Pet Rabbit Behaviors
Understanding pet rabbits is something you should learn before you get one. I wish I would have had the sense to do so, since I am sure it would have saved me and my bunny much aggravation. Nevertheless, we survived the ordeal, but not without much kicking, biting and freaking out. Bunny was kicking, scratching, biting, charging and thumping and I was freaking out. I thought it was conduct unbecoming of a bunny who I had previously thought of as cute and cuddly. I was totally unprepared for handling a pet rabbit and had to learn the hard way. Not you, though, because you can read this and learn from my stupid mistakes. That is, if you heed the advice.
My bunny was given to me by a friend who won him in a poker game. He was a baby mini lop and cute as a button, so naturally, I took him. My grandkids were so excited and wanted to play with him and I thought, how adorable, the cute little bunny and the kids playing together. It didn't turn out like I thought! The kids ended up with bleeding fingers and bunny sitting in the corner thumping. I was in disbelief and couldn't figure out what went wrong.
Anyway, that was in the beginning, but as time went on things changed as I began to read up on pet bunnies and learn from experience their quirky behaviors. The first thing you need to know is that rabbits are very independent sort of like cats. Many of them do not like being picked up, but prefer you to sit on the floor and allow them to make first initial contact. If you get this right the cute little bunny will end up sitting on your lap until they are tired of it then they will hop on about their business, once again, similar to the cat. Bunny is the boss and you're not.
If you insist upon being the aggressor then you might end up getting kicked, scratched, bit or flat out attacked. Bunny's will charge at you when they, or their territory, which is their cage or hutch, feels threatened. They may also sit in the back of the cage or hutch and thump this is a sign they are angry or upset about something. My bunny didn't like noise, so he would thump when someone turned up the music or TV. Turn it back down or off and he stopped thumping. Those big ears are sensitive I guess, but it took us a while to figure this out.
It takes some time for a pet rabbit to get to know you they may not like being petted or touched until they get to know you better. Once they get used to a person then things change dramatically and bunny becomes more friendly and fun. Remember, it must be on their terms, so it's best to give them the run of the house at times as long as you watch them closely. If you don't watch them closely they can be very destructive chewing and carrying on. Don't ever forget rabbits are wild animals that can be domesticated, but may revert back now and then to what comes natural.
Pet rabbits want their surroundings to stay the same they don't like change unless they change it. For example, if you move bunny's bowl in his cage he will move it right back pushing it with his nose. If he catches you moving it you might get charged at or bit. So, if you need to take it out or anything else in his domain, do it when he is not in there and put it back where it goes. They also like a clean cage or hutch, so it will need to be cleaned often or they get agitated.
As mentioned above, once your pet rabbit gets used to you they will show you their cute fun side. One of the cute crazy things they do is run in circles, around and around they go, this means they're happy and want to play. So, go ahead and run in circles and if you're lucky he will start to jump and twirl in mid air and do a bit of showing off. They love to show off and want you to praise them as they do so. I always clap my hands and scream go bunny go. Playing with your pet rabbit ensures that they are happy and that they get much needed exercise to keep them healthy and fit.
There are a few more pet rabbit behaviors you might notice and wonder about and one such behavior is rubbing their chin on everything every where, this means that they're marking their territory. Standing on hind legs means they want something or are being nosey. My pet bunny stands on hind legs when he wants to be petted or is looking for potential danger. Lying face down with legs spread means they're relaxing or are tired from running and jumping.
One thing you never want to hear from a pet rabbit is a scream. This means they are either in severe pain or extremely scared. My bunny only screamed once and this was due to a raccoon that managed to get into his area outside and was attacking him. It was awful he was hurt badly and ended up with a lot of stitches, but pulled through and was back to his normal self in a few weeks. If I had not heard the scream and ran back to chase the raccoon it would have killed him.
Pet rabbit behaviors may be good or bad, mostly it depends on you and how you handle them. Read and study as much on pet rabbits as you can before you get one. While they may be independent like cats they're nothing like cats or dogs for that matter. They require special care, but are worth the effort made to develop the bond needed for them to become a good pet.
The bottom line is that understanding pet rabbits requires us to take time to learn about them and not just get a cute bunny for the kids, because we think it will be a really fun gift or surprise. Sadly, many times when this happens rabbits are mistreated and neglected.
Ultimately, if you find that you're not able to do what it takes to care for a pet rabbit then opt for a more conventional pet such as a dog or cat.
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