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Ronnie
27-12-2008, 11:11 AM
I have 2 rabbits for my young son a lion head and a lopp. I have had them now for 2 months and have tried to get them used to us but no matter what I do the kick and scratch and TBH I am getting fed up with the injuries that I get everytime I try to move them to clean them out. every time u pick up one it makes this aweful screeching noise and they look scared to death when anyone approaches the hutch.My real worry is injury to my son which I will not tolerate from thenm and am now thinking if I cant stop this then they will have to go to make way for some more. I have had a frienwho keeps rabbits and they cant even help. so does anyone know what I can do... Help.

Stator
27-12-2008, 11:25 AM
How old are they? Are they neutered? How long have you had them?

I'm sure they will get used to you in time, are you picking them up every day?

How are you picking them up?

LionheadLuver
27-12-2008, 11:31 AM
Iif I cant stop this then they will have to go to make way for some more.

Sorry, did I read this correctly? Buying animals for young children is wrong. Did you research before buying the rabbits? Rabbits are naturally nervous animals and it can take months of DAILY handling. When I got my rabbits, I spent every day in their run, just sitting with them, picking them up, stroking them, etc.

CarmenCole
27-12-2008, 11:47 AM
Did you say that one of the rabbits is "screeching"? That is a sign that the animal is in pain, it should really be checked by a vet.

If you are having difficulty handling these 2 rabbits, you really ought to think carefully about getting rid of them to "make way for more", the next lot may be just as nervous, and what do you plan to do with the first lot when you say "get rid"? :shock:

Ronnie
27-12-2008, 11:47 AM
my son is not an infant and we have had rabbits all out lives I had my first when I was 5 I look after them so regardless of my sons age the problem is still there I spend 2 hours a day with them and its getting no better thats all

LionheadLuver
27-12-2008, 12:13 PM
Take them to a vet to have them checked over first.

Sometimes, my rabbits grunt at me, they are just being moody, and you have to just get on with it and pick them up. If you show that you are scared, they'll be scared too. What is their story?

Still, "getting rid to make way for more" is very wrong, and you'll most probably have exactly the same problem with the next lot.

AlisonA
27-12-2008, 12:27 PM
:wave: Oh dear poor you and poor bunnies, they don't sound very happy!

First things first I would suggest a trip to the vet - a bunny that screams is either absolutely terrified or in a great deal of pain, so it's best to eliminate a medical problem as a possibility first. Are they vaccinated? It might also be a good opportunity to get them checked over and given their vaccines :)

Also are they neutered? What gender are they? Sometimes hormones can make bunnies extremely territorial, resulting in biting and scratching especially when you put your hands in their territory e.g. to feed or clean them out, and getting them neutered will eliminate this hormonal territorial behavoiur. Sadly the number one reason for rabbits being handed into rescues is that the child got bored - usually because the pet does not want to be cuddled and is aggressive. Often the rescue finds that all it needs is for the rabbit to be neutered and many of these problems stop! Depending on the age and gender of your bunnies you may have to wait a little longer for this, and in the interim 'teenage tantrums' are pretty normal.

Assuming that the vet gives them a clean bill of health, it sounds at the moment as if you have two bunnies that are just terrified of people. Rabbits are prey animals so their instincts tell them that if they are being picked up, they are being carried off to be eaten (especially if they're being grabbed at because you know that they will bite you if you don't do it quickly). Most of us bunny owners will tell you that our bunnies don't really like being picked up - it's rabbit nature nothing specific to your two - and is in fact one of the reasons that rabbits don't make good pets for young children. Children want to pick up and cuddle their pets, and because of their prey instinces, rabbits in general are frightened by this. Even many people who say that their rabbits are good with their children do not realise that the rabbits are quiet and still because they are frightened, not because they are happy with the situation! Of course there will always be some that genuinely do not mind - but I have to say that this is the exception rather than the rule. If you do not succeed with getting to the stage where you can at least be comfortable with keeping these two (even if they are not the cuddly buns you wanted) I would honestly suggest not getting more, as you are sadly likely to end up with a similar situation, as rescues all over the country will tell you all too well.

I would suggest that you do not continue to pick them up and move them around, as this simply reinforces the behaviour and makes them even more afraid of you (biting and scratching in the way you have described, if not due to a medical condition or hormones, is often down to something called 'fear aggression'...in essence, they learn that by biting and scratching they can make you go away and leave them alone!

