How To Bond With Your Rabbit/ Bunny.
How To Bond With Your Rabbit/Bunny
Getting a rabbit is a huge responsibility. Unlike other pets, rabbits are prey animals and can be extremely timid and easily frightened. This is why it is so important to build up a bond with your fellow bunny so that they become more comfortable and are willing to tell you when something isn't right. Just like any other pet, you will gain a friend for life and have lots of fun with your bunny. In this blog I'm going to explain ways in which you can build a bond with your bunny whether you have just adopted them or if you've had them a while but haven't established a bond.
As I've said before, rabbits are prey animals and it can sometimes be challenging to gain their trust. If your bunny has only recently been adopted into their forever home please make sure that you don't overwhelm him/her. I know the temptation and excitement of a little fluffy bunny may be high but imagine it as if going to a strangers house on your own as a child. They're wary of their surroundings and need to establish what's safe and what isn't. In this time, I'd advise leaving them for around a week or two for them to adapt to their new home. This however doesn't mean that you can't interact with your bunny, of course they will need feeding. As you approach their hutch make sure you go slowly and don't make any sharp movements as this may startle them. When you put your hand inside make sure you move slowly. In this time I'd recommend talking to them or singing (if you feel silly talking to an animal that can't talk back!). By letting them hear your voice they'll become used to you and will recognise you when you next go to their house. Moving slowly and communicating with them regularly will build up a level of trust with your bunny and they'll come to realise that you are safe and they can trust you. From my own experience, one of my 2 girls was extremely timid and often ran away from me when I approached. It took a while for her to open up but now she's stuck to me like glue! You must be patient with your bunny but if you continue to communicate positively with them they'll come around.
Food is an important time of the day for a bunny (and most owners too!). Making your bunny excited for meal times will create some fun for them. I tend to feed mine curly kale or spinach as their daily greens and I like to rustle the bag so that they're aware it's food time. They like to hop all around the hutch in excitement. If you have a timid bunny I would suggest coaxing them towards you by holding a bit of their food in your fingers and then eventually your hand. Hand feeding bunnies is very important as it symbolises a high level of trust that they're comfortable going to you to get something. When your bunny is comfortable it also gives you a good opportunity to stroke them whilst they're eating as many of them are concentrating too much on eating! Some bunnies are picky on what they eat, for instance, mine love carrot tops but aren't particularly crazy on carrots themselves. It's important to experiment what your bunny likes as like all of us, they have an acquired taste. Once you've found what they love, continue to feed them with that and they'll build a bond with you for treating them so well! Please make sure that when you're experimenting with natural products such as greens that you are aware of what is poisonous for your rabbit. Make sure that you feed your bunny treats in moderation in order to maintain a healthy diet. If you're not prepared to buy treats (because let's be honest they're pricey), bunnies love dandelion flowers but not too many as this can make them poorly!
Attention of your rabbit is extremely important as they love to be the centre of attention. Like dogs, they do nudge for more head strokes and when they do this you know that they enjoy your company and also your attention. There are parts on your rabbit that they will not like to be touched so if you're stroking them and they hop away please try to refrain from pushing boundaries because this will make them frightened of where you'll touch them next time. For example, my bunnies don't like being touched under their head. Long and slow strokes are often better than lots of fast ones, but not too fast as this may hurt them! If your bunny has long ears it might be worth attempting at giving them a little massage with your fingers however this should be done once you've built up quite a big bond as some bunnies don't like their ears being touched. You will know what feels good for your bunny because they'll make their bodies go flat and they'll go into a trance and their eyes will get smaller. Sometimes they even fall asleep! Making your bunny feel happy with strokes and cuddles will build your bond naturally and can be as rewarding for the owner as it is for the bunny. Once they're comfortable around you I'd encourage attempting to handle them. Please note that as prey animals they prefer to have all four feet on the floor so that they're able to run away if there's danger. If your bunny displays extreme dislike at being handled I wouldn't recommend forcing them into it as it's simply not for some bunnies. If you have adopted your bunny from a kitten the earlier you introduce handling, the easier it will become later in life and more easy going they'll be. If you are handling your rabbit, please make sure you have researched the correct way to pick them up and hold them as incorrectly holding them can sometimes be painful for the bunny and also life threatening if they try to wriggle away.
All of these points are important when combined in order to build a solid relationship and bond with your bunny. It may take weeks or months but if you are determined it'll be an exciting process. Coming home after a day of work to the bunnies looking forward to head rubs is very rewarding and makes all the hard effort I put into creating a bond worthwhile.
By Lauren Bilboe