When you first imagined bringing a rabbit home as your new companion, you may not have imagined him biting you. Though rabbits are generally very gentle, curious, sweet creatures, they have emotions and moods too. Sometimes those emotions result in painful nips and bites to their owners.
What happens if a rabbit bites you and how to stop that behavior? If a rabbit bites you, it may just be trying to get your attention. Sometimes rabbits bite because they’re scared and some are just territorial. You can stop the behavior by changing how you handle your rabbit, squealing loudly so the rabbit knows it hurt you, and making some changes to the rabbit’s routine. Spaying and neutering can also reduce aggression.
It can be scary or upsetting to have a pet rabbit that likes to bite. But fear not! There are lots of things you can do to stop her from biting you or anyone else.
Why Do Rabbits Bite?
While a rabbit may choose to bite for any number of reasons, here are some common ones to keep in mind. How you stop the behavior depends on the reason for her biting habit to begin with.
Biting To Get Your Attention
Thankfully, most pet rabbits only bite in order to get your attention. They are not trying to hurt you. This is not a sign of aggression.
Many rabbits, especially younger ones, will give a playful nip to get you to play with them. Older rabbits may give a soft bite to prompt you to give them a nice scratch behind the ears. Whatever their reason, these rabbits have learned that the nip will get your attention. To stop the attention-getting biter, you can squeal or make a loud “ouch!” sound. Immediately stop petting or playing with your rabbit. After a few times of hearing this sound and losing your attention, your rabbit will understand that he’s hurting you and will likely stop the behavior.
Biting Out Of Fear
Some rabbits will bite out of fear. Just like the attention-getting bite, this is not an act of aggression. It’s also important to note that a rabbit who is fear biting may not be afraid of you specifically.
Your first job is to find out what your rabbit is afraid of. It could be your hat, your cologne or perfume, or it might be hearing the neighbor’s dog barking like crazy. Whatever is scaring your rabbit, try to remove that thing from his environment.
If a rabbit is very young and not used to humans, it’s probably biting because it’s afraid. This is true for older rabbits that were mishandled before. In these cases, it’s best to take it very slowly. Don’t force yourself on your rabbit. Speak softly. Keep your hands out of her cage until she gets used to you.
You can speed up this process by offering lots of tasty treats.
Much like the attention-getting bites, the boredom bite is not an act of aggression. A bored bunny may just be excited to see you. Or he may be biting to let you know that he needs more stimulation.
Rabbits who bite out of boredom need more toys. They need more time playing with you. These are the kinds of rabbits who appreciate a changing environment with challenging puzzles or exciting things to play with.
You can curb bored biting by providing your rabbit with an enriching environment.
Just like humans, rabbits have emotions. Sometimes those emotions can be anger or other types of upset that result in nips. As with fear biting, you want to find out why your rabbit is feeling upset so you can fix it.
Sometimes it can be as simple as a change in schedule. Are you working longer hours or going to school longer than usual? Did you forget to turn on your rabbit’s night light last night? Or maybe your rabbit is just unhappy with its new food.
A bunny who bites out of anger, frustration, or other upset, can usually be calmed down. Think of them like angry teenage humans. Give them some space and quiet to work out their problems. Then, slowly approach them with treats or a favorite toy. If they still seem grouchy, it’s best to just leave them alone.
Territorial Or Aggressive Biting
The hardest rabbit biting habits to break are the ones that stem from territorial behavior or aggression. Both male and female rabbits can be aggressive.
Keeping two rabbits separated can help with aggression and territorial issues. Some rabbit owners have to keep their rabbits in separate rooms, not just separate cages.
Hormones play a large role in this kind of biting. Spaying and neutering your rabbits by 4 months of age is the best way to prevent aggressive or territorial biting from starting in the first place. In addition to altering your rabbits, you can try any of the other steps above. For aggressive bunnies, you need to take things very slowly. They need to learn that you are a safe person. They need to learn that they can trust you. This can take time. Be patient and don’t give up on your rabbit!
Is Rabbit Biting Dangerous?
Rabbit biting is rarely dangerous to adults. However, a rabbit bite can hurt small children. It’s best to keep aggressive rabbits away from little kids.
If a bunny nips you, it probably won’t hurt. If a rabbit bites you out of anger or fear, however, it could pierce your skin.
Most of the danger from a rabbit bite comes from infection, not the bite itself. Be sure to properly and promptly treat any bite wounds you receive.
