to apply spray directly to the face or back. Too much water might irritate your rabbit and lead to worsening behavior, so have a timeout instead if there is no obvious breakthrough.

Use Timeouts

This technique – also effective with toddlers – is perhaps the best and most useful form of teaching, acting as a non-aggressive punishment.

If possible, choose a part of the home where your rabbit can remain in solitude but without the homely comforts of their cage. Just a short spell without company or bedding will likely change their urge to behave poorly. Remember that rabbits are social animals, so they will be disappointed if their actions cause you to disappear.

Avoid overdoing it with lengthy periods in solitary, though. Even short periods of time can drag for a bored rabbit, so it won’t take them long to be pleased to see you again.

Squeal if They Have a Biting Habit

Most rabbits do not bite, but this does not mean that they can’t or that yours won’t. Even the gentlest rabbit may give your hand a bit of a nibble as a sign that they like you. Try to tolerate gentle nibbles to your skin, as this does not really cause any harm and is just your rabbit trying to tell you something. Be conscious, however, that your rabbit might bite if you’ve missed something they’re used to or if they’re feeling hungry for either food or attention.

It will be clear if your rabbit is biting out of anger. If you’re keen to make them stop, a loud enough squeal – but not loud enough to cause alarm – should do the trick.

A rabbit that is biting out of affection will respond to the idea that they may be causing harm and decide not to do so again. Subtle communication like this can be so useful.

Avoid Clapping

Clapping might be pleasant to human ears, but rabbits consider sharp and sudden loud noises alarming. If you clap to get them to stop something, they simply will not get the message because they will only be focused on their own distress. Even worse, as rabbits are prey animals, a sudden shock can prove fatal.

Gentle and calm behaviors are best for bonding with a pet rabbit; therefore, rely on a method other than clapping that will not have a negative effect.

Never Hit or Employ Physical Force

Just as picking a rabbit up after they have been naughty is too lenient, taking a physical approach when they misbehave is going too far. In both instances, you need to be subtle so that they can learn without becoming scared.

You should also never punish them for a habit they can’t help: chewing. Rabbits need to chew, so make sure they have enough hay and toys. This is a better way of stopping them nibbling on your furniture than shouting at them or striking them.

Striking a rabbit brings no benefit to either of you; your rabbit will likely become traumatized and never trust you again. Some rabbits can hide for days if they get scared.

Accept Certain Behaviors and Refocus Habits

Rather than looking to change your bunny’s character, refocus their attention on to something else instead, such as a chew toy. Take a smart approach and remove anything precious from their reach, and if a certain behavior is not an issue, just let it go.

All rabbits will have their own habits and preferences, so it’s just a matter of finding what suits them. As rabbits appreciate having something to chew on, support them by offering plenty of options. Your rabbit may have a favorite toy, for example, so offer the toy for them to nibble on rather than allowing them to chew something you don’t wish to see damaged. Also ensure that they get plenty of stimulation in their lives, as this will reduce any bad habits.

It might not be possible to change a rabbit’s habits completely, but they can be significantly reduced so as not to cause a problem. Allowing your rabbit to continue with their chewing habits to some extent is better than removing all opportunities completely, as this will stress them.

Use a mixture of activities, interactions, and toys to draw their attention and reshape habits. Most decent pet shops will have some fun options, such as balls to play with or slopes to run up and down.

If a rabbit enjoys a certain activity, then do your best to encourage it, as restricting their access can lead to aggression. Try to be patient and understanding as you get to know your new friend.

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

Pet rabbits have bigger personalities than most people give them credit for. People who have never had a pet rabbit may not understand that each rabbit has its own unique personality. All rabbits do things to communicate that they are happy, sad, or scared and while every rabbit is different, certain behaviors mean the same thing for most rabbits.

