If you are a new rabbit owner, then you must be nervous about things like whether you and your family are safe around the rabbit.
Questions like ‘do rabbits scratch or bite?’ and ‘are rabbit scratches dangerous?’ are probably running through your mind. These are all valid concerns and are addressed below in the article.
Do Rabbits Scratch?
Rabbits are incredibly adorable and delicate creatures. You will learn this immediately after you bring your rabbit home.
It must be remembered that rabbits are animals that are frequently preyed on. They become prey to foxes, dogs, large cats, and even birds.
Most predatory animals love rabbit meat, and no matter how long your rabbit has been domesticated, they still have the instincts of a frightened, preyed-on animal, and run from danger.
Since rabbits are frightened animals by nature and like running and hiding, they must not be forcefully held and cuddled.
Especially when they are new in your home, wait at least a week to let your rabbit become comfortable with its new surroundings and its new owners.
Allow it to roam freely and be in your presence without appearing as a threat. If you or your family members keep trying to hold the rabbit every chance you get, the rabbit will fear you.
Also read: Can You Declaw a Rabbit?
Rabbits Scratch Their Owners Out Of Fear
If a rabbit is held by force and they are unable to escape, then it may become skittish and will keep moving its paws vigorously in an attempt to break free.
If their claws haven’t been clipped, they may be very sharp and can make scratches on their owners’ arms and hands.
This is not because the rabbit is trying to hurt you or because it is an aggressive animal. It is because it can’t escape and hide from you; it will only try self-defense.
Rabbits will see you as a predator and will try to hide from you if you don’t allow some time for the rabbit to trust you and stop fearing you.
They must be given some space and time to build trust in their owner. Once enough time has passed, you may attempt to hold your rabbit without it becoming anxious and afraid.
Forcing a rabbit can also cause the rabbit to injure itself. Rabbits have very delicate spines, and force holding them can cause them to break or injure their spines when they try to escape your hold.
Some rabbits can also die abruptly out of severe fright. Rabbits can become extremely afraid extremely fast and must not be forced or tested.
They should be given some time and freedom until they become comfortable around their new owners.
As rabbits approach sexual maturity, their hormones begin raging, just as they do in humans and cats.
Unless your rabbits are neutered or spayed, hormonal rabbits can become extremely aggressive and territorial. This is because they experience the urge to mate and need their desire to do so fulfilled.
A rabbit that does not mate will start making grunting noises and thumping its feet, and may even become defensive and assertive with its owners.
They may scratch more and will easily get riled up. It is advised that rabbits must be neutered or spayed once they are old enough to ease their restlessness and discomfort.
Do Rabbits Bite?
Rabbits rarely ever bite. They nip rather than bite. Nipping is not considered aggressive behavior; rather, it is playful behavior that rabbits adapt to when they are playing with their partners.
They also nip their owners once they become familiar with them out of affection.
Sometimes rabbits tug at their owners’ pants to direct them somewhere or to get their attention and may accidentally bite them. But it is never done intentionally.
What Should You Do If A Rabbit Scratches You?
If you get scratched by your rabbit by accident, here are the following steps you must take:
Wash and Keep the Scratch Clean
It must be remembered that it is not the scratch that can cause disease but dirt and bacteria that can gain entry into your bloodstream. To prevent that, you must wash the wound with water and soap.
Next, apply an antiseptic medicine or an alcohol swab to disinfect the wound completely.
Apply Pressure to Stop the Bleeding
If the scratch is deep and the blood won’t stop, then you must apply some pressure to stop the bleeding. This can be done with a bandage or a clean cloth.
Take a Picture of the Scratch
If you are unable to see a doctor immediately, it is a good idea to take a picture of the wound to show to the doctor so that they have a better idea of how to treat it. It also helps to keep a check on whether the wound is improving.
Apply an Antibiotic Ointment
To minimize the risk of an infection, you must apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to the wound, and cover it with a Band-Aid or clean gauze. Wait for healing to take place naturally.
Keep a Close Watch on the Wound
Minor rabbit scratches should heal very quickly, and a marked improvement may be seen after 24 hours.
If you notice swelling, redness, soreness, or pus draining from the wound, you must contact your doctor immediately. These are all signs of an infection and must be looked at as soon as possible.
Some More Tips
- It must be noted, however, that the state of the rabbit must be observed. If the rabbit looks otherwise healthy and not unwell, then it is most likely that the scratch is not a big deal and will not transmit any disease. If the rabbit looks unwell, then it is important to visit a doctor for further treatment.
- It is a good idea to take your rabbit for regular visits to the vet. This ensures that your rabbit is healthy and well.
- Regular visits to the vet will also make sure that your rabbit’s claws are trimmed, filed, and clean so as to minimize the risk of deep scratches
- The rabbit’s hutch or cage must be regularly cleaned. This will make sure that the rabbit does not pick up any dirt or bacteria in its cage.
- Usually, rabbit scratches are very shallow and do not become infected. Sometimes if the rabbit has very long and sharp claws, the cut can be deeper and may become infected. In that case, the scratch should not be treated lightly, and you must rush to the emergency to get urgent care.
How to Teach Your Rabbit Not To Scratch?
Approach Your Rabbit Gently
Do not approach your rabbit abruptly or aggressively. This can cause your rabbit to panic and may frighten them away.
Give Your Rabbit Some Time
Spend time with your rabbit while it is playing or eating. Be around it without being noisy or disturbing it. Let the rabbit feel comfortable around you.
Feed your rabbit from the palm of your hand. Give it little treats, and let it build some trust with you.
Use Body Language to Train Your Rabbit
Once your rabbit is familiar with you, it will follow you around and will demand your attention. It will be more observant of your behavior.
Rabbits are frightened of loud noise, and this is an effective method to use while training them. If your rabbit is scratching you, then you may thump with your foot loudly.
This can startle them and will make them stop scratching you immediately. To reinforce the command, you should repeat the thump every time your rabbit scratches you.
Say No to Your Rabbit
Rabbits, like cats, observe their owners and understand the basic reactions that their owners display. They can tell when their owners are pleased or displeased with them.
You can say the word ‘No’ firmly every time your bunny is doing something undesirable. If your rabbit scratches you, you can say the word no loudly, and it will make your rabbit stop doing that.
Ignore the Scratching
If your rabbit is scratching you to get your attention, you must try and ignore the scratching.
Responding immediately can sometimes give the rabbit the impression that scratching elicits the desired response, and they may continue doing it every time they want something.
It can be annoying if your rabbit is taking some time to learn a certain command or behavior. But you must remain patient but firm with your rabbit.
Never raise your hand on your rabbit, even if it’s a gentle pat. Showing aggression or physical abuse to your rabbit will cause it to see you as a threat and become anxious and afraid around you.
Have Your Rabbit Neutered
Once your rabbit crosses the four-month mark, it is close to becoming sexually mature. This causes raging hormonal behavior in the rabbit, making it restless and aggressive.
Having your rabbit neutered or fixed will calm your rabbit down, and you can keep more rabbits easily in a calm and safe environment.
The Final Word
Rabbits are delicate animals and must be treated with kindness and respect. Rabbits are not aggressive by nature and do not mean to scratch or harm humans.
If you get scratched or nipped by your rabbit accidentally, then you may take the necessary steps depending on the health of your rabbit as well as the nature of the wound.
The article explains what is considered an emergency and what is not.
Other articles you may also like: