Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Question from the Audience: The New Bunny

A question from Murat D. in Crangston, RI:
Q: We just bought a 7 month old, male, neutered lionhead rabbit yesterday. He is so scared from us because whenever I leave him to go out from the cage, he hits his legs on the floor strongly and never come near us. Can you tell me what to do in the first days of adopting a rabbit? Do we need to keep him in the cage all the time or stay near his cage? I really do not know what to do. Also when I want to put him back in the cage do I need to follow and catch him or wait for him to go by himself.

A: A new bunny is going to be terrified when it's first brought home and will probably need a few days to adjust. The thumping behavior is indicating that he feels scared and threatened. The best thing to do is leave him alone, and never force him out of his cage. After a few days, he should calm down a little. When he looks more relaxed, open the cage door and sit down next to his cage. You don't need to initiate any interaction with him; in fact, it's best if you just ignore him, and read a book or watch TV. Eventually, your rabbit will come out and explore the area, and ultimately approach you. When he does, let him sniff around and wait some time before petting his head and cheeks. The key is to let him approach you while you wait patiently.

Mental stimulation is crucial for keeping your bunny happy, so make sure your bunny is getting plenty of daily free time out of his cage. As for getting him back in his cage, don't chase him in. Try using a treat (a raisin, a piece of banana, apple, a stalk of cilantro, or a commercial rabbit treat like Yogurt Drops) to lure him back. Or try to work feedings around the time you need to get him back in his cage. If you're having trouble, you can try "herding" him in, but it's not a good idea to pick him up and physically put him in his cage. For further advice on interacting with your pet rabbit, read "Holding and Aggression" and "The Essentials: Approach," which outline how various human behaviors can be interpreted by your bunny.

1 comment:

Tara said...

I have two rabbits, but one is male and one is female so i must keep them separate until they are fixed. we only have one cage so i just alternate them being out and being in the cage, but I always catch them and put them in because if I try herding them in they hide under the couch, and if i try luring one of them in with a treat he/she figures out what im doing when we get to the cage and loses interest in the treat. They both basically HATE the cage. When they're in it, they chew and dig and bite the wires. What can i do to make it a more appealing place for them since one will always have to be in there? Atleast for the next few months