Rabbit Binkying

Rabbits binkying look a bit like a person gleefully jumping into the air and clicking their heels together. While rabbits don't actually do that Fred Astaire heel click, they do leap into the air and twist their bodies to show that they are happy or excited. Someone who doesn't know what a binky looks like may think that their rabbit is scared and running away or that something else is wrong with them but a binky is a very normal, natural thing for a happy rabbit to do. All rabbit owners should have bunnies happy enough to binky.

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

Rabbit Digging

Rabbits are natural diggers. Their wild cousins dig burrows for nesting and to make their homes and our house rabbits dig for fun. This is an instinctual behavior but it can be bothersome and destructive for their humans that love them. Rabbits will also dig on your feet or hands to get your attention. Digging is normal!

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

The Bunny 500

If your rabbit has ever run around the room as fast as they can as though something is chasing them then you've witnessed the bunny 500. This behavior is a happy one and your bunny is zooming around out of pure excitement. Perhaps they are playing with you or a furry friend or are expecting a favorite treat. Regardless of the reason, the bunny 500 is not only entertaining to watch but you can rest assured knowing that this means your rabbit is one happy bunny.

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

Rabbit Flopping

Some people get nervous when they see their rabbits flop over onto their sides but this flopping is a sign of a content rabbit. Usually, your rabbit will be resting, sitting up, and then roll onto their side to lie down. This flopping motion is much different than a seizure because your rabbit will be very relaxed, their eyes will most likely be closed and their legs will not be moving. Flopping is a normal rabbit behavior and it means your rabbit is relaxed.

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

Rabbit Noises

Rabbits are social and while most people who have never owned a rabbit have never heard a rabbit make a noise you can rest assured that they have their own vocabulary to tell us and each other how they feel. Some noises are very obvious such as screaming. A rabbit will only scream if they are scared, stressed, or frightened. You will hopefully never hear a rabbit scream.

Other less alarming noises include a buzz or honk noise, which can mean they are excited and is usually done while they are circling and sniffing another rabbit, and teeth grinding. Teeth grinding can mean your rabbit is uncomfortable or in pain but it can also mean they are content. If the teeth grinding (also referred to as purring) is heard while your rabbit is sitting up, hunched and not moving then it most likely signifies they are in pain. If it is heard very softly while your rabbit is relaxed, such as after flopping, then it means they are relaxed.

Growling is another noise that you may hear if you have a territorial rabbit or if they are angry or stressed out. Neutering or spaying your rabbit will help to relieve any territorial tendencies but you may still hear growling if you are trying to introduce a new rabbit to your bunny. If you hear growling you should separate the rabbits because a growl is an indication that a fight or other type of aggressive behavior may occur.

Rabbit Kicking

Rabbits can deliver a very strong kick if they want to. They have powerful hind legs and if they are displeased they may kick to try to get away or indicate they want to be put down if they are being held. If your rabbit appears to kick as they hop away from you they are trying to kick up dirt to show they are upset. If a rabbit is kicking while you are holding them then you should carefully set them down because they can hurt or paralyze their back if they kick hard enough while being held.

Rabbit Nose Bonking and Nudging

If your bunny is nudging his nose on its toys—or on you—it is because this is their way of exploring and investigating things. Just like sharks bonk and nudge to get an idea of what it is they are looking at, rabbits have very sensitive little noses that help them discover what makes up their environments. Sometimes a bonk or nudge is followed by a nip to further test it out or to indicate that the rabbit wants you to move or pay attention to you.

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

Biting Rabbits

Rabbits may give you an innocent nip to get your attention but they can also bite to show dominance, out of fear, or to say they don't like something/someone. Rabbits may bite each other if they are fighting or if an established rabbit doesn't like a new rabbit, out of sexual frustration or to establish a hierarchy with the other rabbits they live with, or simply because they don't want to do something if you are trying to pick them up or put them in a cage. Rabbits aren't usually aggressive and neutering or spaying can help resolve any aggressive tendencies.

