Help!!!! I'm at my wits end.

Discussion in 'General Rabbit Discussion' started by Mia Kinder, Jul 7, 2018.

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  1. Jul 7, 2018 #1

    Mia Kinder

    Mia Kinder

    Mia Kinder

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    I am at a complete loss with my rabbit. :(
    He's a large 2 year old rabbit that I rescued about 5 or so weeks ago. I adored him when I saw him, and I still do, but I don't know if I can carry on caring for him. He had no history of abuse, and was healthy when put in a shelter, so I don't understand where these issues are arising from.
    I do understand that all bunnies have different personalities, so he could just be more of a hermit, and he is most definitely still scared of me (as I would be if a big creature took me in) but he is acting in a way that makes it impossible to bond with him.
    I've laid in a room with him, just talking to him once for 3 hours. I have done it for at least an hour every day to try to bond with him. He hasn't come up to sniff me once. I bunny proofed the house, especially the baseboards, by putting silicone baby proof protectors BEHIND metal grids, and he somehow knocks the entire wall of grids down and has chewed through the silicone to get to the baseboards in the 3 hours that i'm away from home everyday, despite having 18 different types of wood, hay and cardboard chews. (That bitter apple spray stuff is a complete joke, it almost seems like bunny likes it
    o_O
    ) I've tried sitting with different types of treats in my hands, to see if one would entice him enough to come close to me, but the only treat he's 'taken from my hand' was a clump of banana he chewed off and took away to finish somewhere else. He won't eat banana slices out of my hand. :rolleyes:
    I've tried to be very understanding with him, and I've done everything I can think of to try and make him comfortable, and bond with him. He's free roam in my bedroom, and that's the largest room in the house, so it can't be the stress from being locked up all day in a cage. He has plenty of space to run around all day. He is also neutered, so I have no clue what is causing this behavior, and why he won't warm up to me, but I feel like it will never happen, and all he's ever going to do is just destroy my walls despite all the bunny proofing stuff I've tried.
    I don't know how much longer me or my walls can take mr. bunny, and i'm at my wits end. Of course I want to give him time and space to warm up to the house, and me, but with how little interest he shows in me, and how much frustration he seems to be exhibiting by how aggressive he is towards the walls but never his toys, i'm very upset and confused.
    Is there ANYTHING I can do to try and fix this?

    thank you for reading this far!

    sincerely,
    a distressed bunny mama:(
     
  2. Jul 7, 2018 #2

    Mia Kinder

    Mia Kinder

    Mia Kinder

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    Just as a side note: I didn't want to force myself on him, so I haven't touched him once yet, in these 5 weeks. I don't know if this is the right approach? Maybe I should try to touch him??
     
  3. Jul 7, 2018 #3

    button+banjo

    button+banjo

    button+banjo

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    When was he neutered?
     
  4. Jul 7, 2018 #4

    samoth

    samoth

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    It sounds like you're taking the right actions. He might just be somewhat antisocial towards humans for any number of reasons. Five weeks is also not a very long time, expecially given the changes he has experienced lately. If he was recently neutered, he'll still have hormones for a little while.

    European rabbits are social creatures by nature. Not with humans, per se; rather, with others of their kind. He may be alone for the first time in his life. Or maybe he was left alone and neglected for the first two years of his life. His environment, an unknown to you, has surely shaped his behavior, and it may take a long time for him to adapt to his new home and human. Perhaps a friend of his own kind would be beneficial for him? Being around other rabbits can help bring their personality out. It's often recommended that rabbits be kept in pairs, though bonding is an entirely different subject.

    Rabbits can try anyone's patience. It took me 3-4 hours after work every single day, and again on weekends, for around five months to work with my rescued doe to get her to not chew carpet. (On the plus side, I did get a lot of reading done during that time!) But it worked: she's now free range with the entire house to explore, even when I'm at work all day. And all it took was a few hundred hours of dedicated time. (Note that I'm not trying to scare you off; just that good things sometimes take a lot of time and effort.)

