Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Trouble in Bunny Paradise

As we've just passed the four month mark in bunny ownership, things with Bonnie the bunny have taken a turn for the worse. Bonnie started out as an inquisitive, friendly, curious bunny. Yes, we had a little issue with her peeing in the doorway every time I came in the room at first, but we seemed to get over that alright.

Slowly, though, Bonnie's begun exhibiting more and more inappropriate and aggressive behavior. It started with her digging at my back while I was sitting on the floor with her, then escalated into nipping (especially at my elbows, of all the weird places) whenever I came in and spent any time in the caged-off area of the room where she's allowed to run free. Then she started charging our feet, especially if we were just stepping over into her area and especially if we were moving over to her cage (to get her fresh hay or water, for example, or to clean the litter box). Now she's taken to biting ankles (Kate, Chris, and I all have been nipped hard enough to break the skin) if we try to step into her "area".

I've read lots of advice for how to gain the trust of an aggressive bunny who starts out aggressive, but I'm just not finding a lot of help on the issue of a bunny who started out sweet and curious and who has developed aggressive and territorial behavior. This morning I let her out of her cage and sat with her to give her some attention since Kate is away at camp all week. The result: she nipped me repeatedly until I put her back in her cage and left the room. I've tried the tips from the experts (except for spraying her with a squirt bottle because I don't actually have a spray bottle and keep forgetting to buy one): I've squeeled loudly, I've tried firmly saying "NO!" and I've tried to assert my dominance by pressing her head and shoulders to the floor as if I am the top bunny. I can present my hand to her to lick, which she does, and she'll let me pet her as long as I want to, then she turns right around and nips me.

This turn of events makes me quite sad, especially because Kate is becoming skittish around Bonnie, out of fear of getting nipped. I can't blame her, I'm a bit nervous about it too. My next course of action is to have Bonnie checked out at the vet but I would be surprised if it were a physical problem. She eats and drinks well, her poop is normal. She has food, a large cage, an area to run free, and numerous toys; she is to all appearances a healthy rabbit with an attitude problem.


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Anonymous Kar Says:

Did you get her from a bunny rescue? Unfortunately, there's usually a reason there at a rescue in the first place. I have a friend that had an awful experience with a rescue dog. They're not always up front (or even knowledgeable) about what the rescue animal's real problems are.

Maybe the vet can offer some advice on why she's suddenly becoming aggressive? It'd be worth checking out. Is there a local breeder you could possibly talk to? Sounds like you need a bunny whisperer.

Blogger Nikchick Says:

We did get her from the shelter, where she had been rescued as a very young bunny. She was found outside, though, not in an abusive situation or given up by owners...

John Nephew is on the board of the Minnesota House Rabbit Society, to my good luck, and he's been giving me some advice on Bonnie's issues. His current guess reinforces my intuition that Bonnie might be cranky because she's in pain (an example would be teeth that are misaligned and not wearing down correctly...her front teeth are fine, but there could be something going on with her back teeth that we can't see, it's not uncommon).

Her behavior is unlike her behavior the first month or two we had her, and it's been gradually intensifying.

Another possibility could be that we were incorrectly told she'd been spayed. If that's the case, she could be hormonal and acting out.

Does look like the next step is a visit to a rabbit vet for a thorough check-up and some advice, though. We just want our sweet-natured bunny back. :(

Anonymous Kara Says:


I'm a softie when it comes to animals.

I hope you can get the little bunbun sorted out.


Anonymous Anonymous Says:

I would disagree that rescued bunnies have been thrown out for a reason. Usually, it is just ignorance. Firstly, make sure that your bunny is spayed or neutered, as aggressive and territorial behavior can often be hormonal. Also, you would probably be cranky if you sat alone in a cage all day. Bunnies need 5-6 hours of exercise a day. There may also be too much sugar in the diet. She should have 75 % of her diet devoted to hay (oat). The other 25% should be leafy vegetables, and i give pellets very sparingly. I have an incredibly aggressive bunny (who i believe was abused and then released into the wild). Bunnies also go through adolescence just like humans. Their behavior durng this period may be rebellious. I had the same problems with my bunny in the beginning, i fed him too much sugar (pellets) and not enough hay. Please don't give up, just because things are difficult at times. I wish you the best.


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