When rabbits chase each other, it’s not always an indication that something is wrong. However, you should keep an eye on them, especially if they are still in the process of bonding.
It’s important to find out what is at the root of this behavior before it escalates. Chasing can lead to fighting on occasion, which will make it harder to separate the two rabbits and resolve the issue.
Chasing can sometimes be an indication that your rabbits are actually bonding. While it can look scary, know that this is the way that rabbits communicate with each other. Watch for signs that this chasing is a way that they are playing together.
Some things that rabbits like to do with other rabbits that they are bonded to is run or jump around. They might also rip up any paper or play with some toys. All of these are good signs and indicate that your rabbits are just having fun together.
When two unbonded rabbits are chasing each other, watch to make sure that there is no aggressive action being taken by either rabbit. If they lunge at each other or mount each other, it’s time to separate them for their own safety.
What to Do if Your Rabbits Are Chasing Each Other
The first thing that you should do when your rabbits are chasing each other is to establish whether or not they are in any kind of danger. You should be extra vigilant to make sure that it doesn’t turn into a fight.
If two bonded rabbits are chasing each other, it’s more likely that they are simply playing, unlike when two unbonded rabbits are chasing each other. When rabbits are unbonded, they are likely still fighting over dominance.
While fighting for dominance is natural with animals and can’t be avoided, you should still watch over them and interfere if it looks as if either rabbit is going to seriously injure the other.
Rabbits are habitually territorial animals and prefer to live more solitary lives. In the wild, rabbits don’t stay in large groups as other animals might. Your rabbit has this ingrained in its mind so it’s not unusual for some lighthearted playing to turn into a small fight.
How to Tell if Your Rabbits Are Fighting
It can be hard to tell if your rabbits are actually fighting. Frequently, rabbits will communicate through harmless nipping at another rabbit. Rabbits might nip each other as a reminder to stay out of their personal space or it could be a way to play.
Is your rabbit nipping, jumping back, and nipping again? This is most likely just normal, playful behavior. However, nipping could have the potential to escalate to fighting if the receiving rabbit is not receptive to the other’s playfulness.
If your rabbit makes a sudden, very aggressive advance toward another rabbit (not just a small nip), it is likely that they are fighting. You should separate them immediately so that neither of your rabbits gets hurt.
Regardless of the reason for nipping, you should separate your rabbits if you have any reason to believe that they might harm each other.
How to Separate Fighting Rabbits
When your rabbits are fighting, it might be tempting for you to step in by yelling or making a loud noise. If you think that they are in danger, it could be hard not to go with your first reaction.
Yelling at your rabbits or making a noise such as a loud clap is a good way to stop the fight but it also punishes your rabbits. Animals can’t always tell purpose or tone the way that a human can so it’s possible that startling your rabbits as a way to stop a fight will actually cause more harm than good.
Be careful when using a punishment when they are fighting and only resort to punishment if there are no other good options in your situation. Keep in mind that punishments such as loud noises will cause a lot of stress for your little rabbits and may cause anxiety.
Once you have your rabbits separated, you might think that you should move the rabbits far away from each other, such as putting them in separate rooms. This is a bad idea, because it will make it harder to reintroduce them when they have calmed down from the fight.
Keeping the rabbits near each other is especially important if they are already bonded since separating them might mean that you have to go through the process of bonding them all over again.
Instead of moving the rabbits far away from each other, put them in different secure locations where they are still within eyesight of each other or where they can smell each other. You could even just build a barrier between them within their regular enclosure.
If they aren’t already bonded, though, it might be a better idea to keep them a little further apart. In doing this, you will be keeping them both safe while still giving them time to become familiar with each other.
How to Bond Your Rabbits
Ideally, your rabbits will get along. It will take time for them to bond with each other. Sometimes even already-bonded rabbits can become unbonded. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as if one of the rabbits smells a little different than usual or when they don’t see each other for an extended period of time.
If your rabbits were bonded and then had a fight serious enough that they had to be separated, you will have to start the bonding process over entirely, starting from the very beginning as if they are meeting for the first time.
Once your rabbits are calm enough, you can place them next to each other, side by side. Try to pet both of them and let them get used to being next to each other with you in front of them. Both rabbits should trust you so it will make it easier for them to stay calm if you are petting them.
Keep in mind that your rabbits will pick up on any behavioral or emotional cues from you. This means that if you’re stressed, your rabbits will be stressed too! Remember to stay calm when you’re helping your rabbits.
If you’re calm, it will show your rabbits that it is okay for them to be calm as well. In this same position, you can feed your rabbits food or treats. This will act as a reward and they will begin to associate each other with the good feeling they get when they eat treats.
How to Tell if Your Rabbits Are Bonding
Bonding is a process that can take a lot of time so you’ll have to be patient and put a lot of time into helping the rabbits get along. One sign that your rabbits are bonding is that they can coexist peacefully.
That might seem a little obvious, but the most important thing about bonding is to get your rabbits to stop fighting so that they can both feel safe.
Another sign that your rabbits are bonding is if they are grooming each other. Grooming is a way for them to familiarize themselves with the other rabbit and is a great sign that they will get along well in the future.
When your rabbits are fully bonded, they will spend a lot of time together. They will play, groom, and eat around each other. If you notice that your rabbits are spending some time apart or that they are not interacting with each other as they usually do, don’t worry too much about it.
Sometimes rabbits need their own personal space, just the same as humans do. As long as they are not fighting, you should have nothing to worry about. They will go back to playing together and grooming each other soon.
A bonded pair of rabbits will always have a dominant rabbit and a subordinate rabbit. To establish this hierarchy, they will have to fight or bicker on occasion, especially when they are still bonding. While this is normal behavior for rabbits, it’s still your job to make sure that neither of them is getting hurt in this process.
If you’re curious about which rabbit is the dominant rabbit and which is the subordinate, watch their behavior. Does one of them always eat first? Which rabbit grooms the other rabbit more often than they get groomed? Your dominant rabbit might get priority not just over food and grooming but with your attention as well.
Make sure to give both of your rabbits plenty of attention, and keep them happy and safe.
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.