Obsession Thursday: Bunny behavior

photo of my hand with healing rabbit bite marks
I got bit.

So this happened. —>

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.

Prove that you love me (lots more on that site about behavior!) | Aggressive rabbits


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5 thoughts on “Obsession Thursday: Bunny behavior

  1. Sharon

    Wow! That’s some bite! I know very little next to nothing about having a rabbit as a pet. I keep up with your knitting obsessions and other things but always love learning how to be the owner of a pet rabbit. I am a dog lover myself but am always intrigued by others love of other types of animals. I read all those articles and who knew so much about dominance in rabbits! Fascinating! Good luck with Tully! He is precious!

  2. Amy Singer

    A rabbit bite this hard is very rare. All my rabbits have given tiny nips at some point, which is normal. Tully has a background of which we can know nothing, so I cut him some slack. And he’s so wonderful 98% of the time, he’s worth it.

  3. rc

    I didn’t realize buns could bite so hard but it makes sense given you don’t know his history. Poor babe. 🙁 I hope it doesn’t hurt too bad as it heals!

  4. Claudia

    I, too, have a bunny (also a rescue), and he’s insane about his pellets. He nipped at me to get to them the other day, and I’ve since decided it’s best to take up his dish, put the pellets in there, and let him have them. This is my first bunny, so there’s so much to learn. I’m glad you’ve interpreted his behaviour in a way that didn’t make you get rid of him. Thanks for the links.

  5. Jocelynn

    I had no idea about rabbits and this behaviour. What an eye opener. I’m happy for Tully that he has a safe place with someone willing to learn and love him. I hope you heal quickly.

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