You need to get them to associate you with nice things. The easiest way to do this is to hand feed them. I have worked with rescues and fostered a number of seriously aggressive rabbits in the past and have had great success with some techniques...although I have to say the key is patience, it won't happen overnight, and maybe not even for a good few months. Some rabbits simply just don't like being handled, and it's far better to be able to provide them with a natural environment where they can just enjoy being bunnies and you and your son can enjoy watching them behave like bunnies. So I would suggest getting a run attached to the hutch if there isn't already, and giving them plenty of interesting things to do - they don't have to be expensive - several cardboard boxes arranged as hideouts, tubes etc are all great toys and stimulate the buns interest.

I would then get a book and sit in the run with them and completely ignore them. If you've had them a couple of months and they were initially babies, they are probably now getting to the age where they don't need unlimited food, so I would start restricting their dried food to a meal in the morning and evening (although always provide unlimited hay). Then when you sit in the run with them you can put some food on your lap and eventually curiosity will get the better of them and they will start coming over to investigate you. After some time they may start coming up and taking some food off you, and may eventually jump on your lap. The important thing is that it has to be on their terms - and if you move too quickly or try and move to the next stage too soon, you will end up making them scared again.

Also at food times I would put the food in your hand and place it at the edge of the hutch so they have to come towards you to get the food. If they would normally bite you when you do this, wear thick gardening gloves but it's important that you don't flinch your hand away - this will reinforce their behaviour and the sudden movement will also frighten them more. It may take a good few weeks before they are comfortable coming forwards and taking food from your hands. It's then a case of slowly putting your hand further inside the hutch with the food on it, then cupping your other hand over the top of the hand with food, so they get used to the sensation of being touched on their heads when they eat, and once they are used to this, you can start to stroke their heads.

Unfortunately there is no quick fix, it will take a long time, but they should come round in the end. If nothing else I would definitely suggest increasing their space and giving them a large attached run, as then they can enjoy being bunnies and you and your son can enjoy devising new toys and things to interest them, and then enjoy watching them investigate and play with the things you have made. Having it attached also means that they will get to be confident in their accommodation as it can unsettle them being moved around, and of course you won't need to pick them up to move them and they can be in the run while you clean them out. A friend of mine has a rescue where the buns have 30ft warrens to play in - yet far from causing these rabbits to be afraid of humans because they can avoid them, they actually all come running up to the gates to say 'hello'. Giving them plenty of space to fulfil their natural bunny instincts makes for happy confident bunnies :)

Good luck, please let us know how you get on.

bridget
27-12-2008, 12:40 PM
Where did you get your rabbits from?

Rabbits should definitely not make any noise like that - you need to take them to vet straight away! :cry:

Please let us know how you get on.

Ronnie
27-12-2008, 02:32 PM
when I say get rid of I mean give them to a friend who has a massive run where the rabbits can be and not need to be handled its about 200feet square. I have had rabbits for 25 years and never had as much trouble getting them used to me as these ones. the person I got them off had them in not very good condition and I felt sorry for them and that's why I took them. It will screech when being cuddled but likes being petted. believe me I have grown up round animals and am not green as how to look after them properly. plus before you ask I never would disclipin them in any way as I know it does not register with rabbits. I have tried ignoring them which seams to work but every day is back to square one with no progress. they get the best of care and have been checked by the vet. hes putting it down to a cruel or not nice start in life and I am going to have to take time.. its just frustrating when after 2 months they are no different to how they were on the day I got them...

abbymarysmokey
27-12-2008, 02:39 PM
It sounds like these rabbits weren't socialized and handled from a young age, so have grown up scared of humans.

Where did they come from originally? I suspect probably from a breeder with too many rabbits to care for and handle on a daily basis.

Ronnie
27-12-2008, 02:44 PM
they were from a woman who had 70 breeding rabbits in pretty bad condition there were rabbits weaving in the cage and generally untidy they were all being got rid of as she was too old to look after them and what ever ones were not homes were going to be killed so I thought I was doing a good think by taking them

Stator
27-12-2008, 03:57 PM
It does sound like they weren't handled much when they were young.

