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This website is devoted to the care and well-being of all rabbits, and focuses on pet rabbits kept as indoor members of the family.

Last site update: Wed Feb 25 01:52:51 EST 2015

Frightened as a Rabbit: Anatomy and Physiology of Fear and Stress in the Rabbit

The First Line Of Defense Against Disease

Appearance And Development Of Diseases

Winning Over a Shy Bunny

Check out my book on pet rabbit care and socialization, and I'm always updating it. The book is copyright-protected but available for free, though I request a $1 donation for the bunnies and for my efforts. C'mon, what's a buck?

Rabbits Are Prey Animals

Rabbits are prey animals. This means a lot of things:

Cocoa protects Brownie while she uses the litterbox. If I want to talk to Brownie, I'll have to go through her first. Whenever one would come out whatever hidey box for food or water, the other would invariably show up - this was to provide "strength in numbers" and to help keep a lookout. After Noffy lost Tamari and eventually bonded with them, he was included in their protective detail. The more eyes watching out for predators (especially the giant furless bunny that walks around on two feet, a.k.a. Chief Concierge and Head Chef).

Rabbits are built for speed - they have high muscle mass and low skeletal mass (lots of muscle and lightweight bones). This means they are strong, but also delicate and easily injured, even from their own struggling when they don't want to be handled. They can kick hard enough to break their own bones or even their back. Please see Handlng.

Rabbits hide illness and injury - this may attract predators who will go after the easiest target - this means that you may not be aware of a problem until it is well along. See Health and Behavior.

  • Rabbits are quiet - since making noise would give them away, they communicate in many ways that don't make noise. See Behavior.
  • Rabbits are not assertive about their needs - humans keeping prey animals must pay attention to a lot of things, including subtle signals, to assess their pets' overall well-being
  • Rabbits are quiet - since making noise would give them away, they communicate in many ways that don't make noise. See Behavior.
  • Fear can cause a bunny to have a heart attack, even if the threat is not real
  • Stress can have long-lasting effects even after the stressor is removed
  • Most rabbits do not like to be picked up - prey animals prefer to have their feet firmly on the ground so they can run away if they feel the need
  • Never chase a bunny unless it is an invited game of "chase" (and even then, don't try too hard to catch your bunny or you may trigger a fear response)

In order to have a good relationship with your rabbit, you must first gain its trust, and this is something you can't rush - let the bunny get used to you, get curious about you, and eventually he will come check you out and ask for attention. Never break the trust your bunny has in you or it could take a very long time to get it back.

Why punishment doesn't work


Recommended Reading:

The House Rabbit Society's article on the effects of stress on the domestic rabbit

The Wisconsin House Rabbit Society's article covering the effects of reducing stress on a domestic rabbit's health

A good general article on the appearance and development of disease

Dana Krempels's article on understanding the "shy" bunny


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Last update: Wed Feb 25 01:52:51 EST 2015