If you are an owner of several rabbits housed in one location, there will always come a time when you will notice them suddenly fighting. They may have gotten along for quite a long time, and suddenly, they start fighting without any signs beforehand. This may appear startling to you, which is why a lot of rabbit owners would like to find out how the fighting started, and how they can stop and prevent it!
Why Rabbits Fight
There are a number of reasons for this. For example, rabbits that have not been spayed or neutered may start showing signs of being territorial. This could be due to their hormones, thus resulting in fighting between rabbits. Fighting, however, may also happen as a result of sudden health problems or illness. It can also be caused by sudden changes in the home, such as the introduction of new rabbits, which may provoke fighting.
Now, let us see some specific, potential reasons why rabbits, despite being bonded before, suddenly start fighting out of the blue—knowing how your rabbit’s fight will help you determine the right ways to stop them.
Are Rabbits Naturally Aggressive?
By nature, rabbits are not aggressive in behavior. In fact, this is one of the several advantages of keeping a pet rabbit. When they are comfortable, they are usually docile and content. When a rabbit starts noticing or sensing a specific threat to their safety, they can turn into something that you may not expect them today.
As an owner, avoid getting fooled by their appearance. They look cute, but their claws and teeth hurt, and two rabbits fondly playing or fighting may end up mutilating each other. This is why it is important to read the moves of your pets.
Spaying and Neutering
Spaying or neutering rabbits will do things to the bodies and hormones of your pets. Just like humans, hormones usually is a reason why rabbits tend to fight each other. The reason? Hormones will cause your pets to become territorial. The moment somebody else enters their so-thought territory, they tend to get aggressive. They can even become more hormonal once they detect the smell of a new companion in their home.
Fights caused by hormones are generally more common among male rabbits, though they can still happen among females. Two females, however, may have the tendency to fight even though they are not spayed. It is best, therefore, to talk to your veterinarian about whether neutering or spaying can help with the sudden bouts of your pets.
It usually takes a few weeks after neutering or spaying to notice all of these hormonal changes in the body of your rabbit and a few more weeks for them to be reduced. It is important to remember making sure that if you want to keep rabbits of the opposite sex together, they need to be neutered.
New Rabbits in the Home
If you have rabbits at home that have previously bonded together, adding another one will only make your rabbits start fighting. It could be that there have already been some factors that have disrupted the harmony and balance of their union, and adding another one to the group will cause further imbalance. To handle this accordingly, it is best to do some slow introduction. This applies regardless of the number of rabbits you have.
If the newly introduced rabbit has been kept separately, your current batch of rabbits may begin fighting. One reason for this is because the sense of smell of a rabbit is more refined than humans. Thus, they can also smell the scent of a new rabbit, even from a distance, and start to fight.
One thing that many rabbit owners often make a mistake with is forcing two rabbits to share a space before they have bonded. This phase is very important in their life. The moment two rabbits bond, they usually become friends and inseparable.
In order to bond two rabbits together, you can start allowing them to thrive side by side, but in separate boxes. This will allow them to become quite familiar with the scent of the other. After some time, given that the rabbits are already neutered or spayed, you can start introducing them together, placing them in a neutral area.
This neutral area could be somewhere that both, or all, of them, have never been to before. This makes the area an unclaimed territory. If your rabbits start ignoring each other, this is but fine. It is better compared with them fighting aggressively. By doing this process over and over again, you are leading them to bond. You will start noticing them cuddling together, grooming each other, and playing together.
On the other hand, if you notice them fighting, growling, mounting, and chasing each other again, it may be best to separate them first and try again next time. Once they bond, they will be friends for life. When this bonding is sealed, your rabbits should never be separated unless they fight, which is quite unlikely.
Size of Rabbit Enclosure
Your rabbit will naturally want to hop, explore, and jump. When they are crammed in a box that is not spacious enough for them to stretch, they can be very moody and aggressive. Your rabbit will require an area of about 12 square feet at a minimum. An exercise area of about 32 square feet is also good.
To keep them healthy, rabbits need to spend about 5 hours each day exercising. During this time, they need to be contained since they have the tendency to be naturally curious. Added to that is the fact that they are not really the smartest animals there is.
When they are not attended well, they can easily chew on your stuff, including electrical cables. If they play in your yard, make sure to contain them, because if they get loose, something might bad might happen to them.
Fighting vs. Bonding
At times, we also have the tendency to mistake the actions of our pets. For one, they might not even be fighting at all? It could be that they are simply bonding, and just like other animals and humans, they engage in an aggressive and playful interaction. Note that all rabbits biting is caused by aggression. They may just be enjoying their time with their friends.
Nipping, on the other hand, can also be associated with mating. In fact, even a neutered male can be observed nipping and mounting another rabbit, regardless of gender. This is actually an act, not of lust, but of dominance. Still, it needs careful management.
As clearly explained above, there are a number of reasons why rabbits fight. The biggest factor is territoriality. Rabbits, in general, are considered as among the most territorial animals there is. They usually fight over dominant status, because respect for the hierarchy is very important among them. With this, rabbits are similar to other animals that thrive in big groups. It is also important to note that rabbits are actually prey animals. The moment that they threatened, they will end up fighting in order to survive. This can further lead to aggression between rabbits. Rabbits are not really naturally aggressive.