Rabbits are great furry little creatures. They are sociable animal, who craves attention. There are times when a rabbit can be exhibiting some questionable behaviour. Some of these behaviours could be considered challenging.
These behaviours are some that you want to stop as quickly as you can. This article will help you to understand these behaviours and what you can do about them. Behaviour issues are not something you want to allow to keep happening.
It is often stated that the behaviours exhibited by your furry little friend are actually thanks to generations past. These behaviours are consequences of the way ancestors lived and behaved. Rabbits, like all other living creatures, are unique. There are no two identical in personality and behaviour.
As a rabbit owner or parent, it is your job to keep an eye on the rabbit, your rabbit’s behaviours and to figure out the causes.
The Ten Concerning Behaviors
1. Incessant Digging
Rabbit digging seems to be the most challenging and frustrating of habits. When living in the wild, one of the natural instincts of a rabbit is to burrow. When they burrow underground or under trees, this is done for safety purposes and also for warmth. They also dig tunnels to live in when in the wild.
This behaviour is more common in a female rabbit, this is likely the mothering instinct. She does all she can to protect her infants. Since this is an instinct of the rabbit, it means it is natural for them to be digging. This is not a behaviour that should be stopped completely.
What can be done instead of attempting to stop it completely, is to redirect the behaviour. This is most often done by giving the rabbit a place where they can dig safely. A place where there is no repercussion if they choose to dig, and most importantly, no damage done.
Outdoors there are plenty of locations to be found where you can create a safe digging space for your rabbit, by doing this, they will not be exhibiting any destructive behaviour.
2. Digging the Carpet or Other Floors
It is not just dirt that a rabbit will attempt to dig in. The dirt is primarily when the rabbit is outdoors. While inside, or being a house rabbit, your baby could start digging on the carpet or other types of flooring.
In all honesty, very seldom will there be significant damage done by the rabbit. There could be, at the worst aspect, some scratch mark on a wood floor or linoleum flooring. On the carpet, there may be some loose threads.
The way to minimize this issue of indoor digging on carpet or another flooring, have routine nail clipping done. When the nails are clipped routinely, they do not have the chance to grow long enough to cause any damage.
Another method often used to distract the rabbit is to cover the area where the rabbit is digging. This can be plastic, a small piece of wood or a scrap piece of carpet. When they are given an area to allow them to dig, this moves the behaviour to an acceptable location. This can also be done by creating a digging box.
Ultimately, it is best to do both. Cover the previous area with a heavy plastic mat, cardboard or wood, but at the same time, give your rabbit a location that is safe for him or her to dig. This includes making a dig box yourself for your bunny.
At times, mostly stemming from boredom, a rabbit will start digging into the litter box. A rabbit will become bored if they have only a small enclosure that does not allow for movement. This is a simple one to solve, once you increase their environment, giving them more room to hop, run and play, they will cease the negative litter box digging.
You should also have plenty of toys that your rabbit is able to play with, that will help stop the boredom the bunny feels.
3. Chewing Baseboards
Another natural instinct for rabbits is to chew. They need to chew, to gnaw, to keep their teeth from excessive growth. This is likely the hardest challenge you will face with negative behaviours from your rabbit.
Baseboards are wood, this is just what a rabbit likes to chew on, it is the perfect texture. Not only that, they are also the perfect height for your rabbit. Your rabbit will use these baseboards as a chew toy. In the old homes, this can be very dangerous since the walls and wood could be painted with lead paint.
This will also make a double effort method to deter or cease the behaviour. One of the first things to do is to ensure that your rabbit has a variety of chew toys and then cover as much of the baseboards as possible with furniture so the rabbit cannot get to them.
If there are still baseboards in the open, cover them with cat scratch pads. You could use wire netting, but this could actually hurt the rabbit. Another option is to locate a bitter apple spray, rabbits will avoid the area once they have a taste of the bitterness.
This can be purchased from your local pet store or made yourself with equal parts of apple cider vinegar mixed with white vinegar. The baseboard tops could also be covered with masking tape. The tape may cause the rabbit to lose interest in the wood.
4. Chewing on Furniture
For a rabbit, it does not matter if the furniture is wood or material. They have a tendency to chew on all furniture. This is a tough one, the only thing you could actually do is to make the furniture unavailable to your rabbit. However, this will then mean one of a couple of options.
The rabbit will need to be kept inside an enclosed area while in the residence. This could cause stress to the rabbit. Especially if the rabbit is used to having the run of the home. Another opinion is one that may not be helpful for the interior decor in your home. It will save the furniture though.
You can go to the local pet store and purchase some flexible cat scratch pads. These would then need to be tacked into place on the furniture to cover the areas that the rabbit chews on. You could use tape or plastic coverings on the material portion of the furniture. Think back to your great grandparents and how there was always plastic on the furniture so that it would not get dirty.
Like most animals, even rabbits will spray to mark their territory. They mark their scent on vertical areas as well as in the corners. This is most often seen as male behaviour, but females have been known to spray urine also.
The best way of ending the spraying or preventing it is to have your bunny neutered. This is because spraying is a hormonal issue. Neutering can also prevent fighting or other aggressive behaviours.
6. Urinating on Furniture or the Bed
The bed and the furniture are where the scent of humans is most often found. Out of innocence, the rabbit may decide to mix their scent with yours by urinating and marking that space as territory for you and the rabbit only.
Urinating issues can be quite frustrating as an owner. Until the rabbit grows out of it or is spayed or neutered, all you can do is continuously clean the furniture and your bed. Lifting the furniture higher may help stop the , however, it also may make it harder for those who want to sit on the furniture.
You can attempt to keep the rabbit off the furniture or cover it all with puppy pee pads.
7. Urinating Outside the Litter Box
This is one that even cats will do to their humans. The reasons are likely quite similar also. There would be a couple of reasons that your rabbit urinates outside of the box. One and the most likely one would be that the litter box is dirty and needs to be cleaned. Think of it as a form of rebellion from your rabbit.
Another possible reason is that the rabbit is having a difficult time trying to get into the litter box. Either the litter box is too high or your rabbit does not feel well, or maybe has an injury preventing him from jumping.
For this, you need to clean the litter box daily to keep it clean. Also, see if you can find a shorter sided litter box for your rabbit. Most importantly, check the rabbit closely to be sure there are no injuries that would stop him from jumping.
8. Dribbling Pee
This is evident by a trail of pee that follows the rabbit everywhere they go. It could be because the rabbit has not completed potty training yet due to age. It could be because the rabbit has an infection or sludge buildup.
If you are unsure, please call the vet and take your rabbit in to be checked. Meantime, until you can get to the Vet, try using baby or preemie diapers on the rabbit.
9. Dropping Feces Outside the Box
For the most part, this is another behaviour that is stopped when the rabbit is spayed or neutered. However, there are many rabbits who will continue to do this as a way of marking territory.
Most of the time a rabbit will stop doing this once they feel as if they own the area. Beware though, every time your rabbit finds a new area, he or she is leaving you a present. You can pick it up easily with a broom and dustpan and put it into the litter box and possibly invest in a second litter box and work on convincing the rabbit to use it.
Rabbits are usually gentle creatures. They are very sociable too. Sometimes they do get mean and lash out by biting. This is most often from a past experience that terrified them. Although this too could stem from hormones and territorial beliefs.
Getting rabbits accustomed to each other before pairing them in the same hutch is always recommended. If the aggression is to a person, be sure the person is careful with the rabbit and knows how to hold him. The person may have grabbed too tightly or almost dropped the bunny.