Rabbits/Bunny running very fast and nipping! Help!
Expert: Dana Krempels, Ph.D. - 11/12/2014
I am a first time bunny momma and I am just learning how to care properly for my bunny. I've had him for about 3 weeks and he is a mini lop at just barely 3 months old. My bun has recently begun running super fast while he is outside of his cage (he has a very large cage so that he has room to hop around) and nipping my clothes every time he comes near me. I've done everything I know how to care for him properly. I've talked to his vet and his breeder and they said it's just something bunnies do. I researched the difference between a nip and a bite and he is certainly just nipping. The nips do not break skin but HURT like a "shot" every time! I love my bunny and want to make sure I'm not doing anything wrong! Is he being aggressive do you think? I thought at first maybe he needed more time outside his cage so I have been letting him out around 1-1 1/2 hours a day! The more time I allow him to spend outside of his cage, the worse the nipping gets! I also thought maybe he was bored or curious so I have given him lots of "toys" and things to do so he doesn't get bored. Then I wondered if he were hungry. He eats a large handful of hay a day, 1/2 cup of pellets a day, and we have just started him with some vegetables. It has come to the point where I am almost afraid of my own "baby" since every time he comes close to me I get painfully nipped. What can I do if anything?
Answer Dear Jenny,
This is a tough one. He's likely being playful, and just trying to get your attention. But he needs to learn that this is *not* the appropriate way to get your love!
If he simply won't stop this behavior, you might try to deter him by getting a little squirt gun or squirt bottle and giving him a little squirt when he nips. Timing is very important, since he must learn to associate the unpleasant squirt as the consequence of his nipping. It won't hurt him, but it will teach him to associate the negative result of his nipping.
Your little guy might also just be starting to feel his male hormones, and things could escalate as he matures. A male rabbit can be neutered as soon as the testicles descent, which sometimes happens as early as 12 weeks. Neutering will help calm him down, and will likely help with stopping this undesirable behavior.
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