View Full Version : Q: Bunny Behavior...

Desert Arabian
09-29-2004, 04:10 PM
Hello fellow bun bun owners!

I am pretty new to the rabbit ownership department and I am still learning their behavior. Like, I know when something is wrong with my rats, when they are happy, when they are sad- etc, since I've had so many for a long time I get to know all of that. But- I am still trying to learn all those signs for rabbits.

Exactly how can I tell if Peanut is happy!? How can I tell if she is not feeling her normal self!? I just want to make sure I am doing everything right for her and am making her happy. Are there any signs I should watch for that are a dead give away for happiness/sadness? She 'chinned' me a couple of days ago, I know that is a good sign.

Thanks for your help! :D

YLL & Princess Pea

09-29-2004, 08:58 PM

I own four lop rabbits (outdoors, not inside bunnies), and I have had two of them for over 3 years but I'm not sure how much help I can give you... (my buns and I haven't bonded much).

Basically, always make sure your rabbits have fresh hay and water - they are necessities for them.
Signs of illness - in rabbits, when they get sick they go downhill VERY quickly, so if you notice anything like discharge from their eyes/nose/mouth or even ears, then take them to a vet straight away. (Actually if you notice anything unusual, take them to a vet regardless). Also, if you are able to find a vet who is confident in dealing with rabbits, take them there even if they are not your regular vet. A vet who knows how to look after rabbits is worth their weight in gold (I know some who won't touch them, and don't know what signs to look for).

Other things to check regarding rabbit health are:
At least monthly, check their teeth - they should be worn down so that the mouth closes properly. There should be no teeth poking through the mouth or lips of the rabbit. Quite often if they have a 'malocclusion' as it is called, they are unable to eat and therefore starve to death. A vet will be able to file the teeth down (they don't have roots and constantly grow, so it is important to check their teeth regularly).

Check their eyes for any indication of the third eyelid becoming pink or red in colour - check with a vet.

Check their bottoms for any diarrhoea or mushy poo pellets - it is quite normal to see softer poo being excreted at night time as the food they have taken in during the day passes through their systems without having had all the nutrients taken out of it, and bunny will then eat the poo to gain all the nutrient benefits from the half digested food inside their faeces. This is called Coprophagia, and is healthy and normal.
Diarrhoea in a rabbit can indicate poor health - see your vet - as they can deteriorate quickly if they have diarrhoea. You can feed your rabbits a teaspoon of plain, unsweetened acidophilus yoghurt to help keep their faeces firm and aid in gut health and healthy digestion.

If you have long furred rabbits, brush them regularly to help them keep groomed, as they will lick themselves and ingest their fur. This can lead to hairballs forming in the gut and a dire situation for bunny if left untreated - sometimes this will need surgery to remove the lump of fur. I'm not sure if it is possible to get a laxative safe for rabbits to remove hairballs with, but as always, prevention is much better than cure. It would even be worth brushing your rabbits regularly if they are short haired.

Rabbits can suffer from ear infections, both parasitic and bacterial, so if you notice excessive scratching at their ears, or an odour, check with your vet.

It is very wise to clip your rabbits claws every month also, as their claws can become quite sharp and if they get angry they can inflict some nasty scratches on you (believe me, it hurts!). If you have dark haired rabbits, I would recommend using a torch to highlight the quick (the pink, nervy bit inside the claw), as rabbits don't react well to having a clipped quick - and it can bleed for a while as well. You will probably need to have someone else help you when you clip their claws, for the first few times anyway. I find it easiest to flip my rabbits on their backs, as they tend to play dead in this position and they are much more relaxed. Get a good pair of clipping 'scissors', intended for use on rabbits claws for this as well, as nail clippers for humans are absolutely the wrong thing to use. Rabbits claws are rounded, not 'flat' like ours. Also, rabbits claws are not retractable, so don't try to push more claw out of their toes! It may even be necessary to slightly clip the fur around their toes to get a better look and feel of the claw.

Rabbits can be trained to use a litter tray - they are intelligent creatures, but this can also take a while to teach them. Be patient! If they are indoors rabbits, bunny-proof your house by encasing any electrical cords inside the cord-tubing stuff that you can get (most hardware shops should have something you can use, or a pet shop could recommend something).
My rabbits also like to have steps, tunnels and ramps to play in/on/around, you can provide treat balls for them to play with, salt and mineral wheels are a good treat for them to get into, and in summer, fill a bottle with water, freeze it and give it to them to use to cool off with as rabbits are sensitive to the heat. Always provide shade.
They are sensitive to cold also, but are more hardy to it, so as long as they have adequate shelter, an enclosed wooden or similar box to sleep in and enough food, hay and water, you should be ok!

I know this is a lot of information, but there is a lot more out there on the net as well! In terms of bunny behaviour, a good site to look at is the Language of Lagomorphs (http://www.muridae.com/rabbits/rabbittalk.html). They focus on indoor bunnies, but their information is well researched, and amusing!

What I know of bunny behaviour is (not much) that when they are happy, they are active, bright, alert, and if they are friendly bunnies they will come to greet you when you go to them. If they are sad or depressed, they may shy away from you or hop away from you, and basically display anti-social behaviour. If they do show signs of depression, I would give them a thorough check over as often when they seem 'sad', the cause may be ill-health more than just 'having the blues'. Definitely, if the 'sad' behaviour persists for more than 2 days, see a vet, and tell them everything you can about it, as the more information they have, the better.

Good luck, if you have any further questions, please let me know :)