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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 BEHAVIOR Help! My bunny is destroying my house!

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    • StellaBellaBunBun
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      Hello all!

      Challenged bunny mom here at nearly my witts end! I love my little 1 year old (spayed) female rescue but she is totally ruining my house. Since I got her at 4 months old, I have let her free roam with the hopes of a full fun life and that her emergent aggressive behavior would settle with age. However, despite  having a house that’s littered with toys, hay and cardboard, she insists on finding new things to chew and new territories to conquer. We keep the bedroom doors closed now because if left alone she will dig and pull out the carpet and her newest tendency is to chew up the couches and baseboards, basically anything she can get that little mouf around. I am so challenged by this because I am embarrassed by the state of disarray in our living area and anytime I clean up I am met with a bunny temper tantrum. If get her something new, it only keeps her attention for a whopping couple of minutes but she expects it’s hers forever. I also can’t leave her in her pen while I’m home because she shakes and rattles the cage for attention.

      I love my sweet bun! She loves me so much too. When she’s not tearing up the house she’s licking, flopping, and binkying all over the place. She sleeps solo in a pen 5×5 at night and has excellent litter box habits, with the exception of a few “accidents”. But I am so challenged by her aggressive and dominant behaviors.

      My only other experience with a bunny was as a kid when my family adopted a 2 year old dwarf who lived in a cage. We transitioned him to free roam when he came to live with us but he was so much more calm than Stella.

      Stella has so much personality and not a mean bone in her body but she is definitely dominating this house and I don’t know how to reign her in. It’s causing me a lot of stress and contributing to my depression.

      Does anyone have any tips on how I can better manage life and home with this dominant girl?

      TIA

      Amanda and Stella


    • Wick & Fable
      Moderator
      4968 posts Send Private Message

      I wouldn’t characterize her behaviors as aggressive or dominant — they actually sound like normal rabbit behavior. Instinctively, rabbits are going to be chewers– their teeth are constantly growing, so it is an imperative on their end to use a lot of energy to keep their mouths occupied. Unfortunately, yes, this is very frustrating to us owners, but remember that a destructive rabbit is not necessarily an aggressive or dominating one at all. It sounds like your rabbit has a lot of energy and some trial, error, and time is needed to figure out how you can provide ways for her to release her energy that satisfies you both. Perhaps your rabbit from childhood was a more “mellow” rabbit, but what you’re reporting now is actually what I generally expect from rabbits!

      Re: pen rattling/shaking, putting a cover on the outside of the pen can help, as it makes it seem like a wall (so it’s not productive for the rabbit to shake, since there’s “nothing” on the other side):

      It may be that you need to revise how she is being kept, whether it be re-arrange your living space so there’s a large space (2 or more xpens) that she has to herself that is rabbit proofed, or you continue the free-roam and put more rabbit-proofing measures up. There are other options in between– again, trial and error.

      One of my rabbits, Fable, is also a more energetic rabbit who routinely has spikes daily where she needs to dig and chew. At this point, she has learned where to go and what to do during those times. I have lots of cardboard cat scratchers on hand. Some lay down in “hot spots” of hers, while others are in a pile on the floor that she visits. Notably, she will get the most energy out when I actually “play with” her, which means I hold the cat scratcher so she can tear and dig it apart without it ripping. I have found this concept of “anchoring” chew toys/objects successful with rabbits who are particularly inclined to carpet chew or baseboard chew– I imagine there is something more satisfying with chewing something that doesn’t move so they can really get into it!

      If she is getting on the couch to chew on it, you need to prevent her or teach her she’s not allowed on the couch. I say prevent OR teach because some rabbits will be insistent and not pick-up that their owners do not want them on the couch, in which case you must then prevent it. This may be by blocking it off or putting a shower curtain or something over the couch so it is unappealing.

      Also, for space-sake, if she’s not interacting with the “toys” she has, she likely doesn’t acknowledge them as something to engage with so you can consider donating them to a local rabbit rescue or something. Many rabbits do not view a lot of the advertised “toys” as their toys. My Fable pretty much only has packing material exclusively, haha.

       

       

      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.


    • Susanne
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      Hi, sorry to hear of your troubles. I can empathize! I agree with Wick & Fable (though I still need to try the suggestion to get more things anchored for my bun) that it’s relatively normal. I have one non-destructive bun that I got first, so it was a bit disappointing to deal with a destructo- bun that I bonded him with. At first I hoped the chewing baseboards would pass, but then waking up to a chewed up couch I knew I had to make some changes, haha, and unfortunately start restricting the non-chewing bun which was hard. That said, I blocked the couch and taped the areas where she chewed baseboard, but she kept finding more things. I moved shortly after, and now I have them restricted to 2 rooms and a hallway which are fully bunny proofed. Like masking tape on every baseboard/door frame, a taller bed they can’t jump on, lots of cardboard boxes and chew things. So, my first thought is if you could do the same. If you have a couple rooms or even a large room you could fully rabbit proof and just not have her out in the living room anymore, or only for short periods with supervision? Otherwise, I do also agree that bunny proofing and finding toys they like is trial and error.


      • StellaBellaBunBun
        Participant
        3 posts Send Private Message

        Thank you for your detailed response Wick and Fable. I guess this is just life now with my little girl! I’ve tried the cardboard cat scratches in her “hotspots” and it helps deter a bunch of destruction but she still eventually gets bored and moves on to something else I’d prefer she doesn’t do.  You offered some great suggestions with the anchoring and getting a pen cover. I hadn’t thought of that before! I do hang some blankets on the sides so she has comfy dark hiding spaces but they’re just leftover couch blankets so they aren’t snug and they fall down. I will definitely try that. I just think it’s her temperament as well. For now I think I will just have to let it go and reassess her living quarters when it’s time to get new couches because my current ones already look like trash now. 😥

         


      • StellaBellaBunBun
        Participant
        3 posts Send Private Message

        Thank you Susanne! Yes I think I will have to do that in my next place. This place doesn’t necessarily have the best layout for alternative accommodations for her so I think I’ll just have to let it go for now until I figure out a better solution. I tried the masking tape thing too but she got a taste for that now as well! Ugh, it’s exhausting! Lol she’s lucky she’s a cute little devil! She’s a little white fur baby just like yours!


      • Wick & Fable
        Moderator
        4968 posts Send Private Message

        For the pen cover, I have a 3.5ft-high pen, and a queen-sized bed sheet, folded in half, was the perfect height for it.

        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.


    • Susanne
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      159 posts Send Private Message

      Oh well I guess I didn’t mention the magic number of layers of masking tape on baseboards is 3 for mine 😂

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Forum BEHAVIOR Help! My bunny is destroying my house!