Why are rabbits territorial with other rabbits but not humans?

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Asgardian

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Hi everyone,

I convinced a neighbor to get a rabbit after I got mine. When she came over we thought it’d be nice for her to bring her rabbit along too. Little did I know, my boy bun would be so aggressive and attack her girl bun!! He has always been so good with guests in the house, jumps on their laps, chill on the couch with them, and had no issues with pets.

So I was just curious if anyone knows why rabbits can be territorial with other rabbits but not humans? Just a wondering thought that I couldn’t find an answer to online :)
 

Preitler

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Rabbits are actually barely domesticated, they have way more instincts left than most lifestock. They know exactly that we are not one of them, and we are not included in their social hierachy like it would be with dogs or even cats.
 

Asgardian

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Rabbits are actually barely domesticated, they have way more instincts left than most lifestock. They know exactly that we are not one of them, and we are not included in their social hierachy like it would be with dogs or even cats.
Interesting! Now I’m scared to get him a girl bun friend :( He was so aggressive it scared me. Now if I visit her house and play with her bun and go home, he can smell the scent and has tried to attack me twice.. but stopped short cos he was confused as he still knows it’s me!
 

Asgardian

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I believe everything @Preitler said, but my rabbits will dig at me and nudge me until I move where they want me.

That may just be bossiness and not territoriality.
Yes! They’re bossy boots! Haha I honestly love the dynamic that I have to work for their love though haha unlike dogs that just love so easy (thoughts I adore dogs too). Bunnies are just in their own league.
 

JBun

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Oh, they can definitely be territorial with humans! Just ask Larry @Nancy McClelland about their rabbit that doesn't/didn't(not sure which) like his wife, and would chase her from the room 🤣 You can certainly get a little bossy boots bun, usually a moody female(saying that as a human female myself) :p , that can think they are boss of the home if you don't establish yourself in that place at the start.

But usually because of our size and the way we deal with rabbits from the beginning, of bringing them into our home(our territory), we get placed in 'top bun' category. So they regard us as being in charge of the 'warren' and 'herd' from the outset. But it's worth noting, that grooming hierarchy and herd hierarchy can be two completely different things. So we can be considered 'top bun' and head of the herd, but still be considered subordinate when it comes to grooming hierarchy, where our buns expect us to give them head rubs.


Rabbits are all about establishing hierarchy in the herd. So you can't just bring a rabbit around for a play date. With rabbits they have to work out where each rabbit is in the pecking order, and this can take time. And even then, some rabbits absolutely will never get along and will fight causing serious injuries, and some may even try and kill the other rabbit. So rabbits should never just be casually put together. Rabbits are bonded, and this may or may not work, and can be quite the process to accomplish with some rabbits.

If he's neutered, you can still attempt to find him a friend. It's all about finding the right personality match for each rabbit. Some individual personalities just do not get along, particularly two dominant ones.

If you want to try to find your boy bun a possible companion, I would suggest finding a shelter or rescue that has rabbits that are already spayed/neutered, and that allow strictly supervised introductory dates to see if you can find a possible compatible bunny companion for your boy. Then attempt the proper bonding process, or maybe the rescue offers the service.


 

Nancy McClelland

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Bella would grunt at our son, but not til he stepped over the barricade. Commander Bun Bun would run up to your feet, grunt, and then go back and lay down under the piano. And as JBUN said, Bonnie, a Dutch that was neutered did not like my wife, Nancy. If I was in the room and Nancy entered, Bonnie would screech and immediately attack Nancy's legs--she was the only rabbit that would attack and only Nancy--only one of us thought it was funny. Rabbits are almost always territorial with any other rabbit unless they have been bonded.
 

Asgardian

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Oh, they can definitely be territorial with humans! Just ask Larry @Nancy McClelland about their rabbit that doesn't/didn't(not sure which) like his wife, and would chase her from the room 🤣 You can certainly get a little bossy boots bun, usually a moody female(saying that as a human female myself) :p , that can think they are boss of the home if you don't establish yourself in that place at the start.

But usually because of our size and the way we deal with rabbits from the beginning, of bringing them into our home(our territory), we get placed in 'top bun' category. So they regard us as being in charge of the 'warren' and 'herd' from the outset. But it's worth noting, that grooming hierarchy and herd hierarchy can be two completely different things. So we can be considered 'top bun' and head of the herd, but still be considered subordinate when it comes to grooming hierarchy, where our buns expect us to give them head rubs.


