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Rabbit is not very nice! PLEASE HELP ASAP!

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xalyrose

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Hi everyone. I am in NEED of some advice!!! I recently adopted a 2 year old mini lop from the shelter almost a month ago. His name is Wubbzy! He is neutered but his behavior is still not that great even though the shelter kept telling me how "sweet" he was lol. I'm at my wits end.

Wubbzy has a cage with his litterbox and food dishes in it, but the door is always open so he can hop around a portion of my room -- the other side is blocked off by a gate. I can't let him be free range because he's not completely potty trained and I don't think he will ever be (I've tried EVERYTHING to teach him and he still misses the litter box a lot of the time). Earlier, I was crouching on the floor and collecting stray bedding when he ran up and bit the back of my thigh. He left a red mark! I yelled no and walked away. Then, a little later, he ran up to me and bit my foot before going for my ankle. He also grunts at me and bites the broom if I try to sweep the floor. If go anywhere near his litter box (even if I'm putting hay in it) he grunts too. When I make any sudden movements near him, he charges at me and then stops. To make everything a little more frustrating, he kicks EVERYTHING out of his litter box every single day. I have to sweep up my room around 3-4 times a day and readjust the litter box constantly because he won't stop. I don't have the time to keep doing this so I'm feeling pretty hopeless. The amount of litter and hay he is wasting isn't good on my wallet either :(

Wubbzy does not cuddle with me, lay next to me, or lick me; he just hides all day and only comes out for food. I don't want to spend the next 5+ years with a rabbit that doesn't like me. I adopted him hoping that his presence would bring a little joy into my life. However, he has given me nothing but stress. I feel HORRIBLE and so guilty but I'm considering taking him back to the shelter. The only thing that has stopped me is that he's already been surrendered twice and I'm afraid they might euthanize him. I'm also scared people will hate and judge me. I've been trying my best to be considerate and patient, but the biting and his antisocial attitude (especially at his age) is really discouraging. My family is telling me to take him back and get a new rabbit before spending any more money on him. I'm torn. Any advice would be so helpful! Thank you!
 
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zuppa

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Hi. What you describe sounds like clearly hormonal territorial behaviour and in my experience it is a bit unusual for a neutered 2 year old male. He bites you to make you move out his territory, he keeps marking his territory and he even digs in his toilet, maybe he keeps looking for evidence that you peed into his toilet.

When exactly was he neutered? Maybe he needs a bit more time to calm down after it? Usually after 2-3 months they should stop it all. Can you still see his testicles?

I had same problems with my intact girls, biting and digging toilet and soiling all hay instead of just eating it, marking territory with urine and poos, attacking me without any reason, grunting etc.

Are you sure about his age, gender and that he is neutered? We've seen cases here that people adopted a neutered rabbit from a shelter and when he started showing hormonal behaviour we suggested to check if he was really neutered and it appeared that he was not, because all boys were neutered same day and he was skipped by mistake, so they just had to fix it.

If he is indeed and more than 3 months ago it's a bit strange but maybe he was abused previously as you mentioned other people gave up on him so we don't know what kind of experience he had, maybe he is just defensive and attacks in fear that you are there and going to hurt him so he attacks first.

I have a girl (Smokey, she is in my avatar) I have her from 9 weeks (not sure if true but I was told so) and she was very nervous and very defensive because of all stress she experienced in her first family, it was all what you mentioned, I've lost so much blood with her and it took more than a year to gain her trust. She is not neutered, I know it would probably make it all easier but we had to find other ways and we are there. She uses her toilet precisely and she is very sweet, she still doesn't like my hand in her space but she tolerates it when i am taking her toilet for cleaning.

I had a few other girls with similar problems, I never had any aggressive boys, only once I've got bitten by boy when I tried to separate him from a girl he liked. This was when I didn't even know he was a boy, he was about 10-11 week old and I was told he was a girl, I just had to check his gender because of he started acting as boy around that age, he was a dwarf so was very sexy at that age already.

In all cases we managed to fix these problems, even without neutering, all the girls are using toilets properly and no more biting, they let me be in their space without any problems. Smokey would show that she is not happy with that at the beginning but after she accepts me as well and no biting.

I don't have just one recipe for all, it was all lots of watching them and trying to understand their motivation and gain their trust and respect.

With your bun, it is possible that some of your actions clearly irritate him or make him defensive. It can be based on his previous experience with other humans, or maybe other house pets, we don't know.

