Help Me Understand My Rabbits!

Discussion in 'General Rabbit Discussion' started by Peacester, Mar 11, 2018.

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  1. Mar 11, 2018 #1

    Peacester

    Peacester

    Peacester

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    Hey everyone, so here it is. I have three bunnies , Bugsy (Doe), Bandit (Buck), and Cooki (Doe), All have been neutered and we have had Bugsy sense last month, Bandit and Cooki were a pre-bonded pair we adopted about 9 days ago. my concerns/questions are for Bandit and Cooki. When we got them they were curious and somewhat afraid but Bandit would let us touch and kind of pet him. Cooki was not so social, She followed Bandit but would grunt and shove your hand away if it got close. So we took them home and put them in their cage I built. It is a 2x6 one and a half story condo. Their condo sits on top of Bugsy's Condo (So their floor is 3 feet above Bugsy). After they got used to the cage, I decided to start and try bonding, which both bunnies wouldn't care if I opened the cage and attempted to pet them (Cooki stopped grunting and shoving). I had to pull them out to groom and this is where things started going downhill. They didn't like me picking them up out of the cage one bit. After getting them back in and giving it another day I decided to let them exercise (We have a dog exercise pin we use). First day was great. Neither one was too bothered by me picking them up and both did a Binkey or two and play with all the big toys and tunnel. Onto the Second day of exercise Bandit was no problem again, But Cooki kicked like crazy when I tried to pick her up. once I got her in the pin I left them alone for close to a hour. Came back and tried putting them back in the cage. And Cooki Would not let me near her. She ended up running into a ceramic Hidey Tunnel that I picked up and put her into the cage with. Bandit wasn't fond of me picking him up either and kicked/Sqwermed. After Finally getting him in the cage I left them alone again. But now when I open the cage door they run to their corner. Occasionally they will come smell my hand, Cooki runs away as soon as she sniffs it, Bandit will chin my finger then run, but this is on the rare occasion they don't run straight to the corner. But here's what's really weird. They usually arent heavy breathing or big eyed (or don't look it). And when I reach towards them near their corner they will let me pet them and lay their heads down like they like it.
     
  2. Mar 11, 2018 #2

    Hermelin

    Hermelin

    Hermelin

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    Try to stop picking them up, try to use something else when moving them between cages. They have associated you with something negative and are scared/ unsure about you.

    Try to win their trust, use a travel cage to move them between the cages and after that you can try to bond with them in the pen and when you have a bond. You can try to train picking up, you start with just thouching them like you would be picking up and give them treats, then you lift them up just a little so they are above ground a little or resting their feet on you. Always use their favorite treats or their daily pellet amount as a reward.

    Use positive reinforcement for your bunnies :3

    Many rabbits are scared when being picked up and will need to learn it’s nothing scary and that they are safe, some will learn but other won’t it all depend on the rabbit and how much they trust you.
     
  3. Mar 11, 2018 #3

    Blue eyes

    Blue eyes

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    My rule #1 with rabbits -- never reach into their cage either to pet them or to remove them from it. A rabbit's cage should be their sanctuary, the one place they feel secure and feel they will not be disturbed, the only place in their little world that is theirs alone.

    For exercise time, the cage door should be opened so that they can choose when (or if) to come out into their exercise area. This means that the door is either at ground level OR there is a step or ramp so that they can get down to the area.

    Petting should be reserved for when they are out and about. They will let you know when they are receptive. Most rabbits despise being picked up. Forcing them out of their cage will only teach them to distrust you. If you want to work on being able to pick them up, I'd suggest waiting until you've first established more of a bond/trust with them. This can be accomplished by sitting in their exercise area and letting them approach you (not the other way around). You can read more about this here.

    Getting them back in the cage is the same. They should be coaxed/tricked into thinking they are the ones deciding to go back. Some train them by a word. Others use hay or a treat to get them in. It takes time to train them. In the meantime, that exercise pen can be closed in closer and closer to the cage door until they have no choice but to hop back in. This is better than picking them up to put them in the cage because they are the ones actually hopping in the cage themselves. They "think" they chose to hop in.

