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Home Forums BEHAVIOR New rabbit owner, PLEASE HALP ME!

This topic contains 14sd replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  battlea 1 year, 8 months ago.

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    Hello. I am Ana, a new rabbit mom, 21 years old! And I desperately need help with my little bunny. I’ve read multiple post on this forum before and after getting my rabbit, to get to know her and the species in general as I’ve never owned a rabbit before. I love her so much but she’s developed a habit that worries me, she bites the cage aggressively at night, in the morning or whenever she wants to get out of her cage. I know this is referred to as a common behavior but I think that its something else.

    Here’s a little backstory on me and my rabbit, I think it will be helpful to know. 

    My baby’s name is Dove, she is 6 months old this month and I rescued her on December 28th. I don’t know the exact circumstances of how her life was before I got her, someone said she was found in the streets, or came from a hoarders house and she was very underweight when I got her. She’s very loving and hardly causes any trouble, she’s one of those rare bunnies that love to kiss and cuddle. She’s well behaved for the most part, she can be mischievous and get into stuff but that’s not a problem for me. A few tricks I’ve taught her are “kisses” where she will stand up to my lips and want me to kiss her, she binkies on command when I say binky dove! Dovey dovey! and Do a little dance! I’ve also taught her how to play tug of war. She is a joy to have a round. 

    My family is of 3 humans who love her so much and give her almost constant attention daily, the only time she’s ever alone is when she is sleeping in her cage in the afternoon and late at night. She is happy most of the time, she binkies and plays often throughout the day, she will take naps with me and let me rub her tummy. She’s always licking and grooming us, even if she’s in a mood. She trust me and my family a lot according to what I’ve read about rabbits, this is further why I don’t understand her biting behavior.

    She understands the command “No”, and she knows what she can and cannot do. I managed to litter train her within the first week of having her which is great! She knows not to tear things up, and she has tons of toys to chew on and play with. We got her spayed at 5 months, she’s healed phenomenally and is doing really well. Her furs grown back and everything. 

    I’m disabled so I’m home all day, every day. Every morning I take her out at 9 a.m. she stays out and I play with her till about 2 p.m. That’s the time she gets sleepy and naps for the rest of the day until 8 p.m. when I take her out again. From then she stays out until 1 or 2 a.m. She’s very active and playful so she gets lots of ecsersize. My entire room where she stays is rabbit proofed, and it is a pretty large room, she has her own play area, jumping platform and everything so she’s free to do what she wants. I would let her be free roam in the other rooms but we haven’t found a way to rabbit proof them yet, but as of now since she’s still a baby she is still very happy with the room she is in. So on an average day, she’s out for about 10 or 12 hours. She gets plenty and I mean PLEEENTY of attention from all 3 of us every day since we got her. On a busy day for us, she’s out for at least 8 hours. By time we put her to bed at night, she’s exhausted from a full day of love and play. At bed time we shut everything down, no lights no t.v. nothing, she understands its bedtime. 

    Probably the beginning of the 2nd month of having her, she’s started her biting on the cage habit, she didn’t bite it at all the first month. She would do it non-stop all night and it was really aggravating. Through the night and the next morning I did research on why she could possibly be doing that. I read tons of stuff and basically know all the answers by now. Without going into detail, I tried some things like make sure she is happy with her living area, etc. After fixing some things up in her home and making sure she is happy, she would still do the biting at night so It wasn’t her being unhappy with her cage. I read probably on this site, that it can simply be protest at this point, she doesn’t wanna go to bed as a child would and is throwing a tantrum.

    I read that the best way to discipline a rabbit, is to speak rabbit. So every time she would bite on her cage, I would stomp my foot like a rabbit. Thankfully she would respond! She would stop what she was doing and look at me with attitude lol. Whenever she tried to bite her cage more, I would stomp more, and she would be side tracked. Eventually she would give up and sulk, I would turn my back to her to show my disapproval in rabbit language and she wouldn’t bite the cage for the rest of the night. The next few nights after discovering that technique and implementing it, she eventually stopped biting on her cage altogether.

    So that was fine for a while, she was potty trained, she didn’t bite anymore, and it was basically perfect. A few weeks after, she started the habit again, but in the morning. and the night I don’t what it was but she got so mad she was throwing stuff in her cage around, including her water bottle. After some research we figured it might be because we had given her a piece of apple the day before. But she started biting her cage again every morning and night after that. At this point she was 5 months and we thought maybe it was because she needed to get spayed. So we booked the appointment and everything got done. The first few days after her getting spayed was peaceful lol we thought maybe she would stop now. But nope, she was wanting to play and be active again after the first week. And the biting started once more. 

