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Home Forums BEHAVIOR Theo nipped me today!

This topic contains 23sd replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Love4Bunny 2 years, 3 months ago.

Viewing 24 posts - 1 through 24 (of 24 total)
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  • #1313549

    Theo&Mickey
    Participant

    My sweet-tempered, ever-licking & purring, loves-to-be-petted bunny bit me for the first time today.

    It took me completely by surprise. I was brushing him on the floor with a plastic comb (he is molting) – he sat nicely for it but showed some signs of being uncomfortable at some points when the comb pulled fur out – and suddenly he turned around and nipped me quite hard. Kind of like a person slapping you for doing something that upset them lol (nervous laugh) 

    No blood, didn’t pierce the skin, but there were teeth marks. My ego is bruised, and I’m now worried I won’t be able to brush him properly for fear of this happening again. 

    I have noticed lately he seems overly confident or something, I can’t name it exactly, but there’s a certain look in his eyes and on his face and in his general demeanor that says “give me treats, I am boss, what do you have for ME, huh, huh!?”.. it’s cute, but could I be spoiling him and creating unwanted dominant behavior? Should I ignore him a bit instead of doting on him every time I enter his domain?

    (He has a bunny room to himself because I have 15 cats..)

    Halp


    #1831682

    joea64
    Participant

    Maybe you brushed a little too hard – you did say he was acting uncomfortable. The nip was almost certainly his way of saying “ouch, not THAT hard!”

    Rabbits have a very strong sense of social hierarchy so I wouldn’t be too surprised if Theo is indeed trying to establish himself as top bunny in the household. I believe there are ways around that, but I’ll have to leave further answers to the more experienced people here. I’d be careful not to ignore him too much; from what I understand, rabbits can get quite insulted if they’re not acknowledged (be prepared to see some furry butt turned around at you in a dismissive fashion!)


    #1831686

    Deleted User
    Participant

    Is that a typo or….literally 15 cats?!?!


    #1831687

    Theo&Mickey
    Participant

    If I brush him the way he likes it, no fur comes out.. that’s the problem. I have to get some of the undercoat. I can’t help but think my bunny is mind controlling me lol.. Now I have to be worried about ticking him off by not paying him enough attention.. that deadly bunny stare, oh my 

    And yes, I really do have fifteen cats. They’re all rescued and I am their slave. 


    #1831690

    sarahthegemini
    Participant

    Remember that bunnies communicate by nipping My Buttercup nipped my foot recently because i was using it to block her getting into the pantry (her favourite activity, idk why) So she dug at me and nipped LOL. I wouldn’t take it personally.

    15 cats  I love cats …


    #1831696

    Deleted User
    Participant

    I get nipped and headbutts when I stop petting Quincy and he wasn’t done getting pets Yesterday I was just sooo tired and I was laying on the floor petting him and I fell asleep twice. The first time I got 3 hard headbutts to my hand, and the second time I got a good nip on the finger! Spoiled little brat

    That is sooooo many cats. I would die. I can’t handle the allergies from even 1 cat.


    #1831699

    Yilina
    Participant

    Hi + Theo&Mickey!

    What kind of comb do you use? I tried combing Tambor with a pet-store bought one, but he would have none of it. Maybe, we can suggest other combs that are a bit softer? It will take longer for you, but he will be happier. I’m sure he only bit because he was uncomfortable and combing is something that will need to be done many times.


    #1831704

    Theo&Mickey
    Participant

    These bunnies and their demands! 

    So, if he nips me again when I’m brushing him, do I continue or stop and take a break? I’m guessing to gently but dominantly carry on? I don’t want him to learn that nipping means he stops getting brushed. That would be bad.

