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Boxing or playing?

Understand why your rabbits behave the way they do - and what you can do about it.
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Boxing or playing?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby WVForestGirl » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:30 am


I have a new buck and doe; juvenile meat mutts 5 and 7 months old. They are both pretty sweet and gentle. Lately, though, they've both been slapping/pouncing at my hand when I'm cleaning their cages. It's usually when I'm in there making sweeping motions, like when I'm collecting spilled hay or wiping the wire with a wet rag.
They both have perky ears when they're doing this and usually come up for a sniff or scratch right after. Are they playing? Or defending their space? Should I worry about escalation if it's the latter? If so, what's the best way to curb this behavior? Thanks!

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Re: Boxing or playing?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Dood » Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:08 am


Defending their space AKA being territorial

I eat aggressive rabbits

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Re: Boxing or playing?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby TeaTimeBunnies » Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:13 am


Are they grunting when they do it? The perked ears are making me think play, but if they are grunting too...is there any way you could possibly get a video of one of them doing it? That would help a tone
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Re: Boxing or playing?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:42 am


Whether aggression or play, this is not desirable behaviour. If they are doing it only when you are cleaning the cages, the chances are they find the motion of your hand provocative. Why not just work around it by removing the rabbit to a carrier and cleaning the cage in peace? This will break the cycle. Unchecked, it could start happening when you are feeding or changing water--and then Dood's solution would be the most practical answer.

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Re: Boxing or playing?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby MeadowView » Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:39 pm


Sounds like boxing. I agree with Maggie. I never clean a rabbit's cage with the rabbit still in it, even if I'm just changing pans.

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Re: Boxing or playing?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby KimitsuKouseki » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:58 pm


Happens with some of my rabbits when I shovel their poo piles. It's mostly provoked by the scratching sounds you cause. This makes them think that "you" are being territorial towards them, trying to take their space.
I go depending on situation, I mostly just shove em away in the oposite corner of the cage and if they dont let up I pick them up in my arms while I finish cleaning with one hand and then put them back in. Then I pet them a bit and they realise nothing bad was happening. The behavior becomes less intense over time and they'll just move over themselves most times. They know I'm just bugging for a tiny bit.

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Re: Boxing or playing?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby WVForestGirl » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:49 pm


Oi, sounds like something I'm going to have to try to nip in the bud. Really want to keep these two.
Thanks for the insight and suggestions!

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Re: Boxing or playing?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:04 am


Start into the cage with a cup of water.... let them BOX that a time of two.. Stops after the 2nd time usually...
(They 'box' the cup; the cup spills water on their face; they don't like that, so they stop)

That is my solution
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Re: Boxing or playing?

Post Number:#9  Unread postby faiththequeen » Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:08 pm


SarniaTricia wrote:Start into the cage with a cup of water.... let them BOX that a time of two.. Stops after the 2nd time usually...
(They 'box' the cup; the cup spills water on their face; they don't like that, so they stop)

That is my solution


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Re: Boxing or playing?

Post Number:#10  Unread postby WVForestGirl » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:31 pm


Brilliant! I'm totally going to try that.... Thank you!
She started growling while boxing today, so definitely aggression, at least for her.

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