BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > New house rabbit and it's not going so welll
Last Post by HyzenthlayLudo at 10/01/2012 3:57 PM (10 Replies)
Author Messages

User is Offline jayniee
2 posts Send Private Message
9/30/2012 9:25 AM

I have sought out a forum to ask for advice, because I have a new house rabbit and things have not got off to a very good start.
A bit of background, I had a rabbit years ago, but he was a resuce rabbit had not been well looked after, was 4 year old when I got him and was never trainable.

Well, my new bunny Luna, was brought home 4 weeks ago, she's still a baby really only 17 (maybe 18 at the most) weeks old. We have her in an indoor hutch in the dining area of the kitchen. But we are struggling to litter train her. If anything she seems worse now than when we got her. Occassionally she will go in her tray but that seems more coincidence than anything else.

She is also still very very timid, (even starting to get aggressive now) when we get her out she just seems to run wild dropping pellets behind her all the time, and if I go to pick her up she is growley, then nips. So I try to avoid chasing her and catching her, but she just sits under the kitchen table, or corner of the room. So I can't see how that will help improve her temperament?

And her hutch, it has a large plastic base, kind of like the bottom of a large litter tray, so at first I had it made up with wood shavings but these went every where, so then I put a mat in (a tight woven thick cotton bath mat) but she just wee'd all over it, and she was just pushing it out of the way anyway. So last night I just left it with no bedding, just her hay in the corner and litter tray in the other corner. Can't decide if she was bothered or not? She did poo all over the bottom of her hutch, but only wee'd in her tray which is something? Yes?

Any advise would be really appreciated, because I would much prefer her to be a house rabbit, but if the messing doesn't improve she will have to go outside in a garden hutch.

Thank you and look forward to getting to know you all better xxx

User is Offline CinnabunMom
in the TARDIS
1195 posts Send Private Message
9/30/2012 9:34 AM
First, welcome to BB!

Sounds like Luna is entering the dreaded teenage age. At around 4 months old both boy and girl bunnies go into "teenage" mode and their hormones kick in to the extreme. The very clear signs of this are territorial marking (pooping and peeing everywhere), aggression (even if the bun was very mild mannered before), and general unpleasantness. The best way to counter this is to get your bun fixed. The hormones will need about a month or two to settle down afterwards, but the buns will mellow out and be easier to re-potty train or train. I would avoid putting liter anywhere except in her liter box as it just confuses them when the litter is everywhere. As far as getting her to be less timid, I find that one of the best things you can do is the "ignore" game. Let her out in a bun safe room and then lay on the floor (at her level!) and just ignore her. Bunnies are curious enough that eventually they will want to investigate you. Also, have a few treats on hand, like a raisin or cranberry. Never underestimate that power of bribing for love.
Also, here at BB we strongly urge that buns not be kept outdoors full time. There are just so many dangers. Your best bet here is to make an appt with a rabbit savvy vet and get her spayed. It works wonders!
Feel free to head over to the welcome section and introduce yourself and your bun! We love bunny pics!

User is Offline Stickerbunny
4132 posts Send Private Message
9/30/2012 10:15 AM

The aggression and marking are hormonal, she's old enough to be that way. That is the problem with the babies, you have to put up with their mood swings until you can get them fixed and their hormones die down. Some vets are OK spaying at 4 months, some prefer to wait until 6 months, but once she is spayed her marking and aggression will improve dramatically (it takes about a month after surgery for the hormones to even out). Until then, she's likely to not improve too much, which isn't her fault... her hormones are going wild. Spaying is good for females anyway, since it is a 80%ish chance of cancer if they are left intact.

As for litter training - do not put bedding/litter ANYWHERE except her litter box. That just confuses them and makes them think everywhere is a big old litter tray. You mention you used wood shavings? Were they pine? If so, please use something else. Pine shavings are dangerous to bunnies due to the phenols. A nice soft, absorbent litter helps babies understand where to go - I started out with carefresh for my girl when training her. Also, add hay to her litter tray, rabbits like to go potty while they eat so if the hay is in other parts of the cage, it will just encourage her to leave droppings all over. And when she has accidents outside the box, clean it up ASAP with VINEGAR and water 50/50 mix to remove the scents and make her not want tomark the same spot over and over due to smelling her own urine.

Please do not put her outside because she's a baby and can't help herself. Rabbits do very poorly in heat, even temperatures of 80F can cause them to become uncomfortable, if it gets over that it can become dangerous if they are not cooled off. There are also dangers of fly strike, predators, heart attack from being scared by any number of things outside, etc. And it's hard to tame, bond or even exercise an outdoor hutch bunny.

User is Offline bunnyfriend
2372 posts Send Private Message
9/30/2012 5:07 PM
Hi welcome to BB

Stickerbunny and CinnabunMom have given good advice on litter training and spaying so I'll add some advice on how to bond with your new rabbit. Rabbits are prey animals so they naturally are on the look out for predators. I would highly suggest avoiding picking up your rabbit unless you absolutely need to (like for nail clipping or emergencies). Most rabbits hate being picked up because it is very scary for them, they think they are about to be eaten. So her reaction to being picked up is completely normal, many rabbits have great personalities and trust their owners but will still react like this when they're picked up.