Have you tried rewarding them with treats from your hand? I've had some success sitting next to their run and poking some treats through the mesh. They now come hopping over when I do this and don't seem so scared of me. Of course when I go to pick them up they still hop away, but they don't seem to be that bothered when I pick them up.

Have you tried just sitting with them whilst they are allowed some time out of the hutch? As long as you sit still they gradually start getting more comfortable around you and come closer and closer to you.

It may be that they will never like humans, but I'd give it a while yet.

happypreso
27-12-2008, 04:09 PM
I have 2 rabbits for my young son a lion head and a lopp. I have had them now for 2 months and have tried to get them used to us but no matter what I do the kick and scratch and TBH I am getting fed up with the injuries that I get everytime I try to move them to clean them out. every time u pick up one it makes this aweful screeching noise and they look scared to death when anyone approaches the hutch.My real worry is injury to my son which I will not tolerate from thenm and am now thinking if I cant stop this then they will have to go to make way for some more. I have had a frienwho keeps rabbits and they cant even help. so does anyone know what I can do... Help.

Hi :wave:

My rabbits dont like being picked up - although when I do, they dont make sounds like you described - but they are okay around me. I too brought them for my son but it is me that looks after them, cleans them out etc and I knew this would be the case when I bought them.

My trick which seems to worked is just sit in the garden/hutch/whever they are and just sit there. They will come to you! After a few times, I started stroking them but let them come and go as they pleased etc and they will get used to you and learn not to be scared of you. I have also fed them some treats/hay this way too and it is lovely! But this wont all happen overnight. I have had my rabbits 4 months and we are only just getting there :) (but have had some other issues like babies to deal with as well).

Like the others have said, rabbits dont make ideal pets for children (I am learning this for myself) as all my son wants to do is pick the rabbits up and cuddle them however they dont want that!! I am teaching him to sit still and let them come to him etc and then he can stroke and fed them ....

lottielouise
27-12-2008, 05:19 PM
My Sophie is a nervous bunny, I got her at 8 weeks, and although I was told she was handled, I don't think she was used to being outside her cage,and she was really nervous.

As Buns are prey animals, I got myself to her level, completely flat, so she could see I was not going to hurt her and ignored her, can you imagine how scared you would be if something more than ten times your height approached you!! I would be running for the hills too!

Also when I approached her cage, I always had something yummy for her. She is getting better with time. she is 16 weeks now and we are getting there. she loves her nose and cheeks to be rubbed, but is still not anamoured with being picked up, and I do get some nasty scratches. She was neutered last week, so I am hoping to see more improvements, as she will have less hormones flying around too

I have to say she is a house rabbit and it is a lot easier to spend time with her, and have her get used to me, as she is in the hallway and has us coming and going.

charlie82
27-12-2008, 05:56 PM
I have a rabbit who came to me like this, who also made a lot of vocal sounds when being picked up, but I persevered with her and it took about six months or so before I was able to handle her without causing her so much stress. If you are being injured when handling her then you aren't picking her up properly or at least in a manner that they are unable to struggle. With rabbits like this I always scruff the neck and support their weight and bum when picking them up (never picking them up just by the scruff). If you can position them so that their head is under the crook of your arm it should calm them down. I would not attempt to walk about whilst holding them and groom them everyday to desensitize them to touch.

I don't think the solution is to 'get rid' as it's simply passing the problem on, and if they are not neutered etc what's going to happen if you put them into a large enclosure like the one your friend has, and who is to say that they will get on with the other rabbits in there...

Also, do you know what sex they are as you keep referring to them as 'it'....

wiggie
27-12-2008, 05:57 PM
Hi there, there have been loads of good advice on this thread so far. I have some experience of very scared rabbits. TJ came from a friend who bought him for her son. he was 12 at the time and still within a couple of months he was bored and poor TJ was left on his own in his hutch for the next 18 months, only taken out to clean out the hutch. When we got him he would lanuch himself at anyone who came near him teeth bared and I honestly wondered if we had done the right thing in taking him on. Anyway it worked in our favour as the kids left him alone for fear of being bitten and I was able to take my time with him. Strangly he was ok to pick up once he was in the corner of the hutch or behind the sofa. Anyway I brought him in every day for a couple of hours and sat watching TV and basically ignored him. He came to sniff then eat then you could touch him while he eats etc but it did take about 6 months to get him how he is today and it was a bit like 2 steps forwards 1 step back at times. He is now the softest sweetest character of a rabbit and I am sooooo glad we took him on. I just takes patience and time.

With our next rescue rabbit Audrey I thought we could do the same as she growled every time we came near but it wasn't to be. She was and is terrified of being picked up so any progress made was destroyed by trying to catch her to put her back in her hutch. What worked for her was getting a hutch run combo and sitting in it as others have said. It still worked in the same way but alot quicker with her, as soon as she realised that she didn't need to be picked up to be fussed:lol::lol:.

Also it might help but with audrey it always helped when we came in the garage we would go to her hutch and say hi. She would run for cover. I would stay in the garage and sort the other buns out talking to them. Then go back to audrey and maybe she would run maybe she wouldn't. Then when she is braver, open the hutch put food in your hand as alison suggested and talk to her keeping my hand at the edge of the hutch. To start with she would just look terrified then maybe she would relax a bit as she realises you are not going to try to touch her. Then she comes to have a sniff.... but don't touch her as she will only run again. Be patient and is sooo tempting to try to push it faster than the bun wants to go. If you have tried for a while and the buns haven't come then that's ok just try again another time. It's all positive as the buns have learned that the person with the nice gentle voice has not tried to touch them so they may have a little more confidence next time.

If you have the time please give it a go as the rewards are amazing for both you and the rabbits.

Sorry to have gone on but I really hope some of the suggestions help and good luck!

steph182
27-12-2008, 09:28 PM
Sorry but saying that you'll need to get rid of them to make space for new ones really upsets me :(. I have a cat who can't stand me, and attacks me daily, so i leave her to it. I wouldn't get rid of her to get a new one.
They're not playthings they're lives who are dependant on you...If you put the effort in then it will be rewarded with them trusting you more.

Charlie doesn't like being lifted or put down (hes ok when he's actually snuggled into me), so I don't do it, I let him come to me when he wants to.

Ronnie
27-12-2008, 11:24 PM
Sorry but saying that you'll need to get rid of them to make space for new ones really upsets me :(. I have a cat who can't stand me, and attacks me daily, so i leave her to it. I wouldn't get rid of her to get a new one.
They're not playthings they're lives who are dependant on you...If you put the effort in then it will be rewarded with them trusting you more.

Charlie doesn't like being lifted or put down (hes ok when he's actually snuggled into me), so I don't do it, I let him come to me when he wants to.

yes but if we and they are not happy then I feel it would be better giving them to my frien where they can run about and do what they like and we can get a couple that are more suitable. they were rescue rabbits and I have tried and in the end its whats best for them... its like having any angry pet. they will just be kept in a hutch that is 4feet long now thats not good. as I dont want to stress them every day lifting them into their run and then putting them to bed at night in the hutch and they cant stay out in the run to freeze to death or be eaten by a fox or the neighbours cat who is already waiting for me to leave the lid off! I am not being petty or cruel but sometimes its better to move on but if I get advice and know what I have been doing is correct I will percivere with them... I am a cat person and generally cats hate u for a reason.. normally you did something to them at one time.. so that would upset me!

LionheadLuver
27-12-2008, 11:28 PM
A 4ft hutch is really not big enough. Is it single storey? Large space, sitting with them, hand-feeding, etc will help. But it'll take longer than a rabbit that has ben handled at a young age. I got my girls from a rescue at 9 weeks old, and I do not know what their history is. They were quite friendly though, a little skittsy, so maybe been around humans but not handled much.

Most rabbits will never like to be picked up, mine just put up with it as i have to pick them up to lift them from hutch to run and visa versa.

steph182
27-12-2008, 11:29 PM
yes but if we and they are not happy then I feel it would be better giving them to my frien where they can run about and do what they like and we can get a couple that are more suitable. they were rescue rabbits and I have tried and in the end its whats best for them... its like having any angry pet. they will just be kept in a hutch that is 4feet long now thats not good. as I dont want to stress them every day lifting them into their run and then putting them to bed at night in the hutch and they cant stay out in the run to freeze to death or be eaten by a fox or the neighbours cat who is already waiting for me to leave the lid off! I am not being petty or cruel but sometimes its better to move on but if I get advice and know what I have been doing is correct I will percivere with them... I am a cat person and generally cats hate u for a reason.. normally you did something to them at one time.. so that would upset me!