Rabbits are all about establishing hierarchy in the herd. So you can't just bring a rabbit around for a play date. With rabbits they have to work out where each rabbit is in the pecking order, and this can take time. And even then, some rabbits absolutely will never get along and will fight causing serious injuries, and some may even try and kill the other rabbit. So rabbits should never just be casually put together. Rabbits are bonded, and this may or may not work, and can be quite the process to accomplish with some rabbits.

If he's neutered, you can still attempt to find him a friend. It's all about finding the right personality match for each rabbit. Some individual personalities just do not get along, particularly two dominant ones.

If you want to try to find your boy bun a possible companion, I would suggest finding a shelter or rescue that has rabbits that are already spayed/neutered, and that allow strictly supervised introductory dates to see if you can find a possible compatible bunny companion for your boy. Then attempt the proper bonding process, or maybe the rescue offers the service.


Thanks for all the useful info! I don’t think we have many rabbits for adoption in Sydney. Will have a look and see 😇
 

Asgardian

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Oh
Bella would grunt at our son, but not til he stepped over the barricade. Commander Bun Bun would run up to your feet, grunt, and then go back and lay down under the piano. And as JBUN said, Bonnie, a Dutch that was neutered did not like my wife, Nancy. If I was in the room and Nancy entered, Bonnie would screech and immediately attack Nancy's legs--she was the only rabbit that would attack and only Nancy--only one of us thought it was funny. Rabbits are almost always territorial with any other rabbit unless they have been bonded.
Oh no, your poor wife!! I wish I could know what’s going on in their head!
 

TreasuredFriend

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Thank you for posting the links on rabbit personalities and how they express their desires.

I could type many cases of certain rescues in our home preferring hubby over me, or liking me better than hubby. When you take time to listen and understand, and respect, life goes smoother for both of you.

Regina despised me after she was captured (likely came from a mink farm and was mishandled by a woman, hence my woman scent put her onguard), but she immediately atttached to hubby. I could type numerous more stories from the past 18 years volunteering at the shelter and having our own crew.

@Nancy McClelland -- good info. The Craigslist redhead Thriantra attached more so to hubby. I also had to take her to DVM appts. for the tooth abscess that occurred. Sometimes guys have an understanding heart wrt rabbit desires, sometime the nurturing woman in the house is the preferred companion.

Our current "bulldozer" harlequin, N/Male, is most aggressive & territorial with a few other house members. He has a sp/Fe harleqin lady who will guard the gate with and nibble his salad with her, fence separating. He's a smooch for hubby and I.
 

TreasuredFriend

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I chaperoned many bunn dates at the shelter, @JBun . Exactly right about rabbits wanting to choose their own friends. And being Territorial.

Our stray (captured) lionhead mix now will bite your hand and fingers as you put her food crock down, so be sure to do this slowly. Hubs can turn her into pancake mode with his gentle petting and calm demeanor. No intros will be done until she is spayed and past the 8-week hormonal dissipation time.

I recall going to a house and the homeowner said, don't go near the cat relaxing on the floor. S/he will hiss, swat, and bite.
 

TreasuredFriend

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@Asgardian -- coming home from volunteer shifts at the shelter, our first adopted Rex girl Snow smelled shelter-rabbits scents on my socks and shoes. She retaliated with her teeth into my socks. She was spayed, but unhappy about the new "strangers" In Her Space!

Same situation for the three housebuns we had in 2003, SnowB and Peanut were already bonded living in a large quad. Papa, 3rd n/male, was in litter-pan training yet. I made the mistake of coming into S&P's large quadrant with some urine scent from Papa on my hands from the roll towel wipe, and SnowB chomped my pinky nail **** near in half. Blood outpour.

I cried like a movie actress for minutes with amplified drama mentioning her name, in a gentle tone of voice - never scolding - "SnowB, you hurt me, this hurts so much!". You should've seen the expression on SnowB's face! She knew that her behavior was unnecessary but she was reacting in her private space. Not liking Papa's urine scent.

Hope this helps.
 

Cinn-a-bun

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My Cinnabun likes my roommate. But confuses my dog. Sometimes she nice, then she's nipping her feet.
Also, if anyone comes in the house she runs and hinds.
 
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