Vets Advice: October 2017

October 06 2017

Rabbits are considered docile and passive creatures. However, it is not uncommon to see aggressive behaviour that can be surprising, or even alarming, to a new owner.

Why is my rabbit aggressive?

Rabbits are considered docile and passive creatures. However, it is not uncommon to see aggressive behaviour that can be surprising, or even alarming, to a new owner.
Dominance is probably the most common cause of aggression. Rabbits can fight to establish dominance within a group or to keep newcomers out. Neutering can reduce this but may not be sufficient to completely eliminate the aggressive behaviour.
Rabbits can also fight over resources like favourite snacks, food bowls and water bottles. A good rule of thumb is to provide extra – so provide for as many pets as you own, plus one more. 
Rabbits may also be aggressive towards people. Again the rabbit may be trying to establish dominance, but it could also be the result of pain or illness, or even learned behaviour. For example, children can sometimes be over enthusiastic with pets and may inadvertently create a certain behaviour.
Another cause of aggression towards people could be improper socialisation, or even a previous trauma that may create an aversive behaviour.
Every rabbit is different and management of aggression can vary widely depending on its cause. It is important to try to read a rabbit’s body language as rabbits may try to communicate some clues. It is also extremely important to rule out medical reasons.
When a rabbit is showing an aggressive behaviour for no apparent reason, this should warrant a trip to the vet who will perform a complete evaluation.
If you have concerns about your pet rabbit, and would like further advice, do not hesitate to call Longwell Green Veterinary Surgery on 0117 932 3660, or Highcroft Veterinary Hospital on 01275 832410 and ask to speak to one of our rabbit-savvy vets.

Dr Elisabetta Mancinelli, Specialist in Zoological Medicine
Highcroft Veterinary Hospital

Rabbits are considered docile and passive creatures. However, it is not uncommon to see aggressive behaviour that can be surprising, or even alarming, to a new owner.
Dominance is probably the most common cause of aggression. Rabbits can fight to establish dominance within a group or to keep newcomers out. Neutering can reduce this but may not be sufficient to completely eliminate the aggressive behaviour.
Rabbits can also fight over resources like favourite snacks, food bowls and water bottles. A good rule of thumb is to provide extra – so provide for as many pets as you own, plus one more.  
Rabbits may also be aggressive towards people. Again the rabbit may be trying to establish dominance, but it could also be the result of pain or illness, or even learned behaviour. For example, children can sometimes be over enthusiastic with pets and may inadvertently create a certain behaviour.
Another cause of aggression towards people could be improper socialisation, or even a previous trauma that may create an aversive behaviour.
Every rabbit is different and management of aggression can vary widely depending on its cause. It is important to try to read a rabbit’s body language as rabbits may try to communicate some clues. It is also extremely important to rule out medical reasons.
When a rabbit is showing an aggressive behaviour for no apparent reason, this should warrant a trip to the vet who will perform a complete evaluation.
If you have concerns about your pet rabbit, and would like further advice, do not hesitate to call Longwell Green Veterinary Surgery on 0117 932 3660, or Highcroft Veterinary Hospital on 01275 832410 and ask to speak to one of our rabbit-savvy vets.

Dr Elisabetta Mancinelli, Specialist in Zoological Medicine
Highcroft Veterinary Hospital