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My rabbit keeps biting me. What can I do?

Article ID: 38
Last updated: 13 Oct, 2014
Revision: 9
Views: 69470

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 take it from your hand, and then gradually letting you stroke them. The ultimate aim is for you to be able to pat them for a moment or two while they are calm and receptive, and reward them for that calm behaviour 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 and let them approach you. Have treats ready so that when they do approach and 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.
  • Make sure your rabbit has daily exercise outside of their hutch in a spacious and safe environment and adequate mental stimulation so that they don't get bored or frustrated. It's also iportant to provide adequate 'chewing' opportunities by providing a constant supply of grass/grass hay - this is important for dental and mental health in rabbits. If their behavioural or social needs are not being met this may also be an underlying reason for unwanted behaviour.
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.

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.
Also read
document What should I feed my pet rabbit?
document I just got a new rabbit. Can you give me some general advice on its care?
document What sorts of health problems do rabbits suffer from?

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