Today, many families decide to take a rabbit as a pet . It is not surprising, since these sweet animals are also very intelligent, which makes them perfect companions at home if they are provided with an adequate education for coexistence.
If you are interested or have already hosted one of these little lagomorphs, you may be interested in learning how to educate a rabbit . For this reason, at ExpertoAnimal we want to help you in this process by providing you with the information you will need in this article.
You may also be interested: How to teach a rabbit where to relieve itself?
- Characteristics of rabbits
- How to gain the confidence of a rabbit?
- How to educate a rabbit to relieve itself?
- How to teach a rabbit not to bite?
Characteristics of rabbits
In order to educate our furry friend, we must first understand what attributes characterize him, since these will determine our way of relating to him.
- They are lagomorphs: rabbits are small quadruped mammals, that is, they rest on four legs, belonging to the order of lagomorphs, which are distinguished from rodents in the fact that they have two pairs of upper incisor teeth (rodents only they have a pair). Furthermore, they are from the Leporidae family, in the same way that hares are.
- Physical appearance: its physical appearance is characterized by having bodies covered with abundant hair with the most varied colorations (white, brown, palomino …) present in a layer of homogeneous, diffuse or spotted color. These animals can weigh between 1 and 8 kilos depending on the breed of rabbit . They also have an oval head, round eyes and their characteristic 5-7 cm long ears, as well as a small tail.
- They are herbivores: rabbits are herbivores and therefore can only feed on vegetables. They have a denture that allows them to gnaw on hard foods that are part of their diet, such as seeds. If you want to know more about what your furry needs, we invite you to read the following article on Rabbit care .
- They are very sociable: rabbits also have strong legs with which they can dig and live in burrows where they are protected and in community with others of the same species, which makes them very sociable animals.
- They are prey: rabbits in their natural habitat are prey, which makes them agile, scary and with a very acute hearing due to their long ears, allowing them to flee at the slightest sound that makes them suspect that a predator is stalking them.
- High reproductive capacity: also, due to their prey status, they have a high reproductive capacity (and therefore proliferation), with the same female being able to give birth to approximately 30 rabbits a year (this is how we call the rabbit pups).
How to gain the confidence of a rabbit?
As we have seen, due to their prey nature, rabbits are usually rather fearful, which can result in more elusive or reserved behavior if we do not know how to properly relate to them. We must also take into account that there are more timid or tame rabbits depending on the breed, for example, Belier rabbits are usually calmer compared to toy or dwarf. Still, each individual is unique and has its own quirks.
1. be patient
Building a satisfactory relationship with our furry from the beginning is very important to be able to educate him and, for this reason, it is very important that when we want to teach a rabbit something, we must be patient , since learning is a process that requires time and, in addition, It will not be beneficial for the welfare of the animal or for it to trust us with the use of punishments, scolding and screaming, since the only thing we will achieve is that it is afraid of us. We must also bear in mind that it can take a few months for a rabbit to adjust to a new home and new people.
2. Let it get closer to you
When interacting with our rabbit, we must try to catch up with them , since these animals are small and will generally always be at our feet. Because of this, as we are taller, they can feel intimidated. For this reason, when you want to interact with him, try to sit near your bunny, on the floor or on the sofa, and let him come to you , since they are curious by nature and if you are patient he will come to inspect you.
3. Avoid sudden movements
When she gets close to you, resist the urge to caress her right away and let her explore you first so she learns that you are not a threat. Then, little by little, you interact with him avoiding sudden movements and initially stroking his body, since he can feel threatened if you touch his face, always using a soft tone of voice (remember that they have a very sensitive ear). Also, be sure to reward him with food that he likes (such as small pieces of carrot, apple, grass …), since thanks to the positive reinforcement you will make him see you as someone trustworthy and to his liking.
4. Pick him up (carefully)
Once you have established a bond of trust and notice that he is not scared by your side, you can try to pick him up . Keep in mind that this can be a complicated step for him, since rabbits generally do not like to be held and the fact of being “up in the air” can generate enough fear, since it is usually predators that lift them from the I usually. For this reason, at first we will hold it for a short time close to the ground, and we will gradually increase its height and time, always rewarding it in the process with gifts and caresses if we see that they like it.
How to educate a rabbit to relieve itself?
To begin, we must bear in mind that rabbits are clean animals which like to have a specific space where they can relieve themselves. However, when they are small they still do not control their stools and, therefore, they will defecate and urinate everywhere. Also, if the rabbit is already an adult, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian to castrate or sterilize it , since this could make its depositions in unwanted places with the intention of marking its territory .
