6 week old tries to bite me.

Rabbit Talk  Forum

Help Support Rabbit Talk Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
Joined
Jun 12, 2023
Messages
190
Reaction score
258
Location
Boulevard, CA
This young fella has tried to bite me on 3 separate occasions.
Today while getting him weighed he was biting my sweatshirt.
It seems to be his rebellion move instead of kicking and scratching.
My intent is to keep him and use him as a breeder.
Is there a proper response to this?
I know how to school pigs and goats on bad behavior, but am still really new with rabbits.
 
if he's biting a six weeks when you aren't hurting him or anything... NOW imagine him as a 10 lb adult? You want that biting you or your does? Seriously... oversexed youngsters are NOT fun as adults. I would NOT keep that as a breeder EVER.


But in case you are still tempted....
Temperament is often genetic.
Imagine a whole litter of kits with that biting propensity......
 
This young fella has tried to bite me on 3 separate occasions.
Today while getting him weighed he was biting my sweatshirt.
It seems to be his rebellion move instead of kicking and scratching.
My intent is to keep him and use him as a breeder.
Is there a proper response to this?
I know how to school pigs and goats on bad behavior, but am still really new with rabbits.
I agree with @ladysown - I will not keep or breed a biting rabbit. Bucks especially have no justification for being mouthy. And temperament is definitely heritable. Some judges call Satins, "satans," but after 6-8 generations of selection for sweet temperaments, every one of our Satin rabbits is perfectly content to be handled, and many will nearly fall out of the cage looking for a forehead rub. :)

When I have a rabbit trying to assert dominance, I use the same approach as @RabbitsOfTheCreek - I hold the rabbit's head and shoulders immobile until it quits struggling. This is most effective if you have the rabbit on a table or other flat surface. For most rabbits it only takes a few rounds to figure out who's boss. However, while I'll try to train a pushy rabbit, I have almost zero tolerance for biting (although there's always the possibility for an exception depending on the situation). But constant, repeated biting? No way.
 
Hm, I have two lines of mutts, one does bite when stressed. Not me intentionally, it's a stress relieve action, and I do not hold a grudge about when they sometimes got me - never broke skin or so. But I have a dedicated, by now pretty torn up winter jacket for handling them. Since my keepers are more or less pets, and get medical treatment if necessary, that behaviour was actually usefull, when treating stasis it helped that I could make them annoyed enough to bite into the food I pressed against their nose, quite often they kept munching once it was in their mouth.

I do not mind that rabbits express their emotions like that, I can deal with it. Unfortunatly, that line more or less accidentially petered out in my little herd, the last two does are old and spayed. It was a good line on many other accounts- good, solid instincts - at least for the way I keep my rabbits. They are free range outside during daylight, and I liked them being a little less domestic and more independent, and able to cope with being and surviving outside.

My other line wouldn't bite, no matter what. They are sweet, docile rabbits, but not as sharp as the other one.
 
I agree with @ladysown - I will not keep or breed a biting rabbit.
Same here. Gentle behavior is a must in my herd, it is genetic. It's been years since I've had a bad actor. Oddly enough, I had a harlequin doe born this year that lunges at you. We had predator issues this year, my guess is that is what set it off. Still, it is not an acceptable response. Sadly, she has a wonderful coat, and is the offspring of one of my favorite bucks who finally demised this year of old age. So she would have been a keeper, but she is in the meat pen awaiting dispatch.
 
Hm, I have two lines of mutts, one does bite when stressed. Not me intentionally, it's a stress relieve action, and I do not hold a grudge about when they sometimes got me - never broke skin or so. But I have a dedicated, by now pretty torn up winter jacket for handling them. Since my keepers are more or less pets, and get medical treatment if necessary, that behaviour was actually usefull, when treating stasis it helped that I could make them annoyed enough to bite into the food I pressed against their nose, quite often they kept munching once it was in their mouth.

I do not mind that rabbits express their emotions like that, I can deal with it. Unfortunatly, that line more or less accidentially petered out in my little herd, the last two does are old and spayed. It was a good line on many other accounts- good, solid instincts - at least for the way I keep my rabbits. They are free range outside during daylight, and I liked them being a little less domestic and more independent, and able to cope with being and surviving outside.

