Rabbits are flight animals. In their new home, they will be shy and anxious at first. Read here how you can make the first few days in your new home as stress-free as possible for your rabbits and how they can build trust in you.
Moving to a new environment with strangers is stressful for rabbits. For this reason, the transport should be as quick and stress-free as possible. The new rabbit enclosure is then best already completely set up and equipped with food so that the animals can move indirectly. Place the opened transport box in the rabbit enclosure. Then it is best to leave the rabbits alone.
The first hours and days of acclimating new rabbits
Even if you are really excited about the new rabbits and want to see what the newcomers are up to, you should leave the animals alone for the first few hours. In this way, the rabbits can slowly venture out of the transport box and explore their new home in peace.
Once the initial shock is over, you can slowly approach the rabbit enclosure. Sit some distance away and speak softly and reassuringly to the rabbits so they can get used to your voice.
In the first few days with the new rabbits, you should consider the following:
- The rabbits should be left alone: noise (e.g. loud music and children shouting) and any disturbance should be avoided in the vicinity of the enclosure.
- The animals should first get used to their new enclosure and their people before they are allowed to roam freely in the apartment.
- Avoid hectic movements and do not reach into the cage from above, but always from the side (at the same height as the animals).
- Under no circumstances should you grab and pick up the newcomers (except in an emergency). Most rabbits don’t like being picked up and carried around. This would directly destroy trust.
Socialization of strange rabbits
Rabbits are pack animals and should only be kept with other dogs. If a new rabbit moves in with an existing one, it is important to follow the rules for socializing new rabbits!
Gaining the rabbits’ trust during acclimatization
The first step in gaining your rabbits’ trust is to carefully hand them their food and talk to them in a reassuring manner. Take your time and hand-feed your rabbits. Small pieces of fruit or vegetables are best for rabbits.
If your rabbits have had human contact before, they will get used to you after a few days. As soon as the animals lie relaxed in your company, clean themselves, and maybe even come towards you, you can gently stroke their backs. Once the rabbits have gained that much trust, they can enjoy their first free run in the apartment.
Since rabbits are quite curious, they will soon hop up and “explore” their people. After a while, trusting rabbits will even respond to their names and small “commands” such as “come” and “hop”.
Equipment to feel good
The right housing, tasty food, and small obstacles to jump over and hide in will help your rabbit quickly feel safe with you. With this equipment, your rabbit will quickly get used to you:
Proper lifting and carrying of rabbits
Being picked up and carried is stressful for rabbits. Usually, lifting is only necessary when doing a health check, trimming their nails, or going to the vet. The enclosure is best set up in such a way that the animals can jump in and out of their own accord. In order to lure them back into the cage after they have roamed free, fresh food can be offered in the enclosure.
If it is unavoidable that your rabbits have to be picked up, proceed as follows:
- Gently press the rabbit’s neck to the ground.
- Hold the neck fur and reach under the rear part with the other hand.
- The animal is lifted and fixed in front of the chest.
- Small rabbits can be held on the front legs with one hand and supported on the back legs with the other hand instead of the neck grip.