Why Do Rabbits Suddenly Start Fighting?

Do you have rabbits at home? If yes, you would know how much joy rabbits can add to your life. Rabbits are adorable, low-maintenance pets that one should definitely consider keeping.

One thing that catches many rabbit owners off guard is how rabbits can suddenly start fighting. Your rabbits may be playing together one moment and fighting the next.

It would help you, as a rabbit owner, if you knew why rabbits suddenly start fighting.

How Can You Tell the Rabbits Are Fighting?

Your rabbits may be busy playing, but you’ll know when the play has turned into a fight. If you observe that your rabbits are chasing, mounting, or biting each other, they’re probably fighting.

But then, rabbits may show such behavior during playtime too. So, how can you tell if the rabbits are playing or fighting?

Watching the rabbits closely can help you determine whether they’re playing or fighting. Some signs that are common in playing and fighting include:

  • Nipping
  • Lunging and then retreating
  • One rabbit following the other
  • Non-aggressive mounting or humping
  • Bumping noses

If you’re a first-time rabbit owner, the signs mentioned above may make you panic because you might think the rabbits are fighting.

But trust us when we say you’ll know when your rabbits are fighting. Rabbit fights clearly look like fights.

When the rabbits fight, they attack each other’s heads and faces. They’ll bite one another aggressively, which is nothing like playing biting and nipping.

Aggressive mounting and visible bites on the skin are clear signs that what the rabbits are doing is actually a serious fight, and you need to stop them immediately.

Rabbits often chase each other when playing. A submissive rabbit often follows the dominant one.

However, if the chasing appears aggressive where the rabbits are running in circles, know that what you’re witnessing is a fight.

The rabbits can fight even if they get along well on usual days. It’s not uncommon for rabbits to fight even when they’re friends.  

Also read: How Many Rabbits Can Live Together in One Cage?

Why Do Rabbits Fight?

One question that you might want an answer to is why do rabbits fight? One moment they’re playing, and the next moment your house becomes a warzone – why?

Well, there can be multiple reasons your rabbits suddenly start fighting. Let’s look into each one in detail below.

Your Brought Home a New Rabbit

Rabbits are territorial animals. They don’t like their space to be invaded by anyone, not even a fellow rabbit.

Having a new rabbit around is one of the most common reasons why your rabbit may suddenly start fighting.

Just like you would react aggressively if you found a stranger lazing around in your living room when you return home, a rabbit would also feel threatened.

When you make two rabbits, who don’t know each other, stay in the same space, you should pretty much expect them to pick a fight.

They’ll bite and mount each other aggressively as if trying to tell each other that they’re the dominant ones around.

This can also be the rabbits’ way of starting to make a bond because, by the end of the fight, the rabbits would know who the stronger one is – hence the boss – and they can take things from there.

Your Rabbit is Touching Maturity

Rabbits reaching the age of maturity are more likely to get involved in fights. This is because their hormones are all over the place, making them more territorial.

If your rabbit is going through a rough hormonal phase, even the smell of a new rabbit in your home can trigger them. Fights triggered by hormones are more common in male rabbits.

Female rabbits can also get into a fight due to hormonal disturbances too, but that’s not as common.

Your Rabbit is Sick

If one of your rabbits is suffering from an illness, they might suddenly get into a fight with others.

Just like humans, your rabbit may present behavioral changes when they aren’t feeling their best.

When a rabbit is unwell, they wouldn’t want to get disturbed, and if the other rabbit pings them to play, they might start fighting in return. The possibility of two sick rabbits getting into a fight is higher.

The fit rabbit can sense that the other rabbit is unwell and weak, and they might take it as an opportunity to give them a power show by asserting dominance which they do by fighting.

Your Rabbit Is Stressed

Stress can also make your rabbit get into fights suddenly. Rabbits are sensitive creatures and get easily get stressed and scared.

Fighting is their body’s natural way of defending itself when it feels threatened.