If you really want to keep him and change him I would suggest to put all facts together and try to analyze them, try to be fair and understand that biting is only his defense so he sees you as a predator and he is scared so that is his trying to protect himself.

If you don't feel like you can do it or you have time for it or you have experience etc, you don't have to feel guilty bringing him back. Maybe there will be someone who has time and patience to work with his problems who will adopt him next. Maybe they should state before adopting that he has behaviour problems and needs someone with experience or who is willing to work on it.

I can confess that with Smokey I was so tired of her and I was totally lost because she was so aggressive, I bought her from people not from shelter so I had no option to return her and I thought maybe to place an ad for adoption but then I thought who will take her? I will have to tell them that she is biting and been very aggressive, who'd take her? She wasn't sweet at all, I couldn't lie.
There was one day I thought maybe I will bring her to the woods and just let her go? But that would be cruel it would mean death for her most likely, well it was only once I thought this but I couldn't do it for sure, just was completely lost.

Now, thinking how we could help you, I would ask if you can give us more information, what is his setup with pictures, more about cases when he attacked you, what exactly you tried for his toilet training etc. For me personally when I have to describe to other people I have to think about it again and rethink the situation and sometimes (pretty often) I can see suddenly where I was wrong and what other ways I can use, it helps me a lot, so I agree with saying that problem shared problem solved. It works for me at least.
 

xalyrose

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Hi! I was thinking it was strange as well. I have no idea if everything the shelter said was true, but I did take him to the vet for a wellness check up shortly after bringing him home and the vet didn't mention whether or not she found anything. His papers say he was neutered in October 2018. However, this was before he was surrendered the first time, so I'm not sure if the previous owners just lied and made up a date. I've actually had a suspicion that he wasn't really neutered. I just checked and it appears that he still has his testicles, but I can't be sure. Do they not have them at all and the area is flat? It appears as if his testicles are still in tact as the two bald/pink areas are a bit rounded, so I think he wasn't neutered! I can't be sure however because I don't know what a neutered rabbit looks like.

I do think he was neglected by his last owner because when I got him, he had a bald spot on his head (we still don't know what it was from because it's not ringworm), a torn ear, and he was covered in pee stains up the side of his body. I really want to give him a chance and keep him, but I'm not sure if he will ever heal from his past. I love him and taking him back to the shelter would break my heart, especially if he has trauma and can't help it. I'm totally willing to change him if I can but I don't even know where to start. If he indeed is not neutered, I will most likely take him to get the procedure done. If he is, I have no idea how to help him or get him to trust me.

The first two weeks, I would sit in his pen area and do my usual things (homework usually) so he could get used to my scent/presence. He just hid or lunged and would not come near me. Now I go in there to pet him and he actually likes it sometimes. Other times he will duck his head, grunt, and run away. He takes the Oxbow treats I give him but ignores me after. Is there any way I can bond with him at this point while not making him mad?

As for toilet training, I put down newspaper and then pellets on the bottom of a cat litter box (the pellets are Yesterday's News unscented). Whenever he poops around his cage, I sweep them up and place them in his litter box. If he pees outside of the litter box, I put on a glove and place the soiled newspaper in it too. I also put the box in his favorite corner to pee in. Whenever I clean his cage and litter box together, I keep some of the poops and place them in the clean litter box.

Pertaining to his cage, the bottom of it is lined with newspaper because he was throwing bedding out of it and making a huge mess. He has two 16 oz food bowls. Inside his pen, he has toddler stacking cups, a bed, a toy ball that dispenses Oxbow pellets when rolled, toys made of Timothy Hay, an empty paper towel roll, chewing sticks, and a cardboard box full of shredded newspaper. I attached a photo below. In the picture, you can also see how he started kicking up everything in his litter box before I corrected him. I really want to give him more space and then eventually have him free roam, although he isn't completely potty trained so I can't give him too much room.

Thank you so much for replying and I hope to hear back from you soon!
 

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Mariam+Theo

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I don't think he is neutered, all of the behaviors he has sound just like what I dealt with when Theo was younger. I think that you should call the vet and ask if they thought he was neutered or not, normally they won't mention simple things like that if they think you already know.
If he is neutered, it might work to bond him with a super sweet spayed female that has good litter habits because she could rub off on him.
If you can't get another rabbit, I would spend lots of time with him. Keep offering him the treats (even if he doesn't care about you after) because it shows him that you are good. If he lunges at you, press his head to the floor for 3 or so seconds. When he nips, push his face away and say "no" but don't yell at him.