My other line wouldn't bite, no matter what. They are sweet, docile rabbits, but not as sharp as the other one.
I've been brushing a French Lop a lot lately and sometimes she needs something she can just go to town on
I keep plenty of cardboard (and boxes) and gave her a thin piece from a juice box container and she chewed on that thing so happily
 
I have a lot of respect for Ladysown opinion, but I have the sweetest little American Blue 14 week olds. When they aren't giving me kisses, they will touch me with their teeth or pull on my sleeves, It is not aggressive. Are you sure this little one is being aggressive?
 
I have a lot of respect for Ladysown opinion, but I have the sweetest little American Blue 14 week olds. When they aren't giving me kisses, they will touch me with their teeth or pull on my sleeves, It is not aggressive. Are you sure this little one is being aggressive?
In am too New to rabbits to know the difference. But I know he would rather not be picked up. He is the first one to the cage door in the morning tho.
 
In am too New to rabbits to know the difference. But I know he would rather not be picked up. He is the first one to the cage door in the morning tho.
I see. I don't think that any rabbits like to be picked up. Someone once said it feels to them as if they are being picked up and carried away by a hawk. These little ones operate on 90% instinct and are not to blame for fear reaction.

Mine line up at the cage for attention too and when I place my hand in the cage, they take a few seconds to get used to me. Then they are curious and affectionate....and they only have their mouths to get close to me.

Then again, some rabbits are down right scarry...
 
In am too New to rabbits to know the difference. But I know he would rather not be picked up. He is the first one to the cage door in the morning tho.
This sounds like he is just very dominant. If it's that, and not aggression, he is probably just nipping rather than biting hard, drawing blood and/or holding on. It would go along with his grabbing your sleeve. (Great question, @SLRS!) If that's what's going on, then you can probably train him not to bite using the method @RabbitsOfTheCreek mentioned. As @ladysown notes, though, his tendency to be nippy may eventually impact his behavior with does, so keep that in mind.

Rabbits are a species that develop a dominance hierarchy and maintain it by using certain ritual behaviors. The submissive rabbit responds to/acknowledges a dominant one by putting its chin on the ground and/or pushing its head under the dominant one's. (Most people have seen this submission behavior when they pet their rabbits, as most rabbits understand that they must submit to people.) A dominant rabbit will put its head over the top of a submissive one, and frequently lick or nip its head or ears. The submissive one submits to this nipping; it might twitch, but it rarely runs away. The nips don't draw blood unless the one getting nipped runs or responds aggressively itself, in which case you get the chasing, fur-pulling and biting that happens among rabbits that are new to each other and need to establish the hierarchy.

This is why we suggest to new rabbit owners that they approach their pets from above, and stroke the head and ears. To the rabbit, it's a demonstration of dominance. We counsel people not to approach a rabbit by putting their fingers under its nose like they would a dog, as to a rabbit that is a submissive signal and basically an invitation to nip, as well as confusing to a rabbit that would like to submit.

When I have a rabbit that wants to be boss (and it seems to happen more often to rabbits that are really used to people and handled a lot since they were quite young), I make opportunities to show him he's not boss. Watch him come up to the front of the cage and make sure you pin him, by putting your hand over his head and shoulders, before picking him up. Then grab a handful of scruff along with the ears to restrain him, and slip your other hand under his hindquarters to lift him and pull him out of the cage. You're not lifting him by the scruff or ears, it's more for stabilization and control of the biting parts. :) If I expect a nip, I usually roll the rabbit over on his back so he can't reach my arm or side (ouch) and carry him cradled in the crook of my elbow to a table. Roll him onto the table and watch. He'll probably start investigating; dominant rabbits are more curious and less fearful. Reach toward him and do the dominance display by pushing his head to the table, similar to what you'd do if you were posing a compact type rabbit. In a submissive rabbit that would look like this (as you can see, the rabbit is not fighting it):
posing.jpg

In a dominant rabbit, you will probably have to move your hand rearward to cover the ears and shoulders, as he will most likely be pushing up with his forelegs and trying to buck you off. He will probably fight you for quite a while. Keep restraining him gently but firmly till he stops, then let go. Give it a minute, then repeat a few more times. You don't have to keep at it for 30 minutes - that will annoy you both - but the key is to not stop holding him down until he has submitted, each time you pin him. It will most likely take a few rounds of this, and he may or may not give in the first day. I'd suggest going through this training one or twice a day until he lets you subdue him without fighting it at all. It may take several days or more... some rabbits are more determined than others!

