Pet rabbits are notorious for having a bit of an anxiety problem. As they are prey animals, rabbits are quick to react to anything they perceive as a threat. Fluffy may tend to bolt at nothing; however, there are several possible ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
A rabbit’s stress and anxiety can be easily calmed by:
- Avoiding Unnecessary Changes to Your Rabbit’s Environment
- Reduce Your Rabbit’s Cage Time
- Make your Outdoor Rabbit Hutch More Comfortable
- Avoid Exposure to Loud Noises
- Do Not Corner a Rabbit
- Let Your Rabbit Initiate Contact
- Handle Your Rabbit Gently and Calmly
- Handle Your Rabbit’s Anxiety Attacks Immediately
- Give Your Bunny Time to Calm Down
- Give your rabbit Space
- Check for Disease or Illness
- Spay and Neuter Your Rabbits
- Create a Daily Routine
- Train Your Rabbit
- Introduce Your Rabbit to New Family Members Carefully
- Keep Your Rabbit Inside
- Proactively Recognize the Signs of Stress in Your Rabbit
It would be best to note what frightens your rabbit and recognize that it is their nature. Being proactive about your rabbit’s anxiety by limiting stresses in your pet’s environment can lead to a more calm, content rabbit.
Here are seventeen easy tips to help soothe your rabbit’s anxiety and potentially prevent any unnecessary uneasiness:
1. Avoid Unnecessary Changes to Your Rabbit’s Environment
Rabbits are very territorial critters. Some buns can become incredibly demanding with their spaces and can become anxious if anything in their world changes.
A rabbit’s anxiety may stem from changes in their surroundings such as:
- Loud Noises
- Excessive high or Low Temperatures
- Lack of adequate living space
- Social stress
When you move your bunny to a new location or cage, it is vital to bring the things that made them comfortable and place it similarly to how they liked it before.
Bunnies tend to put things in precise locations and want them to stay that way. It may be funny to watch them place something in the same spot repeatedly; however, by doing so, you are stressing them out.
Tip: Giving bunnies a consistent living space with familiar objects can help them adjust comfortably to a new location.
Sometimes, You can mitigate these anxious behaviors by allowing them to decorate their own living space. Like an angsty teen in a goth phase, letting them have their way with their toys and decorations makes life a lot easier.
The same goes for traveling crates if you should use them. Familiarizing the bunny before use can lead to a much smoother travel process.
2. Reduce Your Rabbit’s Cage Time
Rabbits are creatures that like to roam and forage around.
Keeping your rabbit within a cage can be detrimental as the inability to wander can lead to anxious behavior.
Tip: When living in a cage or hutch, it is essential to give your rabbit plenty of stimulation and as much out of cage time as possible.
If you must cage your rabbit, then the more massive the enclosure, the better off he will be. With multiple rabbits, this becomes even more important.
The obvious answer to reducing cage time is to free-range your rabbits. However, Allowing rabbits to roam outside comes with many inherent dangers, such as:
- Toxic Plants
However, the housing of your pet ultimately comes down to your personal preference.
3. Make Your Outdoor Rabbit Hutch more comfortable
When caging or placing your rabbit in an outdoor hutch, you need a few essential items to provide a safe and comfortable living space.
You can make your rabbit’s hutch more comfortable by:
- Providing a clean living space. Ensure that the space is clean before introducing your rabbits. Taking care to use safe cleaners that are non-toxic and do not smell can help. Rabbits have very sensitive noses, and powerful cleaner smells will put them off of their home from the start.
- Making the hutch Secure. If you are using a rabbit hutch, then it must be secure. Depending upon your location, some critters will try and break in and eat your fluffy friend. Even if predators are not an issue, a rabbit’s escape is likey should they get bored within their home. Even if you swiftly locate your rabbit could have thrown off its diet, or they could become stressed by the outdoors.
- Providing clean bedding. Clean bedding will provide a healthier living space for your pet. and make your life considerably more manageable. Absorbent materials such as newspapers, dry straw, or artificial bedding can all be used to fill out the enclosure.
- Installing food and water dispensers. Food and water dispensers are a must as they provide the essentials for your pet. While a bottle can be used and provides an easier to clean alternative, a bowl is more natural and comfortable for most animals. For rabbits that may overeat or need a bit more stimulation, a puzzle feeder can help slow down their food consumption.