    Let your rabbits set the pace for getting to know you and trust you. It takes patience. ;)
     
  4. Mar 12, 2018 #4

    Peacester

    Peacester

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    Thank you both for the reply. As both of you said I have stopped picking them up today. Sadly neither bun has gotten their exercise time the last three days because I was trying to build their trust with me. I only picked up Bandit as I though he had sore hocks but he didn't so I quickly put him back in. He seems more trusting of me now. He will come smell my hand and usually let me pet him now. But still runs. Cooki let me pet her once today. I decided the day before my post that their "hidy corner" (as they prefer that over their actual hidey hole) is a "No touch Zone" meaning the only things I do over there are replace the water and move their bed back when they get rearrangy and leave it in the middle of the cage. I think this technique has built some trust as I stated above. I would build them a ramp to get down but with where the cage sits I do not have the space to build a appropriate ramp. I will try luring them into a cage for exercise time Tomorrow. Wish me luck!
     
  5. Mar 12, 2018 #5

    Blue eyes

    Blue eyes

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    Just use a step -- a box will do. Ramps do take lots of space. Bunnies hop! So put a box (or two) that allows them to hop down from the box to the floor. Luring into a carrier will be much more difficult and will likely be frustrating. The box(es) can be put there just during exercise time and removed when not in use. An upside down crate can work, or a cardboard box, even a stepstool.

    Also, again, please stop trying to pet them inside their cage. The entire cage should be a "no touch zone." Only pet them when they are out for their exercise. And be patient! If one is coming to smell your hand already, that is great. But be sure it is outside the cage. The process can take weeks or even longer. Don't expect instant change. Some of us have had rabbits that literally take months and months to warm up. So yours are doing just fine. (did you check the link too?)
     
  6. Mar 12, 2018 #6

    Peacester

    Peacester

    Peacester

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    Again I really appreciate the feedback



    Here's my Current issue. The cage floor is 3 feet in the air and the door only opens part of the way down (oversight while building it). So I would have to do some modifying to the cage for ramps or boxes. They usually come straight to me when I bring veggies or hay (not scared at all during this stage) so I will try the carry cage first, but if that doesn't work I'll modify the door so I can get a ramp or something so they can come in and out as they please (Made a note for the next cage I build; likely to be when I move out hopefully within 6 months but with the market idk)


    I have stopped reaching in for just petting, and the one time I was looking for interaction I put my finger up to the bars and let them smell me and when bandit didn't run I petting his forehead. As for the time I petted Cooki she was near me when I was filling their hay rack and didn't run. Is this okay or would you still advise against this?

    I did and it was super helpful. I am going to try bonding with them once I get home.
     
  7. Mar 12, 2018 #7

    Hermelin

    Hermelin

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    If you find your rabbits favorite treats or have veggies, you can make them associate the travel cage with something positive while moving them and learn them to jump into the travel cage on command.

    That’s what I’ve done with my rabbit, he get excited when he here me say jump in. He knows he will get his favorite treat.
     
    Blue eyes likes this.
  8. Mar 13, 2018 #8

    Peacester

    Peacester

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    I'll have to start this! Sadly we didn't get to try yesterday as I hoped, sense work needed me to stay late, but I'll be off early today and besides a groceries stop I am free all day. Ill try and take photo's to share with y'all
     
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  9. Mar 16, 2018 #9

    Peacester

    Peacester

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    Hey everyone. Update here, so I've gotten them into play time a couple times now and will say Bandit seems to be more social and was actually following me around in the play pin the other day. Cooki on the other hand wasn't very happy with me. and I think I know why but I'll post the info on here to see what you all say. So first I have been getting them into the play pin by cage and liter box. Usually one will hop in the liter thinking I'm filling the hay feeder and I just slowly grab the box out and place it in the corner and let them run around. The Other I coerce into a small Dog carrier I bought (Though bandit is hard as when stretched out he is longer than the cage) and I shut the door behind them (think I might take the door out and just block it with my hand for a second til it is off the ground).

    Anyway I believe Cooki wasn't happy the other day with me because she was allowed to roam in the room without me in there for a good hour. and Apon coming in she ran to the liter box (her hidey spot for some reason) and grunted when she started running. She's always been very shy and even acts like it around Bandit, She will usually follow him and tuck her head under him when scared, but if he's in the way of her getting somewhere she will thump at him. She will obviously take time and I can't let her roam around with out me being in the pin or she will get scared/angry.

