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How to tame grumpy rabbit

(19 Posts)

Hi. I have a female rabbit, age unknown but probably 1 -2 years old. She started digging holes, making nests and being less friendly, so I got her speyed about 3 weeks ago, thinking it was probably hormones.
We have cats, a dog, GPs but no other rabbit. She lives in the house at night and has a cage outside on the grass during the day. When I have time she can hop about in the kitchen and bathroom where there is nothing she can chew. My 6-year old loves her and plays with her on her lead, but intermittently.
The trouble is, the rabbit seems to be getting less friendly, rather than more so. We take her snacks, talk to her, etc, but she wants to spend more time in her cage rather than hopping round the kitchen as she used to and is getting scratchier and stamping her feet more.
Any advice? I have taken her cage off the grass and onto gravel, in the hope that being hand fed more will make her more kindly disposed to us.

andie123 Fri 07-Jun-13 11:21:51

Have you considered getting her a companion? Rabbits are much happier in pairs as they are sociable animals. A lot of animal rescues have male rabbits that are already castrated.

KevinFoley Fri 07-Jun-13 11:25:32

Totally echo getting her a neutered male companion, she will be much happier, guaranteed. Take her to a rescue and they will bond her with one for you (don't do this yourself, can be very complicated and they often need to 'try' a few before they find a good and tolerated match). Most female rabbits are a bit grumpy compared with males to be honest but they become much easier with a male companion.

KevinFoley Fri 07-Jun-13 11:27:43

Also check she has enough space. A pair of rabbits will need minimum 24 hour access to a minimum 6ftx2ftx2ft hutch with a 6ftx4ftx2ft run.

She probably has less space than that inside, which is why she has the run of the kitchen and bathroom for a couple of hours a day.

I had heard that rabbits are impossible to put with other rabbits; that they fight. I would love her to have a companion - especially I would love to have another, slightly friendlier rabbit.

I had male rabbits before; I only took this one because it was unwanted and I felt sorry for it. I know it was destined to be left completely alone for a while and then probably get eaten by a fox.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 07-Jun-13 12:26:03

Let her watch THAT scene in Fatal Attraction wink

Can you contact a Rescue about a neutered male bunny?
It sounds like you have a busy household with DC, guineas,cats, dog - but none of these speak 'her' language.
She might respond with one of her own kind. And there are thousands of rabbits in Rescue sad

Midori1999 Fri 07-Jun-13 16:15:40

It can take up to 6 months for hormonal changes to happen fully after neutering, so it might just take her a while.

I agree though that more space and a companion will do her the world of good and will also probably make her more confident and therefore friendlier, although there's no guarantee. It will make her happier though.

Rabbits can be territorial, so you can't just stick another bunny in with her and expect them to get along. If you speak to your local rescues they should be happy for you to bring her along and she can meet some other bunnies to get a feel for one she likes and then the rescue can keep them to bond them if you're not confident in doing so.

Encouraged by the idea of more time being necessary. She was so friendly all winter and spring - coming up to the gate to be picked up and brought in at night, hopping about on her lead.

EleanorFarjeon Fri 07-Jun-13 19:38:54

We have a very grumpy rabbit. He used to have a companion, but she died. I'd like to get another, but I am not sure it would be right for him.

He won't let anyone stroke him but he seems very content. He 'binkies' whenever we sit in his garden with him, but he's still a grumpy bugger if you try to touch him.

KevinFoley Fri 07-Jun-13 19:44:36

They get very lonely and need company of their own kind to thrive. hat's just the way it is, a bit like humans deprived of human company. It is a rare rabbit who won't be bonded to another.

It's the fact that I'd have to convince dh that we need a really big enclosure for them ... I'll work on it slowly (and probably build it myself).

LEMisdisappointed Fri 07-Jun-13 20:33:02

~The bit that stood out for me

"My 6-year old loves her and plays with her on her lead, but intermittently"

^^ That - its a rabbit not a dog! Stop with the lead and she will probably be less anxious with being handled.

If she is difficult to handle to the point she kicks and bites, you can start with a baby brush, one of those really soft brushes, then if she bites or kicks, you just gently continue until she realises that nothing bad will happen.

LEMisdisappointed Fri 07-Jun-13 20:33:48

what is binkies???

LEM, she doesn't pull the rabbit about on the lead - we put the harness on and my daughter follows the rabbit round the garden. Rabbit usually seems to enjoy this, hopping here and there, nibbling plants.

fiverabbits Sat 08-Jun-13 23:09:17

My oldest rabbit who is nine years and five months has lived with a friend until he died and is now on his third wife, they live indoors and when they free range in the garden they share it with a male friend, all my six rabbits are neutered. The other three live as a pair and the single who we have only had 6 weeks to going to have a wife soon.

fiverabbits Sat 08-Jun-13 23:17:04

I should have mentioned that four out of the six are here as second homers. One was dumped in the local park, the pair was given to someone who didn't know anything about rabbits when his neighbour moved. The last one who is 1 year old exactly was going to be returned to Pets at home for the second time and no he wasn't neutered.

So rabbits can be paired up, even later in life?

Rabbit much better behaved now I am keeping her on gravel and bringing her (lots and lots) of food at frequent intervals. Think she was dreaming of becoming wild and dying of myxy if she wasn't eaten by a fox first.

Earthworms Sun 09-Jun-13 20:45:25

Over the years I have paired several bunnies.

It is possible, but you really need to research it. Lots of resources on the net.

You need two hutches and a goodish knowledge of bunny psychology, including the gender differences.

It isn't hard but you will need a lot of patience as it will take months of daily work before you can safely say they can be left together unsupervised.

The stunt double method is the best. ( swapping a bunny sized soft toy between the hutches to get them used to the others smell. Gives you a good idea of how they will react to the real one - groom it or savage it...)

Deffo worth it though.

Pm me if u need more advice

Midori1999 Sun 09-Jun-13 23:36:24

Yes, they can be paired at any age.

My current pair were both 3 when they met and our boy had never even seen another rabbit in all that time as he had been an indoor bunny. Our new girl is 3 and we will be taking her to the rescue some time over the coming weeks for 'speed dating' and then depending on what my commitments are at the time, she will either stay at the rescue for a few days until she's boned with her husband or they will come home together and be supervised for 48 hours, then kept an eye on after that.

There are several different ways to bond rabbits, fast or slow, different rabbits take better to different ways. Generally, with a pair it is fairly easy for them to sort out the heirachy and after 48hrs they will be fairly trustworthy when left alone. It is often easier with older rabbits as once they have formed a bond it is less likely to break down, whereas younger bunnies can fall out as they mature.

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