Fluffy, cute, and docile—we often associate these words with rabbits or bunnies.
With mainstream media making them an icon for anything delicate and harmless, we wouldn’t even consider these little furry friends to be a ball of fury.
By nature, rabbits aren’t always aggressive or territorial. But being at the bottom of the food chain, they’e biologically hard-wired to react quickly to stimuli that threaten them.
So if you’re wondering if rabbits can be aggressive, yes they can, especially when something is threatening or making them uncomfortable.
Yes they do, in the most dire situations. The most common reason for rabbits with aggression problems are due to behavioral issues.
It means that something in their environment or a stimulus has repeatedly made them react in ways to protect themselves. In the wild, they would do one of the 3Fs.
1. Freeze: They stay still and hope their predator will let them go.
2. Flight: Run away as soon as they can from the threat.
3. Fight: Which is the manifestation of aggression for survival.
If your domestic bunny is being aggressive, chances are they’re trying to fight or counter the following stimuli below:
Just like any other animal, rabbits have different temperaments. Some are more aloof and don’t want you to hold them.
Others are easily scared by looming humans with big hands suddenly grabbing them. Just imagine King-Kong or Godzilla grabbing you from above. That’s definitely how they see it.
Unlike the wild, they have nowhere to hide, which can increase their anxiety, so they resort to violence. If this is the case, try to slowly build your connection by doing the following:
If your rabbit is anxious around you, it’s best not to force them to be handled by you.
Encourage them to come closer by offering them treats from afar. Let them narrow the proximity between the two of you.
If you do the trick above, you must stick to it for a couple or more weeks until your rabbit is eating from your hand. It’s a bit time-consuming, but definitely worth it.
Nobody wants to be startled, even us humans. To keep your rabbits relaxed, try talking to them before you touch them. This way, they can associate your sound with your presence.
Imagine having a sore leg or an aching belly while being moved around. Unpleasant, isn’t it? Rabbits are silent animals and rely on non-verbal cues to portray any discomfort.
If your sweet rabbit suddenly becomes violent when you touch them, try checking its body, especially its legs or back, for any injury or wounds.
When you find one, immediately book a trip to the vet to give your furry friend the medical attention it needs.
In connection to pain, some rabbits may develop painful spinal deformities due to an unsuitable living environment.
Rabbits’ natural habitat is spacious and diverse, allowing them to dig, run, and jump around forages.
Their developmental attributes are meant to fit into their environment. That’s why caging them in a cramped space can lead to discomfort and violence.
If you plan to raise happy rabbits, give them ample space to move around. You can also add hiding spaces or something to dig into to keep them in their element.
Some causes of rabbit aggression stem from biological factors—and this one is not your fault.
Though innate, the following factors are manageable by clinical interference or behavior modification.
Though not common, one of the reasons for aggression among rabbits stems from biological factors like hormones.
Hormones are one of the compelling forces for behavior in any living thing. It’s an integral part of a species’ survival. In rabbits, hormones can spike up during puberty, especially for males.
This is also evident during mating season. They tend to become more territorial and aggressive towards any rivals at this time.
This behavior usually dies down by the end of the summer after the mating season.
If your rabbits are showing aggressive behaviors despite not having physical problems and after applying interventions, try getting them spayed or neutered.
Female rabbits can be aggressive or territorial too. This happens during their nesting period or when they’re protecting their little ones.
If you figure that your rabbits may have babies soon, try to avoid touching or disturbing their environment, as this could stress them.
Their senses are also heightened during pregnancy and the rearing period, making them likely to show protective behavior.
Because they’re at the bottom of the food chain, rabbits like to huddle together. They can’t be strong individually, so they feel safer when they’re in numbers.
If your rabbit is alone, anxious, and aggressive around you—try getting them another companion.
Just make sure that other causes of aggression have been ruled out, like hormonal or pain issues. Another rabbit companion while having these issues might worsen the aggression.
Though sometimes directed at humans, rabbits can also display aggressiveness towards their own. This happens a lot among males and if their living conditions are cramped.
Aggressive rabbits may draw blood from one another by attacking with their sharp teeth and claws and even kicking one another.
This could lead to severe injuries or infections that might even kill your rabbits. To prevent this from happening, check out the following tips below:
It’s usual for animals that aren’t litter-mates to take time and get along. If you’re introducing a new rabbit, don’t put them in the same place immediately.
You can introduce them through divisions where they can see each other while eating.
Or let them play in an open space where they could initiate interactions independently. If you spot any signs of aggression, separate them immediately.
It’s best not to put female-to-female or male-to-male rabbits together. Especially if you haven’t gotten them neutered or spayed.
This is especially true for male rabbits as they can get territorial during mating season.
At the end of the day, we all want to enjoy the company of our rabbits without them kicking you or one another.
To keep your hutch peaceful, take note of the following things before you get your rabbits:
When buying your rabbits, make sure that they’ve been exposed to human touch. This would make it easier for them to adjust to a new environment with you.
Socialized rabbits are also less likely to be violent, especially with a loving and caring breeder.
If you’re buying from a new breeder, run some visual checks on your rabbit’s physical condition.
A healthy rabbit has shiny and lush fur, and its sides are even. A pot-bellied or sluggish rabbit may entail some health complications.
It’s best to avoid purchasing these rabbits as they may feel uncomfortable and aggressive at some point.
Getting a pet rabbit needs some preparation.
Some of which is ample space where your rabbits can move around freely. Another is a nutritious diet composed of hay and kibbles to support their nutrition.
Spaying and neutering are one of the biggest fixes for aggression and ensuring your hutch is peaceful. Our rabbits’ hormones are out of our control, but we can help them manage them.
More than for behavioral purposes, it can help prevent overpopulation in your hutch as rabbits reproduce quickly.
If you’re not planning to breed them, getting them spayed or neutered is better.
Aggressive rabbits aren’t common, and often it’s not a lost cause. There are a lot of interventions that we could do to help them coexist peacefully with their hutch-mates and in our household.
Some of which are making sure they’re living in good conditions. This includes strategically planning how many rabbits you’ll keep and if they’re males or females.
Another is to check their health from time to time to spot any physical injury that can make them aggressive.
You can also opt to spay or neuter them to avoid aggression among males during mating season. This could also help control their population.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.