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friend's rabbit is very scared of hands

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Sam_

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a family friend had adopted a rabbit and it seems like he had been abused. he will lunge and draw blood if he sees your hands, but he is a very sweet bunny if you are holding him. I was thinking about putting on some leather gloves covered by wool gloves and just letting him bite me until he figures out that I'm not a threat. is that a good idea and do other people have better ideas?
 

Nancy McClelland

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Better to treat him as an alpha rabbit would--pin him to the ground and speak in a low register in short commands like a dominant grunting at the offense. When blood was drawn, I would pin and the roll the biter onto their back and do the grunting--with Cosmo, it stopped his biting immediately and now he can be handled and comes over for attention--way better then when he was in attack mode--six plus years of great behavior.
 

Sam_

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Better to treat him as an alpha rabbit would--pin him to the ground and speak in a low register in short commands like a dominant grunting at the offense. When blood was drawn, I would pin and the roll the biter onto their back and do the grunting--with Cosmo, it stopped his biting immediately and now he can be handled and comes over for attention--way better then when he was in attack mode--six plus years of great behavior.
The owner already tried everything and he is still very bitey and scared
 

JBun

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a family friend had adopted a rabbit and it seems like he had been abused. he will lunge and draw blood if he sees your hands, but he is a very sweet bunny if you are holding him. I was thinking about putting on some leather gloves covered by wool gloves and just letting him bite me until he figures out that I'm not a threat. is that a good idea and do other people have better ideas?
I would try that. He needs to be desensitized to feeling like hands are threatening to him, and also have protective gear on so that when he does bite that you don't withdraw your hand and he learns that biting makes the thing he is scared of go away. A prop with a glove on it can also be used. This video shows a way of doing this to help desensitize a rabbit to hands being threatening.


Other things to consider are the possibility the rabbit doesn't have good eyesight or even possibly hearing, and so is reacting to a hand suddenly being there or touching him unexpectedly. This could especially be true if the rabbit has red/pink eyes or cataracts. For this, sometimes making some noise before approaching the rabbit so they know you are there, can help. Or it may be they are approaching out of the rabbits range of vision and that is startling the rabbit, especially if there are any hearing issues, and just to make sure to approach from the sides of the face and not the front or back where the rabbit can't see.
 

JBun

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That is likely the explanation then. REW rabbits tend to have vision issues due to the albino gene. It's not uncommon to see them sitting there swaying their head back and forth, scanning to try and get a better look at things because of their vision difficulties. If this rabbit has the common vision impairment that many REW rabbits have, this can easily explain why he reacts aggressively to suddenly having someone's hand enter his space.

Info towards bottom of page on REW rabbits vision and scanning.

I would try the verbal approach first. Talking before getting too close to the rabbit, so he becomes aware that someone is around, before trying to reach out. But some REW have hearing issues as well, so creating sound vibration or waving a hand near to catch the rabbits attention is what I would try next if talking before approaching doesn't work.

I had a REW lop rabbit, and she had vision and hearing issues. I would try and get her attention before getting a hand close to her, but often she would initially lunge at my hand but stop once she realized it was me or her bun companion. It wasn't too big of an issue and is just something I dealt with, but she never got to the point of biting or I might have done it differently.
 

Hermelin

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My bunny have ruby eyes and was a previous aggressive bunny because he was scared.

I did everything slow with him and made sure to warn him. I did no fast moments and also had a lot of treats. Now when he get startled he will lunge but will stop before biting. He do it because he don’t see whats coming. I would always pet him while I let him eat from my hand in the beginning. After a few months he learned hands where no danger and didn’t need to run.

I used protective gloves when I handled him at the beginning and would always get new scratches and bite marks from him.
 

Sam_

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I’m thinking about getting a dog clicker or a paper fan to announce my presence
 

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