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I have a question about my 5 month old Netherland Dwarf, Aria.
So being unspayed, I am pretty sure she's hitting bunny puberty. She's developed some of the textbook signs, such as being more territorial of her cage (she growls when we try to clean it now), peeing outside of her cage, etc.
However, she's also developed some other behaviors that I haven't seen described before in descriptions of bunny hormone behavior.
The first is running away when I try to approach her to pet her/pick her up. Before, she was a total cuddle hog. I could pick her up and put her down and will and she loved to be pet, but now, she runs away from me while wagging her tail. If I persist in following her, she growls and finds somewhere to hide. I am not sure how to handle this - do I leave her alone and risk her learning this unsociable behavior, or do I continue to trying to calm her down but risk her becoming more frustrated?
The other is aggressiveness when I'm training her or offering her treats. Before, she was very well trained - she would respond to commands like "Come Here" or "Turn Around" with almost 95% accuracy. Now, half the time she doesn't listen, and the other half of the time (usually when she knows I have a treat), she lunges at the hand holding the treat and growls/boxes to get the treat out.
Is this hormonal behavior? Have others experienced their bunnies doing these things?
I am a bit hesitant to get her spayed because I have had bad luck with bunnies (even when experienced vets are involved), but her personality has changed almost overnight! She seems really moody and unhappy lately, and I don't want her to live like that.
Also, how long did it take for your bunnies to develop hormonal symptoms? Her seemed to occur over the course of 3-4 days.
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Normally this phase will pass and once she matures and gets use to her new hormones she should not be as aloof or territorial. However, adult females are, in general, less cuddly than males who are always trying to court and woo their owners as a mate.
This is not true of all females, one of my girls still runs over for loving and likes to snuggle up next to me on the couch but as a kit she was freakishly affectionate and I kept waiting for the "sex change fairy" to turn her into a male
Although rabbits do not have a typical heat cycle they do tend to have a peak fertility cycle every 16 days which lasts for 2 to 3 and in my experience this is when my house does are most grouchy. If you take a peek at her female parts and they seem swollen and bright red or even purplish then she is VERY hormonal and not in very good control of her behaviour.
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I have a friend who manages a pet store where they adopt out bunnies for the humane society. Trixie was one of those rabbits but she wasn't spayed and there were so many buns at the humane society they didn't have the funds to spay her and she wasn't getting adopted because she was so territorial. She will lunge, bite, growl, and box at anything or anyone who dares to come into her space. We took her home to make room at the store for "nicer" rescue buns, as we have so many, what's one more?
Anyway, it's been months and she's still aggressive. She also spends a lot of time building nests and pretending to be pregnant, lol. I doubt she'll ever change, it's just the way she is. HOWEVER, if you take Trixie out of her cage she is a totally different rabbit. Often times females lose that territorial behavior in unfamiliar surroundings.
Maybe try training and socializing Aria in a room she isn't usually in?
My three unsprayed does run the full spectrum of behavior and personality. From super cuddly Delilah, to skittish Daphne, to aggressive Trixie..it takes all kinds!
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