So, your rabbit bit you for no reason. It’s surprising and alarming when your pet rabbit bites you. It’s helpful to understand why your rabbit bit you. In fact, I get asked by people all the time why their rabbit bites. So, why is my rabbit biting me all of a sudden?
Rabbits bite for several reasons. Some of their biting has to do with their age. When they’re adolescents, they are prone to aggressive behavior like biting, kicking or hiding from you. Once your rabbit gets spayed or neutered, this aggressive behavior will go away. Sometimes rabbits bite or nibble at you if they’re bored. You can give your rabbit toys to play with or cardboard tubes to chew on to keep him busy. Another reason your rabbit might bite you is to get your attention. Rabbits are social, they need human interaction to keep them happy. Play with your rabbit and pet him. He’ll be more contented, and stop nibbling at you if you give him some attention every day.
Why Do Rabbits Get Aggressive?
Your cute, cuddly pet rabbit isn’t so cute when he gets aggressive. He might kick you, hide from you or even bite you. Here are some reasons your rabbit suddenly got aggressive.
Early adolescence- The biggest behavior changes in rabbits occur around 3 to 4 months of age when their hormones kick in. At this age, rabbits become sexually mature. It’s common for an adolescent rabbit to scratch, bite or kick their owners or anyone who gets in their way. Male rabbits will spray urine as a sign of courtship. Female rabbits become territorial about their cage or hutch, sometimes growling or even lunging at their owners. Much of this bad behavior gets eliminated when a rabbit is spayed or neutered.
Teenager-Around 6 months to one year, rabbits mature. They fill out to their full adult size and weight. He might be moody, and less desirable to socialize. Like teenagers, they’re trying to figure out their identity. For rabbits, it’s trying to figure out the packing order with you or other rabbits. Keep an eye on your rabbit’s teeth at this age. This is when dental issues show up. Give them a healthy diet of vegetables, herbs, and a little fruit. At least 80% of their diet should be grass hay.
Attention-Rabbits sometimes show aggressive behavior to get attention. Rabbits are social animals, they need interaction with people or animals. Give your rabbit lots of attention. Pet him, talk to him. Play games with him. Rabbits love to knock things over.
Set up some different sized paper boxes and let him knock them over.
Bored-If your rabbit is bored he might bite you to give himself something to do. Give your rabbit lots of hay to chew, this satisfies a natural desire to chew, trims his teeth and gives physical satisfaction. You can also give your rabbit paper towel tubes or empty cereal boxes( not the plastic inserts) to chew. Rabbits love to chew and throw around these cardboard items. Your rabbit’s happiness level will go up and his aggression will go down.
How Do I Stop My Rabbit From Biting Me?
What not to do:
- Never hit your rabbit bites you. This will cause him to be afraid of you, and maybe bite you out of fear.
- Never yell at your rabbit. He won’t understand why you’re yelling, and it won’t stop his biting.
- Never hit your rabbit with a newspaper or some other object- Hitting will only make things worse for you and your rabbit.
What to do:
- You should be safe for your rabbit. He sees you as the one who gives him food, water, a house, and affection.
- When your rabbit bites you, say “Ouch!” real loud to let him know it hurt. Then say “No bite!.”
- Give praise for good behavior.
- Clapping your hands or stomping your foot or whistling when your rabbit bites is also a good way to get your rabbit’s attention. Then say, “No bite!”
- Some owners have tried putting pennies in a soda can then shaking it when their rabbit bites, repeating the “No bite!” Be consistent. Your rabbit will learn that you don’t enjoy being bit by him.
- Be consistent whatever you do to get your rabbit’s attention when he bites.
What else should I know:
- Never approach a rabbit with your hand out. Instead, put your hand palm down, flat-handed with fingers spread out. Put your hand above the rabbit’s head then slowing lay it on his head and pet him. Never allow a child or adult to poke through your rabbit’s cage or hutch. It can be dangerous if your rabbit bites.
- If your rabbit bites hard, you might need to wear gloves to stop him biting you at first. When he’s learned not to bite or not to bite so hard, you can stop using the gloves.
- Be patient and consistent in the training of your rabbit. Your rabbit will learn eventually to stop biting.
Does My Pet Rabbit Hate Me?
