Want to know more about rabbits? Click here before adopting a rabbit.
So you are thinking about adopting a bunny rabbit? Do you already own a rabbit and are curious about rabbit behavior?
The following article will explain what you need to know about your pet rabbit.
To understand rabbit behavior and care, one must first understand where rabbits come from.
All domestic rabbits today are descendants of wild rabbits and if we take the time to observe their natural behavior, we can see that there aren’t very huge differences between both as the behaviors are essentially the same.
The rabbit is a social animal that lives in groups with his fellow rabbit clan. They live inside terriers, they dig and make tunnels, they eat about 30 to 40 times a day, they run, they jump, they mark their territory, and need a lot of exercises.
When in a house, the domesticated rabbit will have similar behaviors and will need to find a similar environment to be happy and healthy.
Even though some behaviors that they do can be annoying to us humans, those behaviors are natural such as chewing wires, wooden furniture and pooping everywhere.
Those behaviors can be redirected towards acceptable outlets. So if the rabbit is misbehaving, the correction will need to be done with his environment, and not with the rabbit himself.
Prepare the rabbit’s environment
A rabbit will need fresh water, pellets, and hay at all times. It is important to provide hay because their teeth are constantly growing. Chewing hay will naturally file the teeth down. If they don’t have anything, the teeth can grow to a point that they will require medical attention from a veterinarian.
Above picture showing overgrown teeth in a rabbit.
They will also require fresh fruits and veggies. Be careful with the high sugar content in certain foods like carrots. Dark leafy greens, apples, celery, cucumbers, various herbs and lettuces are all examples of food your furry friend will love and need on a daily basis.
Their cage will also require a place for them to hide if they want to be out of sight.
Prepare your house
A rabbit that spends his life in a cage s a very unhappy rabbit.
It will be an unhappy life, it will be stressful and he will not have a very good life span. There is no point in owning an animal if he has a poor quality of life. Rabbits need exercise every day and so you will need to rabbit-proof your house.
Secure the wires
The most important thing is hiding all the wires. Rabbits will chew through them. They risk getting hurt and also destroying your electronics that way.
Prepare some Hiding places.
Rabbits will naturally dig and make dens so by providing hiding places you will simulate what they would be doing in the wild.
Don’t let them jump on the couch or on the bed
Some rabbits might try to mark their territory on your bed or your couch. This is because its a place that has your smell on it the most. They are simply replacing your smell with their smell. Do not let them have access to the bedroom and do not let them jump on the couch to prevent this unwanted behavior.
Rabbits are essentially nocturnal animals. They adapt easily to new environments and can easily adapt to a human’s schedule. When in the wild, they live in groups, therefore a lone rabbit in a cage is a very unhappy rabbit. It is important to pair him with a friend. Be careful pairing a male and female if they are not fixed. They will make babies 7 times a year! That’s a lot of rabbits.
A rabbit will mark his territory by pooping or making smelly pee. It’s the rabbit’s way of communicating that he is at home. This will happen more often if there are other animals in the house. They also use a gland that is under their chin to rub everything that he sees. If you have a territorial rabbit, you might observe him doing this behavior for hours.
Rabbits also eat their poop and this is normal. They need to eat it as their stomach doesn’t absorb enough nutrients from the food the first time.
How do rabbits communicate?
Rabbits have many ways of communicating. You have to observe their body language and also listen to the sounds they make to understand what they are trying to tell you.
- Teeth grinding
Teeth grinding has two meanings:
If the rabbit is relaxed and engaging in a pleasant activity, such as you pet him, this means that he is enjoying himself.
If the rabbit is in a curbed position and grinding his teeth it means that he is suffering and must see a vet immediately.
- High pitch scream
Usually means fear or pain
- Low pitch rumble
This is usually accompanied by the rabbit jumping making circles around your feet. It means that the rabbit is flirting and considers you as his mate. Charming!
Rabbits can growl just as dogs do. If you hear a growl, do not attempt to pet this rabbit as it means that he will bite.
- Foot tap
In the wild, rabbits will tap their feet on the ground to make a loud thumping sound. This is to warn each other of danger. They will usually do that when they are scared or unhappy about something.
- Tail low, Ears towards the front:Curiosity
- Tail erect, ears pointing towards the front: Alert
- Lifting tail and bum: The female is ready to mate.
- Ears tilted towards the back: Aggression, I will bite!
- One ear erect and turned: There is a sound that intrigues him.
- Ear shake: A happy playful rabbit.
- Jump and throw himself to the side: Happy rabbit.
- Rabbit is giving you a nudge with his muzzle: He would like some attention.
- Rabbit chews on your clothing when you pick him up: Put me down!
- Rabbit turns around and stomps his feet: He is angry at you.
- Rabbit licks you: I love you.
- Peeing everywhere: My territory.
How to communicate with your rabbit
- To say hello: Put your nose on his nose, rub your face against his. This is how rabbits greet each other in the wild
- How to let him know that he hurt you: Do a high pitched scream.
- If the rabbit is the dominant ad you want to tell him that his behavior is not acceptable: Gently push his head down against the floor. This way, he will be in a submissive position when facing you.
- If you don’t want the rabbit to approach a place, tap the floor to make a loud bang.
Never hit a rabbit that is misbehaving. He will not understand and his behavior might get worse as a result.
Rabbits can make great companions, but also require a good deal of care and understanding. If you are willing to communicate with them and care for them, they will be great family pets. If not, they might drive you crazy. How much are you willing to do for a happy rabbit? Ask yourself, and then decide if this is the right pet for you.
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