Adopted bunny who was mistreated

Discussion in 'Nutrition and Behavior' started by Kristian, Nov 7, 2018.

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  1. Nov 7, 2018 #1

    Kristian

    Kristian

    Kristian

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    Hello everyone,

    I recently adopted a Mini Lop x Standard from a rescue who was one of fourteen mistreated bunnies on a kill farm. His name is Marshall.

    Initially Marshall was shy, but got better after a week. It has almost been 3 weeks since we brought him home.

    Now. I do everything for him. Change his litter twice a day / clean it up, change his water at least once a day, restock his hay 2-3 times a day, keep his cage tidy and give him greens/pellets morning and night. If there’s food around, he comes around and sniffs however, I’ve found that he still runs away from me. If I walk by, he runs away but then other times he doesn’t. Sometimes he lets me pet him and then other times he runs to his cage.

    We’ve been trying to get him used to handling, and he will love a petting session, bow his head down and close his eyes. However, if you try to pick him up, he absolutely hates it and starts to scramble with the occasional thump. Sometimes he won’t approach me again, however if I have food, he comes up for it.

    How can I get Marshall used to us walking around? How can I get him to be more of a fan of being handled and picked up? I must also note, we always pick him up while sitting on the floor. We don’t stand up. We always pet him beforehand too. Most of the time I can’t even hold him long enough, he gets away. If we leave Marshall alone, he starts running around, playing and binkying. He also binkies in our presence.

    Do you think he runs away from me now because he’s scared I’ll try pick him up?

    Some advice on how to help him get used to us and more friendly would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Kristian
     
  2. Nov 7, 2018 #2

    Popsicles

    Popsicles

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    It sounds like you’re doing really well, considering it’s only been 3 weeks! It’s great he is enjoying being petted and following you around. I would suggest you don’t try picking him up for a little while, because you don’t want him to associate being petted with being picked up. Not many rabbits will enjoy being picked up, but it’s something you can teach him to tolerate over time. Give it a few more weeks for him to settle in and trust you for now. Then when you do pick him up, make sure you support those back legs, as struggling and kicking out can cause them to damage their own back. Pick him up for maybe ten seconds and then put him back down and offer a treat. Gradually make this time longer. I now have my rabbit to the point that she will let me hold her for nail clipping etc, purely because she knows she will get a treat at the end. Good luck!
     
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  3. Nov 7, 2018 #3

    Kristian

    Kristian

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    I wish he followed me around haha. If I’m sitting on the ground near him, he’ll come up for a sniff but usually hops away. Never lies next to me or anything. It is very soon I guess. I’ll give it more time and stop picking him up!! I just get so sad when he runs away from me haha.

    wish
     
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  4. Nov 7, 2018 #4

    Popsicles

    Popsicles

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    It’s a good sign that he comes over to investigate, if you find he often runs away from you try putting a tasty treat on your knee or on the floor near you, and try not touching him when he comes over if you find he is scared. Just let him come and investigate and realise you mean no harm :)
     
  5. Nov 8, 2018 #5

    Nancy McClelland

    Nancy McClelland

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    All of ours were rescues, so it was the same with some while others were super friendly in spite of their previous treatment. I use Cilantro as a bribe and motivator, but time and patience is what is needed the most--and, not all are cuddle bunnies.
     
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  6. Nov 8, 2018 #6

    samoth

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    I don't recommend picking rabbits up unless you need to -- which shouldn't be very often. They're prey animals, and from their instincts and perspective, the only reason they'd be lifted up in the wild is in the claws of a bird of prey to be carried off and eaten. However, many people feel that teaching your rabbits to be picked up is something to be encouraged, and rabbits become acclimated to the process. Regardless, it might be a reason your new rabbit thumps and doesn't always view you in the most positive light at this time.

    Every rabbit has a distinct personality. Some are lap buns and love being pet; some are like teenagers and don't appreciate that kind of attention at all. It can take time to settle in and get to know its behavioral characteristics. The important thing is that your rabbit is happy and healthy.