Do you clean the area where he pees outside of the litter box with vinegar to remove the scent? Rabbits will continue to use the bathroom where they have before if you do not clean that area with distilled white vinegar. Theo is now litter trained, but when he would accidentally go outside of the litter box I would pour vinegar straight from the gallon jug on the area. Most people now use a 1/2 distilled white vinegar and 1/2 water mixture and that works too. Get a screen for the litter box so he can't dig in it. You could put the hay on top of the screen or make a DIY Hay Box.

Everything is going to take time so please don't give up on him! If he isn't neutered, neutering will fix most, if not all of the problems. If he is neutered, you will just have to be patient with him.
 

zuppa

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If he was neutered 2 years ago there should be no testicles by now, I would second what Mariam said if you could contact your vet and explain I think that they can schedule an appointment for neutering.
Thank you for posting a pic and all, it is much easier to understand now. His corner looks nice, I just see how it can be improved if you don't mind.

Firstly I would remove all newspapers from the cage and would leave his floor completely clear. As above, clean it very well with 5% white vinegar to remove urine smell, use spray bottle and give it a good clean remove everything and spray all plastic base with a generous amount of vinegar, let it sit for 5 mins (or if there's some urine stains you can leave for 10 mins and vinegar will soften them, so you will just wipe them and your cage will be like new). After that put back his toilet (also wipe with vinegar it's sides and bottom to make sure it only smells like toilet inside) so only his toilet will smell like toilet now.

Every time he pees outside his toilet, wipe it with paper towel and put into his toilet as you do usually, but after that wipe that spot with white vinegar, as Mariam said.

I would remove his bowls from the cage for now so it will stay very clean and easy to see urine spots and immediately wipe them with vinegar.

I personally prefer pine wood pellets over recycled paper pellets, they absorb urine better than any other litter and with one rabbit you can empty/rinse/refill it just once a week or maybe twice a week since it is in your bedroom. But if you have paper pellets and want to use them it's not a big deal but I would suggest trying pine wood pellets once maybe you like them better.

That was about toilet training.

Now, what I would do with his confidence training, I would cover his cage (top, back and sides) with something, blanket or just cardboard, leave only front uncovered, also you can cover about 1/3 of front with something, or give him a hide house. That is because he will feel safer in his cage. And leave him be for a week or so, ignore him, do not enter his cage at all. Only take his toilet for cleaning when necessary but best when he is not in there, like you can do that when he is eating his dinner (as I said, place food bowl outside the cage). After a week or more he should feel safer and use his cage as his safe place where he cannot be disturbed.

You can make a hide house of a cardboard box or get a wooden one, my rabbits love pine houses they chew on them too.

So first what you can do is contact your vet about neutering. Hopefully you can get an appointment soon and after his surgery he will need some extra care and his space must be limited for a couple weeks, you can even keep him caged for one months after neutering and it should improve his toilet training if you do as above. After 2 months after neutering he should calm down a bit.

I see you are really doing so much for him and I hope that everything will go smoothly since you were able to identify the problem. Hopefully he will calm down after neutering.

But this covering his cage should help as well, because he needs some privacy, rabbits are prey animals and this open top makes them nervous.

Please keep us updated and we love pictures too :)
 

AVIE

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@xalyrose , on behalf of all bunny moms, first I want to thank you for rescuing him, especially in light of obvious traumatic past. Whether he's neutered or not, nuages ideas sound effective. And second, I wish you strength to get through this, we are all rooting for you and awaiting updates!
 

xalyrose

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I don't think he is neutered, all of the behaviors he has sound just like what I dealt with when Theo was younger. I think that you should call the vet and ask if they thought he was neutered or not, normally they won't mention simple things like that if they think you already know.
If he is neutered, it might work to bond him with a super sweet spayed female that has good litter habits because she could rub off on him.
If you can't get another rabbit, I would spend lots of time with him. Keep offering him the treats (even if he doesn't care about you after) because it shows him that you are good. If he lunges at you, press his head to the floor for 3 or so seconds. When he nips, push his face away and say "no" but don't yell at him.

Do you clean the area where he pees outside of the litter box with vinegar to remove the scent? Rabbits will continue to use the bathroom where they have before if you do not clean that area with distilled white vinegar. Theo is now litter trained, but when he would accidentally go outside of the litter box I would pour vinegar straight from the gallon jug on the area. Most people now use a 1/2 distilled white vinegar and 1/2 water mixture and that works too. Get a screen for the litter box so he can't dig in it. You could put the hay on top of the screen or make a DIY Hay Box.

