Last Updated on June 15, 2023 by keno
As prey animals, rabbits are inherently skittish and anything foreign can easily startle them. For instance, they might be scared of their new owners, loud noises, or being picked up, to say the least. Although bunny breeds are naturally timid, some are generally more nervous than others. So how do you tell if your rabbit is scared of you? Perhaps you’re a new owner who wants to find out or maybe all of a sudden your bunny starts acting scared around you.
Regardless of your scenario, this article answers a common question which is, how to tell if my rabbit is scared of me. It also looks into the solution and mainly how to gain their trust.
What does a scared rabbit look like?
Depending on the level of threat, a scared bunny can respond in various different ways. Below are some of the tell-tale signs of a bunny that’s scared of you.
A bunny that’s scared may shake with fear when frightened or whenever they feel vulnerable. When startled they’ll tremble for a couple of minutes or until they calm down.
A frightened rabbit will often go into hiding whenever you approach it. Retreating and hiding under the furniture, bed, or in the cage are normally safe havens for them. Quite often newly adopted bunnies that suffer from anxiety are prone to spend more time hiding from their owners. In other words, they’ll only come out when the coast is clear.
Quite often a rabbit that’s scared of you will whimper whenever you approach them. They may also do so when they’re unhappy with a particular situation. For instance, it may whimper when you try to cuddle or lift it against its wishes.
A rabbit that is scared of you will remain motionless when they consider you a threat. Freezing is a natural defense mechanism that helps them analyze the potential threats in this case which is you. In other words, they’re usually taking a breather before a reaction or the next course of action.
Thumping is another way rabbits express themselves mostly when they’re nervous or scared. It entails them arching their backs slightly, freezing a bit, and they use one or both hind legs to hit the ground hard. Bunnies can either do a single thump or several at a go.
A frightened bunny’s ears will be lying flat and apart against its back. In addition, it may also have a tense crouched or flattened body against the ground.
Flattening is a submissive behavior that is common with scared bunnies. When their body is in a tense state with an extended tail pointing downwards, they’ll flatten themselves completely to the ground.
Temporary loss of appetite
A scared rabbit that’s eating will temporarily cease doing so and run away whenever you approach them. In addition, external factors such as loud noises or unfamiliar smells could also lead to a brief loss of appetite. However, unless they’re asleep, not eating for several hours is most likely a clear indication that they’re ill. Ensure that you take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
A rabbit that’s frightened or anxious may tend to over-groom itself over time. In other words, your scared bunny may essentially be trying to comfort itself when you’re around or near them. On the contrary, over-grooming could also be a sign of stress, boredom, or a Doe that’s trying to build a nest during pregnancy.
A scared rabbit may lunge and bite at you whenever they feel cornered or under threat. They may also bite or attack you because of their raging hormones particularly when they’re frightened. In some circumstances, neutering or spaying your rabbits eventually tames their aggressive tendencies.
What do you do if your rabbit is scared of you?
Comforting a scared rabbit or helping them feel calm and safe around you is pivotal. However, do not force things, it needs to be natural especially when you’ve just adopted a new rabbit.
The first approach is to build trust with your pet. This entails sitting quietly and calmly around your bunny. Let them first approach you and learn on their own terms that you’re less of a threat.
After they’ve come to you, offer them a treat as a reward for their courage. Over time, gradually give them a little pat or gentle stroke. Depending on your bunny’s nature it might take several hours or a couple of days before you ease their fright.
Bunnies are inherently timid and building trust takes effort. In other words, fear is necessary for survival in the wild. A rabbit that’s less frightened is at great risk of being devoured by predators. Remember patience and consistency are the secret sauce for making a rabbit grow fond of you. For more on how to get a bunny to like you click on this link.
How long will it take for my bunny to trust me?
Building trust with your bunnies takes time and can range from a few weeks or months. However, depending on your pet’s personality and how often you spend time with them, it can be more or less. With that being said, however, on average, indoor rabbits tend to trust owners more compared to their outdoor counterparts.
Why won’t my bunny let me pet her?
There’s a high likelihood that you’re not petting your rabbit correctly. When doing so, be gentle and begin with their head all the way towards their back. Also, avoid touching their chin or the front of their nose.
Your bunny could also avoid your petting when they’re still not comfortable around you or they don’t trust you yet. Another reason could also be that the timing might be wrong. Bunnies are more receptive to petting after a meal when they’re relaxed.
How do you pick up a scared bunny?
A rabbit being picked up isn’t a natural experience for them hence the reason why they fight and wriggle when you attempt to. Although it’s usually not advisable, under some unavoidable circumstances, you’ll have to. First and foremost, hold your bunny firmly but gently with one hand under their front legs while you place the other hand near their hind end.
While holding them securely, lift and hold your rabbit against your body to support their back. Make sure that you have a good grip to prevent them from escaping on your arms as they wiggle. However, to make the picking-up process easier let them get used to the idea of being held from a young age. As they grow older lifting them will feel natural.
Hopefully, we’ve answered the age-old question of how to tell if my rabbit is scared of me. The main takeaway is to build a bond with your pet and ensure that they’re healthy and in a conducive environment. With a little bit of patience and their favorite treat, they’ll definitely go from being fearful to cuddly.