Do They Forget the Abuse?

Discussion in 'Nutrition and Behavior' started by WaywardRabbit, Mar 31, 2018.

Help Support Rabbits Online by donating:

Tags:
  1. Mar 31, 2018 #1

    WaywardRabbit

    WaywardRabbit

    WaywardRabbit

    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2018
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    All of my rabbits are rescues. Mainly from places where they were neglected but not necessarily abused. However my male rabbit came into the shelter after being taken from a drug house. His living conditions were horrendous. Standing in layers of garbage and feces in a tiny cage. He was fed nothing but toast and was constantly tormented for entertainment. He was only 5-6 months old.

    When he first arrived he wasn't too bad, just a little nippy, protective of food. As he gained his strength he started getting down right nasty. We knew adopting him out would be impossible. I did everything I could to try and win this guy over but he still went full on rabid bunny on me! I decided to take him anyway because he just wasn't safe to adopt out. I've gotten him neutered hoping this will help (plus I have females). He's very sweet with other rabbits and even cats. But he still hates my guts. Grunting and chasing me and kicking, biting and stomping.

    I have to wear gloves to pick him up. Once I have him he calms down. He likes his face pet. The second I put him down he's grunting at me again and chasing my feet. I have been handling him daily since he came to us but still no change. Could this be from how he was treated before? Or could I just have a jerk rabbit? Is there something I can do to win him over? He seems like a very happy rabbit unless I'm trying to be near him.
     
  2. Mar 31, 2018 #2

    Nancy McClelland

    Nancy McClelland

    Nancy McClelland

    Larry Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2007
    Messages:
    16,288
    Likes Received:
    1,218
    Location:
    Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
    You're probably treating him like he's the Alpha, so he will try to assert his dominance over you. You need to start treating him like a Beta when he acts up--pin him down or roll him onto his back like the dominant rabbit in a warren would do and approximate grunting like he tries to do to you--I speak in the lowest register I can and use short, choppy words. Cosmo was like that when we first got him and so was Mr Hoppes-they'd bite and make you bleed. Cosmo is now very friendly and an all around sweety that loves attention. Mr Hoppes is still a little bit of a sourpuss, but I haven't bled in a couple of years. They are both rescues and were scheduled for euthanasia-all of ours have been rescues too. Cosmo could be adopted out but not Mr Hoppes. I have told several friends that they need to train their bunny, not let the bunny train them.
     
  3. Mar 31, 2018 #3

    Aki

    Aki

    Aki

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2014
    Messages:
    1,186
    Likes Received:
    240
    Location:
    France
    Do you have to pick him up and handle him? Honestly if it was my rabbit, I would leave him alone. If he gets along great with other rabbits, it's great. I would just give him time to calm down and settle (I talk months here) without stressing him out by forcing him to interact.
     
  4. Mar 31, 2018 #4

    Preitler

    Preitler

    Preitler

    Loony bunny guy Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2015
    Messages:
    863
    Likes Received:
    484
    Location:
    Austria
    I'm with Aki there. If he were mine, I would just start with spending a lot of time close, giving noserubs while feeding treats, small, frequently repeated short steps, and stop interaction when he gets sour or turns away. Patience, it takes time to build up trust. If he hates you standing, spend time at his level (without interacting). Being picked up takes a lot of trust, I have to "ask" my housebunny (intact buck, 9lbs, all muscle) for permission by placing my hand under him, if he isn't in the mood and hops away, I better don't try it.

    You didn't mention for how long he is with you now, even if it's a year I would be reluctant to blame his personality.

    Although, one of my does which is a little skittish and living with a dominant fury, after 4 years I still MUST NOT touch her, isn't frightend or so, simply doesn't like it.

    I wouldn't try confrontation, I mean, they are rabbits, pig-headed little creatures...

    I don't have the feeling that they file me much into their hierachy, and definitly none would ever consider me Alpha. Not like dogs do, not at all.
    Also, as far as I can tell, it's not the dominant one (among my does) who does the stomping when there's trouble brewing among them.

    Never seen this behavior - imho when they are laying down in a fight it's not about rolling on the back, but about ripping the oponents belly open.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  5. Mar 31, 2018 #5

    Nancy McClelland

    Nancy McClelland

    Nancy McClelland

    Larry Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2007
    Messages:
    16,288
    Likes Received:
    1,218
    Location:
    Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
    Read up on warren behavior--they are all related in a warren and don't usually try to eviscerate each other, but there are definitely an alpha pair--rabbits as well as canines will accept you as the alpha--roosters on the other hand never will. All I know for sure is mine are much better citizens, they WILL let me handle them and do nails without having to burrito them and I don't bleed when I have to reach into the hutch for cleaning and feeding. In the last 2 decades we have rescued 47 bunnies that we have loved and that showed affection for us and most were once scheduled for euthanasia as they were problematic and considered to be un-adoptable by the shelters but we were able to get them adopted out to loving homes as they became very loving and social. We still have Hoppes and Cosmo with us and Hoppes is mostly tolerant but Cosmo is such a happy and friendly little guy that follows everyone around and wants attention and head rubs--you can improve the behavior or you can put up with it and hope it changes with time as some will and some won't.
     
