My new Giant Flemmish bites ......

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Mystical

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I just got a 2 and a half year old female Giant Flemmish. She has never been breed and I do not think she was held much. She keeps biting me. What should I do to make her like me. Never had a bunny do this before. She will come up to me, but, then bites me. Will she ever become friendly? Not to sound nasty, but those bites hurt. They cause large scabs and they bleed sometimes. I wanted this breed so badly, but I have never had this happen with any breeds I have ever owned. It has been more than 30 days and it is the same. She eats and drinks good, plays with her toys, seems happy. Plenty of play room, little house for privacy, her own sleep area.
 

SableSteel

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Flemish are generally pretty friendly, this is definitely not the normal for this breed
How long have you had her? Where did you get her?
 

Mystical

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I got her from a individual, said she was pure, but no papers, I have had her over 35 days.
 

samoth

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My doe nipped hard when I first got her. She was 3.5 years old, from an unknown background, and had just been recently neutered.

Whenever she nipped, I would audibly exclaim "OW!" or similarsuch to let her know her action caused discomfort, followed by "NEI!" to try to cement the concept of "no." (Her name's Bose, which is phonetically close to 'no,' so I use the Norwegian word for no instead.) It took probably 6-9 months, but she slowly nipped less hard and less often to the point now where she never nips.

One thing I've learned along the way is that encouraging behavioral change in rabbits can take a long time (not unlike many of us humans), so I suggest patience and persistence :)
 

Mystical

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both, actually. I sit down on the floor and she starts to come up to me, I wait and eventually after like 5 minutes of her starring at me with her ears laid back, I hold my hand out slowly and she lunges at me. Sometimes she will walk up and rub her head on my shirt and then suddenly bites.
 

SharonLee

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both, actually. I sit down on the floor and she starts to come up to me, I wait and eventually after like 5 minutes of her starring at me with her ears laid back, I hold my hand out slowly and she lunges at me. Sometimes she will walk up and rub her head on my shirt and then suddenly bites.

GEEZ. Well, according to the video clip I sent you, when you put your hand out you should, put it near the side of the face, not the front. You can also put your hand above the head- where the front is, but above, not head on. As you might know, since she has eyes on the side of her face, she might feel threatened when your hand comes to her head on. Another thing you can do is to email a rabbit rescue and tell them what you posted. They may be able to help.
 

SharonLee

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I read, "If your rabbit's ears are lying back against its head but are not touching, this can be a sign that it is frightened." (Wikihow.com) So if she was frightened to begin with, she must have seen you putting your hand out slowly as an attack.
 

Orrin

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Patience. People have told that it has taken years. I've read that a person should scream "eeek," or something like that, when bunny bites. They'll get the message.

If you have not done it, already, read all you can about rabbits. An excellent place to start is:

https://rabbit.org/

When you are approaching your Flemmie is it in her territory? She might be territorial. If you don't plan on breeding her the best thing you could do is to get her spayed. It will pay off in a longer life and fewer veterinary bills; she's likely to get uterine cancer unless she is neutered.
 

Orrin

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It is my understanding that rabbits have a long memory if they are handled roughly. Do you know anything about your Flemmie's history? The name of the game is trust. In her excellent YouTube videos Mary Cotter (with Amy Sedaris) emphasizes this. If you've not yet seen them, they might give you some ideas:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mary+cotter+rabbit

Of course, this won't help you any; but, here is a picture of a pair of half-Flemish Giant youngsters that were handled ever since they left the nest. It makes a big difference. Furthermore, we observe some rules around our bunnies: no loud noises, no sudden movements, respect; if they shy away, pull back. Respect the rabbit's "space." Babes_Lap_1093.jpg
 
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If you don't train your bunny, she will train you. All of ours have been rescues so we don't have a back story. With the biters--ones that cause bleeding and holes in my flesh--I would immediately pin them to the ground after the obligatory "ow!" and speak in a very low register like an alpha grunting at a subordinate. When you pin them, be careful not to hurt but make sure they know they can't escape. It only takes a couple of times to establish dominance and they all behave much better. Cosmo now puts on a show running around me and carrying toys and then will come up and nuzzle my hand wanting head and neck rubs. They are a lot more fun when they follow you around wanting attention than when they are in attack mode.
 

SharonLee

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It is my understanding that rabbits have a long memory if they are handled roughly. Do you know anything about your Flemmie's history? The name of the game is trust. In her excellent YouTube videos Mary Cotter (with Amy Sedaris) emphasizes this. If you've not yet seen them, they might give you some ideas:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mary+cotter+rabbit

Of course, this won't help you any; but, here is a picture of a pair of half-Flemish Giant youngsters that were handled ever since they left the nest. It makes a big difference. Furthermore, we observe some rules around our bunnies: no loud noises, no sudden movements, respect; if they shy away, pull back. Respect the rabbit's "space." View attachment 38890

Previously I sent her a link for a clip those two women did regarding an aggressive rabbit. I find those clips to be highly informative. Your pic is darling.
 

SharonLee

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If you don't train your bunny, she will train you. All of ours have been rescues so we don't have a back story. With the biters--ones that cause bleeding and holes in my flesh--I would immediately pin them to the ground after the obligatory "ow!" and speak in a very low register like an alpha grunting at a subordinate. When you pin them, be careful not to hurt but make sure they know they can't escape. It only takes a couple of times to establish dominance and they all behave much better. Cosmo now puts on a show running around me and carrying toys and then will come up and nuzzle my hand wanting head and neck rubs. They are a lot more fun when they follow you around wanting attention than when they are in attack mode.

Pin them? I read that you should say OW and then ignore them. I would not be able to pin them, as I know I might hurt them if I do. Pinning them sounds scary to me. You sound experienced and I understand what you are saying, but if the rabbit knew it couldn't escape, wouldn't it freak out? That also sounds like punishment to me and I read you should never punish. That's all based on what I read. I have no experience yet.
 
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I also read that the "alpha" in a warren or family will pin subs to show dominance and even roll the sub on their back to let them know their place in the order, while grunting at them. Beats getting chewed on and bloodied all the time using an excess amount of band aids. It worked with the "aggressive" bunnies that learned that biting, not nipping, would get them left alone. However, cleaning the room and hutches as well as nail clipping required up close work and a small amount of handling. With the "shy" bunnies it's a whole different set of behaviors. Be quiet, slow, and present with a few bits of Cilantro for bribery. I had 2 Mini Rexes that would walk on their back feet for that treat--not bad for bunnies that would try to get as far away as they could when we first rescued them from a shelter.
 

April LD

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When you have rabbits that bite, they are one of a few things: aggressive, trying to show dominance, scared. If you have a rabbit coming up to you and biting breaking skin/bleeding they are aggressive or showing dominance. If you GENTLY hold them down and "growl" at them you are showing dominance. I took a few different approaches but found what works for me: I bite them back! Not hard, but I nip their ear, say "NO BITE" in a deep guttural voice and it works.
My rabbits are sweet, know I am the Bunny Boss, and they nudge to tell me they are unhappy or will dig on me to warn me they want down/need to potty etc. depending if we are snuggling on the bed, floor, couch, etc.
I currently have 29 rabbits, all in doors, and I don't have an issue with biting. They are all fixed now and are finishing their "hormones"...I also believe that how they are treated/handled decides part of their temperament.

Be patient, don't be afraid to show your dominance, make sure that she can see your hand coming. Talk, Talk, Talk to her!!! They are super smart!!! Let her know you want to pet her, love her, take care of her...maybe try using her pellets as treats when you are interacting with her at first. Get her used to your hand being a "good thing" coming for her. She may have been hit, pushed, what have you, by a previous person so hands are harmful....show her otherwise. But please be patient...she will get used to you and will show you her love once she knows she is in her forever, SAFE, home.

Good luck and keep us posted!
 

Jenny Durling

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I currently have 29 rabbits, all in doors...

Twenty-nine indoor rabbits?! Wow!! How do you house them all? I would love to see some pictures of all of them together.

I agree with all of the info in these posts. My Rocky used to bite and chase the cats. Once he was neutered he definitely called down. Also, the more confident you become handling your rabbit(s), the more you become the alpha rabbit in their eyes. They definitely know who is the boss around here now. You can't let your rabbits bully you.
 

April LD

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Twenty-nine indoor rabbits?! Wow!! How do you house them all? I would love to see some pictures of all of them together.

I agree with all of the info in these posts. My Rocky used to bite and chase the cats. Once he was neutered he definitely called down. Also, the more confident you become handling your rabbit(s), the more you become the alpha rabbit in their eyes. They definitely know who is the boss around here now. You can't let your rabbits bully you.

They are not all housed together. I have three bonded pairs, 7 that are alone, then the rest are babies with mom and siblings, or just siblings. I am trying to adopt some of them out (about 20). I rescued some abandoned buns and went from 3 to 31 VERY QUICKLY. We had to put one down - he broke his back leg too far up and there was no saving it and it would have been a horrible quality of life for him :( sweet Happy...miss my gray boy!!!!

One was adopted out; now that they are fixed - maybe I can get more adopted out. I am a bit picky...I want them to have a good life with someone else, and I have put a lot of work and money into my bunnies and I want someone to take care of them well. I want the forever home to be with someone who has had experience...I am adopting them out for $25 - I will provide a bag if pellets to mix with the pellets the new owner will buy, I have back ground on all my bunnies as they were hand raised, and they have 5 days - if it doesn't work out they can return the rabbit to me no questions asked. I feel after 5 days I can't bring them back from what may have happened at the new home.
I want to meet the family, have them meet up to 4 rabbits in a neutral location, so the rabbits aren't territorial, and see who fits them - maybe none - but I just feel that I want the new owner and bunny to be set up as best as possible.
 

Mystical

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It is my understanding that rabbits have a long memory if they are handled roughly. Do you know anything about your Flemmie's history? The name of the game is trust. In her excellent YouTube videos Mary Cotter (with Amy Sedaris) emphasizes this. If you've not yet seen them, they might give you some ideas:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mary+cotter+rabbit

Of course, this won't help you any; but, here is a picture of a pair of half-Flemish Giant youngsters that were handled ever since they left the nest. It makes a big difference. Furthermore, we observe some rules around our bunnies: no loud noises, no sudden movements, respect; if they shy away, pull back. Respect the rabbit's "space." View attachment 38890

UPDATE on Giant Flemish - Midnight Jewel, is turning out to be a very loving girl. I guess she was maybe scared of a new family and home, I don't know. But now she has bonded with me and my family. She loves being held, petted, brushed, and given kisses. She plays with her toys we got her, and hates to be ignored. I love this "little" girl very much and would not trade her for anything.
 
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