Should I give up one of my bunnies?

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Jonas

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Hi! I have a 3-month-old male rabbit that chews on everything. He has already damaged a lot of things, and rabbit proofing doesn’t work for him. I don’t want to restrict his freedom to move, because I got rabbits after having read they can live without a cage/hutch. He is also losing his litter habits. I understand this might be due to hormones, but there’s no guarantee castration will solve the problem, especially that of chewing. Castration will also weaken his immune system and cause adrenal issues. That’s medically proven. So in his case the risks outweigh the benefits. Should I give him up or is there any solution?
 

Preitler

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You didn't rabbit proof properly if he was still able to chew stuff he isn't supposed to. There are ways to distract them, like offering fresh tree branches to chew on (willow, fruit trees, ash, fir, hasel and a lot of others). Placing the branches and twigs where he usually walks helps to get his attention. Chewing is not an hormone issue, it's a rabbit issue.

Restricting freedom - it's not that. First they need to learn litter habits and stuff, that's best done in a rather small area and then gradually expand.

I have an intact buck as house bunny. No, castration isn't bad, there are some aspects like less drive and a small tendency to get fat more easily, but "medically proven to be bad" is not true, you get a lot of such "facts" if you read in the internet, it's not black and white, there are downsides and bonuses either way. I think you read too much of the wrong stuff, made up by people with an agende (there is lots of that in either direction).

I can have an intact buck, with his spayed cuddlebun, as house bunny because I live alone and can put up with all that spraying, mess and whatnot. It wasn't such a big issue as long as he was alone, but then he looked lonely, I couldn't watch this. Losing his litter habits at 3 months :D Just wait, there might be more, they are capable to spray up to 1m high. Some do, some not. Anyway, don't judge until puberty is over, at about 8-12 months. Males make really great pets, but I do not recommend to anyone an intact buck as pet, because I know.
 

Jonas

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Thanks! Not everything can be rabbit proofed well. How can a table be rabbit proofed? He jumps on chairs and chews on the table, or jumps on the bed and chews the matress and the blankets. There’s just no way to rabbit proof everything in the room.

Castration will not solve the chewing problem, and you’ve already agreed on that. I’m not saying there are advantages and disadvantages to either option, but castration does partially weaken the immune system and cause more stress on the adrenal glands to produce surrogate hormones. I read the arguments of both sides though.

While bad litter habits are an issue, I need to find a solution to the chewing problem first.
 

Blue eyes

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Yes, rabbits like to chew. However hormones can absolutely cause excessive destructive chewing. Those more hormonal-induced behaviors can become ingrained if a rabbit is not neutered. Neutering has been a life-saver for many-a rabbit owner who thought the destructive chewing would never stop.

That said, even a neutered rabbit still likes to chew. Those behaviors are generally less intense though and can be more readily redirected with a neutered male.

A hormonal male in full hormonal mode should probably have his roaming area more limited to safe areas. An exercise pen (or two) can be configured to create a 30 sq ft area where bunny cannot access tables, chairs, beds, etc. . That size will provide plenty of exercise space. Allowing him to access those other areas (tables, beds) now may only reinforce that undesirable behavior.

Limiting his area also has the advantage of making it easier to litter train. Granted, those hormones can cause a formerly "litter trained" rabbit to forget those habits. He may even start spraying urine about (as @Preitler warned). Once he's neutered (if you choose to do so), then litter training typically is something the rabbit does on his own -- after the requisite healing period. A proper litter setup is generally all that is needed and the rabbit does the rest. During that time, it is best to limit his area so he establishes that litter box as "his." Then his roaming area can be gradually increased in increments, ensuring he remains consistent with his training.

I understand that you've read that rabbits can live without a cage/hutch and this is mostly true. However what often is not explained is that in order to free roam a rabbit, there is a process involved. Fixed rabbits tend to adjust more easily. Young rabbits are almost always a challenge. And rabbits train easiest once they are older (contrary to what one would normally assume). And there will always be that occasional rabbit that simply is not suited to free roam.

Also, more often than not, even free roam rabbits like to have a designated area that is "theirs" alone -- a place they know they can go and not be disturbed. This can be as simple as an always-open cage that has their litter box and food (provided the space is respected by the humans as a no-touch zone).

Rabbits really are unique pets. Unfortunately, there are numerous online sources that paint only a partial or rose-colored picture of what rabbit ownership is truly like. The following link (and the other pages on the site) might be helpful to you in figuring out how to move forward with your rabbit.
 

JBun

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If you neuter and if you decide to try free roam again, here are some links on how to rabbit proof.



 

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