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I think my bunnies hate me... and it might be mutual

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Alanna

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You might remember me posting on here a little while back about the two baby lops we got from a local rescue. They were brothers from the same litter and had been desexed early but one of them was displaying aggression and being quite territorial, peeing on the couch and the dogs bed etc.
We went back to the rescue, spent ages going over everything, vet checked them (yes they are definitely desexed) and came home with a new approach to reintroducing them to gradually larger sections of our house, not letting them onto furniture or in the dog's bed etc etc. It's been six months now and I'm beginning to think these rabbits are just never going to be good pets. They are not afraid of us or the dog or the children or even the vacuum cleaner at all, but they want absolutely nothing to do with us. They are free range but will never seek out our company, will never allow themselves to be petted, do not display any desire to even be near us. They happily binky around together and groom each other etc etc, but they just don't like us. If we get the food or treats out, they will happily climb all over us to get the food, but as soon as it's gone so are they. There have been times when we've had to pick them up, one of them just goes limp and waits to be put down again (and if you don't do it pretty quickly he will start biting you) and the other one launches straight into attacking you with his teeth and claws. That's the territorial one, you can't even change his water dish without him grunting and charging you. He grunts at us even when we walk past him. And he STILL insists on peeing and pooping in the kitchen corner where he knows we keep the sultanas. There is absolutely no way we can stop him from doing it, except fencing off the kitchen permanently and who wants to live like that?
The thing is, I wouldn't mind all the pooping and peeing and fluff everywhere and half our house dedicated to being rabbit proof if they were actually NICE! But they're not, and I'm beginning to think they never will be. I have spent hours lying on the floor, I have gone through kilos of treats, I have been suuuuuuuuper patient. At what point am I allowed to say this isn't working? My husband feels like when you get a pet you have a responsibility to them for life, and of course I agree with that, but with these guys it doesn't even feel like they are our pets. This is an absolutely one-way relationship. We feed, clean and look after them and share our space with them, and in return they are hostile and aggressive, and completely disinterested at best. The children don't even get anything out of them, they're cute from a distance but they can't have any kind of relationship with them. I feel so sad, our last house rabbit Thumper was our best friend! We loved him! He was so affectionate and full of personality and loved cuddling up with us on the couch and followed us everywhere. We used to set up obstacle courses for him and play all sorts of games. These guys in comparison are just like really grumpy deadheads. It's like they are a completely different species.
What should I do? Should I talk my husband into getting rid of them? Or am I stuck with them until they die?
 

Apollo’s Slave

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It sounds like they’re quite the difficult pair. But I don’t think you can do much about that. They’re happy with each other and may not be the sort of bunnies that like human attention. My rabbit most of the time wants nothing to do with me unless I have food.

To me, it doesn’t sound like they hate you. They’re content with each other, which is great. And while they may be trouble, I don’t really think it’s fair to ‘get rid of them’. Because it sounds like they’re just mischievous young bucks, maybe with a bad start in life.

Maybe you could give it more time
While 6 months may make the world of a difference with one rabbit, in can be totally insignificant with another. I don’t think owning a pet should be a thing where you do something good for them and in return they should be good to you.
Owning a pet is based on mutual trust and respect and the other bits come in gradually.

You brought the pet to care for, that doesn’t mean just for a few months. Although I know how stressful.

My answers to a few points v

1. They don’t want to be near you but will happily binky together

My rabbit is so similar to this. He only wants me when I have food, and while that can annoy me sometimes and make me want him to come to me, that’s not why I got a rabbit. He started to learn that when he saw me, he would get food, so when I would enter our room, he’d run straight towards me begging for food until he realised he wouldn’t get it and then leaves again.

2. The territorial one doesn’t like being picked up and he lunges, bites and scratches.

Most rabbits do not like being picked up. My own rabbit had nipped someone when they pickEd him up. The lunges, scratching and biting may have something to do with their past. It’s likely learned behaviour from when he’s had to get protective over a certain object or thing to keep it safe. Don’t take his things while he’s right near it. Aggression

3. Peeing and pooping everywhere
Are they litter trained or marking their territory?
Litter training is a very easy process. There are many articles and videos on how to do it.

4. When can I say this isn’t working?

You can say it whenever you want. If you want to you can give them back to the shelter or sell them to someone else who might promise to look after them. If they aren’t working for you, you can decide if your the best family for them. Maybe they need something different.

Pets aren’t toys, you don’t always get a benefit out of them, especially if you don’t give them time. Of course, i could be wrong and they could be horrible for the rest of their lives. I think you as the owner will have to think about what’s best for them and if that’s giving them away, that is what it is. If it’s keeping them and working with them, that’s what it is.

Hopefully you make the right choice. Good luck
 

Hermelin

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If its not working and makes the family and you miserably, I would say try to find a new home that can work with them and let them be happy. Not all bunnies will fit into a household and you seem to have a picture on how a bunny should be and act in your family. This won't fit all bunnies and some will never be cuddly bunnies and other will need a lot of coaxing and time until you win their trust. You shouldn't feel bad if you give them up and let them find a new home. It's a bit like all dogs won't fit the same household and will need different needs and time.