    PS I didn't get any photos of Cooki and Bandit in the play pin. But did get our other bunny Bugsy
    20180312_190649.jpg
     
  10. Mar 23, 2018 #10

    TeamSmudge

    TeamSmudge

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    I've found with difficult indoor rabbits (I prefer outdoor - safe of course but still some don't cope) that take a while to bond/trust you I've spent a lot of time just sitting in a corner of their playpen or outside their cage, reading. When I first got them I read aloud in a soft voice to get them used to me or if I didn't feel like reading just sitting, maybe talking to them, not making a big deal of it. I always had the cage in the playpen if it was indoors and just spent time making myself seem like I'm not a threat to help get the rabbit/s used to me.

    As said above make sure you don't invade their cage or private spaces, even outdoors if my rabbit moves something (ie: toys, light boxes or hideouts) I leave it unless it's upside down or ruined. Also, some personal advice would be to 1. Try to only *invade* their private spaces and cages when they're not there. 2. Let the shy rabbits approach you, don't rush them.
    3. Even if you don't want to rush/invade their space you should still be checking that there's nothing wrong with the rabbit often. A rabbit could have an infected cut hidden and you wouldn't be able to see because it keeps running away. You dont have to pick it up and check it all over but keep an eye on how it's moving and make sure there is no redness, swelling, sticky or discoloured fur etc

    PS: You don't have to read, just giving an example of getting the rabbits used to me and/or my voice
     
  11. Mar 23, 2018 #11

    Peacester

    Peacester

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    Thanks for the Info! I won't be able to keep them outside as our location has a ton of predators and sever weather changes. Plus I can keep a better eye on them from inside. As to invading their space we haven't been messing with much while they are in there. Usually I am putting out the hay box to refill or cleaning the litter. We also put a cardboard box in the cage during the day for them to mess with and take it out at night due to noise. But besides that I don't move stuff around for their enjoyment.

    I do have a update. We are slowly working on bonding with Cooki and Bandit and we seem to be moving forward. They still don't want to be picked up however Cooki will hop right into the Carrier when I place it down, and doesn't thump at me when I place it in the play area. Bandit will usually hop in the liter box if I mess with their hay and I'll take him down in that. As for the bonding side of things, Bandit will let me pet him on occasion (not every time) and he let me pick him up once. He also will lay down and let me lie down next to him and pet him (the spot he always lets me pet him). Cooki is still very shy and out spoken, She sniffs my hand all the time and will chin it but I maybe get to touch her head once a day. She will Flop and lie down near me but if I get any closer she hops back up. She thumps quite a bit (hence my outspoken part), Usually when I and walking through the play area and my shadow scares her I believe, She also Thumps at Bandit a lot when he's in her way. The hardest part about bonding with her is that she scares herself a lot and will run into the liter box and stay there for most the duration of the play time.

    Side Note: I learned yesterday that If I give them a treat they will let me pet them the whole time they are eating and won't nudge me, or thump, and will calmly hop away once they finish eating. So I will be getting lettuce leafs next time and do some prolonged petting and see how it works
     
  12. Mar 23, 2018 #12

    Blue eyes

    Blue eyes

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    Glad to hear you're making progress. As for Cooki, it sounds like you need to give her more time -- much more time. It hasn't been that long at all in rabbit terms. If she's chinning you, that is a good thing. But you mention that you "maybe get to touch her head once a day." That tells me she isn't ready. Stop trying. Give her more time. Stop trying to touch her at all for now. Just let her chin you and leave it at that.

    Her other behavior confirms this. If she's still thumping and hiding, then she needs more time to understand that you are safe. Some rabbits get this in a short time, others can literally take months -- seriously! Trying to speed things up usually has the opposite effect. When she sniffs and chins your hand, let her. Don't try to take it further by trying to pet her. When she lies down near you, let her be. Don't try to get any closer. Give her time.

    In time, she will begin to lie down closer to you. That is when you'll know progress is being made.
     

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