- Giving your rabbit toys. Toys are the final component of a concrete cage creation. When you are away, and your bunnies are alone, they will inevitable get bored. The larger the enclosure, the more toys can be placed and provide extra activities. A few good entertainment options are chewing sticks, platforms to jump around, and places to hide or tunnels to explore.
- Ensuring a constant temperature. Keep the enclosure temperature constant anywhere they might be out and about. Bunnies can quickly overheat, so it can be beneficial to allow them inside or cool their enclosure for hot summer days. You can improve upon this by making nighttime routines a bit cooler than a daytime routine to signal sleep time.
4. Avoid Exposure to Loud Noises
As stated earlier, rabbits use their ears as a sort of external radar that informs them of possible threats. Their large ears are far more sensitive than humans, which can lead to things we do not consider to be jarring to signify danger to bunnies.
Ensuring that you place their enclosure away from high traffic areas with consistent noise can help keep a rabbit calm. Sites such as near kitchens, living rooms, roads, or dogs can all be detrimental to your pet’s anxiety. Choosing a tranquil and cozy location can help your rabbit’s health and make for a happier pet.
If placing rabbits in a quiet area indoors is not an option, you could consider placing his hutch within a barn or shed, should your location allow. Additionally, soundproofing an enclosure is possible; however, it is not usually economical to do so.
5. Do Not Corner a Rabbit
As a prey animal, bunnies tend to want to run at the slightest provocation. Evolution has taught rabbits that running is the best option for survival when approached by something larger than them.
Tip: If you corner your rabbit, he will likely either run or flatten into a crotch position in an attempt to hide. This anxiety will often lead to aggression or sadness.
When you approach your rabbit, it is necessary to leave a route to run away should they choose to. 6However, cornering a bunny should become less of an issue as the bond between you and the rabbit grows.
Allowing rabbits an escape route can make your bunny not feel less stressed even after you have established a good relationship.
6. Let Your Rabbit Initiate Contact
It can be very touching when your rabbit comes over and sits in your lap for the first time. By sitting and allowing your bunny to approach, he is more likely to feel in control, like the contact in on his terms. Allowing your rabbit to initiate contact can go a long way to building a relationship built on trust.
Keeping your distance and letting your rabbit approach you first is an excellent way to ensure a calm bunny. If you cannot catch your rabbit, sit down and move slowly towards the ground to ease his mind.
When a frightened rabbit approaches you, try to sit still and allow your rabbit to make its way over without becoming frightened once again.
7. Handle Your Rabbit Gently and Calmly
Your bunny will respond to your mood most of all and will be able to tell should you be anxious when holding them. It is crucial to provide your bunny with sufficient support by placing your arm under the legs and gently cradling them.
Overly aggressive behavior when dealing with a rabbit can cause them to become fearful. It is important to remember the size difference and how intimidating a human can be to a small creature. Having a rough attitude can lead to anxious behavior with all humans, not just the handler.
You should ensure that you only pick up your rabbit if he approaches you. It can be tempting to rush over and play, but your bunny will need time to adjust.
Tip: Allowing your rabbit to approach you slowly and calmly will help him understand you are not a threat.
When transporting your bunny, you should make their carrier as comfortable as possible. Try providing a small chew stick or toy for entertainment in addition to clean bedding.
Treat the travel carrier as you would a cage, and carry it as you would a bunny as this makes for a smoother transport.
8. Handle Your Rabbit’s Anxiety Attacks Immediately
Once you have established a trusting relationship with your rabbit, he will often look t you when scared. If your rabbit is having a full-blown meltdown, you should act to help your pet right away to prevent shock. Shock is a real problem for many rabbits and can cause their health to deteriorate.
When your rabbit is exhibiting symptoms of excessive anxiety, try these instant remedies:
- Take your rabbit to a safe place. If your rabbit is not in its cage, it may be beneficial to take them there. Making sure your bunny feels as if it is in a safe location can help immediately reduce stress.
- Cover your rabbit’s eyes with one hand and stroke the ears with the other. If your rabbit trusts you, he will often allow his face to be gently covered. Quickly covering the eyes and stoking the ears can make your bunny feel as if the perceived threat has passed.
- Speak soothingly. Your rabbit may not understand what you are saying; however, adopting a calm and moderate tone can help. If you speak with an even tempo, it should help distract from whatever noises could be spooking your bunny. Your voice also builds the connection and bond between you and your pet.
- Distract your rabbit if at all possible. Introducing a new activity can cause a bunny to forget whatever was bothering it and replace the anxiety with positivity. It’s similar to bribing a crying kid. You can use treats for this but do so sparingly as it may encourage this behavior.