    Have you had rabbits before? Did/do you perhaps have expectations that the species may, by their nature, have a hard time living up to? Some people want a cuddly, friendly pet, and think rabbits fit that mold. Unfortunately, these animals don't live up to some people's expectations. (I've never seen a "lap bunny," though I've heard they do exist.) My buck grunts at me all the time, and doesn't care for me petting him much... but he adores his bondmate and always demands grooming from her. He's never once come up to me and requested petting or attention, unless I have a treat -- which he promptly grabs and runs away to eat. He doesn't dislike me, nor is he unhappy; it's just his natural disposition. I suppose he's more of a roommate than a pet in that respect.

    On the wall-chewing: does he have super tasty hay and other stuff to eat? Rabbits can be picky, but I'm sure there's something out there that he'll like more than your walls. Guarding your walls (or carpet, or books, or furniture) is best left for your inventive side. You'll see lots of recommendations and pictures from members here, a number of which I've borrowed for my home.
     
  5. Jul 7, 2018 #5

    Mia Kinder

    Mia Kinder

    Mia Kinder

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    Thank you for responding. :)
    The shelter doesn't have the information, but he was neutered before he was put in the shelter, and he's completely healed up so it wasn't a recent ordeal.
     
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  6. Jul 7, 2018 #6

    button+banjo

    button+banjo

    button+banjo

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    I agree, he may just need a friend. My bunnies love each other but not me so much. ;) (Although they will accept treats from my hand....when they want to.)
     
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  7. Jul 7, 2018 #7

    Mia Kinder

    Mia Kinder

    Mia Kinder

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    Thank you for taking the time to respond!
    He definitely hasn't gotten settled in which I completely understand. I just wonder that; since I read EVERYWHERE that rabbits are curious animals, that bunny would at least come up to sniff me. It worries me because he doesn't seem even the least bit interested in me, not even in a curious way. The shelter gave me the information that prior to being put up for adoption, bunny was free range, and taken care of, but the previous owner had gotten evicted and couldn't take his bunny with him, which ended up in him having to give him up. They saw no traces of abuse, and insisted thoroughly that I keep him free range (which I had already planned on prior to getting a bunny) so, as far as I know, he has had no history of abuse, and for bunnies sake, I hope it's true. However, will definitely keep my mind open to the fact that something could've happened that neither the shelter or I know about. I am considering getting another bunny, but right now, I feel as thought I would get too overwhelmed having two rabbits, especially while they warm up to each other, and to me.

    How did you manage to get her to stop chewing on the carpet? I read that if a bunny is doing something you don't want them to do, you should walk over, give them a stern but quiet "No" and replace the object they are chewing with something better like a treat. I want to try this, but I can never get close enough to feed him a treat, he'll just hop away if I get near. I would definitely put in as much time as I needed to, if I could figure out what would work for us, but I don't know what to do, since he doesn't let me get near him.

    I have never had rabbits before, and maybe adopting wasn't a great place to start, but I definitely did not have any crazy expectations for bunny. I had done hours upon hours of research, and combed through every forum, video, web article I could find, to try and make this a little easier on both of us. I don't expect him to be warmed up to me, and I definitely didn't have the expectation that I would be able to cuddle with my bunny. (I've lived with angry cats before, so I'm not completely new to cute looking creatures that don't want anything to do with you haha) I just don't understand the almost distain he shows towards me. whenever I walk in the room he retreats to a corner, or runs into the walk in closet and won't move, unless I move closer to him in which case he runs away again. Going in to becoming a bunny mama, I did have the expectation to form some kind of bond, where we could be in the same room, and I could watch him do all of his quirky bunny things, but I can't even do that. I don't know how to make things easier on him, so he can tolerate me.

