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The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet.  It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

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Forum BONDING Disabled person with a bunny ESA:

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    • Zencat55
      Participant
      3 posts Send Private Message

      Soooooo…… I’m disabled. I don’t walk well and due to a fire I have severe COPD. I searched high and low for an ESA. Dogs, cats, ferrets….. And then one magical day I was on Craigslist Pets and saw the cutest critter I could ever imagine! He’s a lionhead mix harlequin coat male bunny I’ve named Cinnabunny. Not very original, I suppose, but he DOES look just like a cinnamon roll, with white frosting on his paws. Lol!

      Here’s the thing: When I first got him, I kinda “overloved” him…. Trying to pick him up and expecting a cuddle bug. I’ve since learned rabbits are NOT LIKE THAT. I dialed things back to where he WILL take treats from my hand when I’m lying down. But then he runs off. He’s really sweet, and isn’t shy at all….. Do y’all think I have a chance at cuddling my bunny? If not…. It’s ok. He’s a great companion! But still….. I wanna cuddle.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      4523 posts Send Private Message

      So, not all rabbits are cuddle buns, but I think you could for sure improve your relationship. I think shy buns can be some of the most rewarding, because you really feel like you earn their trust. I’m sure he’s very cute so I don’t blame you for “overloving”. 😉 How long have you had him?  Some bunnies take a while to open up. Members here have even reported that after a year their bun suddenly decided they trusted them and wanted pets. 🙂

      What is his living space like? Often we make the biggest gains with bunnies when we basically ignore them (aside from feeding, etc). Play hard to get! Spend time with him but don’t focus on him. So reading or watching TV while on the floor in his room (but not immediately next to him), talk softly in his presence etc. Don’t pick him up unless you need to do nail trims or deep grooming. The more time you can spend around him but not actually focusing on him the better. As prey animals, rabbits can feel unsafe if they are being watched very closely.

      Hand feeding is great, so keep that up. Don’t try to pet just yet. When he gets to the point where he will relax on the ground near you, then you are in good shape. Once he seems to be doing that regularly, you can “ask” to pet him. I do this by placing the pinky side of my hand on the ground near his face, so the back of my hand is facing him (I usually approach from the side with timid buns, as buns have a blind spot right in front of their face). If he puts his head down, he wants you to pet him. But if he flinches or retreats, he’s not ready yet. With rescues it’s hard to know their history. I’ve had a few fosters that are very hand shy, I think it comes from getting picked up a lot in the past.

      He may never like cuddling on your lap (it’s very rare for buns to like lap time), but with time I’m guessing he will at least enjoy hanging out with you and getting some pets when he’s in the mood. <3

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • Zencat55
      Participant
      3 posts Send Private Message

      Oh, no no no, he LOVES to be petted. He especially loves butt rubs. Lol He comes when I call him (unless he’s grooming).

      My issue, really, is to get him to cuddle, like BE IN MY ARMS to do things like clip his nails.

      I know this is a task I must do, but I don’t want to shatter our trust.

      Technically his “house” is just a cardboard box that has a hide, food dish n water. His litterbox is in a separate area. He’s 99% free range.

      From what I’ve been reading, my bunn is VERY social. I just don’t want to break that trust after the “overlovin” period.

       


    • Zencat55
      Participant
      3 posts Send Private Message

      All I know about his past is he was raised in a wire bottom hutch with many other rabbits. He was free, because he was fighting all the other rabbits. I’ve seen no agression! He’s got a spot he “staked out” that I furnished with a bankie and a hide n some toys. He spends more time out there than in his main house.


    • Wick
      Moderator
      4345 posts Send Private Message

      I am not saying rabbits cannot be ESA, but in general, their demeanor does not “fit” what someone typically needs when imagining interactions with an ESA. I very much agree with Dana that establishing a relationship over time with a nervous rabbit is such a rewarding experience, but that being said, it does not mean you will be able to foster a relationship that allows cuddling. It is not that you are doing/have done anything “wrong” in rabbit care, but that is a natural “default” for rabbits, as they are prey animals.

      Notably, if you do one day adopt an ESA, it’s important to consider its compatibility with your rabbit. Being a prey animal, rabbits will not get along with predators (i.e. cats and dogs) that are tuned into and have high prey-drives. There’s also the dynamic that the ESA animal may be very gentle and loving, but the rabbit still perceives him/her as a danger and will be anxious/stressed. There are many cases that rabbits get along with dogs and cats, but there are also cases where it doesn’t work as well.

      The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      4523 posts Send Private Message

      Rabbits as a general rule do not like to be picked up or held because of their status as prey animals. Bunnies that do are really the exception.  Many rabbits will, however lay near you on the ground or even hop up on a bed or couch to be near you.

      So you could make sure to spend time with him on the floor, and provide a way for him to hop up on the couch to see if he wants to hang out with you there. He won’t hold it against you when have to pick him up occasionally for nail trims etc, but you might get some foot thumps afterwards.

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  

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Forum BONDING Disabled person with a bunny ESA: