Have you ever been so worried when your rabbits started fighting each other, and it got so violent that you thought they might kill each other? Is it even possible for rabbits to kill each other?
Rabbits can kill each other, and this is even more likely if two unneutered bucks (male rabbits) are fighting each other. It isn’t usual for pet rabbits to fight each other to death, but one or both rabbits can die as a result of the injuries they sustain.
Let’s see why rabbits would fight, what you can do to prevent them from fighting, what a rabbit fight looks like, and more.
7 Reasons Why Rabbits Fight
Rabbits are such cute animals that it is difficult to think they could be ferocious and attack, and possibly even kill each other.
But the truth is that rabbits are animals, and just like people, they fight to communicate with each other and show the other bun who’s boss.
Reason 1: Establish Dominance
In the wild, rabbits live in underground burrows with their warren, and rabbit society is hierarchical with an alpha rabbit.
Wild rabbits will fight to establish dominance, especially if there are two bunnies that believe each of them should be the family leader.
This dominance instinct has stayed with domesticated rabbits. So you may see that your buns fight each other to establish dominance.
Reason 2: Hormones
Bucks become sexually mature around the 4-month mark. With hormones raging, the two male rabbits can attack each other in a bid to establish territory.
They can also fight for the right to mate if they have a doe (female rabbit) or just because they are sexually frustrated.
Reason 3: The Bonding Process
When you start introducing two rabbits during the bonding process, they may fight unless they’ve fallen in love at first sight or become instant friends.
The chances of two stranger bunnies getting along from the start are rare, so it’s better to be patient when bonding two rabbits.
If you rush the bonding process, then it’s very likely that the two strangers will fight because they don’t know each other, they don’t like each other, or they want to decide on the pecking order (who will be Boss Bunny?).
Reason 4: Sickness, Injury, or Old Age
When the dominant rabbit is sick, injured, or aging, the other one may see that the dominant rabbit is now weak(er).
This may cause the submissive rabbit to pick a fight to establish dominance.
A sick or injured rabbit may also lash out and fight another rabbit because they aren’t feeling well.
Reason 5: Rabbit Cage or Hutch Is Too Small
When the rabbit cage or hutch is too small for your buns, they may fight each other over territory and because they feel stressed.
Reason 6: Boredom
When your buns aren’t physically and mentally stimulated, they become bored. And to alleviate boredom, they engage in aggressive behavior that may result in fighting.
Reason 7: Scarcity of Food and Resources
If food and other resources are scarce, rabbits will fight, sometimes even till death, in a bid for survival.
Ways to Stop Rabbits From Fighting
To stop your rabbits from fighting, follow these best tips:
Way 1: Neuter or Spay Your Rabbits
Neutering or spaying your rabbits means they don’t have hormones raging through their body and they’ll have an overall calmer demeanor.
Way 2: Take Action ASAP
When you see that your buns are fighting, don’t stand there and see how it plays out. It’s better to take action now than to wait and deal with injuries, broken bones, or even death later.
So once you see that the rabbits are fighting and not playing, step in.
Way 3: Make a Loud Noise
Making a loud noise like clapping your hands together will let your buns know they’ve gone too far.
Way 4: Use a Spray Bottle
Keep a spray bottle with water ready, so if your rabbits start fighting, you can spritz them a few times to help break up the fight. Don’t soak them as this can lead to hypothermia if they don’t dry off.
Way 5: Move the Rabbits Apart
Have arm-length gloves ready and put these on first to help protect your arms from the rabbit’s sharp claws.
Then move your rabbits apart and put one in a separate cage.
What Does a Rabbit Fight Look Like?
What you see as rabbits fighting each other may actually just be the rabbits playing because mounting, biting, and chasing each other can be playful.
The best way to identify bunnies that are fighting is to look at the intent and pursuit.
A fight will be vicious, and you won’t be in doubt that it is a fight, while if the rabbits seem like they are fighting but could be playing, it may make you doubtful.
Look for these aspects to identify a fight between buns:
- Lots of aggressiveness
- Continuous mounting (which isn’t just sexual but also to establish dominance)
- Kicks and swipes to the head, face, and other vulnerable spots
- Chasing each other in a circle
- Bites to rip out fur and break the skin
Why Are My Rabbits Fighting All of a Sudden?
There are various reasons why your buns could be fighting all of a sudden.
Stress is a major cause of rabbits fighting each other. What can cause your buns to stress?
- Introducing a new rabbit
- Being bored
- Not getting enough exercise
- The rabbit enclosure was too small
- One or both rabbits being sickly
- Not enough water, food, bedding, etc.
Other reasons for rabbits suddenly fighting are:
- Rabbits breaking their bond
- Moving or changing the rabbit enclosure
- To establish dominance
- When the buck wants to mate but the doe doesn’t
- When bucks become sexually mature
Should I Separate My Rabbits to Prevent a Fight?
It is best to carefully watch the rabbits and only separate them when they are actually fighting.
If you are trying to bond two rabbits, separating them will mean the bonding process will take longer.
And if the rabbits start to fight, whether they are getting to know each other or establishing dominance, it’s better to be ready and break up a fight than it’s to keep rabbits separated forever.
My Last Bunny Thoughts
Rabbits can kill each other when they fight, or a rabbit can die because of severe injuries and infection that can set in from scrapes or cuts.
It’s essential to bond rabbits properly, and break up any fights between unbonded or bonded rabbits as soon as you can.
Also, ensure your rabbits are neutered or spayed, their enclosure is big enough, they get enough exercise and have toys to play with, and there’s enough food and other resources to prevent fighting.