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Rabbits/Aggression & marking in spayed female rabbit


My question for you is:  What can I do if my female house rabbit is still showing aggression and constant marking behaviors even though she was spayed 3 years ago?  

I have a pair of bonded house rabbits male and female.  I've had Sherman, my male for almost 6 years, and Maisy, my female for 3.  Maisy was adopted from the humane society, and it wasn't until we were most of the way through our adoption paperwork that I was told Maisy had been spayed just the day before.  This surprised me at the time, because I remembered that when Sherman was neutered, it took him a few days to recover and he was on pain medication.  However, the folks at the humane society seemed to feel there was no concern about letting Maisy go home with me the day after her operation, with no pain meds.  Her belly was shaved, but that was the only indicator that something had been done to her, because I didn't inspect it more closely.  

When Maisy first arrived at our home, her litterbox habits were so bad that I had to confine both bunnies in an exercise pen most of the day just so my bedroom room wouldn't turn into a toilet.  This was difficult for me, because Sherman had been used to having complete freedom, but I think the benefit of having a companion outweighed his disappointment at being confined.  I tried to encourage Maisy to use her litterbox using all the usual advice on rabbit care websites, but eventually had to give up and settle for keeping her mostly confined, because I could see that I was starting to get on her nerves.  Any time I'd usher her back into her pen once she peed on the carpet, or would pick up the poops she left and would put them in her litterbox, she'd get huffy with me as though I was thwarting her efforts.  Now, she generally can't stand me and avoids being petted, bites me when I pick her up, and even lunges and boxes my hand when I try to pet Sherman in her vicinity.  She'll eagerly take the food and treats I give her, but then just wants me to get lost.  As a result, her free play time is limited to about 15 minutes a day, and our relationship is almost nonexistent.  I often give Sherman free play time without her just so that he can still enjoy a bit of the lifestyle he had before.  

I'm frustrated because all of the rabbit advice I'm reading seems to claim these undesirable behaviors improve if the rabbit is spayed.  But she *was* spayed.  Do you think it's possible she wasn't?  Is there a way to tell?  I also thought some of these behaviors would improve over time as she got more comfortable with me and secure in her surroundings.  But there's been no improvement.  Do you have any advice for me?

Hi Gina

Have you had her spay checked over by your own vet? I would wonder if maybe the operation was not completed properly or was done by an inadequate vet!

I would also wonder if you've just got bad luck and got a particularly feisty little madam haha! I've seen a few of these girls in rescue. The ones who, despite spaying, still retain a certain attitude towards their human slaves.

I would first get her fully checked over by a bunny savvy vet, maybe even an x-ray. I would also recommend having a read through this site:
That way you can anticipate her moods a little better.

I do find that confined spaces don't often help train bunnies to litter pans. Could you maybe lay down non slip lino or cheap thick rugs on top of carpet or with puppy pads and gradually increase her space that way? It could certainly help lessen her frustration. Small spaces never help grumpy rabbits! It is a bit of a catch 22, but with perseverance may improve over time.

There's sadly no simple answer to your predicament but I hope I've helped a little?



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I can answer questions around the welfare of pet rabbits, basic health queries including gut stasis, diet worries, bonding questions and the proper welfare standards around housing rabbits (i.e. no wire floors, no small cages and they should be kept in properly bonded de-sexed pairs in very large enclosures). I cannot answer showing questions nor complex breeding issues as I do not agree with either, seeing the other end of the story in the world of rabbit rescue.


I have two 7 year old rescue rabbits and volunteer for a well established rabbit rescue here in the UK, both physically doing cleaning out etc and I am also their events and awareness co-oordinator, helping educate the general public on proper rabbit keeping, this means I have to ensure all information I give is correct and matches current welfare standards.

I belong to the RWAF (Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund) and volunteer for a major rabbit rescue.

I have no formal education on this subject, however read everything I can to keep up to date with current welfare standards and health problems. Both my rabbits have sensitive guts and constantly keep me on my toes.

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