Thumping Rabbits

A rabbit that thumps their hind leg is an upset rabbit. Thumping is a sign that is meant to warn other rabbits that there is something in the area to avoid. Thumping can mean danger is near or that they are mad or feel threatened.

Licking Rabbits

Rabbit tongues are just the cutest and the little licks that rabbits give are no different. They may not be kissers like dogs but they are often seen grooming themselves or their rabbit friends with their cute little pink tongues. This is very normal behavior but if a rabbit ingests too much hair it can cause a problem. Be sure to help your rabbit with their grooming regimen by regularly combing or brushing them.

Rabbit Chinning

Rabbits have scent glands on their face like many other animals. Sometimes rabbits will rub their chin on something (referred to as chinning) to tell other rabbits that the object is theirs. This is a normal way of marking their territory.

A pregnant doe or a doe that badly wants to be bred can be mean as a rattlesnake.

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

I’ve had a few pregnant does charge me, and one or two have bitten me. I do put up with it in pregnant does. I do not put up with that behavior from bucks, though. They don’t have the excuse that their hormones are raging (and, by the way, does can act that way when they really want to be bred, too).

Those same does can be sweeties when they have their babies, though. Katee use to bite and charge, but after a couple of litters, she doesn’t even do that when pregnant now. She’s a total darling. To meet her now, you’d think I’d been telling tales on her.

Some people take to wearing gloves with pregnant does. I found that the gloves scared them even more. They tend to charge things even more than they charge me. And pregnant does like strangers even less than they like things poking into their cages. Warn any substitute caregivers about cranky does.

I find that it is best just to take more time with a high strung, pregnant doe. Make sure you talk to her and get her attention before you put your hand into her cage. Never surprise her or you could end up the one with the bigger surprise. Move slowly and at her level. If that still doesn’t work, then distract her into one corner while you remove her bowl for refilling. Or, remove her from the cage while you do your chores. That cage is now her nest spot and she might not want anyone messing with it for any reason.

If it is any consolation, I have found that does that are mean during pregnancy usually make great moms. They have lots of hormonal activity and that usually means good milk and strong mothering instincts.

Although I am very lenient with cranky does, they must come around at some point, or they cannot stay in my barn. Temperament is an important ingredient in your breeding program, in my opinion. The trick is to identify which actions are temperament and which are just the temporary effect of raging hormones.

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

Rabbits that are fighting suddenly are a lot of concern, especially if the rabbits are both males.

Male rabbits tend to fight more often than two females or males and females. This is due to hormones kicking in at around 4 months old.

Two male rabbits could even kill each other if they are both unneutered due to the amount of hormonal aggression involved. So if you do have two male rabbits you might want to read on.

In this article, I would be discussing the different reasons why your rabbit might be suddenly fighting. I would also discuss what you can do if your rabbit does fight.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Table of Contents

If your rabbit is neutered

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

The main reason rabbits get neutered is to lessen the amount of hormones in their body that would often compel rabbits to be territorial and aggressive with each other.

If your rabbit is already neutered but is still fighting, it’s best to consult a veterinarian because it could be a medical issue. A rabbit that is ill or unwell can act out aggressively due to pain and discomfort.

  • Appetite change
  • Rapid breathing
  • Loud tooth grinding
  • Low energy
  • High pitched noise

If you notice any of these symptoms immediately separate your rabbit from each other and bring the sick one to a veterinarian that specialized in rabbits.

Finally, it could also just happen without any reason. Bonded pairs can sometimes “broke up” and fight. If this is the case, then separate them for a couple of weeks then attempt to re-bond them.

If your rabbit is not neutered

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

If your rabbit is not neutered and is fighting, then consider getting them neutered because hormones can kick in as early as 4 months.

Male rabbits are more prone to territorial aggression due to hormones and would often fight. Female rabbits, while uncommon, can still be as aggressive as a fighter as male rabbits.