Some common sources of stress for rabbits that can make them get into fights include:

A small cage that they’ve got to share with another rabbit

  • Boredom
  • Changing their home
  • Introduction to a new rabbit
  • Underlying health conditions

Rabbit Break Ups

Rabbits can get into fights suddenly for absolutely no reason too.

It might be possible that the two rabbits were well bonded and just broke up, and now, they can’t seem to stand each other’s presence.

Also read: Can Rabbits Die of a Broken Heart and Loneliness?

What to Do When Rabbits Start To Fight Suddenly?

You may not understand what to do if it’s your first time witnessing a rabbit fight. You’ll panic, and that’s okay.

Below are some things you can and should do if your rabbits start to fight suddenly.

Separate Them

The first thing that you should do when your rabbits are fighting is to separate them carefully. By carefully, we mean not to get yourself in between.

When rabbits fight, they might scratch or bite you because they’re in that zone. Instead of trying to stop the rabbits by hand, make a loud noise.

As we said, rabbits are sensitive animals that get scared easily. The loud noise will make them stop fighting and might even make them run away from each other.

In case you see a rabbit biting the other hard enough to cause bleeding, and you’ve got to separate them by hand right away, either wear thick gloves so that you don’t get yourself bitten.

Once separated, keep them separated for a while. If the rabbits are hurt, take them to the vet right away!

Spay and Neuter Your Rabbits

Hormonal fluctuations are the most common reason why rabbits get into sudden fights. One way to prevent rabbit fights is getting them spayed or neutered.

Spaying and neutering the rabbits will reduce the hormonal surges and keep the rabbits from fighting.

In case your rabbits still fight after getting spayed or neutered, get them checked by a vet for any illness.

Make Slow Introductions

A new rabbit in the house will definitely make the older rabbit feel threatened.

They’ll feel like their territory is being invaded, and as a natural response, they’ll show their dominance by fighting.

You can prevent that from happening. Instead of introducing the new rabbit to the old one right away, keep the introduction slow.

Your rabbit will already know there’s another rabbit in the house by the smell. But don’t let the two come face to face just yet.

Let both the rabbits get accustomed to the idea of having another fellow around and then introduce them to each other.

Keep them in separate cages initially and let them spend time together and bond for some time during the day. You can put them in the same cage once you’re certain they’ve bonded well.

Also read: Can You Put a New Rabbit With an Old One?

Separate the Rabbits When One or Both Are Ill

As you know by now, rabbits are more likely to get into a fight if one or both are unwell.

If you suspect that your rabbit is unwell, it’s best to separate it from the rest till you think the rabbit’s better.

Many signs indicate illnesses in rabbits like loss of appetite, labored breathing, teeth grinding, and reduced or complete activity loss.

In this case, you can separate the rabbits before a fight. You’ve just got to keep your eyes open for the signs.

Also read: When Can You Separate Baby Rabbits from Mother?

Try to Minimize Stress

Rabbits don’t have a very good stress tolerance. They can lose their cool if they experience any stress and can start fighting all of a sudden.

If you’re moving homes, traveling with your rabbit, or planning to move the rabbit to a new cage, be mentally prepared for a fight because these factors can stress rabbits out.

One way to manage rabbits fighting suddenly due to stress is to consult the vet beforehand and discuss your options.

The vet might prescribe stress-reducing medicines that can keep stress levels low.

Keep Rabbits is the Rightly Sized Cage

If you’ve kept several rabbits in a small cage, your rabbits can start to fight all of a sudden. This is because they’ll be uncomfortable, and even the slightest disturbance will trigger them.

You’ve got to ensure that the size of the cage is adequate. Some cages are only big enough for one rabbit, and you shouldn’t keep 2, let alone more than 2 rabbits, in a small cage.

Also read: What Do Rabbits Need in Their Cage?

Closing Word

Rabbit fights aren’t pretty to look at.

They can leave the rabbits exhausted and even hurt. Understanding why rabbits start fighting suddenly will help you manage the situation well.

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