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Behavior Problems in Rabbits

You’ve had your sweet, adorable bunny for a few months now, and all of a sudden, he is the antithesis of the cuddly Easter bunny – he is a monster. He now runs from you, no longer uses his litter box, bites, scratches, and doesn’t want to be held.

Not to worry; you have entered the terrible teenager stage in your bunny’s life. Ask any parent of a teen how things changed. Your bunny is similar in that his hormones are altering his behavior, and maturity is setting in.

There is no quick fix. There is a “fix” of a different kind, however, that will help tremendously: spaying your female and neutering your male rabbit. This will curtail the abominable behaviors (spraying, biting, loss of litter box habits). After 4 months, it is safe to alter your bunny if you find a good rabbit veterinarian. You need to know that it can take up to a month for your bunny to settle down, so don’t expect immediate results.


First, your rabbit does not need rabies shots or any preventative shots as does your dog or cat. A rabbit’s bite is more of a pinch, but nevertheless it can bruise, break the skin, and hurt. How to avoid being bitten by even the sweetest bunny:


Often you will find a biting rabbit was mistreated as a youngster. Many were abused, hit, or kicked. It takes a long time for any animal to regain the trust of a human, even if you are not the person who abused him. It can take up to, or longer than, a year.

Make sure there is nothing medically wrong with your bunny. Impacted molars, teeth problems and pain can all cause a rabbit to bite. A trip to a good rabbit vet can rule these problems out.

You need to find a cage, perhaps a top loading one, large enough for you to maneuver your bunny in and out easily. The front cage door cages are too difficult. Better yet, find the collapsible dog fences for inside and enclose your bunny in such a pen, allowing you easy access to him through a large gate. You can also use a spare room with a baby gate. You will need patience, a lot of quiet time, and something to read. Sit on the floor with this monster bunny and read, write, pay your bills…the idea is just to be there. Have a treat ready for him, so should he lunge to bite, your hand shows him a treat instead.

NEVER ever hit a rabbit or tap him on the nose. He will see this as a challenge, and you will get hurt. They never forget; so be careful to choose the behaviors you want him to remember. You can offer a strong command of, “No” when you are bitten, or spray water in his face, but nothing more than that. Let him see your hands mean only good things: a treat, petting, and so on.

It will take TIME, but little by little, he will come to trust you, sit by you, and enjoy your company…and you, his.


Both of these annoying behaviors will be greatly curtailed after spaying and neutering (it may take up to a month afterwards).

On a final note: Many expect the cuddly Easter bunny to be that way forever. In reality, your bunny will grow up, just as we did, and not want to be held, carried, or hugged like he did as a baby. Allow him to grow up, as we were allowed to. Knowing this will prepare you for a long relationship with the mature rabbit.