Love bites are possessive
Aggression in rabbits can have a variety of causes.
Rabbits can be aggressive towards their conspecifics or towards humans. Some rabbits combine both possibilities.
In most cases, such aggression is the result of poor posture or handling. The most important thing is to treat the animal sensibly. Because: There is very rarely a genetic reason for aggression.
A rabbit should never be hit, not even lightly. Rabbits cannot interpret this as a reprimand anyway. Since they don't understand us, shouting at us doesn't help either. The loud "noise" leads to a panic reaction in the escape animals. Repeatedly repeated, it can also lead to aggression.
An important point is of course the posture. Regardless of the fact that rabbits do not belong in a cage, especially not with multiple animals, this can lead to frustration. This frustration can also turn into aggression towards the owner. This is usually only noticed when the rabbit suddenly bites when reaching in and putting down food.
So the most important thing is not to let fear, frustration or defensiveness arise in the first place by offering sufficient space and employment opportunities.
What should I do if my rabbit is still aggressive or is just getting started?
First of all, it must be analyzed in which situations this aggression occurs. There are so many possibilities here, and here are a few common examples:
Aggression towards the partner animal
A distinction is made between normal territorial behavior, which occurs again and again towards the partner animal (s), and extreme aggression. These ranking battles are completely normal. Persistent ranking battles can also mean that the animals simply don't like each other. Rabbits in captivity cannot choose their own partner like we do. In this case the animals should be separated and suitable partner animals should be looked for.
However, if massive and / or repeated assaults occur, it may be due to illness or pain in one of the animals involved. Here it is up to us to observe carefully whether it is about exceeding the normal ranking battles or whether there could be more to it.
On the one hand, sick animals may be attacked by others in order to ban them from the group. Sick animals that suffer from pain can also attack subordinate animals on a massive scale, for example, in order to avoid being pushed out of the group, as described above.
Going to the vet should come first here.
Aggression towards people
With a probability bordering on certainty, this form of aggression is due to the handling of the rabbit.
When the rabbit circles you:
Circling, jumping on, and biting are classic traits for sexually frustrated rabbits. This can be fun at first, but it can develop into a tiresome habit. Spaying and neutering can greatly reduce this aggressive behavior in males.
If the rabbit pushes your hand away:
Rabbits see better in the distance; near vision is not so well developed. A human hand in front of a rabbit's face can be very frightening to it. To break the habit, hold your hand over your head and not in front of your nose. If they become aggressive, use a calm, non-hectic motion (or they might think an "enemy" is attacking) gently press their head down so they can see that you are the "chief rabbit".
The rabbit bites when entering its territory:
Here it is important to build trust by coming voluntarily. This can be accompanied by slowly approaching it - one or the other treat can of course help here.
Sometimes, however, the rabbit has to be picked up, for example when sick. Here you can practice with the "box method" at an early stage: put a transport box in the enclosure, fill it with treats and wait until the animal goes in voluntarily. It is easier and, above all, gentler on the animal to lift it up in the box than it does lose the ground under its feet. Here, too, you need a lot of patience and trust. Loving interaction is particularly important during the acclimatization period.
It is always important to note: rabbits are flight animals and not cuddly toys. It is all the nicer for the owner when the rabbit voluntarily requests his cuddles.
If the rabbit pinches:
There are two ways of interpreting the slight pinching by the rabbit. In most cases it says: "Get out of my way and leave me alone!"
But there are actually also rabbits who call for attention and thus also demand cuddles. This is also called “love bites” under rabbits. However, it takes a while for the owner to know what exactly is meant.
The rabbit can attack if you put the food in the enclosure or in its place. A rabbit cannot read minds either, so it initially assumes that its food is stolen and will defend it. Regular feeding times help here. It is important that we do not play with the food either - putting the bowl down and then walking is the right way to show the rabbit that you do not steal any food from it, i.e. that there is no danger.
If the rabbit is generally aggressive:
Then there are rabbits that are extremely aggressive. It can be assumed that the rabbit has not seen much good in its life, especially with people. On the one hand, it is a very pronounced territory behavior. In this case, a lot of patience, a slow approach and also the acceptance that certain areas simply belong to the rabbit helps again.
There are also movements that can even lead to a bite. In the beginning, only sturdy clothing usually helps for the owner. We can only guess what this rabbit went through. It also doesn't matter how old it is when you move in. We can only hope that over time, which can sometimes take years, things will improve a little and a life together with a lot of acceptance on both sides will be possible.
Of course, it's not nice to have a rabbit by the hand or by the foot. Our natural reaction is to pull away, and the rabbit usually doesn't notice until it's in mid-air that it should let go. Even if it really hurts, you should try to give the animal solid ground under its feet. Just like during a merge, a small cry of pain can help. If it still doesn't drain, you can gently distract it with a cloth.
It usually not only hurts physically, but the owner usually sees the stress and fear in the animal. Experience has shown that it is entirely possible to create a good relationship through acceptance and precise observation. No animal is born a biter - this also applies to rabbits.
Most rabbits are already bad because of their origins and are not socialized at all. You have to gain good experience first. Unfortunately, some experiences have been so painful that they can never and will never completely abandon their caution and thus their aggression. Here applies to all of us - prevention instead of cure. Some wounds never heal.
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