Rabbits/2 Male Brother Rabbits, 1 bitting the other
Expert: Dana Krempels, Ph.D. - 12/30/2012
Question I have two male rabbits that are brothers and have never been seperated from each other. They will be 1 in January. We moved out rabbits into our chicken coop to give them more room to run. They have been out there for 5 months and everything was going fine. Recently I have noticed bite marks on the hind legs of one of the rabbits. Today they are noticably bigger and sore looking. The brown rabbit runs from the white rabbitt (the biter) but then sleep together in their box. We seperated them today. I was wondering what would cause this behavior and if there is anything to put on to help with the healing. He is still eating and drinking and playful.
Thank you for your time.
Answer Dear Melissa,
If the wounds are not deep or severe, bathe them liberally with dilute povidone iodine solution (one part povidone iodine to two parts clean, lukewarm water), allow to sit for about five minutes, then rinse and dry well. This should disinfect and help prevent infection. But keep an eye out for any sign of redness or swelling, which could indicate infection. If you see that, it's best to get bun to a good rabbit vet for treatment. You can find a vet here:
That would also be a good time to discuss neutering the boys with the vet. This won't guarantee that you can re-bond them, but it will make it possible. Please see these articles for tips on bonding, once both boys are neutered and have recovered for a couple of weeks:
The advent of their sexual maturity will usually bring on aggressive behavior, fueled by testosterone. So once their testosterone levels are reduced by neutering, they might have a chance at becoming loving brothers again.
I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:
RULE #1: THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.
If your rabbits is LETHARGIC
If your rabbit is NOT EATING
If your rabbit is PHYSICALLY INJURED (including broken bones)
I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years.
I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM.
I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.
Organizations Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president
National House Rabbit Society (Board member)
Publications Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide
Education/Credentials Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English
Awards and Honors Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology