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Why Does My Bunny Bite Me When I Put My Hand In Its Cage?

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Rabbits are very territorial creatures. In the wild they normally make their own burrows separately from other rabbits, choosing when they wish to socialize, and when they wish to be alone. A bunny's burrow is a very private place, and the bunny will defend it against all intruders, with some exceptions being other rabbits it has pair bonded to, or offspring which are too young to leave the burrow as yet.

Your pet rabbit's cage is its burrow, and your bunny feels just as protective over its cage as it would do its burrow if it were in the wild. Whilst we sometimes think that a cage is like a little prison, to the bunny, the cage is its home. Baby bunnies, or young rabbits may tolerate you putting your hand in the cage and moving things around, but as they grow older, their territorial instincts begin to develop more and more, and before you know it, you are getting a nasty nip for daring to move a food dish whilst the bunny is in the cage.

How To Avoid Being Bitten

So how can you clean your rabbit's cage if every time you put your hand in there you are met with angry grunts and violent jousting from your sweet fluffy bunny? The solution is devilishly simple. Take the rabbit out of the cage, or better still, let the bunny out for a run in a secure confined area. Bunnies are less likely to be aggressive and territorial about their cages when they are out of them, though for some particularly territorial bunnies, you will need to put them in another room whilst you clean out their cage, because they will not tolerate you messing with it in their sight.

A major cause of territorial behavior is hormones, which is why rabbits get more territorial with age. You should have your rabbit spayed or neutered to reduce these hormones, and make your bunny more friendly. You might be surprised at how much of a difference being spayed or neutered can make to your bunny's personality.

There are also additional health benefits to spaying your bunny, as it means that your girl rabbit is much less likely to develop cancer and die. Almost all female rabbits who do not breed develop cancer by the age of four. Good, responsible owners get their bunnies spayed to avoid having unwanted baby bunnies, and to keep their bunny healthy. Boy bunnies can benefit from neutering just as much, as it makes them much less aggressive, and if they begin to spray (pee strong smelling urine) everywhere, then neutering can often remove that behavior.


Unknown on January 20, 2020:

Hi thanks you for making this web

Janet on October 17, 2013:

I adore my rabbit Zacky. We always have our boys neutered and females spayed. We rescued another bunny named Micah, who is disabled, he has no back feet,no tail and half of his ears are gone. He is also a Crytochid so we decided that the risks outweigh the benefits. Tonight, I was holding Micah and usually Zacky lets me pet him while I hold Micah. Tonight I picked up Zacky after holding Micah and he bit me so hard he wouldn't let me go. It hurt so bad, but there was nothing I could do but wait for him to let go of my arm. I know now, he is so jealous of Micah. He watches me wherever I go when I hold Micah and can see how jealous he is. I adore both of these bunnies, any recommendations on how I can stop this from happening in the future? It is very sad because normally Zacky is such a sweet rabbit. I am heart broken.

DaintyMinnie on December 28, 2012:

I have my buck rabbit for 4yrs now. I got him a doe. They had babies together and I sold his doe and babies. At night I put him up in his cage and during the day he watches television or just lay under the center table. Sometimes I put him outside in his run about pen. When he is angry he thumps. He does not like when you shout at him. I was petting him, and rub him under his chin. He bite me, it hurt real bad and blood came out my finger. I wonder if he wants to be left alone or if he wants me to set him free into the wild. I just want him to be happy. But if I set him free, he might die because he has always been a domestic rabbit.

Brittany on June 08, 2012:

lol, my bunny loves to hump my poor new bunny's face. He's getting fixed on monday. :)

selene on April 15, 2012:

ive had my bunny since he was a baby :) just recently hes been acting like a dick. he'll b on my lap then begins to burrow and scratch and bite.... i think hes acting all depressed and angry becuz he recently met a girl bunny (next door neighbors bunny) and he started humping her face so now hes not allowed over there and hes all inlove so hes taking out his anger on me.. just a theory though.

micheal on April 01, 2012:

i don't have a rabbit but i am going to get one

hamish on January 29, 2012:

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my doe is 115 days (roughly 4 months)old. she never bites me but she has drawn blood to both my mum and younger sister. even though she doesn't bite me, when she is on my lap she scratches at my shirt and bites holes in it as if she is burrowing. she is a blue otter mini lop. i think th simple solution would be for me to feed my doe all the time but half the time at my dad's so my mum still has to feed her half the time.

is there any training to stop her from biting? she is a very intelligent rabbit. why doesn't she bite me?

is it different smells or what because i put my hand in slowly and rub her ears whilst feeding her but my mum and sister claim to do the same thing. pls help!!!

joy on January 22, 2012:

We have a 6 month old lionhead bunny. she didn't start getting territorial until we got her a new cage. We just be patient with her. She bites to draw blood. thanks for all the advice, we will be getting her fixed soon.

Katrina on September 22, 2011:

when we first got my bunny Guss he bit us a lot because he didn't know us and he was very territorial about his cage. but after a while he warmed up and he doesn't bite unless its a stranger or if we approach him too fast. usually when we clean his cage we just slowly put our hands in and pet him until he's calm then we pick him up and put him in the garden so he can run around and play. also, im not sure if it's just my bunny but when i put Guss on my lap, and he needs to pee, he starts scratching and tries to nibble a hole in my shirt. does everyones bunny do that???

danni on March 03, 2011:

My rabbit is almost 2 years old, and hes always been a very friendly rabbit to everyone and anyone. just about 3 weeks ago he suddenly got an urge to bite people when they go into his cage. I understand that its his personal habitat but once he realizes its me hes a little nicer. I don't have him fixed and I know that can be a part of it, but im just surprised that he JUST started acting like this. Hes never tried to bite up until now. I love him and I don't know what to do to make him be nice again. I don't want to get him fixed either.

Carol on January 31, 2011:

My rabbits are about one years old now and when I try cleaning them out they always hide. They are from the same litter and opposite sex and she gave birth to four bunnies at the beginning of January and now she's giving birth again.we only left them in the cage for one day and he's already got her pregnant.

Ashley on January 30, 2011:

Just wear gloves to touch your bunny in the cage if it gets aggressive

Jan on January 08, 2011:

THANK you everyone. I love my flemish giant but he bites to break skin when i am trying to stop him from chewing on the couch or he is in his cage. We have resorted to having him jump in a laundry basket to get him out of the cage. Otherwise, he cuddles and kisses. We treat him like a king. I am going to call a vet and ask about neutering.

KK on January 01, 2011:

My bunny bites me too but not a lot. Actually she does not seem to mind me putting my hands in her cage and moving things around. she is 1 year old

Mattie on December 24, 2010:

I was holding my rabbit and suddenly she bit me sooo hard it left a nice little hole in me

Joyce Bun Bun's Mom on November 18, 2010:

your comments really helped when I first got him he was as sweet as hunny then he bit me when i put my hand in the cage not the little nips he does when he is playing he will get fixed as soon as his body is ready.

wah on September 23, 2010:

i've had my male rabbit for about a year and a half now and he bites every time i put my hands in the cage too! but once i get him out he's friendly and he comes to me when i call him LOL! im thinking of neutering him soon to avoid the biting and spraying

cat on August 31, 2010:

mine is a male and all black and he nips and if you want to get something out of the cage try a stick and let him nip that and use your other hand to get the object or use a towel and cover there face to grab them or something else and if you hold them and they kick cover there eyes completely with your hand then set them down and if they bite or nip slap there nose so they know not to do that unless they want to get slapped lightly and if your bunny is in a barn of in a closed area get their cage if it is light enough and put if outside for a bit so it can air out and wind is awesome for them cause mine i did this with him and he started hopping around happily and sniffing every part of his cage and didn't try to bite me when i put my hand near him otherwise he always tries to nip me if i put my hand to far into his cage and do not put your hand in front of there face but that is obvious duh so yeah

Jo on August 29, 2010:

I have had my bunny for a week and he/she is 10 weeks old. Little Gucci has started nipping me just on the legs.Is the out of love? or hatred?