    At a desperate attempt to figure out what’s wrong I wondered what she would do if she had her way. She must be biting on the cage because she simply wants to get out. So I let her out for a whole night to see what she would do and if she would go to her cage on her own, because in the afternoon when she is sleepy, she goes to her bed on her own. She didn’t even know what to do with herself, she loafed in the corner of the bed while I tried to sleep. She would go to her cage to use the potty and drink water and she’d either roam around the room, or go back to her “post” loafing on the corner of the bed not even sleeping. (She spreads out when she is truly sleep.) After many hours and no sleep I put her back in her cage so she could get at least some shut eye, but she tried to bite the cage again. Even though she had been out ALL day and had absolutely no reason to do it. I thumped at her a few times and she eventually went to sleep since she was so tired.

    We’ve done everything, we tried to make a concoction of apple cider vinegar and lemon and put on her bars to keep her from biting, but nope she liked the taste. We still thump but she just thumps back (she gives up after a while but its about a half and hour to an hour of battling). I really don’t know why she does it at this point, she has plenty of love and affection, plenty of play time, we respect her and her privacy. I’ve read tons of articles on rabbit language and the hierarchy. She’s not a dominant rabbit at all she’s definitely not a queen. I think she may be a “guard bunny” as far as that goes. Me and my family have a few theories on why she might be biting on her cage, when my brother sleeps in that room she doesn’t bite on the cage as much or as long, neither with my mom, but with me she goes ham. We thought maybe she wants my attention the most since I spend the most time with her? We really don’t know but its making me sad at this point. We’ve read tons of articles on why she might be doing it and we have addressed all the things that those lists have mentioned. Even on this website we have read tons of forums on it and have done what they suggested but it doesn’t work.

    In the morning she will bite on the cage as well. I want to take her out at 10 every morning, but I have to wait till she is done because I don’t want to take her out while she is misbehaving then she will think that biting gets her what she wants. She’s happy with her cage, she has a good diet, she’s been spayed, she trust us, she has plenty of toys and activity and love. I know she’s still a baby but It seems to be getting worse at this point, we’ve had to clamp down the cage at night to stop the noise. She’s also developed some other habits that she hadn’t been doing before. She licks and grooms me a looot seems excessive, she has a salt lick and I know licking is affection but I don’t know. After I pet her she will randomly start digging in the floor or the blanket or something. I don’t get it. 

    I’m a new rabbit owner as I’ve said, I never even thought I would have a rabbit. I’m trying my best to learn as much as I can about my rabbit and the entire species. There isn’t as much information on them as dogs or anything. I’ve read through the House Rabbit Association, and tried to educate myself as much as I can. It seems like I’m doing everything right as a bunny mom, so I don’t know what could be causing this behavior or if it will get better. My baby Dove has a very distinct personality and she’s very unlike what most people describe rabbits to be. So along with learning more about the species I have to figure out what she personally is like. I feel like I know her the most out of anyone in my family, I know when something upsets her. I just don’t know why she is biting on the cage like this every morning and night. I don’t want her biting on the bars because it will mess up her teeth, and it just disrupts the peace of the household. I think I have a very special rabbit, if it wasn’t for this problem I think she’d be perfect. 

    I know this post was super long but I really don’t know what to do. I don’t know any rabbit people where I live and I don’t have anyone else to ask. I think I’ve read just about everything about the matter and more. Please if anyone knows what I can do, I need all the help I can get. I want to know how I can have her understand that she can’t do what she is doing, and I want to know why she is doing it. I’ve heard it can be because of her age. Getting a 2nd rabbit isn’t a possibility for me so please don’t anyone suggest that. 

    Thank you to whoever took the time to read this. I love my rabbit so much and just want her to be the happiest that I can make her.


    Deleted User

    It really is that she wants to be out of her cage. I think almost everyone here who has to have a cage bunny at night experiences this. They are active at night and in that time of the day, so she’s biting to be free and play. My boys do it too. Punishing her by keeping her in her cage won’t do anything as she doesn’t see that she’s being punished. She probably started doing it after a month because she started feeling more comfortable with her environment and it felt like home. I honestly don’t know how to help you though, as many people have had similar issues and no one has really come up with anything helpful except let them out. sorry I couldn’t give more advice, but you’re not alone.

