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Rabbits/I adopted a rabbit that was abused. HELP!



Last month I adopted a two-year-old (neutered) black lionhead from my local shelter. He is adorable and I love him dearly from the moment he licked my finger at the shelter through his cage. As a previous rabbit owner I have done countless hours of research on bunny behaviors and health, etc. However, when I adopted this little guy I had no idea what I was in for. I literally gave him everything he needs to be in a happy (and large) environment.

After reading more into his profile from the animal shelter I was horrified. My bunny's previous owner was considered an "animal hoarder". The previous owner had 37 rabbits in a trailer home and only two of those had free range. A few of the rabbits were found dead upon animal rescue/police raid last November. All of the remaining caged rabbits had to be humanely put to sleep (according to animal rescue vets) because they had been living in their own feces for over a year and contracted fatal diseases, broken bones (wire-mesh cages) which lead to tons of infections and major loss of muscle because each cage was so small they couldn't even turn around in... It was sick. Thankfully the two "free-range" bunnies where saved (one of them being my boy <3 ).

The abuse and neglect has made it very difficult between him and I though and it sometimes gets me terribly frustrated. I believe you will tell me to be "patient and to continue being very friendly" towards him, which I will do. I just want to know if there is something more that I can do? I feel absolutely useless most of the time, I give him a treat on occasion and give him a little pet to show him I don't want to hurt him but he puts his head down and ears back which means he is frightened, but it's not just when interacting with him.... It's everything I do (for example just walking around, or if I make any noise whatsoever). None of my other bunnies ever acted this way. He bites me often and scratches me often (even though I always hold him with care and never try to be mean to him) but he finally was able to draw blood today yet I can see that there is still a normal little guy in there when he plays with his toys and such. I don't want to give up, but it gets hard sometimes. Any advice will help. Just messaging this has helped relive a lot of stress for me.

Also, I don't want to put him down, that's not even an option for me. I just want him to be happy around humans again. It'd also be great if he'd stop licking my refrigerator because it's really silly to walk in the house and see my refrigerator being sexually harassed hahahahahahaa, but that's another story.


Hi Oliver,

I wish there was more I could offer you.  The only other thing I can suggest is to get down to his level.  The best way to get a bunny to trust you is to be down on the floor with him.  If he has a favorite treat lay on the floor and hold it out to him.  If you are standing up it could frighten him.  Let him think that you are a bunny too.  I know it is silly but try wiggling your nose.  If you can perfect the art of nose wiggles you will find it amusing to watch his nose wiggle also.  If you wiggle fast he will wiggle fast.  If you slow down so will he.  Playing little games like this is the best way to get him to trust you.  Use caution because certain behaviors can make a bunny think that you are trying to dominate him.  

Check out this web-site.  It will give you some good information

I wish I could offer you more assistance.  Good luck


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Paula Murdock-Briggs


I am a licensed American Rabbit Breeders Registrar. I do not show rabbits anymore nor do I breed them. I do believe it is important that people that chose to breed rabbits do so with only purebred and genetically sound animals or that they have a thorough understanding of genetics prior to breeding. I have chosen to keep my registars license to help the 4H youth in my area. I do stay current on all breeds, varieties, show rules, regulations of the ARBA. I have spent the past 8 years focusing on rescuing and caring for PET bunnies who were no longer wanted. I am the current CEO of Little Angels Animal Sanctuary, Inc. I was appointed CEO of the rescue organization and sanctuary in 2008. We gained our 501(c)3 IRS tax exemption status in 2012. We have taken on the task of rescuing unwanted PET rabbits as well as some farm animals. I teach genetics and health to the local youth as well as register and promote the breeding of only purebred and genetically sound animals. I rescue PET rabbits. These are rabbits that lived in peoples homes and were either surrendered to us or sent to the auction for meat. While I believe that all bunnies should be pets, I understand that people raise them for other reasons. I will answer questions from anyone, regardless of their purpose. I will reject any questions that are considered unethical or inhumane.

Little Angels Animal Sanctuary.

President and CEO of Little Angels Animal Sanctuary, Inc. I have over 10 years of experience working closely with a veterinarian that treats rabbits. We have studied and treated nearly every illness that can affect rabbits.

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