    He likes his timothy hay, which I have in large quantities in his litter box, but also in a bowl. I put half Timothy hay and half orchard grass, and he seems to like both since he'll munch on it throughout the day. I also give him leafy greens twice a day, and have found out that he likes kale the most, so I am experimenting by mixing the kale I know he likes with different leafy greens. He gets occasional fruits like banana slices and blueberries and apples in a small dish too, but maybe there's another type of hay or grass I could give him to munch on that would keep him happy? I'll try experimenting with the walls a bit more, but after having metal and silicone bunnied-through, i'm loosing a bit of hope. Tried putting toys up against a wall once too, to see if he'd chews the toy then, but the toys were left untouched, and walls left not-so-happy.
     
  8. Jul 7, 2018 #8

    Mia Kinder

    Mia Kinder

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    I'll definitely consider getting him a friend. It's just a little hard to fathom, given how much of a hard time we're having right now haha. He has never been bonded with another rabbit either, so would that affect anything.
     
  9. Jul 7, 2018 #9

    button+banjo

    button+banjo

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    Maybe try setting up a large exercise pen and sitting in it with him and some banana in your hand for a few hours? He should eventually get bored and come over to see what you have. With my bunnies ignoring them always works. But if I try to get attention from them they promptly ignore me.

    https://www.houserabbitga.com/speaking-rabbit

    It shouldn't affect anything if he has never bonded before.
     
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  10. Jul 7, 2018 #10

    Mia Kinder

    Mia Kinder

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    Thank you for the article!
    I have only tried this with distractions around, so maybe enclosing him in a pen with nothing else around but me will make him come over, because he'll get so bored?. If it distresses my rabbit to be near me, should I still try this? I've tried lying quietly on the floor with treats in my hands before but never tried it in a pen without toys around, so maybe that's the issue.
     
  11. Jul 7, 2018 #11

    button+banjo

    button+banjo

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    Have you tried willow as a treat? Most bunnies love it.
     
  12. Jul 7, 2018 #12

    Blue eyes

    Blue eyes

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    I would definitely disagree with this. This rewards bunny for bad behavior.

    I was also going to suggest that perhaps bunny needs to be restricted (for awhile) to a smaller area. Even rabbits that are used to being free roam should not be instantly allowed to free roam when placed in a new home or environment. Not only can this be too scary for a rabbit, but it also can totally confuse them as to what is "their" space and what is "neutral" space.

    I don't know if you did this or not, but it's a good idea to restrict a rabbit to a cage for the first week or two in a new home. This helps them establish "their" space. It sets boundaries.

    Next, they should be allowed to roam in a limited area around their cage. This is where/when an exercise pen comes in handy. This is also the time to sit in the pen with bunny (as button suggested).

    If he loves hay, you can even use hay as the "treat" when you sit with him. (Remember, fruit should be limited to no more than 1-2 tbsp per day total -- that's just a 1" slice of banana which isn't going to go too far unless you feed it in raisin-size pieces.)

    Having that time in the pen where he's forced to acknowledge you would be a good thing.

    You are being patient, but I think all that space has made it too easy for bunny to avoid you.

    You could even consider a "do-over" and confine him to a cage for several days and then use the x-pen to limit roaming space before allowing him full free roam. (This may take a couple weeks.) In the meantime, you can work on other options for bunny proofing. Unfortunately, all bunny proofing is a matter of trial and error. What deters one rabbit may not deter another.

    I think I would try the above steps before jumping into getting a 2nd rabbit. If you are already frustrated, that could be exacerbated with the stress of trying to bond a pair. Some bonds can be quite trying. (and some don't work at all) I do believe, though, that all the freedom bunny has now has been a hindrance to getting to know you.
     
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  13. Jul 7, 2018 #13

    Blue eyes

    Blue eyes

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    Can't find a list of moderators anywhere, but I accidentally hit "report" instead of "edit" on my above post. :oops: (in case one of the moderators sees that)
     
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  14. Jul 7, 2018 #14

    samoth

    samoth

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    I (and many others) would definitely recommend this for your bun's sake, but there's a lot to bonding that requires some reading, research, and asking questions somewhere like here. There's the financial part for many to consider as well, though it's not going to be twice as expensive.