Everything is going to take time so please don't give up on him! If he isn't neutered, neutering will fix most, if not all of the problems. If he is neutered, you will just have to be patient with him.
I sent a photo of him to my sister (she's a certified veterinary technician) and she said that he is not neutered after all! I will definitely set up an appointment for him to get fixed. I'm honestly so relieved that I've found one of the roots of his problems. I would also like to tackle his past of neglect and get him to know that I love him and I'm not going to hurt him. Thank you so much for the correction tips, I will be sure to implement them right away!

I do clean the places he pees in to get rid of the smell so he doesn't keep going there, but not with vinegar. I use the Nature's Miracle Cage Cleaner (advanced bio-enzymatic formula) which claims to deodorize and destroy tough urine odors. Would vinegar be better? I had a hedgehog and I used a vinegar-water solution for her but decided to try this one for Wubbzy.

Thank you so much for your help! I won't give up on him! I'm so determined to give him a forever home with me :)
 

xalyrose

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If he was neutered 2 years ago there should be no testicles by now, I would second what Mariam said if you could contact your vet and explain I think that they can schedule an appointment for neutering.
Thank you for posting a pic and all, it is much easier to understand now. His corner looks nice, I just see how it can be improved if you don't mind.

Firstly I would remove all newspapers from the cage and would leave his floor completely clear. As above, clean it very well with 5% white vinegar to remove urine smell, use spray bottle and give it a good clean remove everything and spray all plastic base with a generous amount of vinegar, let it sit for 5 mins (or if there's some urine stains you can leave for 10 mins and vinegar will soften them, so you will just wipe them and your cage will be like new). After that put back his toilet (also wipe with vinegar it's sides and bottom to make sure it only smells like toilet inside) so only his toilet will smell like toilet now.

Every time he pees outside his toilet, wipe it with paper towel and put into his toilet as you do usually, but after that wipe that spot with white vinegar, as Mariam said.

I would remove his bowls from the cage for now so it will stay very clean and easy to see urine spots and immediately wipe them with vinegar.

I personally prefer pine wood pellets over recycled paper pellets, they absorb urine better than any other litter and with one rabbit you can empty/rinse/refill it just once a week or maybe twice a week since it is in your bedroom. But if you have paper pellets and want to use them it's not a big deal but I would suggest trying pine wood pellets once maybe you like them better.

That was about toilet training.

Now, what I would do with his confidence training, I would cover his cage (top, back and sides) with something, blanket or just cardboard, leave only front uncovered, also you can cover about 1/3 of front with something, or give him a hide house. That is because he will feel safer in his cage. And leave him be for a week or so, ignore him, do not enter his cage at all. Only take his toilet for cleaning when necessary but best when he is not in there, like you can do that when he is eating his dinner (as I said, place food bowl outside the cage). After a week or more he should feel safer and use his cage as his safe place where he cannot be disturbed.

You can make a hide house of a cardboard box or get a wooden one, my rabbits love pine houses they chew on them too.

So first what you can do is contact your vet about neutering. Hopefully you can get an appointment soon and after his surgery he will need some extra care and his space must be limited for a couple weeks, you can even keep him caged for one months after neutering and it should improve his toilet training if you do as above. After 2 months after neutering he should calm down a bit.

I see you are really doing so much for him and I hope that everything will go smoothly since you were able to identify the problem. Hopefully he will calm down after neutering.

But this covering his cage should help as well, because he needs some privacy, rabbits are prey animals and this open top makes them nervous.

Please keep us updated and we love pictures too :)
Hi, thank you so much for the advice! I'll get a gallon of vinegar to clean his litterbox and the urine spots, remove the newspapers from his cage, and get pine wood pellets for sure. I have a blanket that I can use to place over his cage and unused Amazon boxes which I will make a hide house out of! Because I have just found out that he isn't neutered, I will set up an appointment ASAP. Hopefully he calms down a bit after. I'll start the confidence training tonight!

Again, thank you so much!! Here's some photos of the little troublemaker :)
 

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xalyrose

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@xalyrose , on behalf of all bunny moms, first I want to thank you for rescuing him, especially in light of obvious traumatic past. Whether he's neutered or not, nuages ideas sound effective. And second, I wish you strength to get through this, we are all rooting for you and awaiting updates!
Thank you so much! I really wanted to rescue a rabbit despite any past issues it may have to give it the best life possible and show it what love is. I will for sure update everyone!! Thank you! :)
 

Mariam+Theo

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I suggest vinegar instead of Nature's Miracles Cage Cleaners because it is way cheaper and is not as likely to hurt your rabbit's respiratory system.

