Rabbits bite for many reasons. It's a way of communicating, it helps them eat, and it can be a self-defense move. While this habit is natural, if your pet rabbit starts biting too often or acts aggressively, you'll want to help stop it before things get worse. Knowing why rabbits bite can help you put a halt on this behavior.
Video of the Day
If your rabbit bites you or your guests or begins to chew on inappropriate items like wiring and furniture, he can get hurt or be dangerous to others. Doing gentle training with your pet and finding the cause of the chewing can help you nip this problem in the bud before it gets out of hand. Be mindful of the way you're picking him up and if he tends to bite when you pet certain places on his body. If you are having trouble figuring out the cause of your bunny's biting, contact the veterinarian.
Why rabbits bite
If you're wondering why rabbits bite, sometimes it's simply because they're nervous or scared. It can be an act of self-defense if they're feeling that they are in danger, or it can be a way for them to be protective over their space and toys. This is a natural reaction for rabbits, but it can also be a sign of an abusive past and may also signify that the rabbit does not have enough living space.
Rabbits may also bite if they're not feeling well. If your bunny is in pain, she may nip when you try to hold her. Bunnies who are not fixed may also bite more often to express hormonal issues or that they are in need of care. Your veterinarian can help you determine whether these things may be the cause. If you or someone else gets bit by a rabbit, make sure to clean the wound thoroughly and contact your doctor if it doesn't heal or if it is a deep cut.
Bunnies are active creatures, so sometimes biting and chewing is simply a reaction to boredom. Make sure your bunny gets lots of attention and playtime. They may also feel detached from you if you're not spending enough time with them, so working on your relationship with your pet can help reduce this issue.
Tips for training your rabbit
Positive reinforcement, like giving treats, cuddles, and extra playtime in reward for good behavior, can help them learn when they are being good. You can also teach them simple commands — like "stop" to alert them not to continue what they're doing — using rewards as positive reinforcement.
A loud noise may alert them to stop the bad behavior, but it may make them more afraid of you, which is unhealthy and won't stop them from biting in self-defense. Loud sounds may help them stop in the moment but avoid raising your voice, as scaring them can make them stressed, which could lead to more behavioral problems.
If your rabbit has his ears down, is thumping and making a lot of noise, or runs and hides from you, he may be anxious, so you should work on helping him feel more comfortable to reduce his anxiety. Also, if you only have one rabbit, consider adopting a second one since these social critters like to have company and may be upset without a playmate.
How to discourage rabbits from biting
Rabbitproofing your home can discourage the chewing of dangerous or valuable items. Pay attention to any loose wiring. Special animal-proof cord protectors are available. Watch for loose floorboards, choose safe items specifically for them to nibble, and give them enough living space in areas free of dangerous objects.
Since biting comes naturally to rabbits, they might never stop completely. Give them toys made for chewing or things like apple branches, untreated pine, hay, and alfalfa cubes.
- Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund: Aggression in Rabbits
- Rabbit Haven: Biting
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: My Pet Rabbit Keeps Biting Me, What Should I Do?
- The Bunny Hutch & Climates Exotic Animal Rescue: How to Stop Rabbits from Chewing
- Ohio House Rabbit Rescue: Staying Friends With Your Bunny: How to Deal With Bunnies That Chew and Dig
- The Mercury News: How Do You Stop a Bunny From Chewing Up Your Home?
- The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals: Rabbit Body Language