Delicate prey animals, rabbits can literally die of fright. A frightened rabbit may become aggressive, biting when you reach into his cage, thumping his back feet repeatedly or boxing you when you come near him. Fortunately, you can calm your bunny down with time and plenty of patience.
Pet Your Rabbit
Hold and pet your rabbit to calm him down. To pick up your rabbit:
- Put one hand under your rabbit's rear end and the other hand under his rib cage.
- Gently lift up while turning your rabbit so his feet rest against your chest for support.
- Sit down.
- Cover your rabbit's eyes with your hand or allow him to hide his face in the crook of your arm while gently petting and softly talking to him to help him calm down.
- Keep him close to your chest as you talk so he will feel secure.
Never pick up your rabbit by his ears or the scruff of his neck.
Go Down to Your Rabbit's Level
Getting down to your rabbit's level will allow you to gain his trust and to help calm his fears. Sit or lie down on the floor while reading a book, playing on your smartphone or watching television. Eventually, your rabbit will wander over to you to investigate and may lie down to allow you to pet him.
Do not hit your rabbit. Your rabbit, a prey animal, will not understand why you hit him and you may destroy any progress you have made to this point.
Give Your Rabbit a Hiding Space
Domesticated rabbits, like their wild counterparts, feel safe in dark hiding places such as a cardboard box with several holes for entering and exiting. Provide your rabbit with hiding spaces to which he can retreat when he is afraid or stressed.
Spend time petting your rabbit each day so you will win his trust.
Spay or Neuter Your Rabbit
Hormones can transform a normally calm and happy bunny into an aggressive and angry rabbit. Rabbits should be spayed or neutered, once they reach sexual maturity between 3 and 6 months of age, to prevent health and behavioral issues, such as aggression. Don't expect your rabbit to transform immediately after a spay or a neuter. Hormones may take as long as four weeks to calm down after your rabbit is altered.
Consult a Rabbit-Savvy Veterinarian
If you are unable to help your rabbit calm down, consult a rabbit-savvy veterinarian. Your rabbit may be sick or in pain.