Rabbits are supposed to be cute and cuddly. So why does it seem like your rabbit hates you or is just plain mean? We’ll cover common behavior concerns like peeing on the couch, nipping, and other unfavorable actions.
My bunny is biting me. How do I make him stop?
Sometimes rabbits nip to get attention. If this is the case with your bunny, the solution is to squeal loudly every time he does it. This lets the rabbit know that his nipping hurts you. In the future, you’ll find that he’ll nip softer or will stop doing it altogether.
Rabbits may bite in a more serious way other than nipping for attention however. Sometimes rabbits can be very aggressive and territorial. Spaying/neutering rabbits can help calm these tendencies. Also, building a trusting relationship with your bunny can help as well. (See our article on building a relationship with your bunny here.)
My two rabbits used to get along, but now one is biting/humping the other.
Bonds between bunnies can sometimes break, especially if they were bonded before reaching sexual maturity. Once they reach sexual maturity, territorial feelings and aggression may arise. Your rabbits may be trying to re-establish dominance by fighting or by mounting one another.
To some extent, you do have to let your bunnies decide dominance before they will ever get along. However, you need to ensure that they’re not causing serious injury to one another. Monitoring them is essential, and if the violent behavior escalates, you will have to separate them. (See our article about bonding for more information about the process of bonding two bunnies.)
Sometimes people also find that what they thought were two males/two females turn out to be one female and one male. In this case, it is imperative to get your rabbits spayed and neutered.
My rabbit keeps peeing on my couch / bed. What’s going on?
First assess whether this is just the case of bad litter box habits. If so, you’ll have to retrain your rabbit to use the litter box. This generally involves limiting her space until good litter box habits resume. Read Litter Training Your Pet Rabbit for more information.
If your rabbit has otherwise good litter box habits, and you think this is a more deliberate deed, then you’re facing an issue of who is Top Bunny in your relationship. Rabbits often mark areas where you like to sit or sleep to assert their dominance. You must establish that you are Top Bunny by restricting your rabbit from the couch or bed by blocking the area off or using snappy trainers as a deterrent. Learn more at Rabbit Peeing on the Couch? What to Do.
My bunny doesn’t let me pick him up. What should I do?
First, see our article about handling a rabbit for tips on picking up/holding rabbits. However, do note that rabbits are prey animals. In general, they don’t feel safe being held.
As such, it’s probably best for you to just adjust your expectations of rabbit ownership. It’s not realistic to expect your bunny to be a good lap pet. Although some rabbits don’t mind it, most are not content to be held or to sit on your lap. Further, if you keep trying to catch your rabbit to pick him up, he’ll just grow to distrust you. He’ll associate you with being stressed and being made to do something he doesn’t like.
Build a healthier relationship by getting down to your rabbit’s level, and allowing him to come to you when he’s comfortable. Once you build trust, you’ll find that your rabbit will actively seek you for affection.
Gross! My rabbit is eating his own poop. How do I make him stop?
Rabbits excrete two forms of poop. One type takes the form of compact, dry pellets that you should see in your rabbit’s litter box. The other form is called a cecotrope. Cecotropes are soft, pungent feces that look like tiny clusters of grapes. Rabbits eat cecotropes directly from their behinds and reingest them. This process, called coprophagy, is a vital part of a rabbit’s normal digestive cycle. Cecotropes provide important nutrients and help keep their digestive system in balance. In short, rabbits are supposed to eat their own poop and should never be discouraged from doing so.
Note: If your rabbit has a messy behind, this is called poopy butt, and it is not normal. Learn more at Poopy Butt: Causes and Treatment.
My rabbit destroyed my favorite [insert prized possession here]. What gives?
Rabbits have a natural tendency to chew and dig. Understand that when you leave a cherished possession within your rabbit’s reach, she will most likely gnaw on it the first chance she gets. From shoes to remote controls to books/important documents, everything is up for grabs to a curious rabbit. She will try to chew everything.
So in this case, the fault is yours. You must take measures to properly bunny proof any space your rabbit has access to. This ensures the safety of your possessions, and your rabbit.
My rabbit’s no fun. He just sits there.
First, ensure your rabbit is not ill. If your rabbit is not eating/drinking/pooping/peeing, these are serious symptoms. Take your rabbit to a rabbit-savvy vet immediately. To locate a rabbit-savvy vet in your area, see the House Rabbit Society Veterinarian Index.
If he’s in good health, then perhaps you’re not providing the right kinds of enrichment for your bunny. Read our articles, Enrichment for Your Pet Rabbit and Playing with Your Pet Bunny for ideas on providing the appropriate mental stimulation for your rabbit.
If you’ve provided enrichment, and he’s displaying behavior like binkies, bunny 500s, flops, and purring, then congratulations, you’ve got one happy bunny! If you’re not satisfied with this response, then you probably just need to adjust your expectations. Rabbits are not dogs. They’re not cats. They’re rabbits. The kind of companionship they provide is unique to them.
In conclusion, when bunnies behave badly, it could be due to hormones, illness, boredom, the drive to establish dominance, or an issue of miscommunication. Some bunnies simply have personalities that are not as affectionate towards humans as other bunnies. And in some cases, you might interpret a rabbit’s actions as bad, but it’s YOU who has to make the adjustment. The key is to try to see the world from your bunny’s perspective and to educate yourself on rabbits’ unique language.