Hi.Thank you for taking a question about a rabbit! We recently adopted a rabbit and are at a loss to try and understand its behavior. Prior to coming to live with us, she had been kept in her hutch 24/7 and had not been handled.We have her a mth and she gave birth to four healthy kittens a week ago. We are being as gentle as possible with her and have not touched the babies.She is allowed to roam the garden,( it is safe) all day, just put to bed in her shed at night. She seems glad to see me in the morning. I am allowed to pet her, but , not my husband or son.None of us an pick her up with out much scratching and trauma to her. She also stamps het back leg,at me, which i thought was a sign of aggresion but it seems to me a sign to pet her! We really do want to make her as happy as possible and we intend to keep one of the babies ans dont want to make the same mistakes. Any advice would be most appreciated.Cath278.
First let me say that I am so glad that you have adopted this bunny and that she is no longer living in a hutch 24 hours a day.
That said, I am not surprised at your bunny's behavior. First, she is very scared because she is not used to being handled and she is in a new and unfamiliar environment. Second, she is feeling very protective because she has babies. The foot stomping is actually a warning of danger. This is how bunnies alert other bunnies of danger. When they feel endangered, they will stomp a back foot, even if there are no other bunnies around.
You have had your bunny only one month and it will take time for her to become accustomed to you and to being handled, so please be patient. It will be harder for you to get her to trust you while she has the babies, because she will feel naturally protective. Start by spending quiet time sitting with your bunny and offering her a tasty treat. Bunnies like small carrots, apple slices and parsley as treats. Talk to your bunny, but don't try to pick her up. When she is more comfortable with you, start gradually petting her. Bunnies especially liked to be gently petted on the head right between their eyes and across the top of their heads. Once she gets used to this, she will probably hop over to you and "present her head" for petting by placing her head down on her front legs. When a bunny is very happy and enjoying being petted, they often make a little "grinding noise" with their teeth. This is kind of like a "bunny purr". Do everything slowly and quietly, bunnies by nature startle easily. Once she is comfortable being petted on the head, gradually move to petting her over her back and finally "containing her with your hands without actually lifting her up". This bunny may never be completely comfortable being held and may be happier being slowly and gently "herded" into her shed at night rather than being lifted and carried. Understand that when you try to pick her up, she is certain that she is in mortal danger and will fight for survival. This is very stressful for her and she could really injure herself as well as biting or scratching you.
With the babies, you will want to start gently handling them as they get older. Do not over handle, but try to pet and pick up once or twice a day for very short periods of time to accustom the babies to being picked up and held.
Thank you so much for your reply! Also, all your good advice.I have bought some books about rabbits but none could help me with the problem that we had. I will take your advise to heart and look forward to happier days with " Lucky"! Thanks again.What a great site! Cath278.
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