Rabbits don’t hate their owners, but they get frustrated, bored, hormonal and afraid which can cause them to bite. Your rabbit needs lots of assurance, love and patience as you train your rabbit to stop biting you. Part of training your rabbit involves understanding what he’s trying to tell you. Here are some perceived negative things rabbits do that their owners often misinterpret.
Grunt-A rabbits grunts when he’s angry at something his owner did, or another animal did, like your pet dog. Sometimes a rabbit will grunt followed by scratching or biting. Your rabbit feels threatened, and he’s saying, “Get away from me!” Your rabbit might grunt to protect his cage or food from you or another rabbit.
Tooth grinding- If your rabbit grinds his teeth, he’s in pain or stressed out. He might sit hunched over in the corner of his cage. Take him to the vet right away to have him checked over.
Circle around-Could be to get attention from his owner. Sometimes circling is a courting behavior.
Chinning-When your rabbit rubs his chin on you or his cage or toys, it means he’s claiming it as his.
Thump- Your rabbit thumps to get attention, to show his annoyance or his fear. In the wild rabbits thump to warn other rabbits of pending danger.
Nose nudges-Your pet rabbit nudges your to coax you to pet him. He might nudge your to give him attention.
Nip-Rabbits nip to get attention. He might want you to play with him or to pet him. It’s his way of getting you to pay attention right away.
Lunging- Your rabbit will lunge at your when you reach into his cage. This means he’s annoyed by your intrusion. This often happens when you adopt an older rabbit. You must train him by getting his used to your hand. Place your hand on his head gently to calm him while you give him food, or clean out his litter box.
Tense body-If your rabbit sits upright with his ears back he’s mad. He might bite you. He might lunge first.
Screaming-If your rabbit screams he’s terrified or in terrible pain and needs your help right away.
Why Does My Rabbit Bite My Clothes?
Biting at your clothes is normal behavior for rabbits. They enjoy chewing on things and if your clothes is near him, he’ll try to nibble on them. Many owners say their rabbit chews on their clothing so they try to keep them away. Ways to help your rabbit stop includes:
- Redirecting your rabbit away from your clothing. Give him a toy to play with.
- Don’t wear clothes you don’t mind getting a hole in around your rabbit.
- Many owners feel that rabbits can’t train a rabbit to stop biting clothing. It’s innate.
- Rabbits destructive habits decrease over time. Usually around 4 years old age, a rabbit calms down.
Why Is My Rabbit Growling At Me?
If your rabbit growls at you he’s telling you he’s angry or stressed out. You might clean out his litter box or adding hay to his hay rack, but he doesn’t like it that you’re invading his home. Growling is a signal to stay away. If he does this, aggressive behavior such as kicking or biting could follow. Sometimes your rabbit’s growling is because he’s startled. Some rabbit owners say their rabbit growls at them when they’re trying to get their rabbit to do something, but no aggressive behavior follows. It’s best to understand your own rabbit. Over time, you’ll learn what his signals mean.
How Do I Treat A Rabbit Bite?
If your rabbit bites you, and it’s deep enough to bleed, don’t worry. Rabbit bites aren’t dangerous. You should treat the wound like you would any cut. Wash the would out with soap and water. Then apply an antibiotic cream to avoid getting an infection, then put a bandaid on it. If the wound is deep and bleeding or shows signs of infection, go see your doctor. If you’re bitten by a rabbit you’re unfamiliar with, it’s good to contact your doctor right way. There’s a chance, though unlikely, that the rabbit has rabies or some other disease. You might need a tetanus shot too. If the rabbit is wild or a stray, call animal control right away so they can catch the rabbit. He’ll be quarantined and put under observation for rabies symptoms.
Young rabbits are aggressive, but once they’re altered, their aggressive behavior diminishes. Don’t worry, rabbits don’t hate their owners, but sometimes owners just misinterpret what their rabbit is trying to tell them. Rabbits are communicators, learn your rabbit’s language so you can understand when he’s upset or fearful. Some rabbit owners say they’ve trained their rabbits to stop biting while others say you can’t teach rabbits, but you can condition them to do something or not do something. There’s a fine line between the two. If you get bitten by a rabbit, it isn’t serious unless of course, the rabbit is stray or unknown to you. Then you should go to your doctor and call the authorities to catch the rabbit for quarantine and observation for rabies.