What Triggers Rabbits To Bite?
Every rabbit is different, which means that every rabbit’s trigger for biting will be different. Some common rabbit by triggers include being startled, being mishandled or hurt, being afraid, or being in a bad mood.
One common rabbit owner mistake is allowing children to approach their pet rabbit in their cage. If a child sticks their finger inside the cage right in front of the rabbit’s face, she is likely to bite. This is true even for very gentle rabbits who have never been known to bite before.
Remember, rabbits have a very small blind spot right in front of their faces just under their noses. That just happens to be where many children put their fingers. Illness can sometimes be a trigger for biting. If you can’t see anything else wrong in your rabbit’s environment that may have triggered him to bite you, it is worth a trip to the vet to make sure he’s not sick.
Do All Rabbits Bite Or Only Aggressive Ones?
It is possible for all rabbits to bite. It’s not just a problem with aggressive bunnies.
Every rabbit has its own special temperament. That means that one rabbit who loves being carried by you, may not like being carried by your best friend. That could cause your gentle, sweet rabbit to bite.
A friendly rabbit that is usually calm but is suddenly frightened could end up biting you unexpectedly.
Rabbits Biting Vs Nipping
So far, we’ve talked a lot about biting and nipping as if they were the same thing. They’re not. That means that any time your rabbit puts their teeth on you, it’s not necessarily a true bite.
A soft nip from a bunny is usually not something to be concerned about. Nips don’t often hurt, but they can be a surprise. A bite is usually meant to hurt you. It’s going to sting, and that bite might even break the skin.
Other than how they feel, how do you tell the difference between a playful nip and a bite meant to hurt you?
It’s all about body language. A rabbit who is just nipping you isn’t going to act frightened or upset. They may seem playful, or they may seem excited, but they won’t appear to be scared or attacking you. A bite usually comes from an upset rabbit. This is a bunny that will appear obviously agitated. They may look frightened, angry, or seem to be protecting their cage or their toys.
Warning Body Language And Sounds
While a playful nip may come as a surprise, you can usually tell when a rabbit is about to bite you.
Thumping: When a rabbit thumbs her hind legs, she’s telling you she is upset. This is often a sign of fear. Fearful rabbits may bite.
Tooth Grinding: Grinding or chattering the teeth loudly is often an indication of pain. A hurt rabbit may bite.
Grunting: Many rabbits grunt when they are angry. This is prime biting time.
There is a lot more to bunny body language than just the biting warning signs. I found this adorable video what your rabbit is trying to tell you. Please see below.
If Rabbits Bite Are They Angry or Scared?
If a rabbit bites you, it may be angry. It may also be scared. A lot of this has to do with your rabbit’s temperament.
A moody rabbit, one that has drastically changing emotions, may be more apt to bite. But even the calmest, sweetest rabbit can bite if she gets angry.
What Else Rabbits Do When They Are Angry Or Scared?
When a rabbit is angry or scared, they try to tell you this with body language. Pay close attention to what your rabbit is telling you.
If your rabbit has wide eyes but has pressed her ears down across her back, she may be angry or scared. Try to calm or reassure her. If she crouches down low or bolts away from you, you may be the reason she scared. Give her some space.
An angry rabbit may face you. This looks a little bit like a staring contest. The angry stare is generally coupled with the ears laying back against the bunny’s spine. Don’t approach an angry rabbit.
A scared rabbit may cower or turn their side toward you. The ears often turn sideways in this position, too.
Some rabbits show anger by pointing one ear forward and one ear backwards. Alternatively, one ear maybe up while one ear is down. Stomping feet and chattering teeth are two other signs of fear. These signs usually only come when your rabbit is extremely frightened.
How Do You Treat Rabbits Bites?
Treating rabbit bites shouldn’t be any harder than other kinds of minor injuries. The main issue with rabbit bites is the risk of infection from an improperly treated wound.
Clean the bite mark well with soap and warm water. Inspect the bite for any breaks in the skin. If it’s not a deep wound, simply apply an antibacterial cream and bandage.
For more serious bites, you’ll want to visit the doctor. Though rabbit bites don’t usually cause issues, for any animal bite there is always a slight risk of complications.
Be sure to keep an eye on the wound during the healing process. If it turns red, starts to ooze, or becomes painful and hot, go see a doctor. You’ve probably got an infection.