  • Spraying
  • Biting
  • Mounting
  • Thumping
  • Nipping
  • Charging
  • Grunting

Whatever gender your rabbits are, it’s much better to get them neutered so that you won’t have to worry about the two of them fighting.

Is it normal for bonded rabbits to fight?

Fights between two already bonded and neutered rabbits can randomly happen. But make sure that they are healthy and that the fight is not a normal occurrence.

If your rabbit is constantly fighting, it could be a medical issue and should be checked out by a veterinarian to rule out any medical issues.

If it’s a one-time occurrence, then simply separate them for a few weeks and re-bond them. Most of the time already bonded rabbits can have a “break up” where they fight and after a separation period would re-bond.

Can rabbits kill each other?

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

Yes, rabbits can kill each other. This often happens when two unneutered rabbits are enclosed together. While it can also happen with two female rabbits, it’s less common than male rabbits.

Rabbits fighting to the death are usually because of the difference in their personality. Some rabbits are naturally more territorial and aggressive than others.

In addition, rabbit fighting could also be due to the difference in rabbits’ age and size.

Whatever the case, it’s important that you follow the proper procedure when trying to bond rabbits and make sure that they are neutered beforehand.

How to stop your rabbits from fighting?

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

If your rabbit is fighting, immediately separate them until you can find out what the problems are. If your rabbit is not spayed or neutered, then it’s probably a hormonal-related aggression.

If your rabbits are both neutered and have already bonded in the past, then you should still separate them for a few weeks and then try to re-bond them.

Sometimes even bonded rabbits can fight but they usually bounce back and re-bond after the temporary separation.

If nothing is working then it’s time to go to a veterinarian for a professional opinion because it could be a medical issue or your rabbit might be in pain. A veterinarian can spot this issue better than us rabbit owners.

Summary

Rabbits fighting can vary in reason. Some are fighting because they are not neutered and are having hormonally related aggression.

That’s why it’s important that you neutered your rabbit before bonding them. This is especially true for two male rabbits who can end up killing each other if they are both aggressive.

While uncommon, two female rabbits could also fight depending on the rabbit’s aggression. That’s why it’s important that you neutered your rabbit regardless of gender, it could save you a lot of headaches in the future.

Finally, rabbits can also fight randomly even if they are already neutered. If your rabbit does fight, simply separate them for a few weeks then re-bond them.

If that doesn’t work, then bring your rabbit to a veterinarian because it could be a medical issue or your rabbit is in pain/ill and that’s what’s causing the aggression.

Your new bunny will not bark or meow, but she will be able to communicate her moods and intentions quite clearly. Communication between two species takes time and patience as both parties learn to speak a new language.

The following sounds and actions will aid you in learning “rabbit talk” and consistency on your part will aid your rabbit in learning “human talk.”

Growling. This may indicate an aggressive mood usually provoked by an assumed attack. It may also be followed by a lunge, scratch or bite so it’s important to pay attention when you hear this sound.

Low Squealing. Most rabbits use this when they want to be put down and allowed to run free.

Gnashing the Teeth. Means the rabbit is completely relaxed. It usually occurs when the rabbit is being petted. urring. Indicates a willingness on the part of the buck to court and mate.

Thumping or Tapping. This occurs when the rabbit is very frightened or very excited. In the rabbit’s world, thumping is used in burrows to announce danger to the other rabbits.

Tense Body and an Upright Tail. This indicates excitement.

Tense Sitting Position with Ears Laid Back. This means the rabbit is ready to defend herself.

Rubbing with underside of chin and all kinds of objects. This indicates that these things are part of his territory. Both male and female rabbits mark their territory this way.

Nudging with Muzzle. This means your rabbit wants attention.
Rolling Over on His/Her Side or Back. This is a sign of pure delight and total comfort with his surroundings.

How to address biting and aggressive behavior in a rabbit

Rabbits have many interesting behaviors and body language quirks. What do different types of bunny behavior, postures and actions mean? Here’s a quick guide to some common bunny behaviors.

