I saw a question on Yahoo! Answers that upset me a bit. The person had hit their new rabbits because they had scratched them, and was now asking if they held grudges. Poor buns 😦 Anyway, here’s my guide to humanely (or should I say rabbitely) dealing with a naughty bunny.
I’ve divided them into three categories: attacking, being cheeky and destroying.
Rabbits scratch because they don’t trust you and think you want to eat them. Whilst some rabbits mellow a little, others still think anything with a new smell wants to take a bite out of them – including new types of vegetable. (Pixel and the killer broccoli incident springs to mind. He took 2 hours before re-sniffing the green mini-tree before deciding he could it eat and not the other way round). If you try and pick up a rabbit who does not trust you, they will try and scratch you to pieces. They may also wriggle out and run away from you.
Solve this by picking them up correctly and more importantly getting the bunny to trust you. You should pick up a rabbit with one hand under the belly and one under the bum. Scoop and put the weight on the bum. If you let a rabbit go upside-down they will go into a sort of trance. Please don’t do this unless needed for medical purposes.
To get a rabbit to trust you, it has got to recognise you as a friend. Rabbits have good smell and hearing but not so hot vision. Spend as much time with them as possible. Read books or use your laptop on the ground next to them, so they see you as harmless. When you feed them, stick around and give them a pat. Once they trust you, you can give head massages. They will grind their teeth if they like it.
If a rabbit trusts you, they generally don’t fight back when being lifted. The naughtiness then falls into the second category – being cheeky.
My bunnies know exactly when they are going to be swapped over or when they are being chased out of a room. Since they don’t fear me, Nybble especially, will run circuits around my feet and be a little horror. This is their way of playing about and there’s not much you can do! Barricade areas, give taps on their bums to tell them what direction to go, corner them and try and pick them up.
Nybble usually gets annoyed at me and Steven trying to catch him and soon gives up. He shows his displeasure by flicking his back legs at us all the way to his home and them gives an almighty pissed-off thump. Two seconds later he’s happily receiving pats and treats, so don’t worry too much about annoying your bunny. Just make sure they like you first!
Rabbits like to dig. What’s better than a corner of a room with carpet? You can find corner protectors on the internet (an example in use) or just put mats/cardboard in the corners. Bunnies also like to chew wall edges and strip wallpaper. I put chicken wire along the bottom of my kitchen wall, and this has stopped that. Wires are the worst because they can kill your rabbit. This is what Pixel does to cat-5 cables. Buy cable protectors and give your rabbits a bit of cable to play with as a deterrent if they are particularly drawn to them.
Telling a bunny off, bunny style
To ‘tell off’ a bunny you can do two things. If they are playing up, such as digging your foot, you can let off a high pitched shriek. This is the sound a rabbit makes when in pain, so hopefully they will associate their action with your pain. Secondly you can force their head to the ground with a hand. This shows them you are boss. Don’t do it too hard though!
When bunnies are a bit upset at you they will face away from you, hop away flicking their hind legs, stop and look back at you and repeat. You can do the same! It’s not worked with me, but the rabbit might come over and nudge you as a sort of apology. To apologize to them, try and give them a nudge and a pat on the head.