    Digging is a normal bunny behavior, as is “grooming” someone. These things are all probably intense right now because of hormones, as I’m assuming she is unspayed. Spaying her will help bring the intensity of the behaviors, as well as significantly lower her risks of uterine cancer.



    If you don’t feel comfortable letting her free roaming while you sleep (or if she bothers you by jumping on the bed etc), you could attach a foldable pen to the cage for the night, so that she has some room to move about. Won’t be like being free in her territory, but it might just be enough to appease her. To prevent cage biting you can try to line the inside of the cage with cardboard (if she is not a cardboard eater, but just a chewer) to help her un-learn that behaviour.


    Deleted User

    Muchelle, cardboard is the first helpful suggestion I have seen on here, I’ve done that before, but Asriel bites through the cardboard to the cage. Very violently too. Sadly, he’s the one that has the issue with night biting. I did it with Bombur and he stopped and hasn’t done it since.



    Yup. She loves being out with her family, and hates being caged up during her “Fun” time. I tried to cage my buns at night when I first had them, and well, Clover just wasn’t having any of that. She wanted to sleep with me. Since moving, I’ve done away with the cages, rabbit proofed my house to a fair thee well, and let them free roam at night. They’re much happier, and I sleep better without all the cage beating.

    I do come out at night and check on them (I’m up and down a lot), and they’re usually sleeping either on my sofa or in my recliner. Together. It’s too cute.

    If you’re able to, I’d recommend letting Dove have, if not free roaming, one room she can bop around in during the night so she doesn’t feel restrained, but can still be safe in.



    Posted By Asriel and Bombur on 2/23/2018 7:45 AM
    Muchelle, cardboard is the first helpful suggestion I have seen on here, I’ve done that before, but Asriel bites through the cardboard to the cage. Very violently too. Sadly, he’s the one that has the issue with night biting. I did it with Bombur and he stopped and hasn’t done it since.

    As a last resort method, have you tried plexyglass?



    Thank you everyone for your suggestions on here, everyone is so nice! (This was my first post by the way) I don’t know how to reply individually yet lol so I’ll put everything here.

    She is spayed, she’s been spayed for a month now. Hmm well if she started misbehaving a little bit because she feels more comfortable, that’s kind of a good thing in disguise lol I’m happy she feels good and safe. She did seem to lick and dig more after getting spayed so maybe her hormones are just adjusting to it. I heard it takes months for rabbits behavior to change from being spayed and neutered. If it’s just that she wants to be out of her cage, that is something we can figure out. I just wanted to make sure she wasn’t biting because something was making her anxious

    I don’t know if giving her extra cage space would help her, cuz when I let her out in the room all night she seemed to be anxious and on edge. I think she maybe had too much freedom at once and it may have freaked her out. When I let her out during the day, she wants to get in her cage as she likes being in there.Its confusing lol.

    I never thought of putting cardboard in front of the gate, she doesn’t eat cardboard but she loves to chew and dig at it. I will try that! The goal for me is to have her un-learn the behavior

    I do want her to be as free range as she can be. I think I want to wait till she gets a little older to do it, she’s still learning, maybe when she is a year? (She’s 6 months now) I need to get a few gates to block dangerous things and reconstruct things in the other room.



    Do any of you know if this a behavior that she will grow out of? I also feel like if there is an extended pen she will just bite on it as well since her main goal is she wants to get out. She has a big cage and she’s a pretty small rabbit she’s about the size of a mini rex.



    I’ve suggested the pen because that’s what worked for me. My bun doesn’t live in my room, he has his own rooms but he needs to be watched over, so he’s free roaming only when I’m in the house he learned that if I’m in, he’s out and if I’m out he’s in his pen.
    I built a non-removable pen that’s always there, so he has his 2 square metres available to himself at all times + the rest of the floor when he’s supervised. When he was a baby he’d thump at night to summon me if he was scared and I’d go up to him. Then when he was about one year he stopped being afraid at night and now he’s completely fine

    Anyways, if she’s not a wild chewer you can leave her free for the night (since she’s small, maybe make sure that no one can bump her if they open the door suddenly or that she can’t escape if you have to go to the bathroom). She’ll probably just loaf around in her favourite spot and watch over territory. She might look a bit on the edge because at night there are noises that are different from daytime and she’s still learning what’s danger and what not. For example, to this day my bun is scared of the light switch going off downstairs, he still hasn’t that figured out!
    If she’s really scared, she should thump to alert the pack (you), so you’d notice. In that case, distract her and she’ll be good to go in a few secs.

    Sorry for the long post Do try different things out until you find the best solution for her!



