Rescued bunny with behavioral issues, please help!

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Granolamom, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. Granolamom

    Granolamom Songster

    Sep 9, 2008
    We've recently adopted a bunny from a local feed store, where her owners simply dropped her off a few days prior.
    She's a rex (full size, not miniature), unneutered female, about a year old. She's completely unsocialized and "freezes" when someone tries to pet her.
    If I reach into her cage and touch anything (to refill her bowl, or give her fresh water, etc), she'll leap at my hand. She has not bitten as of yet, but probably will, if given a chance. She growled at my husband this past weekend, when he tried to fill her feeder.
    This is our first bunny, and any input on how to make her feel more secure and get her to trust us is greatly appreciated.
  2. I just got a mini rex doe who will charge at you when you go near her "things" too...

    I have heard it's a female thing. The does are supposed to be more territorial of their cage than the males are, this is one of the reasons you always put the doe into the bucks cage for mating.
    I have found that rabbits rarely bite even is they put on quite a show of stomping their back feet (a warning) or charging.
    When I adopted my first bunny from a bunny rescue I was told that rabbits take a while to build trust in humans since they are a prey animal. I was told to not even think about picking him up and holding him for several weeks while I won him over with treats of parsley sprigs and pets and scratches behind the ears.
    Take it slowly. You have no idea how she has been handled. She has been through a lot lately going from her prior home, to a noisy store, to a new home. She has no clue who to trust right now.
    Once she warms up, I think she'll be fine.
    Try tossing her a treat to distract her while you tidy up the cage or refill bowls.
  3. hen-thusiast

    hen-thusiast Songster

    Apr 8, 2009
    We rescued two rabbits that were dropped off in the middle of nowhere after they lost their Easter "cuteness". While ours have kind of come around, they still get grumpy sometimes, especially when we enter their territory (i.e. feed them or clean their litter). One growls sometimes and thumps, but it's never progressed to biting. I agree with PineBurrowPeeps that she needs time to adjust, but she'll come around. They're just really territorial creatures.
  4. gypsy2621

    gypsy2621 Songster

    Jun 29, 2008
    New Hampshire
    Does can be very territorial.
    first off DO NOT feed her inside her cage, put an outside feeder and water bottle on her cage.
    do not throw treats in the cage just so you can get her dishes, it only inforces the bad behavior,

    obviously this is the reason she was dumped off at a feed store, and as for the " rabbits rarely bite" that is bunco, a scared or mean rabbit will certainly bite, trust me I have the scars to prove it.
    As for not handling them for 2 weeks ugh I wish I could re educate a lot of these rescues, they are totally clueless.
    wear gloves and long heavy sleeved clothing, handle her a lot, talk in low soothing tones, yes she is going to kick and scratch and yes it will hurt but it has to be done.
    she needs to get used to be handled, and being fed in her cage, everytime you feed her take her out of that cage, put food in the J feeder and fresh water, when she calms down put her back in her cage, she is going to stomp around and act all grumpy but she will learn to associate food with good handling.

    DO NOT let her know you might be afraid of her. she will definately use it to her advantage.
    Some Rex rabbits do not make Ideal pets. they are a utility breed, ( fur, meat ) usually never handled.
    good luck with her, also think inside the box there is a good chance she is pregnant, so I would have something for her to build a nest in, you dont want her to kindle on the wires.
  5. bumpershoot

    bumpershoot Songster

    check out the house rabbit society. They might have some help on their website.
  6. Georgia Rose

    Georgia Rose In the Brooder

    Jun 5, 2009
    north texas
    I had a doe that sounds just like that. I had recently got her from a breeder and she started showing her teeth and lunging at me. I talked to a friend and she said that my doe was hormonal (she was in a cage next to a buck) and to put something between them. She quieted down some, but only after I bred her did she fully stop. That might be what is wrong.
    Like gypsy2621 said handle her alot, some bad behavior is actually just fear.
  7. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    Most bunnies would rather you stay out of their cage, especially females. I had a free-roaming house bunny who never really even used her cage, but if one of the other animals or a stranger went near it she would run right over to defend her turf, grunting and lunging like a little Tasmanian Devil!
    Instead of reaching in to pet her, put your hand out to her and let her come to you. That way it is her choice to interact. When you need to clean the cage, try to do it one section at a time so that she doesn't feel so threatened. Remember, bunnies are prey animals and they ALWAYS have their guard up. There are a lot of scary things out there!
  8. Granolamom

    Granolamom Songster

    Sep 9, 2008
    Well, as far as her possibly being pregnant, there's no chance of that. The feed store guy told me what the owners had told him: that the bunny was purchased in 2008 as an "Easter surprise" [​IMG] for their kids, who then never showed any interest in her.
    She spent the first year of her life in "solitary" confinement, with little or no human interaction. I'm determined to get her to come around, but it looks like it will definitley take time (meanwhile, I won't let my kids touch her, unless I'm holding her).
    She's okay, once you take her out of her cage, even though she definitely does not seem to enjoy being petted, not to mention held.
    Someone told me to lightly hold down her head while I reach into the cage to rearrange things in there. This seems to work okay, she won't lunge at me when I do that. I purchased bunny pellets at the feed store, and we give her fresh water and various veggies in the mornings and at night. Any other suggestions? (Do they need mineral supplements of any kind?)
  9. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    could be that she is in heat....
  10. gypsy2621

    gypsy2621 Songster

    Jun 29, 2008
    New Hampshire
    rabbits DO NOT come into a heat, they are induced ovulators , meaning they have to be with a buck in order to ovulate.
    there is no blood pheramones to be indicative of a heat.
    Honestly I do not know who started the rumor they come into a heat, its wrong and miss information and I see it posted all the time.

    holding her head down while you do what needs to be done in her cage is a good idea, it shows her you are dominant over her.
    yes she is a prey animal but on the same hand if you continue to let the behavior continue as was suggested, all your going to have is a vicious bunny whose teeth can and will very easily cut to the bone. Take her out of the cage to do what needs to be done, do not risk injury, stiches and anti biotic.

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