    So from what I can tell given the context, it was a firm warning nip. I’ll try to limit any pulling during grooming, but it’s not easy with that tufty undercoat! Perhaps I’m over-doing it brushing him everyday? I just worry when I touch him and hair falls off or I kiss him and my mouth is full of fur.. it means he’s licking and ingesting all that hair


    #1831706

    joea64
    Participant

    Friends of Rabbits gave me a hair-buster comb as part of the adoption package, so I’ll have to try that and see how it works. Panda and Fernando, being (I’m almost dead certain!) Polish rabbits, have relatively short fur (rollback is the term, right?) so I think once-a-week brushing should usually suffice. Of course, given that buns everywhere are shedding like crazy this summer according to all the reports, I may have to do it more often this summer…


    #1831708

    Deleted User
    Participant

    I would respond to a nip with a head rub or nose boop, try and calm him down and keep at it. You’re right, you don’t want to reinforce that nipping stops the brushing, eventually he will catch on!


    #1831710

    Bam
    Moderator

    It’s of course never a good idea to reward nipping, it reinforces the behavior. But if combing/brushing seems to be uncomfortable for him, you could try lint-rolling him. I use a generic type lint-roller, it has less stiff glue than name brands. Some buns seem to prefer getting lint-rolled to being brushed.


    #1831711

    joea64
    Participant

    You might try giving Theo a nice ear rub/massage. It appears to have a magical effect on most bunnies I’ve met during my adoption journey.


    #1831712

    Theo&Mickey
    Participant

    Hi Yilina,

    I used to use a brush similar to the hairbuster but it wasn’t removing the top loose hair. So I bought a plastic fine-tooth comb and that is doing the job brilliantly, as the static picks up the top layer of loose hair as well as the undercoat.

    BunNoob<3, I hadn't thought to give nose boops, good idea – just hope I keep my nose if he's feeling seriously hurt lol

    joea64, I’m not aware of Polish rabbits, but if their hair is very fine and short I’ve read that some people use a damp cloth to wipe away the loose hair. I tried that with my rabbit today but he was not having ANY of it. In his eyes I was quite possibly throwing a wet sea creature on him.


    #1831713

    Theo&Mickey
    Participant

    joea64 –  yes! Theo loves ears rubs and starts licking the floor.

    Bam, his fur is lush, thick and only half an inch long, would I be able to get away with not brushing that undercoat?

    I can see potential for matting on his backside and underneath. 


    #1831730

    Hazel
    Participant

    Posted By Theo&Mickey on 8/11/2017 11:14 AM

    These bunnies and their demands! 

    So, if he nips me again when I’m brushing him, do I continue or stop and take a break? I’m guessing to gently but dominantly carry on? I don’t want him to learn that nipping means he stops getting brushed. That would be bad.

    I think you need to let go of this whole “dominance” thing. If a rabbit wants to establish dominance, they either hump or start a fight. They never do this to humans, only other rabbits. We as humans aren’t part of a rabbit’s social hierarchy. He’s not trying to dominate you, and you trying to dominate him isn’t going to do you or your relationship with him any good. As has been said already, rabbits communicate through nipping. It was nothing more than that, if he actually wanted to hurt you, you would have a chunk of your finger missing. You said he was acting like he was uncomfortable after you brushed him for a while. That would have been your cue to stop. You’re right that you don’t want to reward biting, but you do want to reward when he gives you a passive warning like that. In this instance you ignored it and he was left with having to nip to get his point across. I understand that he needs to be brushed regularly, but if he starts getting uncomfortable with it, I think you should give him a break, give him a treat or a pat, let him relax for a bit. Then try again later. If you keep forcing the issue, he will only start to dislike being brushed more and more. And you will likely get nipped again.

    Wow, 15 cats? That’s awesome!


    #1831732

    Deleted User
    Participant

    Posted By bam on 8/11/2017 11:29 AM

    It’s of course never a good idea to reward nipping, it reinforces the behavior. But if combing/brushing seems to be uncomfortable for him, you could try lint-rolling him. I use a generic type lint-roller, it has less stiff glue than name brands. Some buns seem to prefer getting lint-rolled to being brushed.

    That’s a good idea, I didn’t think of that!


    #1831736

    sarahthegemini
    Participant

    I agree that you should stop thinking about being dominant over him. It doesn’t really work that way with humans and rabbits.


