My first reaction, as Tully clamped down on my hand intentionally and angrily, was to be angry back. I didn’t lash out; I just removed him from my flesh.
As I treated the wounds, it changed to sadness. This is the 2nd time he’s done this.
The next morning, I remembered what I learned the last time he did this.
Flash back to the two days before the bite: I’m trying to deal with the disaster that was Tully’s corral. A cage that he liked because it gave him a 2nd level to hide in (bunnies like to feel safe), and a big enclosure so he can run about when I’m not around to supervise. Except he was peeing all over the place, no matter what I did.
So I stripped it down to the bare essentials. I dismantled the cage and cleaned the whole area. I replaced his body-sized litterbox with one 3x his size with high walls. And because I’d found him shredding his foam-square floor, I covered the whole area with a plastic floor protector (like you use in offices under rolling chairs). I gave him several places to hide (a cardboard box with holes at two different places), an area to cuddle on that used the same fuzzy mats as he’d always had, and then I introduced him to it. He seemed fine. He liked it. He hid in the hiding places and lounged in the lounging places. He didn’t pee anywhere but the litterbox. Success, right?
That night, because his water bottle’s bracket had broken in the changeover, I used his food dish for water instead. I reached in to deposit a scoop of pellets (his favorite) on the floor in front of him, and he lunged for my hand and bit down hard and wouldn’t let go. WTF?
See, I had made an agreement with him, and I’d broken it. Previously, I picked up his bowl, filled it with pellets, and he lunged for the bowl when it hit the floor. That last change was one change too many in such a short time, and he had had enough.
I told my boyfriend that Tully speaks English, and got a stare back like “why am I dating this nutjob?” Except this is what I mean: Tully tells me what he wants. When he follows me to the kitchen, he wants food. When he jumps on the couch, without exception, it means “pet me”. He is a clear communicator. This bite, then, was a clear message that he’d had enough changes for one day. It was a harder bite than was necessary (or than another non-rescue bun would give), but I understand it.
(I have no idea how he was treated in his first 10 weeks before he was rescued, but based on his aggressive food-motivated behavior, I expect he was starved. Frequently.)
Here’s some good reading I’ve done since bringing Tully home. I’m so grateful for the internet and how people are willing to share their experience.