One of my bunnies took more than a year to litter train while the other was aggressive and defensive all the time. I don't know how many time I wanted to give, they can really test your patience and can be so stubborn. But I don't regret it now after I've managed to build a bond with them, they are often on their own and play around. Sometimes I want to cuddle, I'll just pick up a bunny and get my cuddles for the day. If anyone would ask me what the major event have happened this year it would be Toste have started to give me kisses after two years of a love-hate relationship with a lot of up and downs. It have literally taken him two years to warm up to the family and let other people cuddle with him. So it can take a lot of time and a lot of patience to train bunnies, it work best to do everything with baby steps and set up small goals. For example working with the biting part the bunnies have and try to teach them whats okay and not.

But you know best how you feel about the bunnies and what might be the best for them.
 

Preitler

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Well, that's actually the reason why I have house rabbits, they are more room mates than pets. I don't have the time or energy for a dog, or the emotional resources, sometimes I foster dogs from friends, but after a week I'm happy to give them back.
Herr Hase (5yo) is my house bunny making my house less empty, and Dotty (2yo) is his cuddlebun, not my pet, I got her spayed because he did look lonely at times. What you have there seem to be rather normal rabbits to me.

Rabbits aren't domesticated like cats or dogs, just a few hundred years and not many thousends. They are social animals, and very aware that we are not rabbits. And characters vary a lot, a lot can be done through selective breeding, but they are individuals. One of my does, 6yo, still refuses to be touched, that's just the way she is. Your first one seems to have been a special one, and setting your expectations rather high.

They are still young, and juvenils can be trying. I took my buck in when he was 2, wouldn't have worked before, him being intact and a hotspur did cause some issues.

Anyway, it's not like you gave a holy oath, if it really turns out that it doesn't work out for you I see nothing wrong with finding a good home for them. Life is short.
 

Blue eyes

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Another way to look at it is like an incompatible bond. I'm sure you are aware that an individual rabbit can be quite choosy about who he'll accept as a bondmate. It doesn't seem far-fetched, then, to think that certain rabbits can be choosey about their human companions as well. Sometimes things just don't click.

It is quite possible that these two boys would behave differently with different people. So rather than feeling guilty about the idea of re-homing them, consider that it's quite possible that they will be happier elsewhere (provided they get to stay together).

My only caution I would offer is to not make the assumption that they are aloof because they are a bonded pair. There are plenty of bonded pairs that are still interactive with and attentive to their human family too. Perhaps you just need to find the 'right' pair.
 

nicolekline97

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Most of the time I also feel once you get a pet. You must take good care of them the rest of their life. Some animals are difficult. It sounds like they just do not need or want human companions. Even if they went elsewhere it would be the same. Being that they are from a rescue they may have had multiple environments. It is just my opinion for you to continue to give them a good home and consistent environment.
 

Diane R

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Whatever you do, don't give them away. If they are not staying with you bring them back to the rescue. And maybe stick to dogs. Rabbits are not for everyone and I believe the world would be a better place if people didn't insist on mixing prey and predator pets.
 

TreasuredFriend

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Please return the pair to the rescue. What Diane R. has (also) given as advice, in addition to everyone's thoughts on happiness for you and your companions. Do not give away.

Our very first bun adopted from the shelter in 2003 had me at my wit's end. Nipping, and uncooperative. I later on got her a bondmate, and she gradually became the most lovable, snuggle-bun as time progressed. For many years she was content to be with her up-eared man, and didn't take kindly to scents of the other buns in our home. Read as; multiple sharp bites, drawing blood, splitting my nail in half. I was ready to return her to the shelter. But I also knew that the shelter may not give her a chance to be adopted again if returned.
 

TreasuredFriend

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After years of volunteering at the local shelter, I saw that some returned rabbits were not kept for re-adoption; they may be (or were!) euthanized due to space restrictions. (A family or the adult came to surrender the black lop they adopted earlier, her name was Flower. She was euthanized.)
Hopefully a reputable rescue will willingly take a fostered bun back.

Be cautious if a local not-for-profit business has animals or pets as their business products, and the goal is to adopt and move pets not necessarily looking out for a well-matched forever-home placement.

- It is in the local shelter's contract to return if unable to keep. A bun adopted from a local shelter was microchipped by that shelter and found out on the street, as a stray, 2x. After being adopted 2x. My friend provided a forever home to this bun.

Humans are callous and do always adhere to a paper contract. More sad for the rabbits who are not kept or abandoned. I hope you will contact the local rescue you adopted from, and speak to the caring founders who will willingly take the two boys back if you are unhappy.
 

zuppa

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If you feel you hate them it would be best to give up, just contact the rescue and bring them back. Rabbits will feel if you don't want them and this kind of relationship is totally pointless, you are unhappy, rabbits are unhappy, they are still very young as I understand and rabbit can live 6-10 years or more with a proper care, but unhappy rabbits won't live long so no need to sacrifice your time and their lives there, please give up.
 
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