How would you admonish a rabbit?

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Bryant

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Went to feed our rabbits this afternoon (wife wouldn't let me be lazy on my day off... lol) and after opening the door to one cage, i reached in and pat one of my nursing does on the head and she pawed and nipped at me. Not in a vicious "fight to the death" sort of way, but obviously a bit aggressively. My reaction at the time was to swat her rump (no, i didn't beat her to death so please spare me whatever PETA rhetoric that i know at least one person must be dying to spread upon reading this--I'm not Michael Vick)

Is this a proper admonishment for bad or unacceptable behavior, or are rabbits mentally capable of connecting the act and repercussions like a dog or cat would? I don't mind giving a little thump on her rear of it would teach her, but not if it won't establish good.behavior. And if not, how in your varied experiences do you teach them right from wrong?
 

whiskylollipop

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MAN! You keep anthropomorphizing rabbits. They can't be taught polite human social behaviour, or "right from wrong" as you put it. I actually find what your doe did very understandable considering she is NURSING. She has kits to protect, and suddenly a big hand is swooping down towards her? Her first instinct, as any mother's, would be to quickly react with a warning bite - stay away from me and my babies.

Yes, that wasn't very nice of her, she didn't stop to think that you probably meant no harm. But in the circumstances of that split second, she did nothing wrong, and no amount of admonishing will convince her that she did. In her mind, she reacted appropriately to protect her brood and herself as their sole carer.

The correct response would have been to take care to lessen your threatening-ness. Swatting her rump right after tells her that you did indeed mean harm, she was right to bite you and now she has to be very wary of you. No one wins. :(
 

pani

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A nursing doe is a little different, but when Felix would nip at me and I wanted to teach him not to, I lightly held his nose to the ground for a few seconds to imitate how does teach their babies. He stopped after a few days.
 

Bryant

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MAN! You keep anthropomorphizing rabbits. They can't be taught polite human social behaviour, or "right from wrong" as you put it. I actually find what your doe did very understandable considering she is NURSING. She has kits to protect, and suddenly a big hand is swooping down towards her? Her first instinct, as any mother's, would be to quickly react with a warning bite - stay away from me and my babies.

Yes, that wasn't very nice of her, she didn't stop to think that you probably meant no harm. But in the circumstances of that split second, she did nothing wrong, and no amount of admonishing will convince her that she did. In her mind, she reacted appropriately to protect her brood and herself as their sole carer.

The correct response would have been to take care to lessen your threatening-ness. Swatting her rump right after tells her that you did indeed mean harm, she was right to bite you and now she has to be very wary of you. No one wins. :(

Teaching an animal to act in a certain manner under certain circumstances is not an "anthropomorphic" expectation. It's called training. Dogs, cats, lab rats and catfish are all examples of a wide variety of animals that can be taught to or not to act a certain way under specific circumstance. Unless you intend to take the stance that rabbits are utterly stupid and incapable of learning, i assume your comment was a reprimand, rather than a very informed response.

A nursing doe is a little different, but when Felix would nip at me and I wanted to teach him not to, I lightly held his nose to the ground for a few seconds to imitate how does teach their babies. He stopped after a few days.

Yes, you need to give a nursing doe a little more leeway. Go slower with them. In normal circumstances though, I would've put her head to the floor and held it there for a few seconds and said 'no!". I believe that's rabbit speak for 'don't do that again'.

I will try this in the future. I actually am very lenient with all my rabbits, especially when pregnant or nursing. That's why this caught me so off guard. Her kits are 3 weeks old and this is the first time she's acted in that manner.

You've got it backwards, she was admonishing you for your unacceptable behaviour - the appropriate response would be to apologise and promise to ask before entering her home when she's got kits :)

Lol this made me laugh. Thank you
 
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Yes, you need to give a nursing doe a little more leeway. Go slower with them. In normal circumstances though, I would've put her head to the floor and held it there for a few seconds and said 'no!". I believe that's rabbit speak for 'don't do that again'.
 

woahlookitsme

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Over the year I trained a horse I learned that sometimes we need to respect how an animal wants to be approached at certain times. With my does they can get protective of their young by biting and lunging at me. I do not get to visit them very much so to them I am a stranger and i agree with laura that that split second they are saying i dont know you dont come too close. With these does I respect their space and do not pet them but instead just grab the nestbox and do what i need to do. This probably doesnt make the doe and I's bond stronger but i prefer to do so when she is not so on edge with babies.
 

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