Any time a youngster nips I use this method, immediately. Except for really confident, dominant rabbits, it usually only takes one or two trials to stop the behavior.

I see. I don't think that any rabbits like to be picked up. Someone once said it feels to them as if they are being picked up and carried away by a hawk. These little ones operate on 90% instinct and are not to blame for fear reaction.

Mine line up at the cage for attention too and when I place my hand in the cage, they take a few seconds to get used to me. Then they are curious and affectionate....and they only have their mouths to get close to me.

Then again, some rabbits are down right scarry...
It's true that most rabbits don't prefer being picked up, although there are exceptions. However, behavioral responses to this preference can range from complete submission to fearful aggression. Selective breeding for temperament isn't about blaming the rabbit, rather it's about perpetuating the tendency to exhibit behaviors that the breeder finds acceptable, and eliminating those that are problematic. Every breeder has to decide what those are for his own herd. We had six children and innumerable neighborhood kids that wanted to interact with the rabbits, and provide 4Hers and FFA kids with breeding and show stock, so fearful, lunging, biting or nippy rabbits weren't going to cut it. After a few generations of culling, we rarely have bunnies any more that are fearful or aggressive.

As for mouthiness, I watch that closely. While the Mini Rex were lickers that never went beyond licking, in most cases I don't allow the rabbits to put their mouths on us at all, since that is often part of a dominance display. In the bigger rabbits, licking almost always progressed to nipping. As far as I'm concerned, a better way for a rabbit to get close to you is to come up and shove its head under your hand:
Killian Sweetness.JPG
 
Last edited:
This sounds like he is just very dominant. If it's that, and not aggression, he is probably just nipping rather than biting hard, drawing blood and/or holding on. It would go along with his grabbing your sleeve. (Great question, @SLRS!) If that's what's going on, then you can probably train him not to bite using the method @RabbitsOfTheCreek mentioned. As @ladysown notes, though, his tendency to be nippy may eventually impact his behavior with does, so keep that in mind.

Rabbits are a species that develop a dominance hierarchy and maintain it by using certain ritual behaviors. The submissive rabbit responds to/acknowledges a dominant one by putting its chin on the ground and/or pushing its head under the dominant one's. (Most people have seen this submission behavior when they pet their rabbits, as most rabbits understand that they must submit to people.) A dominant rabbit will put its head over the top of a submissive one, and frequently lick or nip its head or ears. The submissive one submits to this nipping; it might twitch, but it rarely runs away. The nips don't draw blood unless the one getting nipped runs or responds aggressively itself, in which case you get the chasing, fur-pulling and biting that happens among rabbits that are new to each other and need to establish the hierarchy.

This is why we suggest to new rabbit owners that they approach their pets from above, and stroke the head and ears. To the rabbit, it's a demonstration of dominance. We counsel people not to approach a rabbit by putting their fingers under its nose like they would a dog, as to a rabbit that is a submissive signal and basically an invitation to nip, as well as confusing to a rabbit that would like to submit.

When I have a rabbit that wants to be boss (and it seems to happen more often to rabbits that are really used to people and handled a lot since they were quite young), I make opportunities to show him he's not boss. Watch him come up to the front of the cage and make sure you pin him, by putting your hand over his head and shoulders, before picking him up. Then grab a handful of scruff along with the ears to restrain him, and slip your other hand under his hindquarters to lift him and pull him out of the cage. You're not lifting him by the scruff or ears, it's more for stabilization and control of the biting parts. :) If I expect a nip, I usually roll the rabbit over on his back so he can't reach my arm or side (ouch) and carry him cradled in the crook of my elbow to a table. Roll him onto the table and watch. He'll probably start investigating; dominant rabbits are more curious and less fearful. Reach toward him and do the dominance display by pushing his head to the table, similar to what you'd do if you were posing a compact type rabbit. In a submissive rabbit that would look like this (as you can see, the rabbit is not fighting it):
View attachment 38601

In a dominant rabbit, you will probably have to move your hand rearward to cover the ears and shoulders, as he will most likely be pushing up with his forelegs and trying to buck you off. He will probably fight you for quite a while. Keep restraining him gently but firmly till he stops, then let go. Give it a minute, then repeat a few more times. It will most likely take a few rounds of this, and he may or may not give in the first day. The key is to not stop until he has submitted each time you pin him. I'd suggest going through this training one or twice a day until he lets you subdue him without fighting it at all. It may take several days or more... some rabbits are more determined than others!