1. Add a corner into the rabbit cage
To educate your rabbit to relieve itself in a suitable place, we will begin the learning process by providing it with a large enough corner unit in its cage, with a specific substrate, so that we encourage you to relieve itself in the appropriate place. In case we observe that the tail is raised with the intention of urinating and defecating outside the corner, we will take it to take it to it, as long as the rabbit does not have problems when you pick it up. On the contrary, if it has a more scary character, we will avoid taking it so as not to create a stressful situation for it.
2. Put your stool on the corner
When our partner does his needs off-site, we will collect them with a cloth or toilet paper to place it on his corner, so that he relates that space to the smell . And also, we will thoroughly clean with a specialized urine product (which you can buy in an animal store) the places where you have defecated or urinated erroneously in order to erase the traces of odor and prevent it from doing it again in the same place. In the same way, as the rabbit will address its corner due to the smell, it is important that when we wash its corner and fill it with clean substrate, we mix it with a little of the old one to preserve the smell and not confuse it.
3. Reward him when you relieve yourself on the corner
Finally, it is also important that we try to educate our furry by positive reinforcement. For this reason, every time we see that he correctly meets his needs, we will immediately reward him with a prize that we know he likes, such as his favorite food or caresses. In this way, we will be able to associate the behavior we want with a positive situation and repeat it more frequently.
If you need more information on how to educate your rabbit to properly relieve itself, we recommend the following article: How to teach a rabbit where to relieve itself?
How to teach a rabbit not to bite?
Although rabbits are popularly believed to be peaceful animals, since they are not predators, they can surprise us and manifest aggressive behaviors such as biting us . If your rabbit has ever exhibited this behavior, it may have scared you and you think it cannot be rectified. Now, it is possible to teach your rabbit not to bite, but for this you must first know the reason why it has bitten you. Let’s take a look at the most common reasons :
1. My rabbit bites out of fear
As we have discussed, rabbits are generally afraid of being manipulated because they are prey. For this reason, if the animal has not yet become accustomed to us, it will flee. On the contrary, if you feel cornered without the possibility of running away (for example, if we hold you in our arms), it is very likely that you will react by biting us.
Also, if we have tried to “educate” our rabbit through aggressive strategies such as physical punishment or screaming, clearly this will be afraid of us and will try to defend itself with the bite. In these cases, it is important that we spend time making friends with our rabbit , so that we lose our fear and learn to trust us.
2. My rabbit bites in pain
If your furry had no problems when you were interacting with him, but has made an abrupt change in behavior by becoming aggressive when you touch him, chances are he has experienced or is experiencing pain. For more information, see this other article on 15 signs of pain in rabbits .
That is, it may have been the case that you have inadvertently hurt him and related you to the bad experience. In this case, we must dedicate time to him so that he understands again that we are his friend and that we will not harm him again.
Or, it could be that you have pain as a consequence of some pathology or injury . In this case, it is important to get him to the vet quickly so he can detect it.
3. The rabbit is angry and bites
Your rabbit may have a rebellious attitude because his welfare is not entirely covered . For example:
- You are not comfortable in your accommodation.
- Because he is locked in his cage for a long time.
- Because you need to run, dig, jump, socialize, and interact with your surroundings.
- Because if it doesn’t come out of the cage, it can’t stretch properly.
- Because you don’t pay attention to them and they feel lonely and angry.
If any of these situations occurs, our rabbit will feel frustrated and can react aggressively. Furthermore, rabbits that cannot stretch properly can develop physical pathologies that cause pain.
Keep in mind that their social needs are covered, since rabbits need to be in company to feel safe. For this reason, a rabbit that sits alone will feel more nervous and can be aggressive accordingly. To resolve this situation, in case the animal spends many hours alone, we should consider living with another rabbit.
4. My rabbit bites because it protects something valuable
Some rabbits can bite when we approach something that is valuable to them , such as:
- Its territory (usually its cage).
- Your food bowl.
- Another rabbit to be your friend.
For the rabbit, it is necessary to protect this element and it may see us as a threat. Consequently, with the intention of defending him or , he may bite us by putting his hand closer, for example.
Once again, we must build a bond of trust from the beginning in our rabbit to prevent this situation from occurring. In these cases, to rectify this behavior, we must gradually approach this element that the rabbit wants to protect, and reward it as we get closer and do nothing to us. We must be very patient , since depending on the individual, it may take a few days to learn. And we will have to act progressively, avoiding forcing the situation , since it could bite us again and do a bad learning again. In case he harms us again, we must avoid scolding him at all costs because we will only achieve the opposite effect to what we want, since we will become an even greater threat.
5. Why does a rabbit bite? – hormones
Rabbits can show aggressive behavior towards us or other rabbits generally in the spring , which is the rabbit’s natural breeding season. This aggression is hormonal and indicates a normal desire to defend its territory and alienate any rival.
If we have ruled out the above causes, we should take him to a veterinarian , as this behavior must be reduced by castration or spaying.
For more information, you can read this other article on Why does my rabbit bite me?