Do Rabbits Bite Other Rabbits, Animals Or Just Humans?
Humans aren’t the only things that rabbits will bite. Nipping and biting are both natural, normal ways for rabbits to communicate. It can take a rabbit a little while to learn that humans don’t respond well to being bitten.
Young rabbits are more likely than an older rabbit to nip or bite people or other pets. As long as it’s a nip and not a strong, painful bite, there’s nothing to be worried about.
When rabbits bite other rabbits or other pets, they are trying to communicate displeasure. When an adult rabbit bites another rabbit during mating, this is not an act of aggression. This is a normal part of the rabbit mating ritual.
Mother rabbits may nip their kits to get them to behave. Kits may nip their littermates in competition or just to play.
Rabbits will often display the same kinds of biting and nipping habits to other pets in the house. While your dog or cat won’t appreciate being nipped, as long as the rabbit didn’t break the skin, your other pet will be fine.
Though rabbits bite each other as a way to communicate, it’s still a good idea to try and curb the behavior against humans or other pets.
Is Rabbit Biting The Beginning Of Aggression?
Maybe, but probably not. Here’s why.
If an otherwise calm, sweet rabbit suddenly starts biting every day, it could be a sign of growing aggression. You need to pay attention to why the rabbit has started biting, when it tends to do it, and if it goes back to normal after the incident.
An occasional bite from your bunny isn’t an automatic sign of growing aggression. However, if she begins to display other angry or aggressive body language along with frequent bites, there might be trouble brewing. It might not be actual aggression at all. Some rabbits start biting when they feel ill. Look for signs of illness or injury that might explain your rabbit’s sudden desire to nip you.
What To Do When Bunnies Attack and Bite?
The first thing to do when a rabbit attacks and bites you is to get away from him. He is agitated, angry, or scared, and he’s taking it out on you. If your rabbit is roaming free in the house, leave him alone while you take care of any wounds you have.
As long as the rabbit is in a safe location—one where he can’t hurt himself or others—it’s okay to leave him alone until he calms down. This may take a few minutes or it could be an hour. Just be sure to stay nearby, just in case things get worse.
Your ultimate goal is to safely return the angry rabbit to his cage. You may need to wear thick gloves and other protective clothing, just in case he begins to kick, scratch, or bite more.
How To Stop Aggressive Biting?
Aggressive rabbits need two things to stop the aggression.
First, they need to be spayed or neutered. Ideally, this would be done around 4 months of age, before hormonal aggression has a chance to start. If you’re late getting this done, you need to ask your vet if it’s too late and if it’ll help the aggression at all.
The second cure for aggression in rabbits is to retrain them to be gentler and to trust. This can take weeks to months, but it’s worth the time and effort.
Your bunny has learned to fear or distrust you. It’s your job to figure out why and to figure out how to reverse that.
Start slowly. Approach your bunny with caution and a soft voice. Don’t try to pick up or pet your aggressive rabbit.
Learn to read bunny body language. Don’t engage a rabbit that is displaying fear or anger. If your rabbit seems calm and curious, you can try offering treats, but in their bowl and not with your fingers.
Try to avoid anything that triggers your bunny’s bad behavior. Noise, certain clothing, maybe even disturbing her during a specific time of day—figure out what’s causing the aggression. Be patient during this process. Your rabbit is naturally cautious and has learned this fear response. It will take some time to unlearn it.
Do Rabbit Hormones Play Role In Rabbit Aggression?
Hormones are almost always to blame for rabbit aggression. This is especially common for female rabbits when you try to touch their cage or move their things around. They’re protecting what they view as their den.
Male rabbits can get agitated if they sense females nearby or there are other males in the vicinity. In both cases—male and female aggression caused by hormones—you must remember that it’s nothing against you. It doesn’t mean you rabbit hates you. Think of them as moody teenagers with uncontrollable hormones.
How To Calm An Angry Rabbit?
The first step in calming and angry rabbit is to figure out what has upset her. Check her cage. Is it too warm? Is it too cold or drafty? Is it dirty? Does she have water?
If her cage seems fine, check the environment around her cage. There might be something scary in the room. Is there anything in the room that might look like a predator? Rabbits are naturally fearful of dogs, cats, birds, and ferrets. You might be surprised to learn how many household objects look like those animals.
If you can’t find anything that’s scaring your rabbit, it could be a noise. Are the neighbors making a lot of noise? Is there a dog barking somewhere? Is your television or radio too loud?
