Does my bunny like me?

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Mia Kinder

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I have a year and a half old French Lop, whom I brought home about two months ago.

Some background on the bunny, she is a female french lop, who had lived in an isolated cage without socialization for her entire life before being brought home to me. She was living in terrible conditions, where she was tranced all the time, had no toys or socialization, drank from a moldy water bottle, and was constantly surrounded by very loud noises. She was also living on a wire cage, and had gotten sore hocks at one point, so I am thinking that past trauma might be contributing to her current situation.
Her name is Senbei, and she's a very kind and gentle girl despite what she's endured. She isn't spayed, as I have yet to find a vet in my vicinity that will operate on a large, year and a half old bunny.

I just can't figure out if she loves me, or is 'bonded' to me yet.

She will flop in my presence, and occasionally follow me around when i'm going about my business. She flops and lays next to me when I sit on the floor for long periods of time, and she really enjoys being pet because she purrs a lot when I pet her. She also tries to get involved in everything i'm doing, when it's something interesting like cooking or cleaning.
However, she has NEVER licked me. When I pet her, she will lick the floor, my clothes or her own feet, but NEVER my actual skin. She accidently licked me once, and seemed sort of weirded out by it. She froze, stuck her tongue out a few times like it was gross, and then we resumed the petting session lol.
She also doesn't circle my feet, run up to me, or binky very much. She just doesn't run around that much despite being free roamed. I've heard that french lops are notoriously easy-going and downright lazy at times, so it makes sense that she does not circle around me very much.
She doesn't really demand being pet either. The only times she'll nudge me is when she wants me to move. When I go to her to play and love on her, she'll purr and flop and act very happy, but i feel like she never actively seeks me out.


She's completely freeroam, has a large 'hidey-house' hutch (I cut a door into the Ikea Hol table), I never pick her up and spend about 3 hours a day play with her.
I just can't tell if she doesn't fully love/trust me yet, or if she is just a super lazy/chilled out bunny who just doesn't lick people for whatever reason.

Does it sound like she likes me? I would love to hear what everyone thinks, and if anyone has advice regarding how to create a deeper bond with my bunny.
I'm also considering rescuing another bunny and, this may be selfish but I want my bunnies to be bonded to me, as well as with each other.
This is another reason why I want my french lop to bond with me, so she doesn't completely forget about me when I bring another bunny home for her to have as a companion. The boys at the shelter are already neutered so no worry of accidental litters.
 

JBun

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Whether or not a rabbit will lick someone/somebunny, doesn't necessarily have to do with how bonded they are with you but has to do with rabbit hierarchy. It could be she sees you as a 'subordinate' rabbit and so will only lick near you but not you directly, to show appreciation for the petting. I've had rabbits that did the same thing. They never would lick me but only near me after giving head rubs. But her not seeking you out for pets but being very happy to accept them when you do it, can also mean the opposite, that she sees you as dominant and so being subordinate she isn't going to demand grooming(petting), but is waiting for you to approach her and offer it.

Rabbit dominance and hierarchy behaviors can be a bit confusing at times. Hierarchy for grooming can be different than the hierarchy for everything else. Usually it's the dominant rabbit that demands grooming from the subordinate rabbits, but I've had dominant rabbits that pretty much insisted that the subordinate rabbits in the group hold still while they(the dominant rabbit) groomed them, which of course they were more than happy to oblige.

So it's complicated, and you have to take in all the other body language that you see from your rabbit, to really compile the whole picture of the relationship you have with them. Seeing that she flops near you, follows you and is interested in what you are doing at times, and lets you pet her when you approach her and tooth purrs when you do, this all tells me that she does feel trusting and has a good bond with you.

Also something to consider with the licking, is if you use any lotions, scented soap, or other skin products that may have a smell or taste to them, that this could be what is stopping your rabbit from wanting to lick you. Especially after your description of her acting weird and sticking out her tongue after licking you that one time. So this seems like a distinct possibility.

Not all rabbits will circle their owners. In fact it's usually more often a hormonal response, typically by intact male rabbits. And binkying is something that varies with each rabbit based on individual personality, age, and how used to an area they are. When a rabbit is introduced to a new area, after they get past the careful exploration, then then will tend to get excited and this is when the binkying often will happen. But once they are completely used to an area, they often settle down and don't binky as often. And some rabbits are just more inclined to binky than others, but that doesn't mean the ones that don't binky often, aren't perfectly content and happy. Again, it's all of their body language together that forms a picture of how a rabbit is doing and feeling.

To me it sounds like your bun is very happy and content with you. Of course spending more time with her can help improve that relationship, but you're on the right path. Though if you want more bonding tips, here's a link on bonding with your bunny.


And this link is one of the best on rabbit body language. It's not perfectly complete, but gives a good description of a lot of the body language that you'll see from your bun and what it all means.


Also, for spaying, if you haven't looked at this vet list to find a knowledgeable rabbit vet that can spay your bun, you may be able to find one on it near you.