    Rabbits, as a prey species, are vastly different from predator species like dogs and cats. This takes quite a while to get a feel for, as every aspect of their behavior is different. Just watching a dog or cat approach an open door to an unexplored room versus a rabbit is fascinating.

    I couldn't use positive reinforcement on my doe (how do you reward not chewing carpet?), so I had to try other options.

    When I first got her, she was confined to the rabbit's dedicated bedroom. When I got home from work, I'd open it up and she'd go to straight to another bedroom that what was supposed to be the study. I'd sit in there with them all evening, and every time she started chewing or pulling carpet, I loudly said, "CAGE TIME!" and shoo'd her to the rabbit room and close the gate for around half an hour. This worked well over time for two reasons: (1) she exhibits a surprising capacity for recognizing voice commands (location, consistancy in intonation, tone, and loudness were probably a big part of it), and (2) she's a natural explorer who doesn't want to spend all day in the same ol' room. Before long, when I said, "CAGE TIME!" she would hop off to her room on her own volition. She also started bowing her head in a subordinate manner, seemingly recognizing she did something she wasn't supposed to. After a (long) while, she picked up on the fact that if she wants to stay out, she can't chew carpet.

    I still use the "CAGE TIME" command when either rabbit starts to pull at a strand of carpet, and send them to their room; however, I don't lock them in, and they come back out on their own after a bit. They'll never be perfect, as the carpet strands are right under their nose -- not unlike grass, making it a natural behavior -- but a pulled strand every now and then is better than the demolished corners I suffered when I first brought her home, or the potential health risks of eating it.

    Doing your research ahead of time definitely puts you in the top 5%! Most people don't, become disappointed, then dump the poor rabbit at the Humane Society (or worse).

    I'm really thinking it has just been too short a time for him to fully aclimate to you. From his old life, to the adoption center, to the surgeon, to you... that probably all happened in a pretty short time span, and he's likely (and understandably) cautious of this new place and new people. I bet he'll warm up with time. Just like humans, some are quicker to do so than others.

    My doe loves orchard hay mixed with clover (from Small Pet Select). She wasn't a hay eater when I got her, and she preferred carpet to timothy. But the clover hay, along with hay twists and other edible toys, gives her something to chew that she really likes. Neither of my rabbits care for toys that cannot be eaten, which I think is pretty common. Places like Binky Bunny, Small Pet Select, and others make great edible toys.

    I also bought them an Ikea Hol, which is immensely popular overseas, that functions as a hidey house and huge chew toy.

    My buck loves eating (not chewing, eating) certain types of boxes -- particularly the ones my xpens came in. They both love chewing boxes, though, which is another great (and cheap) distraction.

    What part of the walls is he eating? Baseboards can be replaced with plain wood strips, corners can be covered with that plastic V-shaped stuff, and xpen or NIC pannels work for many other areas. I have NIC grids around my couch and loveseat, the plastic V-strips on a few of the door corners they've muched, and have used large 32" dog xpen panels to block walls or openings to rooms. I've seen much more elegant designs from other members here, but I can't remember who they were offhand.

    I think this site is run by a member here: https://rabbitsindoors.weebly.com/indoor-cages.html
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2018
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  15. Jul 7, 2018 #15

    samoth

    samoth

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    BE makes a great point. I also did this with mine when I first got them: large xpen in their room -> the entire bedroom -> supervised hallway + second bedroom -> and so on until they were using the stairs and running around downstairs.
     
  16. Jul 7, 2018 #16

    Orrin

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    I recall a rabbit expert telling about one of their rescued bunnies that needed a couple of years to accept them. I'm ecstatic that after only three months one of our rescued buns will let me pet her. At first, she would move aside at the slightest touch. I respected that and would take my hand away. Patience.
     