    You can’t “discipline” a rabbit. U might as well forget about that 😉

    I have half of my house bunny proofed, and Guin has access to it. I never cage her. Like others have said, rabbits r active at night, so personally, if I were to cage a rabbit, it would b during her sleep time, from 10 am-5pm (that’s when my rabbits r asleep).

    I suspect she is doing that coz she knows what glorious freedom is out there, and she wants out to play.

    I have a baby gate at the end of my hallway, and my bunny has free access to the hallway, the 3 bedrooms, and the2bathrooms. But not the lounge, dining, kitchen, or sunroom. (My dogs have that half of the house!).

    I would honestly suggest u find a way to let her out at night. And forget about discipline.



    You said the applemight have caused her to throwstuff around in her cage… Butthriwing stuff around is actually perfectly normal and common for a rabbit. Its how they play. The apple had nothing to do with it. Rabbits enjoy tossing things around, and rearranging their toys. I give mine items to toss around like rags, flower pots, and baby rattles. They toss their food and water bowls around too, for many reasons. Mine do that to play, or to ask for more food/water (empty door/water bowls always get tossed around), and sometimes theytoss the food bowl upside down do they can eat off the ground. 2 of my rabbits prefer to eat from the floor, than from a bowl. Its quite normal behaviour.



    @vanessa I may be new to owning a rabbit, but I do know at least that much about them, what’s normal behavior and what isn’t. That day it was the apple slices that made her hyper lol, she threw stuff around differently than normal because she had a lot of pent up energy because of it. It was her first time having anything sugary. Discipline to a rabbit is more like positive reinforcement and speaking to them in their own language not the same way it’ll be for a dog I’m aware of that too. Baby animals do need boundaries and need to learn things so that’s what I meant by that.

    @muchelle Ohhh I see, so thats probably why she seemed confused and scared. It did seem like she guarding something when I let her out that night, I wasn’t sure if was because she felt danger or anything or didn’t like the night. Me and my mom are trying out new things too, we started giving her the day’s vegetables when its bed time and that does seem to ease her a bit. Last night when she began biting on the cage we would stroke her head to calm her. She would start vibrating her teeth and she actually went to sleep after that. I’m going to try putting a cardboard in front of the bars as well. I want her to associate her cage with relaxing and peace, so if we ever have to go somewhere she feels just fine. That’s why I’m hoping to figure out a way for her to unlearn the cage biting behavior. The longer the post the better lol, I would like all the advice I can get!



    I didn’t read through all the responses thoroughly, but how big is her cage? And is she able to come and go from it on her own?

    I think in order for rabbits to really see their cage as a safe haven, they must be able to go in and out as they please. If you always put her in, and she knows she won’t be coming out again for a while, she might be getting frustrated.

    My bunnies will come and go from their condo during play time, and will often sleep in it when they have free run. I almost always wait for them to go in on their own before closing them in.

    I think the suggestion of adding a pen to give more space is a good one, and you could also look into building her a condo vs. a cage that she might enjoy being in a bit more.



    Don’t worry about it too much. She just wants to be around you, by the sounds of it, she has a good bond with you and if you don’t know her circumstances, she could have been caged constantly and she’s used to your presence. My past rabbit did the same, he wanted to be out 24/7, thankfully he developed a schedule so he knew that he was to sleep at a certain time when he was back in his cage.

    Maybe add a small pen for her to use throughout the night, to stretch her legs and not feel so caged.

    I hope you manage to find the perfect solution to suit you both



    @lauren Thank you. I was thinking maybe that’s why too, who knows what happened to her before I got her. For the past 4 days I’ve let her free roam through the night and day in the one room that is rabbit proofed. She has been sleeping on the bed with me and she seems to like that. I think she’s developed a schedule despite being out of her cage too, she’ll leave me alone as I sleep through the night but at 10 am when is when I would have usually taken her out the cage, she’ll lick me or binky around the bed to wake me up. I wonder though is it a good idea to close her back in the cage at night eventually? She’ll have to be in her cage when I go anywhere too so I’m wondering if its good to reintroduce her to being locked in for a little while and how to go about doing it.

    @DanaNM Thank you. I usually left the cage open through the day, I would only close it at night or if I had to go anywhere. I would wait for her to go in, say go home and night night and guide her to her cage. But I’ve been letting her free roam for the passed 4 days in my room. Its not a huge cage, but its pretty big for her small size. Big enough for her to jump around, stretch out and do bunny 500’s for a long time lol Its got a 2nd story platform too.

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