    Also, three weeks is a very short period of time for such a drastic life change. Give him time to acclimate and get used to you and his new surroundings. My buck adapted quickly, but he's very independent and doesn't care much for me unless I have treats. My doe took over six months to really settle in, and she's the type who will follow me around, beg for attention, and show emotions I never expected from a rabbit. Sometimes it just takes time :)
     
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  7. Nov 8, 2018 #7

    Nancy McClelland

    Nancy McClelland

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    The last paragraph is really the home run hit. It took Bambi almost a year to settle in and establish trust, but she'd come when I called her and follow me around more like a dog than a bunny. She was a very sweet little Mini-Rex and a superb jumper.
     
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  8. Nov 8, 2018 #8

    TreasuredFriend

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    Please consider all your rescue bun (on a kill farm) has heard or experienced as a commodity object. Trust is vital to these sentient beings who do need to have fear of others. Gosh, I saw the apprehension of a bun who was tossed into her cage at a fairground event. The young handler tossed the bun into the cage and remarked, "there, you better not bite me!" This was after being jostled about and forcefully put down on a table, moments prior. || 'Tis wonderful to see responses posted about establishing trust, and whether Marshall will gradually understand you mean him No Harm. With our rescues from various backgrounds, the "kids" acclimated in time. One of our boys was mistreated, another Tan rescue (from high-euth shelter) vehemently kicked and thrashed when picked up out of his exercise pen. In time, our boy adjusted and would groom me with kisses. OMG, such a snuggler. Trust is important. I am with the "kids" when we're at a vet appt. to assess their handling by staff, and reassure them they'll be safe. Also I ditto members' comments about some kids are snugglers & cuddlers, some less so. All have personalities! And snuggling seems to come more readily as they age.
     
  9. Nov 8, 2018 #9

    TreasuredFriend

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    A cute story. Some of our less-social rescues would turn to me at a vet appt. and reach up and place their paws on my chest or reach to my neck. i.e., "i trust you mom to guard me." Then they'll start grooming me with their velvet tongue! Or park close for comfort. Imagine my shock to see them react this way.
     
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  10. Nov 8, 2018 #10

    TreasuredFriend

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    Kristian, thank you for rescuing Marshall. Happy to hear he'll binky in your presence! Kindly keep us posted on Marshall's progress in your loving (and patient) home.
     
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  11. Nov 9, 2018 #11

    Kristian

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    Thank you everyone for your advice, comments and encouragement. Marshall has been fantastic, so happy and binkying like crazy. I managed to pick him 3 times today, hold him for a few minutes on my lap, petting him until I could feel his heart stop racing and come to a normal rate. I then let him hop off and rewarded him with a dried sultana. He no longer is running away from me either! :)
     
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  12. Nov 9, 2018 #12

    Orrin

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    I've resisted the temptation to pick up our grown-up rabbits. Instead, I've gotten down on the floor with them and they gradually began trusting in me, more and more. If I sit on the floor with my legs sticking straight out at treats time, they'll jump up on my lap. No picking up needed. It has taken six months to get to be real pals with them. They come up to me and stand with their front feet on my legs, begging for attention. For me, that is far more rewarding than picking them up.

    I found a cardboard box that is about half the height of the sofa's seat. They use it as a step to get up onto the sofa, no picking up needed.

    Another thing that worked for me is to respect the rabbits. If I pet them and they move away I quit, immediately. The best time to pet them is when they are feeding on their favorite treats, such as kale. They not only got accustomed to petting, the come up to me and beg for it.

    It takes time to build trust.
     
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  13. Nov 9, 2018 #13

    Reese_loves_her_bun

    Reese_loves_her_bun

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    Definitely keep up what your doing. A sociable and tame rabbit takes plenty of time to be that way. It sounds like you are taking all the right steps and I guarantee he’ll come around.
     
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  14. Nov 12, 2018 #14

    TreasuredFriend

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    Kristian, how's Marshall doing now? Getting acclimated? Building his trust in you after his (kill farm) memories?
     
  15. Nov 15, 2018 at 12:39 PM #15

    Kristian

    Kristian

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    Hey TreasureFriend! He’s great, getting better. Let’s me hold him and cuddle him, against his preference but he tolerates it and loves his dry fruit treat afterwards. The trust is still building and I just love him to bits. I can’t wait to finish my shift and get home to him! Thanks for checking in
     

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