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My rabbit keeps biting me. What can I do?

Article ID: 38
Last updated: 12 Aug, 2014
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Some rabbits (not all)  may  become a little bit aggressive in certain situations as they grow older. This is not unusual, and may be more common with female rabbits than male rabbits.

It is important to determine the underlying cause of the aggressive behaviour including in which scenarios it tends to occur. Sometimes the underlying cause can be associated with fear, for example being picked up or reaching into the hutch can scare some rabbits. The best training tip is to use reward-based training in these situations. If your bunny won't come  near you, you'll have to persuade it that coming up to you is a really good thing. The easiest way is with food rewards:
  • Find a food item they really like (e.g. carrot tops) and then move the carrot tops around a bit to help get their attention. Keep going until the rabbit will come to you, or near you, to get the treat. Gradually you can work up to making them to take it from your hand, and then letting you stroke their head before they get the treat. The ultimate aim is for you to be able to pat them for a moment or two before they protest, and reward them with a treat.
  • Spend time on the floor just ignoring them and they will probably get curious and come up. Let them dictate how much contact they want. Have treats ready so that when they are calm they can be rewarded for this behaviour and also so they start to associate you with treats (something very positive!).
  • You should also make sure your rabbit has somewhere else to go when you are changing their food/hay (i.e they have an escape route if they need some space). This way they can dictate how much contact they are comfortable with.
Sometimes aggressive behaviour may be associated with sexual maturity, so you should talk to your vet about desexing, which may help if the aggression is related to sexual behaviour. It's best to see a vet who is experienced with rabbits and who routinely desexes rabbits of both sexes.
 
The Rabbit Welfare Fund also has other information articles including tips about how to prevent aggression.

Finally, it is important to ensure your rabbit is being fed an appropriate diet that allows for sufficient 'chewing' time and that your rabbit is provided with sufficient environmental stimulation and the opportunity to exercise outside the cage/hutch to prevent boredom.

This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person’s unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.
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