Gucci is totally fine in every other way but I don't want it to get any worse. What do I do next?

s on July 28, 2010:

when i got lolly she was really nice and very sweet but now i cant pick her up! I think she has hurt herself because she has been acting reall wierdly lately

please give me some advice and tips

Terri on July 06, 2010:

Our (male) bunny will bite if you simply let your hand dangle in the cage. If we rub his nose, he's fine. I'll usually rub his nose with one hand, and remove is food dish with the other.

amy on May 08, 2010:

olivebr don't get a kitten cuz once she claws at you things you'll just get rid of her too people like you make me so mad

you got your bunny to love it so do that go get a book and learn something about them show some responsibility for the bunny you have chosen to adopt

amy on May 08, 2010:

i have had my bunny for 6 years now he has never bite anyone he is not neutered and he's still sweet as can be here's what i do, his cage is in the living room since day one so he's with use at all times i put my hand and fingers in his cage all the time and if he gives us chinns(when they give chins you could take that as they r going to bite you but they r not they just rub their chin on you) he get a treat he doesn't have a hiding spot i never move his stuff meaning if he moved his pooper when i clean the cage i put it back were i got it sometimes i will take him out of the cage put him on the coach with me and not pet him he jumps all over me and has fun with me but i don't give in and pet him he trust my i know this cuz when i take him outside and gets scared he jump from the grown in to my arms sometimes he gets so high he lands on my head lol

MioK-ON! on April 29, 2010:

Well I guess this answers my question. But what to do to get a plastic screw thingy out of my bunny's cage?!? He keeps lunging at me! And almost biting me! also i cant take him out cuz as soon as he sees my hand he lunges!

Lois Milward, 11 on April 05, 2010:

Hey! My rabbit i got today from an animal rehoming place and she is about 2 not newtured though. when i put my had into ruffle the hay a you do she lunges with her front paws and scraches. She is very nevous sometimes what shud i do?

Tank youuuuu!:L xx

bonbon on March 18, 2010:

i just got a rabbit from a friend, he gets along fine with my rabbit, jut not me. he puts hisars back, but wont BITE unless I attempt to pet him... i need help PLEASE!

John on February 04, 2010:


Nipping is a playful behavior, might sting a bit but that is all.

Biting will often break the skin or worse. Its a bad thing.

sally221 on November 09, 2009:

my bunny i got from a humacociety and he was really sweet and then he stareted biting (6-5) weeks after we got him i thinkit is just because that's him but not hard just nips

kyle9- on October 23, 2009:

thank you very much i got a very mean bunny off of a friend that couldn't handle him. i am gongj to get him nuterd soon and hopefully he will be nicer.. thanks again

olivebr on October 19, 2009:

My rabbit was nice and sweet for the first 4 weeks I've had she is pure evil! She bite us all the time now. I am not sure what to do. I might adopt her out to a farm that take rabbits for free and buy a kitten.

monsters on August 12, 2009:

bunnies do not like when you invade their space just show your bunny your their friend and not there to mess with there habitat

ellis matthews on August 04, 2009:

my rabbit was a baby when i got her but then as she got older she started to start bitting also she has gotten very cage protective but as i try to get her out she bites so i will get something done for her of the vet

kel on May 05, 2009:

niurka is so wrong!!! my rabbit has lots of toys and wood to bite and lots of freedom too and he started bitting. He went from lovely and friendly to a total monester!!!! just ask my 18 month old!!! Take any rabbit that you don't want for breed to the vet as soon as they are old enough and get their bits seen to. It helps them live long and makes them a whole lot of aggressive to.

niurka on April 04, 2009:

look you're bunny bites you because they bite evrything just by or give him somethin to bite justone thing in the win he gets yous-to biting it he will just bite that

jeremy on July 05, 2008:

thank you looks like my 5 week old bunny will be spayed in a few months here, shes an angel. atleast for the moment, thank you for all your help and opinions!

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