I'm so happy that you figured out he wasn't neutered! Get that done ASAP! You will be amazed at the difference in him. I don't know if Zuppa suggested a certain brand of pine pellets, but I get this brand from Tractor Supply and they last forever! Good luck!
 

xalyrose

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Hi everyone! It's been awhile so I wanted to give an update :) Wubbzy was neutered the first week of December. He was still a little mean and biting a few weeks after his surgery, but now he is doing well! He has not bitten me at all recently. The only thing is that he sometimes lunges and grunts at me. I correct him after he does it though and I think it's been helping.

I've taken the advice you guys gave me and started using the Tractor Supply wood pellets about a month ago -- they work great in his litter box! I also use vinegar to clean when I need to. Now, Wubbzy is free-roam in my bedroom. He does poop a bit outside of his litter box, but it's easy to sweep up. I'm just hoping he gets a little better with it. In other news, I have decided to switch his pellets from Oxbow to Sherwood (he gets 1/4 cup of pellets a day). Has anyone ever tried Sherwood before? I've heard that it's healthier than Oxbow because it has no fillers and it makes their coats look better, so fingers crossed!
 

Momma Luvbun

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Ohh Xalyrose, you have NO IDEA how relieved I am to hear this all 🥰
I have attached photos of my little fella and of his young (1 &1/2 now)wifey He's a little goofball and I love him soooo very much.
Sadly when I got him he had been neglected and abused and left to fend for himself at 6ish months old, by the looks of his photos folks took when he was in a old grocery store lot and we were trying to find his owners.
We were horrified to hear what happened to him but more so what he endured as well as the people drowning his partner 💔 they couldn't catch him to give him the same fate so they just left their door and let him run out 😲Thank fricken God!!!!

So when I got him you could imagine how untrusting he was.
He wasn't fixed and I had a 3 yr old unfixed female so I put him in "quarentine" until I got them in for their fixes.
After the post op, I gradually introduced the two buns and it was love, but he didn't want ANYTHING to do with me. I called him my little shrimp because every single time I tried to reach out to give him a pet he'd dart "backwards" just like shrimp do.
It was cute but sad at the same time.

Sadly, though my little SmurphyMurphy lost his wifey a yr later and he regressed. I was so distraught at our loss, I couldn't get him another till almost a yr and a half after her passing.
The only reason I got him a new girl is because my last seemed to be a major comfort to him and my feline wasn't cutting it 🤷‍♀️.

I have had him for 3 yrs now and I still can't pet him long, if he lets me at all. Now, granted because I knew his back story, I didn't want to ever do anything to make him feel unsafe, I didn't force him to let me pet him.
When I give him treats he'll allow me to pet him a few ets sometimes i can even brush him a few brush strokes.

I let him be because I know he feels comfortable here, with me loving him from a distance.
Sure I wish I got kisses and cuddles but I didn't by blame him.
I don't blame him for teaching my young lady to be some weary either, but atleast she jumps up for treats, licks my fingers to get the last scent of treat off my fingers.
What matters most is they are safe and happy and have eachother 🥰
I promised my little guy he would never feel pain or hurt again, and I meant it 💞
 

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Lauren Kiernan

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Hi everyone! It's been awhile so I wanted to give an update :) Wubbzy was neutered the first week of December. He was still a little mean and biting a few weeks after his surgery, but now he is doing well! He has not bitten me at all recently. The only thing is that he sometimes lunges and grunts at me. I correct him after he does it though and I think it's been helping.

I've taken the advice you guys gave me and started using the Tractor Supply wood pellets about a month ago -- they work great in his litter box! I also use vinegar to clean when I need to. Now, Wubbzy is free-roam in my bedroom. He does poop a bit outside of his litter box, but it's easy to sweep up. I'm just hoping he gets a little better with it. In other news, I have decided to switch his pellets from Oxbow to Sherwood (he gets 1/4 cup of pellets a day). Has anyone ever tried Sherwood before? I've heard that it's healthier than Oxbow because it has no fillers and it makes their coats look better, so fingers crossed!
We use sherwood for our Holland lop. He loves them. He is a good hayeater too. He is always glossy and his urine does not have a strong smell.
 

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