Nervous young doe

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Sinar

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Hi, I’m very new to rabbits and recently bought a trio of young New Zealand whites, initially there we quite nervous but I’ve managed to tame the buck and one of the does, to the point that they are quite friendly and don’t mind being stroked, but one doe is not getting any better, and may be slightly worse.

The does we’re about 10 weeks old when I got them and I initially kept the 2 does together, one was more confident and bolder and she has become quite tame, the other was always shy and nervous, when I’d feed treats (kale) the bolder doe would take it from my hand but the other one would steal it from the friendly doe but would never take it from me.

I decided she might do better if I separated them, which was about 3 weeks ago, but the nervous doe seems to be getting worse, when I put my hand in the cage she will stamp her back feet and if I try to put my hand near her she will lunge and it seems like she’s trying to scratch me with her front feet, I’m not familiar with rabbit behaviour but I think she is angry or afraid, she has not tried to bite me yet, but I’m a little concerned that she might.

I don’t like that she not relaxed and happy and I want to get her to a point where she is enjoying life, any advice on how to proceed would be great fully appreciated, I wonder if it would be better not to try and interact with her?

thanks for reading.
 

WyoWool

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NZ from my experience tend towards either end of the personality spectrum. They’re either super nice and sweet or they’re cage aggressive turds. This breed as a whole really does well with the implementation of “breed the best, eat the rest”. Some breeders don’t mind having a snorty, stomping doe around so long as she is a good mom/producer and the kits don’t turn out with the same temperament. Some cull at the first glimpse of behaviors.

But, as you’re new to rabbits you have to ask yourself what, if anything, you’re willing to put up with. At that age, they’re just barely starting to get hormones. They still have a lot of growing up to do and she may get worse.

I’ll be totally honest and say a thumping and lunging three month old is small peas compared to a SR doe that’s 11-12 pounds of teeth flying at you. You can’t “teach” a rabbit to be calm. The fact they’re prey animals kinda negates asking some individuals to be reasonable

I’m firmly in the camp of no newbie should ever have to wonder about their new rabbits biting, or that rabbit having trouble adjusting to common situations/environments. I cull really aggressively in my NZ program for this reason.
Since you bought a trio, I’m just assuming you’re hoping to breed for meat? If that’s the case, try breeding this doe as soon as she hits maturity. That may calm her down. If it doesn’t, or she gets worse- I’d cull her. Save the biggest female kit from your other doe when you breed that one and you’ll be back to having a trio.
 

Sinar

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Thanks for the informative reply, yes I’m hoping to breed them for meat, I must admit I’m a little bit scared of her, I breed mice, quail and guinea pigs and I’ve never had issues with temperament with those, well, the quail can be a bit pecky but they can’t hurt a person, and rabbits are so much bigger, i wonder If my lack of confidence in handling them is reinforcing her bad behaviour.

I was planning on waiting until the does are 9 months to breed, do you suggest trying to breed her earlier? If she is truly aggressive I will cull her, I don’t want to be afraid of an animal and I do believe in breeding for best temperament.
 

arachyd

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Some does are aggressive until you get them successfully bred. They usually make good mothers. I'd give her one chance - breed her and keep children away from her until her kits are weaned. If she has a change of attitude keep her. If she's still aggressive cull her. I raised a line of very nice, calm rabbits from the meanest doe I ever met. She was a great mother but vicious and would lunge and bite if I wasn't fast enough to grab her first. Culling her was a relief.
 

Sinar

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Some does are aggressive until you get them successfully bred. They usually make good mothers. I'd give her one chance - breed her and keep children away from her until her kits are weaned. If she has a change of attitude keep her. If she's still aggressive cull her. I raised a line of very nice, calm rabbits from the meanest doe I ever met. She was a great mother but vicious and would lunge and bite if I wasn't fast enough to grab her first. Culling her was a relief.
Thanks, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, I don’t think shes mean, just fearful, I am going to continue to try and win her over, while not forcing myself on her, I think my inexperience with rabbits is hindering, but I believe I am getting better, observing how she carries her ears I’m often able to predict what she will do, so hopefully I can better prevent confrontation.
 

SoftPawsRabbitry

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Hi, I’m very new to rabbits and recently bought a trio of young New Zealand whites, initially there we quite nervous but I’ve managed to tame the buck and one of the does, to the point that they are quite friendly and don’t mind being stroked, but one doe is not getting any better, and may be slightly worse.

The does we’re about 10 weeks old when I got them and I initially kept the 2 does together, one was more confident and bolder and she has become quite tame, the other was always shy and nervous, when I’d feed treats (kale) the bolder doe would take it from my hand but the other one would steal it from the friendly doe but would never take it from me.

I decided she might do better if I separated them, which was about 3 weeks ago, but the nervous doe seems to be getting worse, when I put my hand in the cage she will stamp her back feet and if I try to put my hand near her she will lunge and it seems like she’s trying to scratch me with her front feet, I’m not familiar with rabbit behaviour but I think she is angry or afraid, she has not tried to bite me yet, but I’m a little concerned that she might.

I don’t like that she not relaxed and happy and I want to get her to a point where she is enjoying life, any advice on how to proceed would be great fully appreciated, I wonder if it would be better not to try and interact with her?

thanks for reading.
I've had some really scared rabbits I've gotten that turned around in a few months time, this "Flemish" I have (while he is absolutely going to be a GIANT giant, has a interesting face and legs), came to me almost as wild as a cottontail, he stomped if I even looked at him, now he's entering his puberty stage and relaxing, same with some does I have, I personally lay treats on the floor of the cage and leave them alone until they come over, it took a few months with the worst for I've had and she was a biter, but she became a very very sweet rabbit! You may decide to cull or resell her and that's ok too, but I wish you luck!

Best thing I've done is not reach in the corner they're hiding in, let the bunny have a safety spot, don't encourage attacks by reaching at her until she lunges, (it didn't go well with my first aggressive rabbit, though you may be able to reverse that habit via "pinning", but don't try that on her since she is sounding more like she's scared than aggressive)
 

Sinar

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Thanks for the great advise, you’ve given me a some hope, if I can’t get her tame I won’t resell her as I don’t want to pass the problem on to someone else, but she’s still young.

when she gets into the corner and wants to be alone I’m just going to leave her as you suggest, I think I’ve been invading her safe space too much which can’t be helping, she took some kale from my hand today, it seems like she wants to be nice, but sometimes her fear takes over, she’s not lunged or thumped for the two days, which is promising.
 

Sinar

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Just to add I did do a very stupid thing, I keep them in wire cages in my shed but I also built a large run, about 10x8ft for them to exercise in a few hours a day, the problem was when I try to catch them, the buck is super chilled and I can just pick him up, but i think I really stressed the does out trying to catch them in the big walk in run, chasing them around and trying to corner them, now I’m keeping the does in the cages all the time, so I’m hoping this will help.

living in the UK, wire cages are not really a thing, and a lot people here would consider them cruel, but after tons of research I decided to go with them. and don’t regret it, they are so much cleaner and more hygienic than damp smelly wooden hutches, and I think a more pleasant and healthy environment for the rabbits, i built the large run so to give them access to a more natural setting, and I think it’s backfired a bit as far as the shy does is concerned.
 
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