Any time a youngster nips I use this method, immediately. Except for really confident, dominant rabbits, it usually only takes one or trials to stop the behavior.


It's true that most rabbits don't prefer being picked up, although there are exceptions. However, behavioral responses to this preference can range from complete submission to fearful aggression. Selective breeding for temperament isn't about blaming the rabbit, rather it's about perpetuating the tendency to exhibit behaviors that the breeder finds acceptable, and eliminating those that are problematic. Every breeder has to decide what those are for his own herd. We had six children and innumerable neighborhood kids that wanted to interact with the rabbits, and provide 4Hers and FFA kids with breeding and show stock, so fearful, lunging, biting or nippy rabbits weren't going to cut it. After a few generations of culling, we rarely have bunnies any more that are fearful or aggressive.

As for mouthiness, I watch that closely. While the Mini Rex were lickers that never went beyond licking, in most cases I don't allow the rabbits to put their mouths on us at all, since that is often part of a dominance display. In the bigger rabbits, licking almost always progressed to nipping. As far as I'm concerned, a better way for a rabbit to get close to you is to come up and shove its head under your hand:
View attachment 38602
Great information. Back to rabbit kindergarten for me.
 
Hm, I have two lines of mutts, one does bite when stressed. Not me intentionally, it's a stress relieve action, and I do not hold a grudge about when they sometimes got me - never broke skin or so. But I have a dedicated, by now pretty torn up winter jacket for handling them. Since my keepers are more or less pets, and get medical treatment if necessary, that behaviour was actually usefull, when treating stasis it helped that I could make them annoyed enough to bite into the food I pressed against their nose, quite often they kept munching once it was in their mouth.

I do not mind that rabbits express their emotions like that, I can deal with it. Unfortunatly, that line more or less accidentially petered out in my little herd, the last two does are old and spayed. It was a good line on many other accounts- good, solid instincts - at least for the way I keep my rabbits. They are free range outside during daylight, and I liked them being a little less domestic and more independent, and able to cope with being and surviving outside.

My other line wouldn't bite, no matter what. They are sweet, docile rabbits, but not as sharp as the other one.
Agree that protective instinct is a double edged sword. My first colony buck (silver fox) ended up being a biter. That protective, dominant attitude seemed to contribute to being a good dad. He's the buck who plowed paths in the deep snow for young kits. When I called them in at night he would roust kits who were hiding in the brush piles and chase them into their shelter. He would often sit with multiple kits curled next to him... But when he charged me across the yard and took a chunk from my hand he was removed. His son's don't seem as agressive and are gentler with the does. Wonder if that initial agression was triggered by him being older than the initial does. Frustrated hormonal teenager??
 
As for mouthiness, I watch that closely. While the Mini Rex were lickers that never went beyond licking, in most cases I don't allow the rabbits to put their mouths on us at all, since that is often part of a dominance display. In the bigger rabbits, licking almost always progressed to nipping. As far as I'm concerned, a better way for a rabbit to get close to you is to come up and shove its head under your hand:
View attachment 38602
This makes me wonder about a video on youtube with a house rabbit owner showing all of the little 'kisses' her bunny gives her.
Great info !
 
I am finding myself in the same situation. Great thread and information. If the breeder doesn't exchange our buck he will be a very expensive meal. I do not want an aggressive buck let alone passing that onto his offspring. Was not expecting to be charged and bit trying to feed.
 
I am finding myself in the same situation. Great thread and information. If the breeder doesn't exchange our buck he will be a very expensive meal. I do not want an aggressive buck let alone passing that onto his offspring. Was not expecting to be charged and bit trying to feed.
Update.
I did stop picking him up as much and gave him more head petting when I did need to.
I gave him a pine cone to chew and play with.
He successfully bred his first doe.
However. I switched him out because I am now doing only Tamuks.
No more fretting over this heat. They tolerate 90° easily.
 
Update.
I did stop picking him up as much and gave him more head petting when I did need to.
I gave him a pine cone to chew and play with.
He successfully bred his first doe.
However. I switched him out because I am now doing only Tamuks.
No more fretting over this heat. They tolerate 90° easily.
I ended up choosing Tamuks too. perfect for the home meat producer and they are almost always pleasant....which is an intended part of their breeding.
 

Latest posts

Back
Top