Rabbits/Grooming

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Question
I have a 1 year old DM lionhead. I got him from a less than ideal situation where it was either I take him or he was to be fed to a dog. He isn't in terrible shape he is healthy and mostly "groomed."

But his back left leg has a huge mat and his face has two giant mats on either side. He is EXTREMELY aggressive. It gets a thousand times worse when it comes to grooming. The vet refuses to groom him unless he is sedated and I don't have anyone willing to help me hold him and groom him.

Do you have any tips on grooming him or would it be best to just have him sedated at the vet and groomed? The only vet in my area that sees rabbits isn't hugely rabbit savvy but she has done well with my other two rabbits.

Answer
Dear Cassie,

Poor bunny!  He must have learned that the only way to protect himself from unwanted "attention" was to be aggressive.  The bad news:  until he's neutered, this might not resolve completely.  The good news:  aggressive rabbits are often the most intelligent, and once they learn to love you, they become the most loyal friends of all.

If this boy isn't neutered yet, then I would suggest that this surgery be undertaken as soon as the vet determines he is a good surgical candidate.  While he's under, the mats can be "surgically" removed with a good Oster shaving tool that all vets use for pre-op shaving.  This is probably going to be your best option for getting these mats off, and then starting a regular maintenance program of trimming the fur short where it tends to get tangled.

For dealing with the aggression in the short term, here are some good resources:

http://rabbit.org/faq-aggression/

http://www.rabbitnetwork.org/articles/agressive.shtml

and if you Google "rabbit aggression" you will find many more.  I know some of them will help you understand Fang's motivations a little better, and help him to learn to trust.

Thank you for being such a caring, understanding bunny "mom."  Good luck with this project.  I think you will be richly rewarded.  :)

Happy holidays!

Dana

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

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.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.


RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.

Experience

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
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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