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Thread: Doe getting aggressive and nervous

  1. #1

    Default Doe getting aggressive and nervous

    Hello, I have a question regarding rabbit behaviour.

    Basically, my Doe, Phoebe, has reached 5 months of age, which, as I understand, is rabbit puberty. She started digging a lot (which, as I understood, is typical female puberty behaviour) and being a little more aggressive. However, recently this behaviour became a bit amplified. She is now attempting to "dig" almost anything (she used to "dig" at closed doors and floor tiles under them) -- the couch, the litter box, even a metal spinbike. She is also much more aggressive -- basically, she doesn't want to stay in one place when being petted (she used to come to my wife and lay on her chest for a long time, getting herself petted); instead, she now very oftenly bites on contact (she used to lick my legs whenever she saw me, but now she outright bites them; she also bit my wife in the forearm as she attempted to pet her while sitting on the couch, and this was a deep bite too!) and sometimes emits a "growling" sound. She is also becoming more aloof and unplayful. A month ago she used to emit a humming/buzzing sound (which I asked about on this forum), and also run circles around me; but now she mostly just sits on the floor in superman-like position, or falls on her side. She runs rarely and with much less... enthusiasm, and she jumps and head-tosses (something she used to do A LOT -- I have hardwood floors at home, so she can't do her binkies properly) even more seldom. Finally, she stopped the humming / buzzing, and she just growls at things she doesn't like (like the mop, or being locked in the cage, chewing on bars).

    What I want to ask is whether such a shift in behaviour is normal for her age, or could she be having a medical condition, or maybe she feels bad about me and my wife for some reason. She looks ok as far as health goes -- no visible signs of trouble, the only thing I noticed lately is that she's often nervous. Her breath is almost audible if you listen closely, she often opens her eyes widely when close to us, and have accelerated nose movement / heart rate. As far as feeding goes -- we keep her fed with pellets, dried fruit and grains, she gets enough hay, and I refresh her water bowl as soon as it gets low on water. We don't yell or harm her in any way (exclusions would be by accident -- like sometimes I would move my feet without checking if she's nearby and hit her -- but nothing intentional). She gets about 4-5 hours of free roaming per day.

    With the quarantine in my country, I'm hesitant to go out, and I don't see immediate causes of trouble, so I'm not asking a vet over. However, I would like to ask if anyone had similar experience and can share it or offer advice. She's a decorative lop-eared rabbit, I'll attach a photo to the post.

    Thanks for reading this post and I'd be grateful for any advice!
    Here is a link to her picture, this forum doesn't show images for some reason.

  2. #2
    Forum Buddy Liz47's Avatar
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    Hi and welcome to the forum

    In my experience that sounds normal, as you've said this behaviour is caused by hormones. At 5 months she is ready to be spayed, unfortunately (although for the best of course) vets should be closed for routine procedures such as a spay but I would recommend getting her booked in when things are reopening after the isolation. It will likely improve her behaviour, and has many health benefits.

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  3. #3
    Moderator Zoobec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liz47 View Post
    Hi and welcome to the forum

    In my experience that sounds normal, as you've said this behaviour is caused by hormones. At 5 months she is ready to be spayed, unfortunately (although for the best of course) vets should be closed for routine procedures such as a spay but I would recommend getting her booked in when things are reopening after the isolation. It will likely improve her behaviour, and has many health benefits.
    I agree with this you can post photos, here is a link to the tutorial thread on how to do it http://forums.rabbitrehome.org.uk/sh...to-Post-Photos

    Binky free at the bridge Boots, you will never be forgotten xxxx

  4. #4
    Wise Old Thumper
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    I agree that she is in need of being neutered but this is not possible at the moment. It's a bit like the human teenage years and it will pass as she gets older. It's just how to manage her now you need to look at. By the way, grains are not good for bunnies as they can't digest them.

  5. #5

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    Hi, this sounds like hormonal behaviour, with her desiring to become dominant rabbit in the house as she reaches maturity. She will see you and your wife as rabbits too, albeit very large ones, and will want to assert herself amongst your group (family). The only problem is that you and your wife aren't picking up on her very subtle signs and body language because you don't speak rabbit (!) so this is probably annoying her. So many little things that only make sense to her could be causing her to be fearful or nervous around you and your wife, especially as her hormones are making her feel bothered about new things she's never felt bothered about before. If she was with a group of other rabbits when her hormones started, the relationships and bonds would have changed within that group. It's the same within your household of "pseudo rabbits" now. Definitely get her spayed when everything returns to normal, but don't expect that to "return" her old personality and bring back her loving, cuddly ways. It will reduce some of the aggression but it won't necessarily make her friendly with you both again. I had the same sort of thing happen with my doe after spaying - I'm going to write a thread about her too. Another thing to bear in mind is that rabbits get affected by "spring fever", meaning they all seem to get extra crazy/naughty/nervous/aggressive/hyper around this time of year due to natural seasonal hormones, even in neutered bunnies. So an unspayed female will probably be EXTRA hormonal at this time of year. My advice would be to go really easy with her for the next few weeks. Give her some space, don't do anything loud or busy in her immediate vicinity (like mopping etc), and only pet her when she is showing relaxed behaviour or when you're giving her treats (not when you feed her properly though because this will likely cause more territorial aggression while she's not spayed). Then in a few weeks when it's more summer time and you can get her spayed, try slowly to gain her trust again. Assume that you need to rebond with her as if from scratch, being conscious of her new more nervous personality. Take it slowly and read up on all the information about bonding to your rabbit again and hopefully you will build up a new happy and trusting bond with her again. Good luck!

  6. #6
    Mama Doe kattymieoww's Avatar
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    She's a pretty girl...yes those pesky hormones can be troublesome unfortunately.

  7. #7

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    Thanks, everyone, for your replies and support!

    Luckily, in my country the vet clinics still operate, so I got Phoebe spayed on Friday. She's recovering now, and I'm happy to say that on day 2 post-op she's eating more eagerly, albeit she's very afraid when we reach to disinfect her stitch. Unfortunately, this has to be done, though it pains me to see her go through stress like this. Hopefully, after her stitches heal up, she will grow to trust us again.

  8. #8
    Warren Scout Preitler's Avatar
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    Always give her a treat immediatly after you have to do something she doesn't like

    I use thumbnail sized pieces of white bread for that occasions.
    (yeah, I know, not healthy - really doesn't matter with that amounts.)
    Last edited by Preitler; 12-04-2020 at 01:27 PM.

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