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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BEHAVIOR > New rabbit owner
Last Post by TH004 at 9/10/2012 2:41 PM (17 Replies)
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User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 7:37 AM

Hi all,

 New rabbit (and pet) owner and new forum poster here. I've done a lot of reading on rabbits from tons of different websites, but we all know how well that prepares you for really getting a rabbit  I adopted him from a shelter so their info should be correct; he's 2 months old, neutered, likes being pet and tolerates being picked up. When I met him at the shelter he was really quick to greet people and show off.

 However, after I got him back home it seems like he absolutely refuses to be picked up and barely lets me pet him. I understand he's probably scared because he's in a new place and all, but he has no problem with getting everywhere and into every nook and cranny that I didn't even know I had, and he seems to be really exploratory/excited rather than scared.

Thankfully he seems to be somewhat litterbox trained since he was in a shelter, and he's socialized so he's used to humans. I mostly just keep him in a cage (which is a little small, about 2x4 with a roof -- getting a pen later) when I can't monitor him, and I let his door open when I'm around -- is that enough to get him used to me, and how long should I expect to do this before he trusts me enough to pick him up/hold him for long enough to groom him?


User is Offline bullrider76543
Joplin MO
1291 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 7:43 AM
I would avoid picking him up as much as possible. and spend time lying on the floor at his level. read a book there of watch tv and let him come to you. dont try to touch him untill he makes the contact to you saying give me attention. that way its on his terms and he knows that you are not there to get him. you might also try laying there with some treats too.
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User is Offline TH004
261 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 7:52 AM
My buns now was like that too-- was totally OK with being held at the shelter, would sit on your lap very still, nice, etc. At home, he hated being picked up and was very stand-offish. It took him a few weeks, but he eventually came around to being very social with us. I think it was the change in scenery. As for being picked up, we just now (2 yrs later!) got to where he likes it. He still won't sit on our laps. He likes to sit next to us.

IMO he was traumatized at the shelter and scared. He was right next to the entrance, so there was a lot of traffic and animals passing through. I think he put up with whatever then, just because he didn't have fight left in him.

Give him time and he will come around to liking you. Hang out with him, give treats, talk to him, etc and he will see you are not a threat. Also, once he gets to know the new digs, he will feel better too. The thing that helped us the most was putting an item of clothing that has our scent on it in his living space, so he could get used to us without us around 24x7 (like a sock or t-shirt). We put something of my husband's in with him and he bonded with him first. I decided to get in on the action and put something of mine with him and it worked for me too Also, let him come to you for pets. It's hard to not go for it yourself, but it really helped to build trust. Mine now runs to me when he sees me and slides into me in a rush for pets.

Congrats on the new buns! What is his name?

User is Offline bullrider76543
Joplin MO
1291 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 7:56 AM
and please share pics!!!!!
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User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 8:06 AM
Thanks for the tips! His name is Sir Rupert He's a Himalayan mix.

I was also wondering, since I don't have everything fully set up yet, will he get re-freaked out all over again if I move him to a different room? I've been keeping him in my personal bedroom for now since it's the easiest room for me to bunny proof -- and if he poops or makes a mess at least it's not in other people's stuff! -- but I'm thinking of moving him into a mostly unused and less cluttered section of the house later when I can set up a pen.

User is Offline britt and yeti
Edmonton, AB
207 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 8:18 AM
i think it would be best to get him moved asap.. try and get him into his new area BEFORE you litter train him. i made the mistake of moving my buns cage no more than 5 feet after he was fully litter trained. and i've had to COMPLETELY re-train him. -.-' silly bun
also i went through the same thing with my little dude.. he enjoyed being picked up when i rescued him... but now that hes home and i suppose comfortable.. this is HIS house. and he tells everyone what to do.

dont be discouraged. Sir Rupert will come around for loves and pets soon. like everyone else said. get down to his level.. try and find common interest with him.. as weird as it sounds.

Yeti and i watch TV together. i sit on the couch and he sits on top of his condo OR on the armrest.. never on my lap though.. "/
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User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 8:47 AM
Well his litterbox is in his cage, and he's pretty good about getting into the litterbox while he's in the cage to poop, though I'm guessing all bets are off if I let him out in the open?

User is Offline bullrider76543
Joplin MO
1291 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 10:21 AM
LOL well I have 8 bunnies, and the shop vac gets a lot of use here cause we are almost all fixed but they still constanly feel the need to mark territory but its usally only next to the other cages. and most of the time its not and issue. you have an advantage with only one bun and he is already fixed (which is good news trust me LOL bunny hormones can be such a pain LOL)
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User is Offline britt and yeti
Edmonton, AB
207 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 10:23 AM

my buns box is in his cage aswell..(he has free range of my apartment during the day hes only in his cage come nuhnights) he just hops back in when he needs it now that ive retrained him. but even when his cage moved 5 feet his litterbox didnt move an inch in his cage and he still preferred to poops in the corner where his cage USE to be. i know its not always the case with every rabbit. you may get lucky and he'll just know where to go. but understand that its definitely a possibility.

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User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 10:51 AM
Good to know. I'll definitely try to get his area set up by the weekend so he doesn't get too confused. The house is big enough that he might just think it's an entirely different place anyway... lol!

