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Rabbits/9 month old Netherland dwarf female with aggression issues


I will try and type up as best I can what is happening and keep it shortish.

I got a female Netherland dwarf in June of 2015. I got her from a family that was moving, they only had her for about a month, maybe month and a half. I brought her home and she was very scared and timid at first. It took me three weeks of training with her before she trusted me enough to be around her and for her to come up to me and sit in my lap and such. About 3 months ago I got her spay (she was about 6 months old at the time) and also decided to get a second bunny, a male, to help her with some lonliness that was starting to develop. She was very agressive about wanting attention, nothing violent, but it was clear she wasn't happy I was gone for 11 hours a day for work. I then picked up a 3 month old male netherland dwarf exactly two weeks after the female was spay, to give her time to heal and such. They bonded almost instantly, and within 20 minutes they were best friends and inseperable. About 2 weeks after that the female started becoming more aggressive. She would nip my fingers when getting treats, and she would grunt at me for nothing. (Their area is the living room, and I have barriers set up to keep them in there. They have free roam of it.) I'd be sitting on the couch and she would hop up and kind of look at me, and if I even moved my arm a little bit, she would act like she was going to charge and would grunt. I thought they were supposed to calm way down after a spay, but figured it had only been a few weeks and to give it more time. she also seemed to really do it  LOT after I showered. She would run away from me, cower and be very aggressive towards me after I showered. It has only gotten worse. She now attacks me for no reason, will charge me if I go into the living room. If I sit on the couch she will sit near me and just watch with intensity, waiting for me to move even a little bit, so she can grunt and charge. She has broken skin multiple times (my hands look like I work with sharp metal) and this morning she attacked me so bad that I was able to lift her up off the ground as she was latched onto my finger.

I'm at my limit, I do not know what to do. On three instances, I have had to grab her by the scruff of her neck for two reasons: Self defense (to get her off of me) and out of sheer instinct. I have never struck her, and I know that you aren't supposed to scold/do anything with your hands so that they don't see them as something to be afraid of or hate. But somehow, she has developed it on her own. I have gotten her checked out for illnesses and she is healthy with no issues at all. I have her currently in a smaller area in my apartment (dining room), separated from the living room by a barrier. I have asked multiple people about it, including my vets, and we cannot think of why this is happening. I am hoping you can at least give me an idea of what to do. I don't want to re-home her, I don't want to give up, but if it is something with the environment she is in I would much rather her be happy somewhere else than with me and aggressive and unhappy.

I'm sure I left some things out, so please ask me any question you need to if it needs to be cleared up. The only thing that I have noticed that seems to have any affect in a positive way right now is that I have taken to wearing gloves around her, and they are the same gloves I use when changing/cleaning their cages. She will rush my hand, but will not grunt and will not bite it if it is gloved. If it is un-gloved she will show no mercy.

Thank you in advance, and I know this was long but I am just looking for any help/suggestions I can get at this point.

Rhys Bussiere

Hi Rhys

Sounds like you've got a little madam! I would first have a read through everything on this site:

She sounds like she's learnt that biting gets her own way. This may be due to mishandling when she was younger before she came to you and has slowly escalated to her learning how to take over her territory!

She has learnt to be dominant and needs to learn you are not a threat to her territory that needs to be driven away, that you are the bringer of treats and nose rubs and just awesome! This will involve several more nips, so I would recommend having some "bunny clothing" - clothing that she's used to the smell of and, for your sake, is loose fitting!! Also make sure you're not wearing strong smelling deodorant, perfume or similar.

When you go into her area and she comes running at you, turn your back, stand your ground and say NO. When she hops away, toss a favourite treat down as a distraction. Don't move away from her. Literally ignore her. If you're sitting on the sofa and she's there too, before she's got to the stage of lunging, toss her some more treats. By treats, stick to something healthy like some fresh herbs (parsley or mint is popular).  Basically slowly start to reward her for ignoring you, for not lunging, for not sitting and glaring, reward her for coming to you with curiousity and gentle nose nudges, not nibbling and grunting. Don't anatagonise, eyeball her or tease her either. Make sure she has her own hiding places in her area where she can get completely out of sight of humans if she wants to as well.

Feisty bunnies tend to be the most intelligent, so also make sure she has toys in her area that are changed about at least twice a day so there's always something new. Such as stuffed toilet rolls and willow ball toys are always popular! Digging boxes too.

I can't guarantee this will all work as every bun is different, but I have seen aggressive rabbits come round, but it does take patience, time and literally thick skin ;)

Good luck!!


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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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