Making Friends with Bunny

Making friends with a young rabbit can be uncertain waters when trying the first time. It's very easy to upset them and it's very easy to feel like you're walking backwards as you do it. Let's start off by saying: it's okay. Everyone who has had rabbits has been there at one point.

Every rabbit is as different as you or I. They have different preferences in food, different preferences in how they care to be approached--everything like that. So how do you learn these?

Observation

After the initial settling in period of a few days, you'll have your first chance to really watch your rabbit. By now, your rabbit will know its way around the cage comfortably. Hay rack is over here, water bottle is over here--they'll have even established their own restroom corner in that period of time.

Try not to stare your rabbit down as you observe it. A hard stare will make a rabbit nervous. It's what a hawk does to them just before it swoops down, after all. Instead, keep your eyes on your phone or a book and observe out of the corner of your eye. This passive glance will make your rabbit comfortable enough to interact with its environment as it does when you aren't there.

Interaction

Now that you've seen how your rabbit interacts with its surroundings, you probably have a few ideas on how to make friends. Is it particularly attached to a type of hay? That's a great treat to bond with. Is it a very active rabbit that just wants to binky everywhere it goes? You may want to teach it to chase you! A lot of rabbits love a game of tag, so long as they're always the one that's "It".

Most of the time it's best to start with treats. Put the treat in the center of the cage and sit a little closer. Slowly decrease the distance between you and the treat until the rabbit is eating out of your hand. This could take days. It may even take close to a month for some rabbits. Trust will come with time. Be patient.

Letting Your Rabbit Tell You

Rabbits are incredibly good at telling their owners when they've had enough. While we don't encourage allowing them to stomp their cage, if they back off and huddle in a corner it's time to stop for the day.

Stomping

Stomping is a sign of defensive, territorial, or mating behavior, depending on the age of the rabbit. There are a few rabbits out there that stomp for fun (like Zane), but it is almost always a very fierce sign. If your rabbit is in a corner and stomping, take the treat away. Don't force yourself on the rabbit, but don't reward bad behavior either. Your rabbit will learn there is nothing to be gained from stomping and will, eventually, stop the behavior.

We speak so strongly of stomping because it can lead to cage guarding behavior. Much like a resource-guarding dog, rabbits can get pretty tense about their cages. Stomping is never acceptable.


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