Have you ever wondered why your rabbit follows you around?
Does this mean your rabbit is trying to tell you something or wants to show affection to you? Or is it their way to get your attention?
Let’s find out!
Why Does Your Rabbit Follow You?
A rabbit that circles your feet as you walk through his backyard territory is probably just trying to get your attention.
But an adult rabbit that has not been spayed or neutered that is following you around while bonking you with his (or her) nose and making soft noises that sound like a pig’s oink may have mistaken you for a love interest.
These facts lead to a series of questions.
In this article, we will answer the most frequent questions rabbit owners ask when their rabbits follow them around.
Then we will suggest a way to get your rabbits to spend more time with each other than they spend following you.
Does Following Me Means Rabbit Wants to be Picked Up?
When your rabbit constantly follows you, you may think that it’s trying to get your attention and want to be picked up and held.
But in reality, rabbits generally don’t like to be held or picked up. Being picked up isn’t a natural experience for rabbits.
Unlike many other pets, especially cats and dogs, mother rabbits don’t pick up their babies to move them around.
If your rabbit cries out or tries to escape when you pick her up, it is probably because the experience is new to her, and she is afraid.
If you would like to pick up your rabbit anyway, there is a way to do it that doesn’t make your bunny upset.
- Whenever you pick up a rabbit, assume they may dart away. Be ready to keep them from running away by blocking them with your body.
- Never pick up your rabbit by the ears. This can cause severe injury.
- Once you have your rabbit facing you, reach under them and Scott them toward you on a flat surface, like the floor. Rabbits feel more secure when all four of their feet are touching something.
- After you are sure your rabbit is calm enough to be picked up, remember that their claws are sharp. Place your hand behind and beneath their back feet to keep them from kicking and scratching you. Intertwining their back feet between your fingers will keep them from kicking you.
- Hold your rabbit close to your body and cup its head under your other hand, blocking his vision to give it a sense of security.
- Always hold your rabbit so its back is stretched straight out. If she kicks to get away while her back is arched, she can easily break her back.
- You want to keep one hand beneath and one hand on top of your rabbit to see them from injuring themselves.
Is Following Me My Rabbit’s Way of Telling It Likes Me
When a rabbit likes you enough to call you “mine,” she will rub against it to share her scent with you.
Rubbing you releases pheromones that humans can’t smell but rabbits can.
These pheromones remind your rabbit that you are important to them, and tell other rabbits “This human likes me.”
Rabbits don’t like us in the same way that we like them, but rubbing on you is a sign of affection.
So if your rabbit is following you, don’t mistake it for its liking for you.
If your rabbit seems to be eagerly following you everywhere you go for several minutes, there may be an expectation of a special treat. This can be either a pet on the head or a food treat.
Does My Rabbit Really Know It’s Me?
Rabbits are very aware of their surroundings.
They can recognize you by scent, sight, and sound.
But rabbit senses have some limitations.
- Rabbits have a 190-degree field of vision. They can see you coming from the side, and even slightly behind them.
- Rabbits can’t see below their noses. When something is close to the ground, they have to sense it with their lips or with the vibrissae that cover about 2 percent of their bodies. Vibrissae are whiskers and hairs that detect motion. Rabbits can remember you by the way you feel through their vibrissae.
- If you were to ask a rabbit why their ears were so large, and if they could talk back to you, they might say “The better to hear you with.” Rabbits can hear sound at the frequencies that match human speech. They recognize you by your voice.
- Rabbits have a great sense of smell. They have a great memory for food odors. They can even remember the food odors their mothers smelled when they were pregnant with them. If you are the person that feeds them, they will associate food and you by smell. And so will their babies.
Bonding Your Rabbits So They Follow Each Other Instead of Following You
It’s nice to be the center of your rabbit’s attention, but there will come a time that you need to leave them alone, or you get busy and have other things to do.
Rabbits can be, but aren’t automatically very social creatures.
It’s always best to have more than one rabbit so they can keep each other company.
Unless you want to have dozens of rabbits very soon, you will need to have your rabbits spayed or neutered at the earliest age possible.
This also makes them friendlier with each other.
Once your rabbits have bonded, they will do everything together. They will spend a lot of time grooming each other. They will become cuddle bunnies.
