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Thread: Biting?!

  1. #1

    Default Biting?!

    Hello everyone!
    Recently I purchased a beautiful Mini Lion Lop who I have named Benjamin. He's currently a little over 10 weeks old and is very well socialised.

    Over the last few days he's started biting. Not full on biting, but what I call "warning bites" that don't break the skin. He does it when we go to stroke him or sometimes when he's on our laps and having a cuddle. This is especially weird as he seems to be in a great mood, even binkieing just before I go to say hi to him.
    His diet is mostly hay but I also feed him Rabbit Royale as that's what he was fed before I got him. I was told I was over feeding him the Rabbit Royal so over the last 4-5 days his portion has shrunk from a bowlful (I hadn't done my research and feel so silly for giving him so much!! ) down to a handful or a tablespoons worth. He has an indoor run and an outside hutch. The hutch isn't currently complete as we don't want to put him on grass yet so he is in the top most section which is 2.5 foot long (ish) and about half as wide. the indoor run is about 1.4m square and 0.7m high (ish) so he has a lot more room to explore and jump in.
    He hasn't been neutered yet because the vets can't see his testacles as they haven't dropped yet. Could this be the reason?

    Would really appreciate some insight on the causes and what I can do to help stop this behaviour, he's my first bunny and the books I'm currently reading don't have anything on behaviour in them. Thank you!


    (ps- sorry for any bad spelling, dyslexia makes spelling troublesome!)

  2. #2
    Warren Scout Preitler's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry too much. He's hitting puberty, and they sometimes become rightout jerks in this time.

    Imho, when he nips you do not react. Do not set him down, or whatever he wants, or he learns that nipping is a way to get what he wants.

    Even my buck, a laid back 9lbs dude, nips sometimes when he's angry because I carry him somewhere, doesn't matter, it's not too bad.

  3. #3

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    Ok, thank you! Like I said he's my first bunny so I'm still learning. Thank you!

  4. #4

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    My male bunny did this right up until he was neutered - it's only been a few weeks, so I've yet to see if it's stopped or not! Are you picking him up/stroking him against his will? The only time we picked ours up was to groom and trim nails, and we used to get nipped quite frequently then if we did something he objected to; stroking, we would lean down/sit with him to stroke, but if he turned away or moved out of reach, we let him go. If you're picking him up for strokes or cuddles, that might be why the nipping. My best advice from our experience is to only force him into your lap when necessary, i.e. for grooming, and let him go as soon as you're done (the one exception being if he bites - I agree with Preitler that it's better to then hold him a bit longer, so he doesn't associate biting with getting his own way). Also try and distract him, eg with some favourite veg (fine beans for us). Otherwise, build up a relationship with him, rather than forcing him to interact eg by picking him up. Monty fairly quickly learned to take veg and treats from my hands, and often if I sat on the floor with him, and he had food, I would be allowed a grudging stroke. Post-neuter I've been getting on better - he's learnt to jump up onto the bed (last week) and now will jump up whenever I sit down on the bed. He eats up there, and will allow me strokes whenever he's next to me. When he's eating, I also get kisses and - last night for the first time - cuddles. But all of this has been as and when he's comfortable with it, the only coercion has been when we've had to handle him for some reason.

    I would say, take it slowly, be patient, and keep faith. I never thought Monty would be an affectionate bunny, but since last week he's been better every day, and we've been having lots of special moments. It's too soon to say if it's permanent, but if even Monty can mellow, your bunny should be fine with a little encouragement and trust building!

    Feel free to PM me. It sounds like we're only a few months ahead of you, so I remember all the problems exactly! I can't promise expert advice, but I can tell you all the things we've done wrong

  5. #5

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    Monty's Human has given some good advice.

    As a prey species, rabbits find being taken off of the ground quite an unnerving experience. I find interacting with rabbits on ground level to be a much more enjoyable, rewarding experience for both rabbit and owner as you really get to see their (often very big!) personalities.
    Once old enough, neutering should help with the nipping behaviour. Like already mentioned however, if you give in to him when he nips, he will learn it as a way to get what he wants.

    Benjamin would definitely benefit from some larger accommodation, the RWAF (Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund) recommend permanent access to a minimum of 60 square feet. (I have put a link to their website at the end of this post) This will benefit Benjamin both emotionally and physically and means that he is less likely to develop similar behaviours due to boredom.

    Generally a high quality pellet is recommended over the muesli style Benjamin currently has. Burgess and Science Selective are good brands. (Again, more info can be found on the RWAF site)

    Have you considered getting Benjamin a rabbit companion? As social animals, rabbits thrive in each other's company.

    With regards to behaviour/body language you may find this video helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A4ZGYgO_ao

    https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-c...ew-to-rabbits/

    PS: Don't feel bad about giving him too much of his food - I think we have all made mistakes when we first started owning rabbits!

  6. #6
    Warren Veteran DemiS's Avatar
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    As others have said, neutering should help Is he doing it when you put your hand in his cage? Some rabbits get very territorial and don't like their owners entering 'their' space. Look out for warning signs too, when my rabbits think I'm in their way they usually nudge my legs a few times first and then nip me if I don't move. It's irritating, but it's just bunny language for 'get out of my way/let me go'. I know it can be a little disheartening sometimes but just remember he isn't trying to hurt you, rabbits nip each other all the time it's just one of the ways they communicate with each other, luckily for them they have a thick layer of fur. Another reason he might be nipping is if you smell like food, if I've touched any kind of fruit they sometimes get a bit excited thinking I have food in my hand and I might get a nip.
    Elmo and Cookie ♥

  7. #7

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    It is usually out of the blue, but thank you for telling me the warning signs!

  8. #8

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    Thank you so so much! He's already an affectionate little thing and often kinda begs us for attention. I'm guessing he's just being a hormonal teenager but I will only know once he is neutered!
    The last time he bit me I just had my hand in the cage to let him sniff me (I'm used to cats so this was sort of out of habit!) and he nipped my little finger. I made a high pitched noise and he hasn't bitten since.
    Mum is still wondering if he thinks we are food but I'm pretty sure he's smarter than to think that!!

  9. #9

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    Thank you Lagomorph Lion!! We are getting him a companion but nowhere will let us choose one until he's neutered. When he is we will give him some time to recover and then go to the RSPCA who have said they will do the rabbit to rabbit bonding for us as he is my first bunny and have basically no idea how to bond two bunnies. The books I have don't cover that for some reason!
    When I move out I will have a lot more space to give him, at the moment we can't give him the space he needs because we don't have a big enough enclosure and he can't free roam because our neighbourhood is filled with predators (which I didn't realise until a fox and a red kite came to say hello!!! his hutch and his run are all fox and bird proof which is a relief!!). Until then I'm trying to give him as much space as I can give him, even letting him inside to run around when I can (our house is pretty pet proof) although parents don't like me doing this.

  10. #10
    Warren Veteran DemiS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa View Post
    Thank you so so much! He's already an affectionate little thing and often kinda begs us for attention. I'm guessing he's just being a hormonal teenager but I will only know once he is neutered!
    The last time he bit me I just had my hand in the cage to let him sniff me (I'm used to cats so this was sort of out of habit!) and he nipped my little finger. I made a high pitched noise and he hasn't bitten since.
    Mum is still wondering if he thinks we are food but I'm pretty sure he's smarter than to think that!!
    Yeah with the hand in his cage it probably was a territorial reaction. That's good with the noise, I completely forgot to mention that! A high pitched squeal and turning away from your rabbit help show him you're not impressed.
    Elmo and Cookie ♥

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