HORMONAL BEHAVIOURAL CHANGES IN YOUR RABBIT
I have written this article in direct response to so many bunnies being neglected when they reach sexual maturity and go through hormonal changes. I am sure that everyone who reads this article can relate to it. When you first get your bunny it is just a cute fluffy bundle of joy, so placid and gentle, but by the time it reaches 4 – 5 months the girls especially become nasty and bite and scratch when handled so they are left alone more and more until they are never taken out of their cage at all because of their behaviour. What most people don’t know is that if you do not tolerate the aggressive behaviour, after their hormones have finished raging, and if handled correctly, they revert back to their loving and gentle selves again. So, read on.................
There are rabbits that have a nasty temperament and ones that are placid and gentle just like any animal. As a general rule if a rabbit has been treated with love and respect from its owner from its birth it will be a gentle and placid animal although there are exceptions to this rule. I had only one rabbit who was just a plain B#$%$%^ yet her mother and other siblings (4) were all gentle and placid. That was Candy out of Tarnisha, fathered by Elmo. However I knew that she was a B#$%$%^ from the time she was still a kitten. So, as a general rule of thumb, if you are able to handle the parents as well as the baby of your choice and they are all placid animals then there is a 97% chance that it will remain that way unless it is hurt or frightened in some way. E.g. Dropped, held too tight, chased by family dog, smacked etc.
However, when rabbits reach sexual maturity and go through hormonal changes you will notice that their behaviour is on a par with human teenagers. The boys all want to chase after girls and make out whilst the girls become territorial and narky, just like a teenage girl who throws a tantrum goes into her bedroom and slams the door in your face. The girls especially will start by making mock charges when you open the door of their cage to give them their food and rush at you with ears laid back.
It is very important that you do not tolerate this behaviour, otherwise your bunny with not revert to its gentle and placid self once the hormones have stopped raging. If you are firm but gentle with them and don't show fear by pulling your hand back when they make their first mock charges (wear a pair of gardening gloves if scared) they will be hesitant to latch onto you, but if you pull your hand back, then the mock charges will turn into full blown aggressive charges. If they actually do nip or bite you, pick them up immediately and bite them straight back on their ear.
Then, after you bite their ear, you put their head straight under your chin, hold it there and press your chin into the top of their head whilst talking gentle to them. This emulates a mother rabbit chastising her babies. They play up, she bites them on the ear, and they immediately push their head under her chin to show their subservience to her. Even though you haven’t got a scent gland under your chin, the rabbit doesn’t know it. Don’t allow the bunny to try to dodge out from under your chin. Once the bunny has calmed down (they will become soft and pliable and the tenseness will leave their body) rub noses with it and give it a bunny kiss so that it knows when it is good there is nothing to fear, but it is a different story if they are bad and bite.
This lets them know that you don't like their behaviour, you are the boss and that you still love them even though they done the wrong thing. Allow a little leeway during this period of change. When you open the cage door, immediately place your hand on top of your bunny’s head gently but firmly and fondle it whilst replacing food and water. This stops the bunny from charging after they have been chastised and encourages good behaviour from them. This method is very successful and it generally only takes the one reciprocal bite to let the bunny know that you have teeth too. It is very rare that they will bite a second time unless of course you don’t bite them hard enough the first time. If you are too squeamish to actually bite them, use your finger nails and give them a good pinch instead. Not quite as effective though.
Please don’t go overboard though and draw blood, just hard enough to hurt a little and give the bunny a shock and make them think. They are very smart little creatures and get the message very quickly. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article and find it relevant to your needs. Let me know if this article has helped you understand your bunny better.