Behavioral Disorders in Rabbits

When rabbits are lonely or mistreated, they can develop behavioral problems and aggression. Find out here how to prevent behavioral problems in your rabbits.

Aggressive behavior is part of normal social behavior, even in sociable animals such as rabbits or guinea pigs. The males in particular can fight fiercely. Therefore, if your rabbit is aggressive from time to time, it does not necessarily mean that it has a behavioral disorder. But while rabbits can avoid each other in the wild, in captivity they often lack the space to avoid their opponents. This can be a reason why rabbits kept as pets develop behavioral problems over time.

The solution to the aggression problem is by no means to be found in solitary housing. Because rabbits live in large groups under natural conditions. It is better to have the animals neutered in good time.

Incorrect, non-species-appropriate husbandry can also cause behavioral problems in rabbits.

Causes of behavioral problems in rabbits

There are many causes of behavioral problems in rabbits. Many reasons lie in the wrong attitude of the animals:

  1. Rabbits and guinea pigs kept together
  2. single keeping
  3. too small enclosure
  4. Boredom, no job opportunities

Keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together as a cause of behavioral disorders

Keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together is popular, but it does not replace conspecifics because:

  • Rabbits and guinea pigs have different behaviors.
  • Rabbits and guinea pigs speak completely different “languages”: They can get used to each other, but misunderstandings and quarrels are inevitable.
  • Rabbits and guinea pigs have different requirements when it comes to furnishing their enclosures: Rabbits enjoy the view from high places, while guinea pigs prefer to race from hiding place to hiding place.
  • Rabbits and guinea pigs have different “needs to be cuddled”: While rabbits constantly lick each other and cuddle, guinea pigs are more distant. They don’t want to be cuddled, but they need to “talk” to other dogs through sounds and smells.

Solitary housing of rabbits as a cause of behavioral disorders

Keeping rabbits individually is not species-appropriate! Rabbits are group animals that need fellow animals to live and be happy, otherwise, they become lonely. A guinea pig, another animal, or man can never replace this conspecific. The minimum is therefore keeping two rabbits.

Too small a cage as a cause of behavioral problems in rabbits

A species-appropriate rabbit enclosure with plenty of space is essential for the health of rabbits, both mentally and physically. Rabbits love to move, rear up on their hind legs, and jump. If they cannot do this in their enclosure, they will become ill.

As an absolute minimum for two rabbits, provided they are small breeds up to three kilograms, the “Veterinarian Association for Animal Welfare e.V.” recommends. an enclosure with a floor area of ​​at least 6m² for two rabbits. Keeping only one rabbit is not species-appropriate. If there are more than two rabbits, the enclosure size per animal must be increased by at least 20%.

In addition to the large enclosure, rabbits need free roaming in the apartment or in the garden every day!

Behavioral disorders in rabbits caused by boredom

In addition to the size of the enclosure, the way it is set up can also be the trigger for behavioral problems in rabbits: even a large cage can become a boring prison if the setup doesn’t give the rodents the opportunity to occupy themselves. As the owner, you can counteract this by offering your rabbits variety:

  • Use varied enclosure facilities, e.g. tunnels, ramps, etc.
  • Good hay not only provides healthy nutrition but also keeps the animals busy.
  • The best way to satisfy the need to gnaw is with twigs. You can use beech, fruit tree, and hazelnut branches. The branches not only satisfy their need to gnaw, but the rabbits can also use them as hiding places. However, the branches should not be sprayed. Rinse the branches with hot water beforehand.
  • Several floors in the enclosure ensure a larger total area, hiding places, and vantage points.
  • Of course, you should also make time for your rabbits on a regular basis. Not only does your attention keep the rabbits occupied, but it also builds trust with you. There are many different activities and play opportunities for rabbits, e.g. a feeding tree.

Of course, the device should be stable and not pose any risk of injury. In the pet trade, too, you will always find suggestions on how to give your rabbits some variety in everyday life. But not everything that is offered is good for the animals. Here, too, it is important to be well informed. Employment opportunities for rabbits can also be tinkered yourself.

Notice behavioral problems in rabbits

Rabbits with behavioral disorders, as the name suggests, exhibit erratic behaviors. These can be:

  • The rabbits nibble the cage bars for hours.
  • The rabbits always perform the same movements.
  • The rabbits become pathologically aggressive.

Under constant stress, rabbits can also stop eating and become not only mentally but also physically ill. You should therefore urgently prevent behavioral disorders in your rabbits by keeping them in a species-appropriate manner!

Checklist: Preventing behavioral problems in rabbits

Before you buy an animal, you should find out about its needs and normal behavior. Numerous books are commercially available for each animal species. Only then can you offer him a species-appropriate attitude right from the start, which allows him to remain mentally and physically healthy. In summary, you should definitely pay attention to the following aspects with rabbits:

  • No single keeping of rabbits, not only with guinea pigs!
  • Large enclosure with plenty of room to move and run
  • Employment through enclosure equipment, food, and attention

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