Yes, Your Rabbit Hates You (How To Be Friends With Your Bunny)
If you've recently purchased a fuzzy baby bunny, or perhaps been gifted one by some kindhearted person, you're no doubt a little confused. What exactly does one DO with a bunny? For starters, I am not a fan of keeping rabbits outdoors. Once you get to know them it's kind of like getting a cat and sticking it in the shed, a tad on the cruel side. It also makes it very hard to tame them, and to allow them to express their crazy bunny personalities.
Odds are that your bunny currently regards you with mistrust and suspicion. At least, I would assume so given that a) you are reading this, and b) it is fairly common rabbit behavior. If you have a friendly sweet rabbit then kudos to you, enjoy. If your rabbit is less than you imagined it might be, read on.
Rabbits are badass...
The first thing you need to understand about your rabbit is that it has no comprehension that it is a tiny fragile creature. Your bunny thinks that it is the biggest bad ass to hit town since Clint Eastwood. If you push it, your bunny WILL take you on. If you're lucky s/he will warn you first with growls and angry foot scrabbling, but then again, s/he may not. After all, you should know better, and respect the bunny.
It may help to think of your rabbit like one of those martial arts grand masters. They seem peaceable enough, but disrespect them and they will kick your ass. Learn this lesson well.
Rabbits love treats..
Apples and carrots are big hits with many rabbits, and they will oftentimes even get over the fact that you are clearly persona non grata to nibble at a treat from your hand. If you've been having trouble getting them to allow you to touch them, then this is a great way to start. You can get a few pats in this way oftentimes, just realize that the rabbit may realize what you are doing and nip you for your effrontery.
Take it easy, but make them accept you...
This is the delicate part of rabbit taming. When I say taming, I don't mean you should do this with wild rabbits, it would be both cruel and stupid. I am talking about domesticated young rabbits who need to become accustomed to you, their new owner.
First of all, pick them up securely, then place them on the ground and brush them gently. Don't let them run away, even if they are acting like you're trying to kill them. Do be careful though and make sure you have a firm grip around their chest and back legs. They can easily kill their silly selves by fighting too hard, though generally speaking they would prefer to avoid this.
Once your rabbit has settled, let it go gently. It may hop away, it may stay around for a while, it may turn and bite you. For this reason I recommend wearing jeans (which offer some protection) and applying common sense. If your rabbit is growling fiercely, don't let it go facing you. My own rabbit has a habit of retaliatory nipping, but she doesn't take it too seriously, some rabbits will go for blood however.
The thing is not to let it phase you. Treat the rabbit gently and firmly. Make it realize that it has no choice, that you will not hurt it, and that you will reward it with tasty treats. The strange thing is that rabbits actually quite like being petted, and after a while will run up to you and demand attention. This is particularly endearing when you don't see them coming and they get stealthily underfoot. Really, be careful when they're out of the cage.
Of course, all of this is assuming your bunny is at the stage where it can be picked up. If your bunny isn't quite there yet, try spending some quiet time with the cage open, and sitting on the floor, letting it get used to you, then proceed to the aforementioned step.
Remember: Your rabbit is crazy
Probably. Most rabbits have a certain edge of playful insanity to their behavior. They are also capable of holding grudges, and letting you know when you have offended and displeased them. My earlier advice of treating them like small fuzzy martial arts masters will hold you in good stead. They have a strong sense of protocol, which you may never understand fully. That's okay. What we are talking about here is simply the first step, getting your rabbit to be somewhat friendly.
Take your time, be patient, and remember that a good antiseptic brand is worth its weight in gold.