The best way you can bond with your rabbit is to have everything be on her terms, always make sure she has access to her cage or a hidey house that she can escape to when she feels like it. I know this sounds odd but the best thing you can do at first is to completely ignore her. Sit or lay on the ground pretend your are not paying attention to her, read a magazine or go on your computer. Let her come up to you and don't reach out to her, let her see that you aren't going to try to grab her. After a while you can start offering her treats and pets when she welcomes it. Go slow with her and she will grow to love and trust you! It just takes time, remember she is a teenager and is still new to your home. Just be patient the litter training will come soon, don't judge her on how she is like now
RIP Tigger          RIP Wilbur           RIP Totoro

User is Offline Stickerbunny
4132 posts Send Private Message
9/30/2012 6:46 PM
Also remember not all rabbits are extremely cuddly/want pets a lot - I have two, one my male adores pets and will sit for an hour if I will pet him that long. The other, my female, would rather I ignore her so she can come over and sniff me, tug at my clothes or climb up on my back but 90% of the time pets are off limits.

User is Offline peppypoo
Forum Leader
1953 posts Send Private Message
9/30/2012 8:54 PM
Welcome to binkybunny!

I think everyone has made great points so far about litter training, bonding with Luna, benefits of indoor bunnies, and the importance of spaying.

From your descriptions, it seems like litter training is going in the right direction! Nixing the bedding throughout the cage is definitely something I'd encourage, and something that does tend to help litter training as you've experienced. As humans we tend to want to give our bunnies nice soft things to lay on but frankly mine seem to prefer flat hard surfaces, silly things. Plus, plush mats and beds just seem to look like toilets to many buns.

Sounds like it might be time to start thinking about a spay! The House Rabbit Society has great tips on finding a good vet for the job:

Feel free to ask if you have any other questions!
Tammo (RIP), Milo (RIP), Peppy, Remi

User is Offline jayniee
2 posts Send Private Message
10/01/2012 10:25 AM
Thank you very much for your words of wisdom!
So this is what we have done.....
We have moved her hutch into the living room, this way when she is out she has a smaller space, just the living room, and no cubby holes to hide in (but access to her cage all the time) so when it's time to go back to her hutch I don't have to try and chase her, she can't run round the round the kitchen table etc. We also have a wooden floor, so accidents are quickly and easily dealt with.
I have left her hutch with just hay in her bed side and the litter tray in the other side (which has wood litter ill vpellets in). She has only ever wee'd in her tray inside her hutch.
But outside her hutch she just poo's where ever she likes, usually while moving, not whilst sat still and tonight she has wee'd a few times too.
She is still very very growly but I've noticed this is more so over treats, so I'll avoid trying to give her treats and petting her at the same time and she doesn't like me to clean her hutch, so I'll wait until she's well out of the way until I do that task too.
We'll take her to see our vet on Saturday and see what they say about how soon they will spay her.
I'm in the UK and it's winter now, so far far too cold for bunnies to be outside, and I really wanted a house rabbit. My old bunny Yoda who died a few years ago had been an outdoor bun before I got him (he was 4 when I got him and quite neglected, so I had to keep him as an outdoor bun) but I never had any of these problems, despite how he'd been treated. I had Yoda for a further 4 years.
Thanks again xxx

User is Offline Elrohwen
Hudson Valley, NY
7322 posts Send Private Message
10/01/2012 11:17 AM

Definitely keep her inside! This is a website full of people with house rabbits, so we strongly believe in keeping them indoors. Things will get better with her over time and spaying should help her marking and territorial behavior.

For the skittishness, sit on the floor in the room and completely ignore her - read a book or watch tv. She will eventually approach to check you out. At some point you can offer food, but don't try to pet or touch her. She'll come to associate you with treats and good things and will be more interested in interacting with you. Don't worry too much about the territorial behavior in her cage - this is very typical with unspayed females (and some altered bunnies too). It's not personal, she just doesn't like people in her space, but it doesn't mean she can't bond with you outside the cage.
- Elrohwen

User is Offline Stickerbunny
4132 posts Send Private Message
10/01/2012 11:39 AM
jayniee, the droppings she is leaving is marking her territory. It will be worse for a little bit since you just moved her space, but then it should die down a little. With her spay, that behavior will drop drastically. Right now she is saying "this is mine, mine, mine, mine" and leaving her scent to mark her space. The hutch smells like her and not so much like anyone else, so she doesn't feel as big a need to mark it so she will use her tray more. Hormones are a pain to work with.

My male I adopted at four years old as well. The older buns have less issues, which is why a lot of people much prefer to adopt an older rabbit over a baby... the teenage years can be a pain ! But they grow out of it.

User is Offline Hazel
1640 posts Send Private Message
10/01/2012 12:25 PM



Please please don't put her outside!! I know it can be frustrating and a teenager even more so. But outside she would be more of a lawn ornament than a pet to you, it wouldn't be a good situation for you or her. And of course there are also a million dangers for her outside, as Stickerbunny already pointed out.


Like the others have said, spaying should help a lot. Also, once she's spayed and you start over with litter training, it would be helpful to not overwhelm her with too much space right away. Let her play in a smaller area at first so she doesn't get too far away from her litterbox and gets used to hopping back to it when she needs to go. An x-pen would be great to stake out such a play area around or in front of her cage. Once she got the hang of that, you can gradually increase the amount of room she has access to.


Good luck finding a rabbit savvy vet! Make sure to ask some questions to see if they know what they are talking about. Plenty of vets take rabbits, but not all that many actually know enough about them. If they tell you not to feed her before surgery, RUN and find a new vet.

"You ain't buna fide!"

User is Offline HyzenthlayLudo
7 posts Send Private Message
10/01/2012 3:57 PM
I know someone already said it, but make sure to put the hay INSIDE the litter box; personally I don't prefer to poo where I eat, but buns do! Also, I would recommend either Carefresh or shredded newspaper as bedding in the litter box rather than wood pellets as they are much more soft. The size of the litter box is also of importance and should be large enough for your bunny to rest in as it will encourage her to want to spend some time in there, smaller and corner littler boxes just aren't as effective.

BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > New house rabbit and it's not going so welll