 

Mia Kinder

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Whether or not a rabbit will lick someone/somebunny, doesn't necessarily have to do with how bonded they are with you but has to do with rabbit hierarchy. It could be she sees you as a 'subordinate' rabbit and so will only lick near you but not you directly, to show appreciation for the petting. I've had rabbits that did the same thing. They never would lick me but only near me after giving head rubs. But her not seeking you out for pets but being very happy to accept them when you do it, can also mean the opposite, that she sees you as dominant and so being subordinate she isn't going to demand grooming(petting), but is waiting for you to approach her and offer it.

Rabbit dominance and hierarchy behaviors can be a bit confusing at times. Hierarchy for grooming can be different than the hierarchy for everything else. Usually it's the dominant rabbit that demands grooming from the subordinate rabbits, but I've had dominant rabbits that pretty much insisted that the subordinate rabbits in the group hold still while they(the dominant rabbit) groomed them, which of course they were more than happy to oblige.

So it's complicated, and you have to take in all the other body language that you see from your rabbit, to really compile the whole picture of the relationship you have with them. Seeing that she flops near you, follows you and is interested in what you are doing at times, and lets you pet her when you approach her and tooth purrs when you do, this all tells me that she does feel trusting and has a good bond with you.

Also something to consider with the licking, is if you use any lotions, scented soap, or other skin products that may have a smell or taste to them, that this could be what is stopping your rabbit from wanting to lick you. Especially after your description of her acting weird and sticking out her tongue after licking you that one time. So this seems like a distinct possibility.

Not all rabbits will circle their owners. In fact it's usually more often a hormonal response, typically by intact male rabbits. And binkying is something that varies with each rabbit based on individual personality, age, and how used to an area they are. When a rabbit is introduced to a new area, after they get past the careful exploration, then then will tend to get excited and this is when the binkying often will happen. But once they are completely used to an area, they often settle down and don't binky as often. And some rabbits are just more inclined to binky than others, but that doesn't mean the ones that don't binky often, aren't perfectly content and happy. Again, it's all of their body language together that forms a picture of how a rabbit is doing and feeling.

To me it sounds like your bun is very happy and content with you. Of course spending more time with her can help improve that relationship, but you're on the right path. Though if you want more bonding tips, here's a link on bonding with your bunny.


And this link is one of the best on rabbit body language. It's not perfectly complete, but gives a good description of a lot of the body language that you'll see from your bun and what it all means.


Also, for spaying, if you haven't looked at this vet list to find a knowledgeable rabbit vet that can spay your bun, you may be able to find one on it near you.

Thank you so much for the reassurance, and thank you so much for responding to my thread!
Rabbit hierarchy sure is confusing, I feel much better knowing that my girl probably just sees herself as the queen of the castle haha :)
I do use Vaseline body lotion, and though the scent in mild to my human nose it is probably very strong to her, so I appreciate you pointing that out!

I also really appreciate you adding these super helpful links!
I'll try to become more fluent in bunny-speak so we can get along even better :) It's a struggle because since her ears are lopped and very long, she has so little mobility that even when she's pissed (kicking her hind legs at me) her ears pretty much stay static haha.
Just means I need to be that much more observant of her other body language cues!

I have California set as my location on my profile, but in reality I actually live in Japan... That's why it's been really difficult because bunnies are very rarely fixed here. I've found a vet that's about a 30 minute car drive away, and since that is my only option, will probably have to take her there although she's very skittish and hates loud noises/being put in her crate :(
The pros outweigh the 30 minute car drive, so she'll hopefully be getting a little brother soon as well and will be an even happier bun :))

Thanks so much!
 

Catlyn

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I had two different frenchie boys, and they were complete opposites.
Musti, my first one, was a gentle giant in a literal sense. He would kiss me, my clothes, my furniture, my tears near endlessly if he could, he'd seek out pets and cuddles but was perfectly happy recieving them from us. He would specifically flop into us, and he WAS sir-flop-a-lot for a good reason. You'd catch him flop-sleeping more than in any other position. He didn't circle us that much after he was fixed. He binkied.... a decent amount for his size, he was quite big even for his breed.
Storm, on the other hand, was a bit smaller but also binkied substantially less. He never did lick me directly, only my fingers if there was banana residue. And that one, single, special occasion on the last day that i could see him alive. He did make more lenient exceptions for his lady though. He would circle and softly honk at me, especially at mealtime even after being fixed. It was his way of showing affection and begging for attention. He really did come seeking us out as soon as any one of us passed by or landed on the couch-he was right under us, sometimes too close for comfort. Dad made quite a number of frustrated remarks at Storm: "i'll step you in half if you keep surprise-tackling me like that!" He would also flop a lot, especially near his girl.
Though both were lops of the same breed and possibly of somewhat related lines, their affection and love shone in different ways.

Also, frenchies and their ear language-
There is a subtle way they move their ears, just ever so slightly. Most can move their ears a bit further apart from their head and a bit forward-that's how you know their ears indicate "alert" or "curious" in most cases.
 

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