  6. Mar 31, 2018 #6

    samm

    samm

    samm

    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2018
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi

    I adopted a spayed female from a pound with all dogs. She was even kept right next to about 10 of them! She was there for over a year and before that she was bought by a student at a few weeks old and then dropped off at the pound a week later when the student couldn't kept her in a dorm. when I got her home she was terrified of me and would bite all the time and run away when I put her down and stomp at me. It took her about 3 years to be fully trusting. She also was just like yours and got along perfectly with other rabbits though. Shes now 9 years old and she never bites or acts aggressive and always wants to jump up on the bed to be with us at night and even knows her name and runs to us.

    Patience is the key
     
  7. Mar 31, 2018 #7

    JBun

    JBun

    JBun

    Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod Staff Member Administrator Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2012
    Messages:
    8,055
    Likes Received:
    2,129
    Location:
    Utah, , USA
    I agree stopping to try and pick him up. It's something he will still associate with the 'bad' people doing, and most rabbits usually hate it anyways. He needs time and space to learn to trust you. Usually the best way to accomplish this is by sitting in an area with them and basically ignoring them. Meaning read or use your tablet and don't force interaction with you. When he becomes consistently comfortable coming up to you, don't try and pet, but you can gently let him smell your hand(gloved if you are worried about biting). When he's comfortable with that you can try a gentle head rub. I would suggest giving these links a read. It will give you a better understanding of rabbit behavior and some ideas on how to proceed.
    http://language.rabbitspeak.com/
    http://flashsplace.webs.com/bondingwithyourbunny.htm
    https://www.petcha.com/how-to-establish-boundaries-to-improve-rabbit-behavior/
    And there's this video with ideas for dealing with aggression to retrain the rabbit.

     
  8. Mar 31, 2018 #8

    Preitler

    Preitler

    Preitler

    Loony bunny guy Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2015
    Messages:
    863
    Likes Received:
    484
    Location:
    Austria
    Hm, Nancy...

    That is impressive, but I think that is a trait you have. I mean, convincingly acting an alpha. Doesn't work for me. I get along fine with any kind of animals, can train them, or get skittish dogs to get confidence and behave - but I'm not an Alpha, and I can't pretend. Not necessary.
    Anyway, this doesn't seem to be a alpha-beta thing for me.

    I've not read up on warren behaviour but relay on what I see, that is that the dominant male expels other males, kills or cripple them. That is also pretty much what I saw in nature, wild young males going far looking for females.

    My experience with bucks is limited since I only keep one past puberty, so I've not experienced that they have any other rule for coexisting than driving the others out. I might have missed something there, but imho it's a stretch to apply wild warren behaviour to neutered pet bunnies when there's the standard rabbit behaviour pretty well explains the problem.

    p.s.: Good video.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  9. Mar 31, 2018 #9

    Nancy McClelland

    Nancy McClelland

    Nancy McClelland

    Larry Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2007
    Messages:
    16,288
    Likes Received:
    1,218
    Location:
    Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
    Never said you have to dominate all--just did it with ones that bite hard enough to rip out some of your flesh--that has to be stopped. We just put one of our sweetest ever bunnies down as she was over 18 and lost most of her mobility. When we rescued her, her ears were horrible and it took 3 months and a terrific vet to help clear it up. She was very shy and would get as far away from us as the room allowed. It took about a year for her to settle in. She knew her name and came when called and would follow us all around the house. She was one of the few that didn't mind being picked up and carried around and when I rubbed her head, neck, or cheek she would "tooth purr" like there was no tomorrow. Also, I differentiate between nipping and biting. I expect nipping as it is what bunnies do and while it hurts, I don't bleed from it and have to grow flesh back. Biters will tend to keep on biting when they know that behavior gets them what they want and not all will quit it--almost all of our rescues were just "not wanted" but a few were really mean and aggressive mainly due to the bad luck of having someone adopt them that didn't know what to do with a rabbit--they are not like a cat or dog in general--and they gave them up instead of trying to help overcome bad behavior. Thankfully, not all are biters with sociopathic behaviors.
     
  10. Apr 1, 2018 #10

    WaywardRabbit

    WaywardRabbit

    WaywardRabbit

    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2018
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you for giving advise and not just criticism. I only handle him when needed. It' not like I chase him around and squish him yelling I'll love him forever! But I do move him to a large run for play time and I did have to check his neuter several times. I took him home because he was such a jerk. His other option wasn't a good one. I' hoping he eventually sees me as the bringer of food and toys and not the crack head who sprayed him with water. As long he's kind to my other rabbits he can stay. So far so good there.
     
  11. Apr 1, 2018 #11

    Nancy McClelland

    Nancy McClelland

    Nancy McClelland

    Larry Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2007
    Messages:
    16,288
    Likes Received:
    1,218
    Location:
    Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
    One of the best ways we got them to come to us is by having a bit of Cilantro at hand--they just love it and we got our little Blue Mini Rex to walk on her back legs for some. They are just so smart. It just takes time and patience to gain their trust--we have only had 2 out of 47 rescues that you had to be vigilant around or you'd end up wearing a band aid, as we had one for 8 years before he stopped biting for real. We also had one that just loved me, but if Nancy came into the room, she became an attack rabbit.
     

Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page