I've had cats all my life and have always been good with them...we got one rescue cat who is mental. She randomly attacks for no reason - no ones ever hurt her here. If they're rescue animals you expect them to have some problems, and try to work through them with the animal.
We're lucky that only 1 of our cats has ever had problems.
If you spend enough time with them, they get over the stress and will eventually trust you. Pretty much all new animals need time dedicated to them to help them trust you - I spend a lot of time trying to bond with my cat and it is working, just VERY slowly.

Becky86
27-12-2008, 11:31 PM
yes but if we and they are not happy then I feel it would be better giving them to my frien where they can run about and do what they like and we can get a couple that are more suitable. they were rescue rabbits and I have tried and in the end its whats best for them... its like having any angry pet. they will just be kept in a hutch that is 4feet long now thats not good. as I dont want to stress them every day lifting them into their run and then putting them to bed at night in the hutch and they cant stay out in the run to freeze to death or be eaten by a fox or the neighbours cat who is already waiting for me to leave the lid off! I am not being petty or cruel but sometimes its better to move on but if I get advice and know what I have been doing is correct I will percivere with them... I am a cat person and generally cats hate u for a reason.. normally you did something to them at one time.. so that would upset me!

IMO this is awful :? What about if your 'next' rabbits are the same? A 4ft hutch is not big enough in the first place, this is probably half of the reason the rabbit is so fustrated :? The hutch should be a minimum of 6ftx2ftx2ft. If she is hard to handle why not attach a run to her cage permanetly? Then of an evening when you give them their veg im sure they'd go in their cage easily :?

Sometimes you have to work round them. Several people have asked if theyre neutered... dont think you have answered :?

Also remember a bunny doesnt really like to be 'carried' around, its either fright or flight :?

theres been some really good advice on this thread :)

steph182
27-12-2008, 11:44 PM
Also, what about those poor rabbits?
They had whatever past, which may have been awful, found a new home. Yeah they get stressed when you're there but at least they'll reconise you. Then as soon as they're starting to get used to you, you cart 'em off to somewhere else? Unfair or what?


Did you say they were rescues? I'm surprised someone would expect rescue rabbits to come into a home and be overly happy. Most of them have had horrid lives till they were rescued.

weeble
28-12-2008, 10:13 AM
Hi I have just read through the posts on this and there is some good advice.

When I first got my two girls they had been handled badly picked up by the scruff etc and as their hormones kicked in they got really nasty. They would both lunge at me and bite really hard grunt and scratch to the point I was terrified of them and yes there was a brief point where I thought of giving them to my mum - that was when I joined here and learnt loads :D. After neutering they did get much better so if yours arent neutered this definately needs to be done (will also help protect from cancer). As others have said a 4ft hutch really is a bit small, surprisingly the more space you give them the more likely they are to come to you if you just sit as you arent in 'their' space in quite the same way. I really do hope you can work things out with your buns but remember it could take a long time.

Ronnie
28-12-2008, 12:47 PM
right I will clear things up...

both female

not neutered

the hutch is in the warm garage beside the central heating burner so its nice and toasty. this is where they are put at night the run is 20x10x4 but as it is -4 at night and the neighbours cat is eyeing them up for a snack then I bring them into the garage at night so they done either get eaten or freeze to death!!! personally I don't think this is crewel but very nice of me!!

I don't expect them to be wonderful after their up bringing but all I wanted to know is am I doing things right and after 8 weeks should I expect to see a difference? my other rabbits were so much easier and in the end I am using the rabbits to teach my children about responsibility and caring for animals. my son gets the veg ready and their dry food every night for feeding. its just frustrating that when I go to put them into the run its a full blown fight...

mind you last night I got fed up and was expecting to get scratched to pieces clipping their claws and to my complete amazement, both let be clip claws with no problems what so ever so maybe I am making progress...

as to what about my next rabbits.. I would not take rabbits in that condition again I would get ones from a pet shop where they are handled daily or I would get 2 that are more used to human contact... I have had rabbits for 25 years but never rabbits like this...... Personally I think I have got some very good advice and thank you but I also think some are misty eyed and automatically think I may be abusing them or mistreating them which I can assure you I am not!