Pet bunny hopping or dancing

Hopping or dancing is a sign of pure joy and happiness. The bunny’s “dancing” can include leaping, doing a binky (jumping straight up and spinning in the air) and racing around.

Rabbit flop

A bunny flop is very comical and indicates a contented — and tired — bunny.

Territorial rabbit chinning behavior

Rabbits rub their chins (which contain scent glands) on items to get their scent on them. This behavior indicates that the items belong to them and also defines their territory. The scent is undetectable to humans.

Grunting

Why do rabbits grunt? If your rabbit grunts, it usually means she is angry – and possibly feels threatened. Sometimes, grunting is followed by a nip or bite. Some rabbits do not like it when you rearrange their cages as you clean; they may grunt, charge or even nip you when you try. They are creatures of habit and once they get things just right, they like them to remain that way.

Thumping or stomping

When a bunny stomps or thumps, this indicates that he or she is frightened, mad, or sensing danger (real or imagined).

Soft or loud teeth grinding noise

Rabbits may softly grind their teeth when they are content (such as when you’re petting them). Loud teeth grinding, however, can indicate that the rabbit is in pain or is ill. Take your bunny to a rabbit veterinarian if you hear loud teeth grinding.

Rabbit circling your feet

When a bunny circles a person’s feet or legs, this behavior usually indicates sexual or mating behavior (even when your rabbit is neutered). It basically means “I love you.”

Playing

How do rabbits play? Well, they like to push or toss objects around. They may also race madly around the house, jump on and off the furniture, and act like children who have had too much sugar. Rabbits love toys and some will play for hours with a favorite toy.

Rabbit nipping or biting

A bunny nip is gentler than a bite. Bunnies will nip to get your attention, or to politely ask you to move out of their way. Rabbits usually do not bite, but if one does, generally it doesn’t mean that he hates you. There are many reasons that might cause a rabbit to bite; for example, he might bite if you grab at him or surprise him. A rabbit may also accidentally bite while tugging at your pant leg. Another reason rabbits bite is that they have poor up-close vision, so they may think that your finger coming toward them is food — or a predator.

To put a stop to rabbit bites, immediately let out a shrill cry when you are bitten. Rabbits do this when they are hurt. Since they usually do not intend to hurt you, they will be surprised that you have cried out and will usually stop the behavior after a few times.

Spraying

Why do male and female bunnies spray? They are marking their territory. Un-neutered males will mark female rabbits and their territory by spraying them with urine. Un-spayed females can also indulge in this behavior. It’s another good reason to spay or neuter your rabbits.

Rabbit marking territory with droppings

Droppings that are not in a pile, but are scattered about, are signs that this territory belongs to the rabbit. This behavior will sometimes occur when a rabbit enters a new environment or if another rabbit is brought into the house. It may be temporary or ongoing. Droppings done in piles indicate that the rabbit needs more litter box training.

Rabbit in distress: Shrill scream

This is an indication that your rabbit is hurt or dying. Please seek immediate medical attention.

False pregnancy in rabbits

Even though a rabbit may not be pregnant, an un-spayed female sometimes builds a nest and pulls hair from her chest and stomach to line the nest. She may even stop eating — behavior that usually occurs the day before she gives birth.

Training pet rabbits and reducing undesirable behavior

Bunnies, like other pets, are occasionally naughty. When that happens, remember that you should never hit a rabbit. It’s cruel and they don’t understand why they are in trouble. They can also become very angry and aggressive if provoked. Instead of punishing bad behavior, it’s usually far more effective to use positive reinforcement to encourage your rabbit to behave in the way you would like. Like many other pets, rabbits can be clicker-trained.

Always be consistent when disciplining rabbits and don’t expect too much from them. Here are two humane things to try if your rabbit is being a bit ornery:

  • Shout “no” or clap your hands.
  • Thump your foot, like a rabbit, to convey your displeasure.

