Although rabbits are gentle and affectionate animals, they’ll occasionally bite when they feel threatened or stressed. In other words, domestic rabbits mainly nibble to protect or defend themselves. Their counterparts in the wild, however, live in colonies or herds and will often bite to assert hierarchical dominance. So why does my rabbit bite me? This article is going to dig deep into what causes this particular behavior and how it can be nipped in the bud.
Reasons why your bunny bites you
Whether the bite happens suddenly or often, below are some of the main reasons why a rabbit might show this form of aggression.
Biting is one way bunnies protect themselves from imminent danger. For instance, they can charge at you and bite your hand when they feel cornered or can’t seem to escape. Additionally, this can also happen when you try to pick them up inappropriately.
Another reason a bunny might end up biting you is often associated with stress. Lack of mental stimulation, unhealthy living conditions, or when a bunny is confined to a small living space, are the leading causes of stress. In other words, stressed rabbits have a tendency of being aggressive and will express it by biting you when you’re in close proximity.
Sickness or pain
Quite often a rabbit that is injured or ailing will most likely want to be left alone. Instinctively bunnies tend to seclude themselves from their colony or go into hiding to prevent being an easy target for predators. Therefore, there’s a high chance that a bunny that bites you and is lethargic is probably in pain or ailing.
In most circumstances, expectant or lactating Doe will often display territorial tendencies. Biting is therefore one of their secret weapons when it comes to protecting their young ones. It’s therefore advisable to stay away from nesting rabbits since they are instinctively aggressive and will consider anyone close to their nest as a trespasser.
Bunnies that are not desexed especially around breeding season tend to show aggressive behavior due to high hormone levels. Quite often males will bite to assert dominance when they’re around 6 months due to their high testosterone level. To curb this unwanted behavior neutering your bunny when they’re 4 months old is recommended.
Adopting a bunny from a shelter, rescue, or pet store that faced abuse or neglect from its previous owner is also likely to be the cause of a bite. Before you purchase a bunny inquire about their personality and whether they might be suffering from trauma. Bunnies with bad previous human experiences always need a little bit of time and patience to trust us again. However, if they continue to show signs of trauma after several months of care, take them to a veterinarian.
Fear and Anxiety
A rabbit can also bite you out of fear or anxiety. For instance, aggression triggers include startling or trying to pick them up often or inappropriately. In other words, any action that makes them feel vulnerable or under threat will most likely cause them to bite.
Rabbits are normally protective of their food during feeding time and will at times bite you when you touch or get closer to them or their meal. This is purely out of instinct since in the wild food is scarce. Therefore, this behavior is prone to happen regardless of how well you feed your bunnies. The best solution is to let them be during feeding time.
Bunnies are social animals who need both attention and affection. One of the possible causes of your rabbit biting or nibbling at you is to get your attention. Try to bond with your bunny as often as possible, or at least pair them with a partner. On top of that, always ensure that they’re mentally stimulated as well. A good idea is to give them toys to play with.
Another factor that can trigger a rabbit to bite you is boredom. If your bunny is idle with nothing to chew on then they are certainly going to chew on anything or anyone, including you. Bunnies instinctively chew to keep their teeth trimmed while also satisfying their natural desire. In short, the more your bunny chews, the less aggressive and less likely they are to bite or nibble at you.
What do you do if your rabbit bites you?
In case your bunny bites you, no need to worry even if you’re bleeding. Simply clean the wound up with water and a clean cloth, then apply antibiotics. After a couple of minutes use a band-aid to conceal your wound and you’ll be perfectly fine. On the contrary, if there is swelling, pain, or redness, after a few days, seek medical attention. These are usually tell-tale signs of an infection or bacteria transmission especially if the rabbit that bit you is sick.
How do I get my bunny to stop biting me?
First and foremost, you need to determine the main cause of the bite before you try to find a solution. For instance, you’ll need to find out whether your rabbit bites you when you try to reach its cage or when you try picking them up. Perhaps they only bite when you try to bond with them during feeding time.
Establish the root cause and try to avoid putting them in that peculiar position if possible. Alternatively, you can gently press your bunny’s head when they are hell-bent to bite you. The other method to stop your bunny from biting you is to mimic their squeal which indicates you’re in pain.
Frequently asked questions
- Why is my rabbit biting me all of a sudden?
Your rabbit may suddenly bite you when they’re stressed, irritated, or feeling vulnerable. It can also be a result of their hormones or boredom.
- Why does my rabbit bite me softly?
A small nuzzle with a slight nip is one way your bunny can show affection. In other words, it’s more of a positive gesture since they consider you as their grooming buddy.
- Why does my rabbit bite me but no one else?
You might have irritated them by invading their territory and they’re trying to assert dominance. Perhaps it was when you were cleaning their cage in their presence or trying to pick them up when they were not in the mood. On the contrary, they could be trying to get your attention if it’s a soft nibble.
- Why does my rabbit bite me when I hold him?
There are two possible reasons for your bunny is biting you when you hold them. If you’re holding them incorrectly they’re definitely going to bite or scratch you. Additionally, they’ll also bite if a rabbit doesn’t trust you enough or the two of you don’t have a strong bond yet. Remember bunnies generally feel vulnerable when they’re held.
- Why does my rabbit bite my fingers?
If the bite hurts, then it’s a clear indication of aggressive behavior. However, a soft nibble on your finger or feet could be a form of affection or a need for attention.
Understanding what triggers your bunny to act aggressively and bite you is key if you want to tame their bad behavior. Also always ensure that they live in a conducive environment that’s stress-free. Finally, if their biting behavior is due to an injury or high hormone levels, then it’s always recommended to visit your veterinarian.