LionheadLuver
28-12-2008, 01:04 PM
About hutch, it is still too small for them to be in at night. Get a 6ft hutch and I think they'll be happier.

If they allowed you to clip their claws, then you are definitely making progress. :D

Ronnie
28-12-2008, 01:15 PM
one thing I would like to leave them outside at night but how can I ensure they dont freeze. I have a hutch attached to the run its just a wooden one but I am scared to leave them in it at night incase they freeze. If I lock them up in it at night with plenty of straw would they be ok?

AlisonA
28-12-2008, 01:16 PM
Sounds as if you may be making progress :) The run sounds a great size - I would definitely do as suggested and get in there with them. You may also be able to train them to return to a pet carrier at the end of 'playtime' so that you don't have to handle them back to the cage - you could do this, for example, by rattling the food tin and teaching them that when they go back to the carrier, they get fed :)

I hate to say it but it is actually not helpful to be putting them outside in a run during the day and then bringing them into a toasty garage at night - rabbits have just the one coat so unlike you or I who can put an extra coat on when we go outside, they only have what they are already wearing. So it's really a bit like you having a nice toasty place to sleep then being sent outside in your pyjamas all day without a coat. If they are outside all the time they will grow a thick enough coat to happily cope with the weather as long as they have somewhere warm, cosy and dry to retire to - but if they keep being moved between warm and cold their bodies won't know which temperature to adjust to so they will end up coping poorly with either.

Edit: typed this while you posted above. How big is the hutch that is attached to the run? If it is absolutely packed with straw and hay that should be cosy enough. You could also screw a piece of perspex over the front to help reduce draughts and wind chill (but make sure there is enough gap for ventilation). At the moment, as they are used to being indoors overnight, I would buy a snugglesafe, which is a microwaveable heat pad, and put that in there overnight with them as well. Once they have fully adapted and grown thick winter coats they shouldn't need that, although some people do still use them for outdoor bunnies. I have 4 outdoor bunnies in enclosures attached to a hutch or playhouse and they often choose to sit outside in their pens even if it is raining, snowing, windy...

I really would also strongly advise that you get them spayed soon - apart from the fact that this may now be starting to contribute to their behaviour, having two females living together especially in a 4ft hutch, is a recipe for disaster. My Heather was taken to rescue by her original owner because she was living unspayed in a 4ft hutch with her sister and this had caused them to fight. Heather only has half an ear on one side due to injuries inflicted, so it's also a risk on your purse! Had both girls been spayed earlier and given more space, this would most likely not have happened.

LionheadLuver
28-12-2008, 01:19 PM
Mine are outdoors all the time, although in a sheltered part of the garden, it is still very cold, and they are fine. Put a lot of hay/straw in the hutch and maybe a snugglesafe heatpad too, and they'll be fine. Rabbits are hardier than they look.

honeybunny
28-12-2008, 01:21 PM
two un neutered females will be hormonal..they need neutering which will stop a lot of the territorial behaviour..but as you've kept rabbits for so long I expect you already know this.

Changing them from outside in the cold to indoors near a heater will not be good for them either..it can lead to respitory problems..

A four foot hutch..even for overnight is too small..rabbits do not sleep all night..so need space 24 hours...
And if you were given a lovely big run and enjoyed being out in it..then were taken and locked in the equivalent of a cupboard for at least half your day..I expect you'd be bad tempered.:?
If they are calmer when clipping nails then it seems they are improving:D

bunsmum
28-12-2008, 01:21 PM
Hi I know how frustrated you must feel. From the day I got my lionhead poppy she was an absolute nightmare. I too have kept rabbits since being a kid and never had one like this.

Poppy squeeled like a guinea pig from the day she came home and even with time and patience and nightly runs around the living room she never got any better. She just seems to have always prefered the company of other rabbits to humans. We lost her beloved Barney a couple of months ago but she bonded straight away to a new boy who she loves so shes a softy really with other rabbits.

We got Poppy spayed and the grunting and sqealing has stopped and while she will never be the type of rabbit to like being stroked or fussed over she will now run up to me for treats when I open the patio doors to the garden and I can pick her up without her scratching or fighting.

Hope this helps :D