If these techniques do not work or your rabbit seems afraid of you, it should be left alone. Providing a safe place for your pet can give them somewhere to hide and cool off.
9. Give Your Bunny Time to Calm Down
It depends upon the particular rabbit as to how long your bunny may take to become calm. This sense of calm can vary and depend on how old the rabbit is and how comfortable they are in their environment.
When calming a bunny that is new to you and your household, remember that he may need some space for a day or two. Before a rabbit becomes accustomed to a particular person, he may need time to adjust to new smells and situations.
Tip: It is important to note that rabbits use their sense of smell to distinguish between people. When you apply new perfumes or body washes, your rabbit may take a day to adjust.
If you are accustomed to your rabbit and have built a bit of trust, calming them from an anxious episode should be relatively quick. Using different techniques to bring their stress down can take minutes, while a few hours of quiet rest can do a bunny’s nerves an incredible amount of good.
After spaying or neutering your rabbit, you may notice that their temperament will have soured. It’s best if you did not take Hostility from your furry friend s too seriously as the surgery can often prove to be a stressful endeavor.
It can take a few days or up to a week for your rabbit to be approachable once again. It is important to remember that giving attention, care, and ample food and water can speed the healing process.
10. Give Your Rabbit Space
As we have discussed, rabbits are notorious for wanting to keep their territory. You should note that entering your rabbit’s home or walking through it can make them feel uneasy. Giving them ample room to have their area is vital. Freeing up their place of distractions will also reduce territory spreading behaviors.
Keeping their area clean and allowing them to feel at ease within it will help prevent anxiety. Also of note is that if a rabbit feels cornered, your bunny runs from you in fear, you should leave and let your rabbit recuperate for a moment before attempting to approach.
Rabbits may be panicked and perceive you as a threat rather than recognizing who you are. Taking your time and talking to your bunny in a soothing tone can help with this.
11. Check for Disease or Illness
Your Rabbit could be anxious due to something that is bothering him internally. If a rabbit doesn’t feel well, it will often grind its teeth and hide. A shaking rabbit that grows aggressive can be a sign something is wrong that you cannot see.
Tip: If you notice a sudden change in your rabbit’s eating habits, it may be time to see a vet. A rabbit Refusing food and water is an indication of increased levels of anxiety and can be a sign of more serious medical issues.
It is important to note that some rabbits are naturally more fearful than others. Getting to know your bunny and taking the time to bond with them will help you spot when something is amiss.
12. Spay and Neuter Your Rabbit
Rabbits are a symbol of fertility in many cultures for multiple reasons. If you do not want to have hundreds of little rabbits or just one very grumpy rabbit, it may be a good idea to have them spayed and neutered.
Rabbits that have been spayed or neutered will often display fewer territorial issues than their intact counterparts. While desexing your rabbit may seem like a radical way to improve anxiety problems, it can often help reduce stress and curb negative behaviors caused by sex hormones.
While females will still retain a bit of their bossy attitude, they will be more peaceful to litter train and have less of a tendency to spray. Behaviors that would result in anxiety are often reduced by fixing your rabbit and allows for a more blissful life to be lived by your rabbit.
Additionally, the myth that spaying or neutering causes your rabbit’s personality to change is just that … a myth. Destructive behaviors that would otherwise be driven by hormones will reduce; however, your rabbit will not lose its unique character.
Your bunny will still be just as lovable as it ever was, only with a few days of recovery time being the worst of the entire process.
13. Create a Daily Routine
Having a routine that you and your bunny follow daily can help with preventing bouts of anxiety. There are a few key activities you should keep in mind when going about your day.
Create a daily routine for your rabbit by:
- Establishing meal times. You are making sure that your bunny isn’t hungry to help them feel less stressed, knowing that their meal is coming.
- Exercising your rabbit daily. Exercise helps release stress and tension, allowing for a calmer bunny. When you can play every day and vary the activities, it goes a long way to keeping your bunny entertained. In any case, it will go a long way with bonding and stress relief.
- Making relaxation time a regular habit. It can help give your pet their personal space for a few hours to rest and recuperate after an intense exercise or play session. You can spend this relaxation time with one another, but if the rabbit seems like it wants to be alone, you should leave them to their own devices.