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  17. Jul 12, 2018 #17

    VioletRose

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    Hello! I totally understand your frustration and confusion! Rabbits are challenging animals to read! They have very blank faces and subtle behaviours that make them so different from other companion animals. Don't give up though! I too was a completely new bunny owner that felt a similar way and from my experience I would say that time and patience are the keys. I have had my bunny from eight weeks to a full grown one year old and he only now expresses affection by requesting grooming (nips my feet gently, digs on my feet and clothing) and doesn't run away from me ALL the time ( he still does a lot though). He is the dominant rabbit in our relationship, something they work out very early on, and humans generally tend to be the subservient one (bunny slave!). Dominat rabbits can be somewhat haughty and demand respect in the rabbit etiquette way, which has a number of componants; approach from the side and offer your hand to side of his head for patting/grooming, if he lowers his head it's a yes, if not, leave him alone, don't approach your bunny face on, he can't see very well at all in front of his face and apparently it's quite rude, don't chase, don't pick up, basically don't have ANY expectations of how your bunny should be. This was hard for me at first, I was wanting an affectionate companion. However, I have learnt a lot in one year, a lot! By being really, really, really patient and following the bunny respect and etiquette rule, my bunny had become more and more affectionate over time. He requests grooming regularly, he let's me groom him at certain times, when I know he is most amenable, without even asking permission (trust has built), I know where he likes to be touched and not touched (loves cheek rubs, head rubs, shoulder rubs, back not so much). He loves for me to play with me (basically hanging aroudn where he chooses to play, the garage which is set up with loads of boxes and toys and things to jump on and run through etc, just time together is bonding even if you don't see it so much. He runs to me a lot, not away, as he did for months. So much I could go on about, but won't. His affection is displayed in ways that are subtle, following me around, binkying when he sees me, teeth purring/grinding when being patted, head wobbles when he sees me (happy hellos). This has taken a full year and is still developing. Don't give up. 5 weeks is nothing, so very little time. Be patient and lose all expectations of what he should be like. You will be delightfully surprised, I guarantee it! :)
     
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  18. Jul 13, 2018 #18

    doodlebugger

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    It took us two years to bond with our sweet old boy Chester, a mini lop. He was given away because he was some kid's 4-H project, the kid had dropped him, and they did not give him medical care, and then he couldn't be shown because he had a bad leg from the drop (our vet thinks his toe might have been broken and he developed a limp because of it). We tried everything. The point when he finally accepted us, was when we had him in a very large extended exercise pen (we use the Northern Playyards that are meant for toddlers), my daughter laid on the floor at his level (on her belly, looking at him), and just talked to him sweetly. One thing we figured out in his case, was that we had tried to rename him, and he didn't know the new name. He only knew his old name. So, we went back to his old name at this point. It was about an hour, when he came over and started smelling my daughter's face. Then he started giving her kisses! And we found out that he is just a very independent bun, and doesn't like a lot of cuddles/snuggles, but he loves his small slice of banana in the morning. He is still grumpy, and doesn't trust strangers, but we have learned to love him where he is. And, he has a special bond with my daughter, and the reason I know he loves her is because she is the only one he tries to hump! LOL

    Keep being patient with him. He will come around. Think about anything that could scare him - we found out one of our rescues is afraid of anyone in a baseball hat. That same bunny hates to be away from her cage for too long. She doesn't like to be out in the open unless she is having a short play time. And she loves Disney princess music - it makes her binky! We don't always know what they endured before, so we have to try to find a way to make a connection. Just try to find a way to connect. Maybe consider what someone else said - start with a cage, give him a place to hide/feel safe in there, and then as he can be trusted more and more, you can give him more freedom. Don't give up on him yet!
     
  19. Jul 14, 2018 #19

    IndigosMommy

    IndigosMommy

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    This video helped me:
     
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  20. Jul 14, 2018 #20

    jsjjane

    jsjjane

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    Could he be in pain?
     
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