You can help reduce undesirable behavior in your rabbit by spaying or neutering, bunny proofing your house, and providing plenty of toys.

Aggression in children with autism can take many forms, such as hitting, kicking, scratching, biting or destroying property. A child’s aggression can be directed at self or others, and can be scary for everyone involved. Not every child with autism displays aggression. But for parents and teachers that do have to deal with their child’s outbursts of rage, feelings of frustration, exhaustion, and embarrassment often ensue.

Aggression is most likely a side effect of communication and/or coping issues. So when a child with autism becomes aggressive, there is a reason. For instance, many children with autism have a hard time with change, so changes to their routine can cause them to get upset. It’s up to us to figure out why they are being aggressive and to teach them that 1) aggression will no longer be reinforced and 2) other things they can do instead of being aggressive.

Here are some strategies to use to get your child out of the cycle of aggression:

Teach Communication. Children with autism usually have deficits in communication. Lack of effective communication skills often leads to frustration, and frustration can lead to aggression. Imagine if you wanted something but could not say it! So one of the first things you need to do is address any communication issues your child might have. Your child should be taught how to communicate his needs, either through spoken language, sign language, or picture communication systems designed for people with special needs. This alone should help with a lot of behavior problems.

Teach Alternative Behaviors. Once you know the reason(s) why your child becomes aggressive, the child should be taught how to get what he wants without hitting. For example, say your student throws items whenever he is asked to do independent seat work. You might try teaching him to say, “I need help” or “Break, please.” You may also need to figure out how to make certain tasks easier for the child. As time goes on, you can teach him to work independently for longer and longer periods of time.

Another strategy is to teach your child that he has options. For example, if you tell your child he cannot have a cookie, you should also tell him what he can have- such as crackers or an apple. The goal is to teach kids to make a different choice when one option is not available.

Reinforce Good Behavior. Whenever your child uses appropriate behavior to get his needs met, such as asking nicely for something, praise him for it! Initially, you should give your child what he asks for (within reason!) as often as you can in order to reinforce appropriate asking. So if instead of throwing his books, your student says, “Help me please!” It’s a good idea to help him right away so he learns that “using his words” results in reinforcement, whereas throwing items does not.

Change Your Behavior. Many children with autism will engage in certain behaviors because of the reaction they get out of people. If you yell or get angry, or otherwise provide the child with a lot of attention after they hit, then your reaction may be reinforcing the behavior. Also, if the child is allowed to get out of a non-preferred task after they become aggressive, this can also be reinforcing the behavior. In general, aggression should be met with firm, yet calm redirection.

Prevention. Implementing the above strategies should help reduce aggression. But you should also learn the warning signs that aggression is about to occur. When you see a “precursor” behavior, NOW is the time to act! There is no reasoning with a person during a meltdown. So do it before your child loses control. For instance, if you know your daughter begins to stomp her feet prior to lashing out, then if you see her stomping her feet, use that opportunity to remind her of the benefits of staying calm versus the consequences of losing her temper. Also, if you know a certain task usually results in a meltdown, re-think whether or not that task is truly necessary. If it is, you may need to provide more assistance and more reinforcement for task completion.

The main idea to take home is that s­ome children resort to aggression because it usually works! Therefore, it is very important to not give your child what he wants when he becomes aggressive. If you give in, you are reinforcing aggressive behavior. What you should do is teach him how to communicate his needs, and how to cope when he cannot have his way. Set boundaries and follow through. Reinforce good behavior as often as you can. If a serious meltdown occurs, take your child to a safe place to calm down, but once he’s calm, follow through with any instructions you gave prior. Other consequences such as loss of privileges may be necessary, but it’s better to focus on teaching and reinforcing good behavior.