- Setting a bedtime for your rabbit. Ensure that you put lights out or return them to their hutch at a similar time each night. Keeping up a consistent sleep schedule will allow your bunnies to come up calm and refreshed each day.
Having a routine can go a long way for a rabbit. Creating a setlist of tasks helps not only the bunny but also you as the owner.
14. Train Your Rabbit
Teaching your rabbit a few choice tricks can do a lot to build up your bond with them. It is best to start slow and move to more complicated tricks as you progress in your relationship. The ability to high five is a relatively easy skill for your bunny to master.
Tip: You will often find, after learning a few tricks, your bunny will want to spend more time and be open to new experiences outside of his cage.
By merely using small training treats and being a positive example, you can teach your bunny many fun things. By instructing your pet, you also build a relationship that allows them to approach you without food or bribery.
15. Introduce Your Rabbit to New Family Members Carefully
When bringing home a new pet and introducing something unexpected into your rabbit’s life, they will need time to adjust. Since rabbits are incredibly dominant and territorial, it will take time to get used to another rabbit.
You can reduce anxiety for both bunnies by providing separate sleeping spaces and slowly giving them time to communicate with one another.
When bringing a larger animal such as a dog into the house, the process for introducing them is very much the same as teaching a human. The dog may see the rabbit as prey and need to be observed by an owner during introductions.
Dogs are also high energy and may want to play; this behavior can trigger your bunny’s flight response and increase anxiety. I advise exercising your dog before any introduction to a rabbit. By doing so, you allow for a calmer and more obedient dog.
By letting your bunny approach your other pets on their terms, you make it to bond with them in the same way they did so with you. The process can be complicated and lengthy but can lead to a happy and healthy relationship.
16. Keep Your Rabbit Inside
The outside world is an incredibly scary place for such little critters. There are a lot of stressors such as cars, people, birds, and predators outside. To keep bunnies relatively happy and feeling safe, ensuring that your rabbit lives inside can help tremendously.
Keeping a bunny inside will allow you to control their environment and provide minimal stressors. You may have to give extra stimulation to your rabbit in the form of toys and attention.
A happy bunny may use a litter box; however, keeping them indoors can increase your workload in terms of cleaning. The increase in energy required for keeping indoors is worth it as your rabbit will be considerably happier for your troubles.
The outdoors provide several risks that can be potentially fatal to rabbits. Some innocuous plants that are harmless to you can be harmful to your rabbit.
Examples of toxic outdoor plants for rabbits include:
These dangerous plants are only one such danger as the threat of birds of prey exists in almost every location. Rabbits are an easy snack to large raptors who will gladly snatch them away.
That is not to say never take your rabbit outside, only that you should limit it to a controlled environment and short periods.
17. Proactively Recognize the Signs of Stress in Your Rabbit
Recognizing stress and anxiety in your rabbit isn’t a way to overcome anxiety, but it’s the first step in understanding what’s going on with your bunny. Some critters are not very vocal and will not often show what is wrong in an easy to understand manner.
By noticing stress in your rabbit, you’ll be able to apply the necessary strategies to make it better and hopefully prevent the conditions from getting any worse.
Behavioral signs of stress in rabbits include:
While cute, bunnies will not thump their feet when happy. This behavior signifies the rabbit trying to communicate, often when they want to tell others about something they see as dangerous. Along with making grunts, they will make distressing sounds when anxious.
Rabbits also thump to try and tell you something or to get your attention. It is important to look at the environment and see what your pet is trying to communicate.
If your rabbit flattens its self out with her legs tucked under, it is a sign that your rabbit may be preparing to run. When rabbits flatten themselves, they try to hide while having their body ready to bolt at a moment’s notice.
A happy bunny will often stretch out with its legs behind and lay down.
3. Grinding Teeth
If your rabbit is grinding its teeth and attempting to hide, it may be an indication something serious is wrong. In most teeth grinding scenarios, a bunny is experiencing dire stress, which can manifest in some pain or severe fear.
A case such as this could warrant a trip to the vet, as it can be an indication of significant problems internally.
Tip: Rabbit teeth clicking is similar to a cat’s purr. Rabbitts will do this when pleased with your company or their environment.
4. Alert Ears
A comfortable bunny will often have its ears in a relaxed position, down or facing different directions. Acting as a natural radar dish when a sound perks up both ears and your rabbit grows tense, it could be them searching for perceived danger.
A Rabbit shakes for many of the same reasons people do. Trembling can indicate anxiety or anger and could prom anxious behaviors if not curtailed.