Rabbits are such adorable little pets that you may not think that one could bite you. Except that some rabbits do nip or bite their owners, but why? What did you do wrong? And did you do something wrong?
When a rabbit bites its owner, a specific stressor sparks the bite. It could be food aggression, sexual maturity and raging hormones, a need to establish dominance, boredom, or self-defense. A rabbit’s bite can break your skin, so you want to nip this behavior in the bud ASAP.
It starts with knowing what triggered the biting behavior in the first place.
Biting is unwanted behavior in a pet rabbit, so let’s look into this more closely and how you can get your bunny to stop biting you.
Should You Be Worried If Your Rabbit Starts Biting You?
Rabbits are more known to nip at their owners. Rabbits nip at you in a display of care or love, or when it requests attention, to be petted, or when wanting to be left alone.
Nipping can get quite annoying as a nip can be a little painful (like a sharp pinch), and a small bruise can show on your skin. With training, you can get your rabbit to stop nipping, once you know why it nips at you.
The same can be said for a bite. However, a bite is much more serious. A rabbit’s bite, if done with a lot of intent, can result in a bloody wound. This is the behavior you want to put a stop to as soon as possible.
If you don’t, then this behavior can quickly escalate and even become destructive. Getting to the root cause of why your bunny is suddenly biting you is important.
You may realize that there are aspects in your rabbit’s life that need to change, or you may discover how you interact with Ms. Fluffles needs to change.
Since rabbits are not naturally aggressive animals, they usually choose to flee instead of fight, and biting is a last resort action.
So, yes, you should be worried if your bunny starts biting you.
Reasons Why Your Rabbit Bites
There are various reasons why your fluffy long-eared pal may decide to bite you. Let’s look at the most common reasons.
Protecting Its Kits or Territory
Rabbits may display territorial behavior in several instances. A doe (female rabbit) may protect its kits if you come too close to the nest. Even a pregnant rabbit will get defensive, and this only gets worse the closer it gets to kindling time.
In general, however, all rabbits feel territorial about their cage, toys, and food. Thus, a bunny may bite you if it feels like you are touching what the rabbit considers as theirs.
The rabbit sees their cage as their safe space, and if threatened, it’ll protect this space by biting and other defensive behavior.
Wild rabbits need to establish a social hierarchy within their warren. To assert dominance, these rabbits bite, snort, and lunge at each other.
Your pet bunny may want to try to assert dominance over you by taking a bite or telling you to move away.
When a dominant rabbit bites you, make noise and gently push your rabbit’s head to the floor for a couple of seconds to make it understand that you are the dominant person.
If a rabbit is bored, biting is only one of the destructive behaviors it may display. Rabbits are intelligent animals, so ensure you have lots of toys and play tunnels and regularly exercise your bunny to keep it entertained.
Acting in Self-Defense
As prey animals, rabbits may either fight or flee when it feels threatened. If it can’t escape, the bunny may lunge out and bite you. Rabbits who are not familiar with their owner don’t like being picked up, hugged, and cuddled as they are scared and worry they can’t get away.
In the wild, rabbits compete with other rabbits for food, and when this resource is scarce, they fight with each other. This behavior can be observed with pet rabbits too.
If you have more than one rabbit in the hutch or cage and they are not bonded, the bunnies can bite each other to defend their food. Mr. Fluffles can bite you too if it somehow thinks that you are a threat and it wants to protect its food.
Reaches Sexual Maturity
When a rabbit reaches sexual maturity at three to four months of age, it’s quite common for rabbits to bite, kick, or scratch at you. Spaying or neutering your pet rabbit should eliminate biting behavior.
How Do I Get My Bunny to Stop Biting Me?
There are a few ways you can get your rabbit to stop biting you.
Find out What Triggers the Bite
The first step is to determine the stressor that leads to your rabbit biting you. Your bunny may feel threatened or scared, so note what sets off this unwanted behavior.
Neuter or Spay Your Rabbit
Neutering or spaying your pet rabbit eliminates biting behavior that results from raging hormones. However, after being neutered or spayed, your bunny may still want to bite you for a short while.
Keep a Distance From Pregnant and Mother Does
If your bunny is pregnant and nesting or is nursing her kits, it’s best to keep your distance. Only approach if you have medical concerns. Stay calm and move slowly when you need to approach.
Prevent Territorial Biting
If your bunny is biting you because it’s territorial while you need to clean out the cage or hutch, then move the litter box out of the enclosure. You can also move your rabbit’s water and food bowls to another part of the cage.
When your rabbit is aggressive, it is vital that you remain calm. Teach your bunny that you aren’t a threat. So don’t stay away.
Instead, show your rabbit affection when it displays good behavior and this has the bonus of teaching your bunny what is acceptable.
Disciplining your bunny by swatting its nose or whacking it won’t break the bad habit of biting you. It can actually be dangerous to do this as it can injure your bunny or make Ms. Fluffles fear you and see you as a threat.
Rather, ensure your bunny sees you as a source of food and affection, and retrain your rabbit by reassuring it that you mean no harm.
Do Rabbits Bite Hard?
If a rabbit bites you, it can break the skin and it will hurt a lot. It will be a small wound but it will be bloody.
To masticate its food that comprises hay, pellets, leafy greens, and veggies, a rabbit has sharp front teeth and strong muscles. So yes, rabbits do bite hard, especially if it isn’t just a nip.
It’s rare that a rabbit will resort to biting you. When it does, you want to stop this behavior by first understanding what is triggering it and then taking action.
Never discipline your bunny; this does more harm than good. Remember to stay calm, retrain your rabbit if needed, and reward good behavior.