Many times we hear people say “Why do you have rabbits? They don’t do anything!” Not only is that a very silly thing to say, it is so far from the truth and it annoys us greatly! Rabbits do loads! But if they are kept in a small hutch with nothing to do, then what do you expect?

Rabbits are just like dogs and cats in so many ways. Rabbits need company, toys, exercise and they need a safe, comfortable home that caters for all their needs. Rabbits also need space & lots of it to be happy!

If your rabbit is showing signs of boredom it is an indication that you need to take steps to enrich your rabbit’s environment and increase their daily exercise and stimulation.

Most rabbits love to investigate, they love a project and they are happiest when their minds are kept active. But all rabbits are different and they all have their own personalities, so their likes and dislikes will differ.

Some rabbits love to investigate new items and new areas & play with toys, yet other rabbits will show no interest at all in toys & some are not very confident in investigating new areas. Some rabbits will love to run around and will have so much energy to use up and others are happy to hop around at a much slower pace and sit and watch the world go by.

But all rabbits can get bored and they will show it in different ways. Boredom in rabbits can cause many health problems and can also cause destructive behaviour, even aggression.

So how do you know if your rabbit is bored?

It can be very difficult to tell what our rabbits are feeling, as with any animal, but if you pay close attention then you will find they do have their own way of communicating with us and you will be able to sense how they are feeling. Your rabbit should be displaying natural behaviour on a daily basis in many different ways and you should come to recognise what this behaviour is and that it shows your rabbit is happy.

One very common sign of rabbits being bored is when they are constantly gnawing at the door or wire to their home to get out. Also chewing on inappropriate items constantly can be a sign or not showing an interest in what is going on around them.

How to prevent your rabbit becoming bored

One thing you need to do to prevent boredom is to spend time with your rabbits. Company is very important to rabbits as they are very sociable animals. It is best they get their company from another rabbit as they do so much together and it is so lovely to see, but they need company from you too!

Watch how they watch you. Sit on the floor and see how they come over and climb on you and smell you. Talk to them and watch their ears move. Fuss them with lots of head rubs and head massages. Place new items on the floor and watch them rush over to investigate it and scent it with their chin.

Get to know their personality & routine

The best thing you can do is get to know your rabbit and their personality & that way you will know what their likes and dislikes are.

If you don’t know their personality or daily routine then it will be very difficult for you to know if your rabbit is bored or not.

Rabbits do slow down during the day and take lots of naps, so don’t mistake this for them being bored. This is natural behaviour but morning and evenings are a very different story as that is when rabbits become most active. But we are not just talking about an hour or two in the morning and again in the evening. Many rabbits will be active from about 4-5am right through until 10-11am and then from about 4pm right through to 12-1am and this is when they will be looking for things to do to keep them occupied.

Create the right environment in their home!

Provide a great home that is spacious and has different areas with different things to do in each and you will have a very happy bunny! For instance…

A feeding area – but we are not talking about a bowl or two placed on a mat – we are talking about an area that has hay racks packed full of different hay types and food that is scattered about and not placed in one place. Try placing their food on different levels and also amongst their hay too, to encourage foraging.

A toilet area – not just a litter tray but a tray packed with hay. Place a hay rack right next to their litter trays too. Rabbits love to graze while on the loo and this gives them something to do.

A play area – Create an area inside their home that has lots of toys. Don’t just place the toys loose on the floor, hang some up too so they have to stretch to reach them. Rabbits tend to enjoy chewing things that are attached to something so they can get more of a grip.

A sleeping area – make it nice and cosy for them but make sure you place lots of fresh eating hay and dried herbs in here too as they love to graze in-between naps and this will help to keep them occupied while nodding off. A chew toy in here is a great idea too.

Create different levels within their home for them to jump about on and create places to look outside to, as they love watching the world go by. Provide chew mats, throw toys & tunnels & hideouts too.

The more natural you create the area the more this will encourage natural behaviour and that will make rabbits very happy indeed and keep boredom at bay!