User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 7:44 PM
Hmm, another few behaviors I've noticed from observing him today:

He seems to not be drinking enough water; I have it in a bottle for him and he knows how to drink from there, but just not enough. I put a bowl down for him too just in case.

He gets bored of toys immediately. I don't know if it's because he's just not interested in those kinds of toys, but I'll try to offer him a toy I've already given him and he'll just ignore it completely.

He likes to nip at my legs and arms if I'm sitting down on a chair/sofa. Should I be trying to stop this behavior? He seems to be trying to gnaw at my arm...

I think so far he's still pretty good at going in the litterbox (or at least near it...). Fingers crossed.

 ETA: Is there a product someone can recommend for removing/reducing litterbox odors? I replace his box every day or even every few hours if I think he needs it, but the smell does build up quite a bit. Also, when should I start to try grooming him? Would he be okay not being groomed for a few weeks while he's getting used to the new place? Sorry for all the newbie questions, I'm just worried about doing everything right.


User is Offline Mimzy
459 posts Send Private Message
9/07/2012 9:32 PM
What litter do you use? Quite a few people here use carefresh, it seems to be highly recommended but I haven't tried it yet.Some of us, including me use horse stall pellets. You can get a 40 lbs bag of horse stall pellets for pretty cheap and I only have to clean it out every other day.
I use a plastic container as her box and every other day, dump out the litter & scrub it down with water & vinegar, rinse it out, and its good to go
So I really suggest the pellets, just try your local feed store. When they pee in it, the pellets turn to dust basically, very easy to clean as well.

Also, if you put hay in his litter box, you can look into a hay rack that will hang on the side of the cage and that way, he wont make you waste all the hay so fast I've seen a lot of bunny slaves use those "under shelf" baskets. I use one too & it works great!

As for grooming, I think he should be fine not being groomed until he's more comfortable. It might stress him out if you try to do it while he's still getting use to new surroundings.
No need to apologize for the questions, It's great that your asking & trying to find everything out about how to keep your little guy happy & healthy! We were all newbies once I still am hehe.
 photo KenMimSig_zps025abf4b.jpg Bunmom since June 4, 2012<3

User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
9/10/2012 7:26 AM
Oh, thanks! I went to the store and got some Aspen and it seems to help the pee smell, though all of us in the house hate the Aspen smell =p So we'll probably trade that out for Carefresh or other paper litter after we're done with the huge bag.

I've actually been wondering, can his age be wrong or did the shelter vet neuter him at only two months? I've heard that vets don't neuter until at least 5 mo. or so when their hormones kick in. Can this affect him in a bad way? He's actually quite big for a baby rabbit so I feel like his age might be wrong, but I have no experience with rabbit types and their sizes so I have no idea (he's about the size of a fully grown dwarf mix, which is my only other form of reference).

Also, he seems to have no problem with his surroundings and with me now; he always seems to be super relaxed (flopped) or happy (binkying/dancing), but he still refuses to be picked up even though the behavior notes said he had no problem with it. He still gets bored of his new toys really quickly, too. Does this mean he's still not 100% comfortable? Should I try the "lay down, offer treat" technique?

(I just uploaded some Sir Rupert pics to my gallery too )

Thanks a bunch!

User is Offline TH004
261 posts Send Private Message
9/10/2012 11:13 AM
I use Carefresh and LOVE it!!! We never smell the litterbox. I won't admit how rarely it gets changes :/

My bun isn't into toys at all. He likes to eat wicker stuff, but he isn't playing with it. Some are more playful than others.


User is Offline FooFoosMommy2
327 posts Send Private Message
9/10/2012 1:03 PM
I second that, we use Carefresh as well and theres no smell unless you are right up in the litter box. Our bunny is playful but doesnt really like toys- shes more into interior decorating and will rearrange her cage and move stuff around the room. She does like her stuffed sheep and monkey to snugle with and her blankie- she will bat that for hours. Maybe try something like that?

User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
9/10/2012 2:35 PM
Great, I'll keep an eye out for Carefresh next time. The Aspen stuff is pretty horrible, the people I live with have said things like "I can smell him all the way across two rooms" when it's actually the smell of the litter! Not ideal. My theory is that the smell of aspen is so strong it actually covers up the pee smell. Do you buy the specific Carefresh litter or is the bedding okay (if I have a grate)?

My bunny does like to dig a bit, so I'm going to try and make him a dig box. He also seems to be more interested in toilet paper rolls than any other toy I've given him so far. Are stuffed animals safe to give to bunnies? What should I look out for if I want to give them a stuffed buddy?

User is Offline bullrider76543
Joplin MO
1291 posts Send Private Message
9/10/2012 2:38 PM
I have never used aspen, but I use Cozy N Fresh wood pellets for litter and it is awesome and inexpensive. like only $5 for a 25 lb bag. and having 8 bunnies here it helps to save pennies. lol
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User is Offline TH004
261 posts Send Private Message
9/10/2012 2:41 PM
Here is the Carefresh I use: http://www.petsmart.com/product/ind...Id=2753657

I have found that it is sold pretty much everywhere, so I look around locally and online and buy it in bulk when I find a good deal. It also comes in cute colors, but those are more expensive.
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