Rehoming Rabbits Because of Their Behaviour?

One of the most common reasons people choose to rehome their rabbit is due to some of the behaviours rabbits display, that for some households become unfavourable and result in them looking to find them a new home.

But did you know that some of the behaviours are indications of other problems?

The Aggressive Bunny

Rabbits are territorial animals. This means they will ‘fight’ to protect their home and surroundings. This is especially the case if they are not overly used to human interaction, and so the rare occasions where a human “invades” results in them protecting their environment through chasing, boxing, thumping and growling.

There are ways to reduce this behaviour:

  • Try to increase the amount of time you spend with your rabbit(s). As they get more used to human interaction they will become less protective of their environment and more interested in playing with you.
  • Try to encourage them to come out of their hutch/cage and into a “neutral” space. We often find that these territorial bunnies become friendly, interactive and playful bunnies when they are in neutral space and not in protect mode.
  • Single rabbits are more protective / territorial than those kept in pairs. If you have a single rabbit, it is well worth considering pairing them up. When they have the protection of company you will see many natural rabbit behaviours and a much happier bunny.

The Fighting Pairs/Groups (or Failed Bonding)

Another common reason for surrendering rabbits to the rescue is that one rabbit begins fighting with the other.

In the vast majority of cases, the rabbits involved are not neutered (spayed or castrated), and the rush of hormones within their system triggers this protective, hierarchical response. Neutering reduces the hormones and reduces this behaviour, making bonding much more successful. Not only that, but neutering has long-term health benefits, so by neutering all rabbits, you will help them enjoy a longer happier life.

Neutering is not the end of the story though, as the bonding process can be quite aggressive and in some case drawn out. There is a very specific set of behaviours that rabbits demonstrate when bonding that can be quite daunting to owners who have not experienced this before. However, it is perfectly normal and Fairly Beloved Rabbit Care can support you through the process to ensure that your rabbits are bonded happily together. For more information about bonding rabbits, click here.

The Digging or Escaping Rabbit

Digging is a natural behaviour for rabbits, although not all domestic rabbits do this. If yours does, there’s not a lot you can do to stop it.

However, you can make some amendments to their environment to redirect their digging attention to other areas where it doesn’t become a hazard or potential escape route.

Consider providing dedicated digging areas, such as a plastic box/tray filled with soil or sand, to encourage them to dig there instead of your favourite flower bed.

It may also be worth considering moving any exercise areas onto a paved surface to prevent digging. For most rabbits this will be fine, although we do recommend providing some soft surfaces too to protect their feet. For example, rubber matting or the provision of grass boxes.

The Biting Rabbit

Rabbits have two types of bite: a nip and a bite.

The nip is a communication tool, and is used often to get your attention as your bunny tells you to “Get out of my way”, or “Keep feeding me”. As you get to know your rabbit better, you will learn ways to respond to this communication and often through getting to know your rabbit more the nipping reduces and you find better ways to communicate with each other.

A bite, which would be considerably more severe, is usually in protection and the advice above regarding the Aggressive Bunny applies in this scenario too.