Once you figure out what has your rabbit angry or scared, remove it. You can then try to make your rabbit feel better. Do this by speaking softly, offering favorite treats, and if your rabbit will let you pet it, you can try some gentle strokes on his head or wherever your rabbit prefers to be pet. If your rabbit is not responding to your gentle voice and your soft touches, it may be better to just leave her alone. Dim the lights in her room, then leave quietly and give her time to calm down on her own. Make sure all scary noises and objects have been removed before you leave.
Should You Discipline Your Rabbit
You can discipline a rabbit, but it may not be what you’re thinking of. You should never hit a rabbit for any reason. Physical discipline will never work on a rabbit. They will only learn to fear you, which could cause your rabbit to bite.
The best discipline for rabbits is to remove rewards. For example, if your rabbit is biting you, make a loud squeal noise and then leave. Eventually, your rabbit will learn that if it bites you it won’t get to play anymore. But a better way to train a rabbit is by using positive reinforcement. Anytime your rabbit plays nicely, give them a treat or a gentle scratch. They’ll learn that good things happen when they play nicely with you.
Do Rabbits Bite Because They Are In The Cage?
Some rabbits get angry when you leave them in their cage for too long. Remember, rabbits can get bored just like humans do. Make sure you set aside time each day to play with your rabbit, pet her, and give her some of her favorite treats. A rabbit who gets ignored most of the time often turns to aggressive behavior. This is a show of anger or annoyance. They don’t necessarily want to hurt you, but they want you to know that they’re upset.
Should Rabbits That Bite See A Vet?
Yes, if your rabbit continues to bite after trying all of the advice here, you should take him to see the veterinarian. There is often an underlying health reason why rabbits begin to bite.
Do Rabbits Like To Chew Toys?
Rabbits like to chew things. This is not just a fun game for them. In fact, their teeth are constantly growing. They chew to help wear their teeth down.
Sometimes rabbits chew because they’re bored. Be sure to provide plenty of safe and varied chew toys for your rabbit. Here is a list of some safe things for rabbits to chew on.
- Cotton towels
- A basket with hay inside
- Untreated pine lumber
- Compressed alfalfa (comes in cubes)
- Orchard grass
Do Rabbits Throw A Tantrum Like Children?
I’ve seen rabbits throw award-winning tantrums just for handing them the wrong toy! Rabbits have personalities, so each one will want and need different interactions. If a bunny decides to throw a fit, you’ll notice it right away.
I’ve seen bunnies turn their backs to their humans when they’re annoyed. Basically, they’re giving the people the cold shoulder.
Some rabbits will roll over and kick their legs briefly, then stare at you, waiting for you to fix the problem. Sometimes, a rabbit will toss their food or water bowl around the cage to get your attention.
Are Rabbits Bite Dangerous To Smaller Children?
Any animal bite can be dangerous to small children. Rabbits are no different. In fact, because rabbits have such sharp teeth and strong Jaws, they can do a lot of damage to a tiny finger.
All animal bites to children should be taken care of immediately. This includes a trip to the doctor. Children are especially prone to infections, so keep an eye on any rabbit bites that your kids get. Even better, keep young children away from your rabbits.
Can You Get Rabies From Rabbit Bites?
It is unlikely that a person will contract rabies from a pet rabbit bite. As long as your pet rabbit is up-to-date on his or her shots, the risk to humans is minor. Wild rabbits, on the other hand, may spread rabies. Any bite from a wild rabbit should be taken care of by a doctor. If at all possible, catch the wild rabbit and bring it to be tested for rabies.
Can Rabbits Bites Cause An Infection?
Rabbit bites can cause infections. It is imperative that you properly clean and disinfect any bite you received from a rabbit. Infections can develop at any time in the healing process. You should keep a close eye on your wound as it heals.
Are Aggressive Rabbits Dangerous To Keep At Home?
Aggressive rabbits can be dangerous to keep at home if you have small children. They can also be dangerous if you don’t know how to handle them. Aggressive rabbits need a lot of extra care and caution.
Do bunnies cuddle? Yes, bunnies like to cuddle other rabbits. Some rabbits also enjoy cuddling humans. Never force a bunny to cuddle with you though. It takes time and training.
Do wild rabbits bite? Yes, wild rabbits bite. It’s a defense mechanism. Never try to pet or pick up a wild rabbit.