Rabbits that aren’t bonded to another rabbit will focus 100 percent of their attention on you.
Rabbits that are bonded to each other will spend about 80 percent of their time with each other, and about 20 percent of their time with you.
You won’t be getting as much attention from your rabbits, but they will be much happier when you have to go out for other activities.
But rabbits won’t bond without your help.
Rabbits must be bonded before they live together
Rabbits that have not bonded are extremely territorial.
They will stake out a territory, usually about 4 feet by 4 feet (between one and two square meters), and fight any other rabbit that encroaches on it.
You will have to maintain separate litter boxes, and your rabbits will frequently fight.
Brother and sister bunnies born in the same litter are naturally bonded, but only until they reach sexual maturity.
If you don’t have sibling rabbits spayed or neutered, they will become territorial and fight until you facilitate their bonding.
Bonding starts with a first date
When you are helping your rabbits bond with each other, it helps to consider their history.
If two rabbits have been in a fight and bitten each other, chances are you aren’t going to be able to persuade them to go on their “first date.” Rabbits have long memories.
But if you have two rabbits that don’t have a history of antagonism toward each other, you can send them on a date.
Dating for rabbits is not hard to set up. Just put them in the same small enclosure. About 3 feet by 3 feet (1 square meter) is ideal. Larger spaces make rabbits nervous.
Your job as a chaperone on your rabbit’s first date is to make sure they don’t fight. Have a squirt bottle ready to keep them in line.
Don’t wait for your rabbits to kick, scratch, or bite. Squirt them with water at the first sign of aggression, like their ears turning down or their tails straight up in the air.
Discourage circling and chasing, which are also aggressive signals.
What you are doing by supervising your rabbits’ first meeting is making sure that they can get along.
Rabbits that have the potential to bond won’t fight, and they won’t ignore each other, either.
Not paying attention to another rabbit is a snub. A small tiff may be an argument about which rabbit is going to be Top Bunny, and may not mean that your rabbits can’t be bonded to each other.
The bonding cage
Once you have confirmed that your rabbits can live with each other, then it is time for them to get used to each other’s company.
One way to do this is with a bonding cage, which is an extra-large cage with some fine wire mesh separating the two ends of the cage right down the middle.
Let your rabbits live on one side of the cage, but switch sides every time you let them out for feeding, pooping, and exercise.
This way, your rabbits get used to living in the same space, and smelling each other’s pheromones.
For about two weeks, let them out only one at a time, so there is no possibility they will fight.
Place your rabbits on neutral ground
After a couple of weeks in the bonding cage, it is time to let both rabbits out at the same time.
It is important to place them somewhere they have not been before, like on top of your bed, or in your bathtub.
This is to keep them from meeting anyplace either of them considers their own territory.
Letting both rabbits out on the patio in an area with a bunny fence or in an enclosed yard will also work. But first, introduce an element of surprise.
Place both of your rabbits in the same pet carrier and go for a ride around the block. Don’t let them out until you get back home.
A scary ride in the pet carrier can be a bonding experience for your rabbits that enables them to forget their differences.
Or place them on top of your washing machine while you are running the spin cycle.
You can create your own suspenseful experience for your rabbits. Do this before you let them take the next step in bonding.
Let your rabbits decide who is the alpha rabbit
Once your rabbits are in a new, larger location, they will work out among themselves who is the boss rabbit. But they may not work this out right away.
It may take five or six sessions of 15 to 20 minutes each for your rabbits to decide which is the alpha bunny.
After each session, place them back into the separate sides of their bonding cage.
When your rabbits can spend time outside their bonding care peacefully, they are bonded and will be friends.
Don’t Leave Rabbits Alone During the Bonding Process
Until your rabbits have bonded, however, don’t leave them together unsupervised.
Rabbit fights only take 15 or 20 seconds and can leave one or both rabbits severely injured.
You should wear gloves, long pants, long sleeves, and shoes when you are supervising rabbits that have not yet bonded to avoid your own injuries.
If your rabbits do fight, don’t separate them immediately.
You don’t want to teach the lesson that if your rabbits hurt each other, they will have territory all to themselves. Stop the fight, place them side by side, and pet them both.
Always end each bonding session with a “together moment” and never with a fight.
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