I desperately need help with a rabbit

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Symmetry

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Hey there! I'm new here, so firstly I apologize if I'm doing something wrong.

First of all, I'm sixteen years old and I just moved in with my mom and my step-dad. They have a variety of pets which are relatively well cared for, except for this rabbit. They got her when she was nine months old, and when they brought her home she was traumatized. They haven't been able to pick her up (despite trying, allegedly) and it's been one and a half years. Now this poor rabbit sits in a cage in the laundry room and is virtually never let out. She is rather large for a dwarf rabbit (I suspect due to lack of exercise) and as much as I hate to admit it, I do believe she is being cruelly treated and I yearn to rectify this situation!

I am home all day long (having moved mid school-year, I do online courses and correspondence courses) and I was wondering if it is at all possible for me to tame this poor rabbit and get her used to being handled. I want honest answers here.

She hasn't been handled since she was nine months old. Her claws have not been cut for a VERY long time and thus are rather long, but I'm not afraid to get scratched, bruised, and hurt a bit in this process. I just want to know if trying to pick her up and tame her is an attainable goal or if I'm attempting the impossible here. And if it's attainable, how do I start and go about doing this?

The reason they don't let her out of the cage is there is not enough room (they have an incredibly spoiled dog that has pretty much claimed the house as his territory) and they're afraid she won't get back in her cage when let out and they can't just simply pick her up. My room, in the next couple of months, is going to be rennovated and expanded, and I intend to rabbit proof it (My mom told me the reason she is not upstairs right now is because the 'cage is too hard to clean up there'). I also intend on purchasing wire fencing to give her a play area so she can run around as she pleases. Is it too late to litter train her?

I really want to tame her and get her used to being handled. I can tell she is not happy right now and it pains me to see an animal so miserable. If you believe that taming her at her age (over two years old) is an impossible endeavor, should I contact the SPCA or..?

I'm incredibly sorry if this post is unorganised and difficult to read, but I truly appreciate any help that you have to offer. I want to help this poor rabbit in the best way I possibly can and give her the happiness she deserves. Thank you in advance!


 

Nadezhda

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I'll answer as amny as I can, but I'm sure others will do a better job.

It is *sooo* possible to 'tame' poor baby bunny.

Litter-training - Bunnies actually litter-train better when they're older. 2 years is not overly-old. Litter training help can be found in the Bunny 101 section of the forum.

Before you start 'physically' training bunny, I suggest you spend time in the laundry room so she gets to know you. Maybe do your correspondance next to her? When she gets to know you better, I would slowly start petting her.

Are you sure she is a dwarf? My rabbit was a mongrel dwarf. Her momma was a big dwarf, and her dad was a small lop. She grew to be a medium sized bunbun.

Is she spayed? If she isn't, and your parent(s) don't want to do it, make sure they know about the dangers of hormone-type cancers in un-spayed females.

If you have any room with a door, you can let bunny run around without fear of the dog. Bunnies need from 2 to 4 hours a day of excercise to stay healthy.

I suggest you read bits of the Bunny 101 section of this forum. It contains a lot of great information about bunnies and their needs.

http://rabbitsonline.net/view_forum.php?id=17
 

RO STAFF

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You can buy some NIC (Neat Idea Cubes) panels from Costco for around $20 and eventually build her a nice big cage in your room with them, but in the meantime, use the panelsto fence off an area around her existing cage that's close to where you work/study so your a constant presence.

The trick is to let her come to you. Lie on the floor in her enclosed area with tiny bits of treats (apple or something, but not craisins or anything elseloaded with sugar).

You can pet her and cuddle her on your lap as long as you're not off the ground (most rabbits don't like heights) and don't confine her too much by holding her too long. In a rabbit's world, when they'regrabbed and confined, itmeans their about to get eaten! But also don't be afraid to somewhat dominate her. You're the top bun. (Although she may end up with that mantle). ;)

After you pet and/or cuddle, give her a tiny bit of treat. She'll associate the contact it with good things. Eventually she should really like it, seeing as most rabbits are social creatures that like companionship, and grooming contact (they usually view petting as grooming).

Litter training shouldn't be a problem, she'll go in her cage where she's always gone.

Is she in the type of cage with a side door where she can get out on her own or can she only be lifted out? If it's the latter, might be bestto keep the cage in the enclosed area,take the top of the cage right off and put a cardboard 'hidey box' (withentrance and exit holes)so she still has a place where she feels secure. (The cage is her security area, they hate it when that changes, even if it means more freedom).

Try to make friends before doing her nails, but if they're really a problem, best to wrap her up tight in a towel (a bunny burrito) and get another person to help hold her securely while you clip. They can injure themselves when they struggle and flip.

Good luck with her! You're doing a wonderful thing for that little bunny. :)

Let us know how it goes.

RO Staff

Edit: Great advice from Nadia, thanks! :)

 

aurora369

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I do believe that she can be "tamed". When I brought my rabbit home from the breeders, she was very people scared, she would cower in the back of the cage, and try to attack you when you went in her cage space. I found that associating human interaction with a positive experience works well. Every time I would give my rabbit a treat, a few raisins, I would pet her gently on the top of her head, to get her used to being touched.

Also, I would trim the nails. She'll feel much better, even though she probably won't enjoy the process. The best advice is be firm, gentle but firm.

I'm sure lots of other people will have tales of taming neglected rabbits, and the majority of them are happy.

I wish you the best of luck, and bless you for caring for the poor little voice less bunny.

--Dawn
 

naturestee

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Lots of good advice so far! I think you can tame her, but it will take time. I have two girls that I adopted last September when they were a year and a half old. They had been neglected and also were terrified of the owner, even more than they were of me. They probably had good reason. Anyway, I spent a lot of time on the floor with them, mostly leaving them alone, and they soon realized that I wasn't going to hurt them. In fact, I became a toy to climb on and chew my clothes! They both adore me now, and one really likes to be petted (the other prefers not to be touched). It took time and patience, but they came around.

I'm also voting for clipping her nails right away. Overgrown nails can push and twist the toes painfully and are more likely to tear. This thread from Bunny 101 will help you:
Nail Clipping

This thread will help you understand what she's telling you:
Communication and Language

Exercise is very important for her, but take it slow. She has very few muscles from being caged for so long. It might be best to start with a smallish room or blocked off area where she has nothing to encourage jumping which might get her hurt if she doesn't realize her own strength, or lack thereof. You'll see a difference in a few weeks and then you'll be able to start giving her more space and jumping opportunites. Toys will also entertain and exercise her both in her cage and out.

If you open the door of the cage, can she get in and out by herself? That's the best way to do it and will make her feel much more secure. My rabbits go back in because I always feed them after they play. They're so excited about their veggies that they don't mind going back in their cages.

It's never too late to littertrain! Fey and Sprite, my neglected girls, actually have a cleaner cage than my other two. Spay/neuter helps. Check out these threads for litter training help: Litter Training
Litter and Litter Boxes

Please keep us updated, and don't hesitate to ask more questions. You're doing a good thing!
 

pamnock

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I believe this is more of a case where you feel the rabbits emotional needs are being neglected rather than any type of physical cruelty taking place. I certainly don't think that it warrants reporting your parents to the authorities.

Ithink that you have some wonderful ideas of creating a more enjoyable environment for the rabbit. Do be certain that she is not left unattended in the fenced area (or at any time when she is left out of the cage).

Good luck! I'm certain you'll enjoy the relationalship and the trust that the two of you will be able to build.

Pam
 

VNess2010

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Patience! Patience! Patience! Yummy treats (craisins, oats) every now and then and yummy herbs like basil might coax her. Follow all the advice given on this thread so far and come back with any questions you have and you can't go wrong.

Littertraining should be fairly easy, I trained my adopted rabbit when she was 1 1/2 yrs with no training.

I think your enthusiasm about caring for this bunny iswonderful! Does she have a name?

Good luck!

-Vanessa
 

Maureen Las

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Symmetry..I really think that you are a wonderful person for recognizing this bunny's neglect and responding to it so well. You are a young girl who should be very proud of herself. :D
 

Spring

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What kind of cage is she in? Is it possible to put it on the ground and build a fence out of the nic cubes like someone else said and build a ramp? My rabbit hates to be picked up,but loves a cuddle so I'm still in the process of building her a ramp.

I really want to know what the cage looks like.. :?. You could try putting some pieces of apple on the palm of your hand and hold it at the cage opening and if she comes over just be patient and talk to her.If she doesn't just put the treats by the door. I've also (from my bunny) found rabbits like to be sung to.
My rabbit comes over to the cage and stands up with her paws on the wire when I sing. Sometimes my rabbit doesn't come out everydaybecause it stresses her outtoo much and she's fine just being pet from the cage and talked to.
 

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