Five tips for nervous bunny

Rabbits can be nervous pets, but there's a lot we can do to set their minds at ease. Take a look at these tips on identifying and helping nervousness...

One of the first things you realise when you get a rabbit, is what nervous pets they can be. They startle at the smallest noise or movement, don’t like to be surprised, often hate being picked up and generally are pets that need to be taken care of carefully. All this is especially relevant if you have children around your rabbit. Some rabbits are more nervous than others but if you have a rabbit that’s constantly scared, follow these few tips and your bunny will soon feel a lot more secure…

Is My Rabbit Nervous?

It’s easy to tell if a rabbit is nervous or scared. They sit with their ears held back, tend to sit scrunched up like a big ball or always underneath something and startle at the smallest sound. If they are very nervous, frightened or hear a loud noise they don’t understand, they’ll thump loudly with their back feet on the floor warning all the other rabbits there is danger. They’ll keep thumping until the ‘danger’ has disappeared. For a small animal they can make a lot of noise thumping!

Does My Rabbit Feel Safe?

Again, it’s easy. If they sit out in the open a lot – instead of underneath boxes, tables or chairs – they feel safe. If they lie spread out with their legs splayed out behind them they are feeling incredibly safe and secure – not a care in the world! Once your rabbit begins to relax in its own home and lays lout like its sunbathing, you’ll know you have one happy and secure bunny!

How Can I Help?

Once you get to know your rabbit you will figure out quickly what makes him or her scared. Some rabbits are frightened of quick movement, most are frightened of noise and almost all rabbits don’t like being picked up – especially by children who may not know the correct way to securely pick-up and hold a bunny. If you have a rabbit who is nervous and always seems on edge, follow these five tips:

1. Don’t Pick Your Rabbit Up

If your rabbit hates being picked up then don’t pick him up. Instead, to get to know him, sit down next to him and stroke him or play with him. If you’re down at his level he will feel much more secure than being swung in the air by someone 50 times his size.

2. Don’t Make Sudden Movements

If your rabbit startles at movement when you are near the cage, move slower and carefully pick up food bowls or bunny toys. This warns your rabbit you’re coming and they will feet a lot better about it than suddenly seeing a hand coming into their space.

3. Don’t Make Loud Noises

Take care when vacuuming, mowing the lawn or doing anything near your rabbit’s cage that is noisy. When you first get your rabbit, introduce him to things like vacuums slowly. Turn it on for a few seconds, then off, then on again, then off, then on for a bit longer, then off and so on. Eventually he will be so used to the noise he won’t even notice it.

4. Talk To Your Rabbit

No it’s not crazy! Talk to your rabbits in a low, soothing voice as often as you can. They will become so used to the sound of you speaking that if you have friends over and there’s a lot more voices, they won’t tend to startle. Rabbits like to be spoken to. You’ll see you rabbit’s ears prick up as he tries to understand what you’re saying. Later on, they will associate your voice with you, with food and with love.

5. Don’t Invade Their Space

Be very careful about keeping their own space clean. If they have a pen, don’t climb over the top. Walk in through the door and make sure they know it’s their space and you’re just a visitor. Rabbits need to feel comfortable and secure in their own home and if you’re constantly invading it and acting like you live there, it puts them on edge.

The good news though is that rabbits are easy to train and they learn fast. Just a few days of being careful around your nervous bunny and you’ll discover he’s become the world’s happiest and most secure bunny…. and we would all be happier with that!