QUESTION: I have a six month old rabbit of an unknown breed, her name is Ezmerelda. I have had her since April 13th of this year.
Ever since day one she has been well-behaved and overall friendly. Today however, her eyes have dilated to the point where her eyes are completely black (they are usually light brown) and she is showing aggressive behavior that I have never seen before. She is overall skittish and even went as far as to attack my boyfriend (who is around her and holds her every day) to the point of drawing blood. She will not allow anyone to pick her up and she seems very skittish. She even went so far as to lunge at my boyfriend everytime he put his hand in the cage.
I really don't know what to do but any advice you could give me would be very much appreciated.
ANSWER: Since she's 6 months old, she just reached sexual maturity and its not at all uncommon for the nicest doe to turn into a viscous demon when this happens!
When rabbit does reach sexual maturity, they RAGE with hormones. They want to be bred; and nothing else matters. They almost always become aggressive.
You have two options - breed her or spay her. If you don't plan on breeding her, then she should be spayed anyhow because un-breb and unsprayed female rabbits have close to a 70% chance of uterine cancer.
If you don't spay or breed her - her aggressive behavior will subside some when she hits 11-12 months, but she will never be back to her original sweet self unless she is spayed or bred. If you breed her - you will need to do it every 6 weeks (at a minimum - 4 is better) as that is the breeding cycle of rabbits.
Sounds like a surgical procedure is in her very near future! Then she can be loveable again.
Just to make sure there's no other cause - is her cage located where any type of predator could have paid a visit and spooked her? Something like a raccoon, possum, skunk, rat or mouse?
Rabbits can become immediately aggressive if they've been spooked by something. You'd still be dealing with her hormonal aggression regardless (if not now, then within a month), but its possible you have 2 things going on. Dilated eyes are common when rabbits get spooked.
Lastly - is there ANY possibility that she could have eaten anything toxic? Perhaps some grass that had lawn fertilizer on it? A veggie from the brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc.?), is there ANY possibility that a mouse could have gotten into her feed supply or the feed bowl in her cage? Mouse droppings are toxic to rabbits so if a mouse got into her food and pooped in it and then your bunny ate the food, she could be having a reaction to the toxins.
If there's no possibility of a predator spooking or access to anything toxic, then you need to have her spayed asap.
Please keep me updated on her progress.
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QUESTION: I have a vet appointment scheduled for next week.
She has an indoor cage so I don't believe any predators could have gotten to her. I have also never seen a mouse in my apartment.
She has however eaten a lot of celery in the past two weeks, is this okay?
It is possible however that she was spooked by my boyfriend when he took her out of her cage.
ANSWER: Hi Krissy:
Thank you for following up and giving me the necessary details. It's also nice to know you care enough to be taking her in to the vet ☺ Is it for spaying?
Celery is ok to feed in small amounts. Limit it to no more than 1/2 of a stalk per day - even less if you see any change in the consistency or smell of her poop. Celery is unique that it is naturally high in sodium (even though you cant taste it), it offers almost no nutritional value to a rabbit, and is very watery - so it can lead to cecal dysbiosis or hind-gut overload (musty/runny poops). A bit on occasion is fine, just limit it. If you feed too much too often, it will upset her digestional system
It is quite possible that she was spooked by your boyfriend. Rabbits tend to bond with their owners and can be easily startled by anyone else they are unfamiliar with. Had he ever taken her out before? Were you there when he took her out? If he was the cause of her being startled, then she would naturally calm back down again within 2-3 days. It wouldn't make her an angry more aggressive rabbit long term.
She is exactly at the age of becoming sexually mature and hormonal. I've been breeding rabbits for 38 years now and I'm seen several hundred does, if not thousands, go from sweet loving lap bunnies to angry hand biting monsters at the age of 6 months with the only cause being hormones! I know its unpleasant, but after she is spayed she will go back to her old sweet self. It takes about 7-10 days after spaying for the hormones in her system to be gone so she may still seem grouchy for a week or so after the surgery, but be assured its only temporary.
Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns and please follow up after her vet appointment so I know that everything worked out.
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QUESTION: The appointment is for a full physical to make sure there is nothing else wrong with her and if all goes well she will be spayed shortly after! I am looking forward to having my sweet little Ezzy back, that's for sure!
I just have a few questions concerning her surgery. How long will it take for her to heal? Is she going to be in a lot of pain? Is she in pain now? And most importantly, is there anything I can do to make her more comfortable now and after the surgery?
Also, Zach holds her almost as much as I do and plays with her almost everyday. However, I was at work when the incident happened so I'm not entirely sure how it occurred.
Thank you for being so helpful and for answering all of my questions!!
P.s. I have attached a picture of her so you know who you are helping
Ms. 'bunnybutt' is adorable ☺ Thanks for the pic.
If her behavior is purely hormonal as I believe it is, then no, she's not in any kind of pain.
As long as the vet spaying her is experienced with rabbits and the procedure is done correctly, the healing time is quick and the pain is very minimal. She'll likely be sent home on antibiotics and a couple days of pain meds. Within a week of the surgery, you wont even know she had it done.
For now - you can give her some Bach's Rescue Remedy and that should help mellow her out. It's natural and totally safe. If you do a web search, you'll find plenty of online stores to buy from and its not expensive. Other natural options are to offer her small quantities of chamomile and/or lemon balm. You can even brew some chamomile tea, let it cool and offer it to her to drink - most rabbits love it and it really calms them down.
You're doing everything right ☺ Ezmeralda is lucky to have you as her owner :)