    #1831809

    Q8bunny
    Participant

    Bubble burst here: there’s no such thing as alphas (dominants) in rabbit-human relationships.
    There are only behaviours (negative or positive, learned or instinctual, reenforced or not).
    If you truly are nervous when grooming now, Theo will sense it. So either groom differently (like Bam, I can also vouch for the lint roller technique), OR try to let go of your anxiety and just be prepared to yelp REALLY loudly if you should get nipped again. Loud, high pitched yelps let buns know that they did something unacceptable and often deter repeat offences.
    Honestly, he didn’t break the skin because buns nip as slaps on the wrist: usually grabbing thick fur, not skin, and with no intent to draw blood or injure.
    Plus… um… you live with FIFTEEN cats. In my mind, you’re like friggin Braveheart facing fifteen sets of lethal teeth and sixty sets of claws daily. What’s one grumpy bunny??


    #1831825

    Love4Bunny
    Participant

    Hi! Maybe try some treats here and there when you groom and he allows you. Positive reinforcement and all that. Grooming (stroking) the ears and cheeks helps, as does going slow and making it more of a massage-groom. I also try to move my rabbits into more of a relaxed position while gently lifting fur with fingers. Of course, it all depends on rabbit personality. But just go slow and make the hand movements visible from the side, so they know what to expect and so they feel safe. Your bun was likely giving off signals of irritation prior to the nip, so you could also just pause and pet, and then start working on the other side when you sense fidgeting or anxiety.


    #1831828

    Theo&Mickey
    Participant

    Hi everyone, thanks so much for the constructive feedback. It’s given me some points to think about and to help adjust my behavior with him accordingly. I had assumed that most bunnies don’t like being brushed, but that it’s something that needs be done whether they’re irritated about it in the moment or not. As a busy person, it’s so much easier for me to get it all done in one go, and I was focusing on the result rather than the process. Tsk, tsk, for being a montessori-trained teacher! 

    I wasn’t trying to brush him obliviously like a doll, but it was too much (for him) and I was choosing to ignore his discomfort. 

    I have a 15 week old Angora/Lop mix – pretty sure he’s half angora as the breeder I bought him from has lots of those – and he has to be groomed everyday for around 20 – 30 mins. He doesn’t enjoy it either, unless I’m softly brushing his head or coat, so I will try to include some more positive bits in the mix like Love4Bunny suggested. I do fuss him and stroke him and rub his cheeks but maybe he needs treats and longer relief times. If he becomes severely distressed about being brushed, should I clip him? He tries to bump my hand away using his nose, and that could easily turn to a nip.

    I remember reading about the famous Wally (online bunny), that hated being groomed so his owner decided to keep his coat clipped. Just hope I don’t have to resort to that for Mickey, since I understand the complexity of using clippers in rabbits and so worried that I might accidentally cut his skin with scissors. For Theo, I’m going to look into a lint roller. 


    #1831867

    Love4Bunny
    Participant

    If he becomes severely distressed about being brushed, should I clip him? He tries to bump my hand away using his nose, and that could easily turn to a nip.

    I’m not sure. I think it will take some time, either way… And lots of patience with a fluffy butt! I have a lionhead, but she is patient and cooperative and has less hair than yours. Do you start brushing from the base of the hair shaft, closest to the follicle? Or do you brush from the tip of the hair shaft, and then work inwards? I’ve always thought, much like human hair, it hurts less to hold hair near the base and to brush from the outside in, rather than pulling a “tangle” throughout the length of the fur shaft, base to tip.


    #1831907

    Theo&Mickey
    Participant

    I mix it up using both methods, depending on how still he is. The problem is that he won’t sit still for more than a few seconds. So mostly I have to hold him still with one hand and use the other to brush. Frustrating for him and he thumps a few times. I would give him greens to munch on but I only just started introducing them to him one at a time, and can’t feed him too much (more than a few strands at a time). With pellets, he isn’t interested to sit still and munch. He just wants to get away.


    #1831908

    Theo&Mickey
    Participant

    Here’s a shot of Mickey so you can see his hair length/type. It’s very soft like wool and doesn’t shed when I touch or stroke him. 

    He reminds me of little yellow fluff character from the Snoopy cartoon.


    #1831913

    Love4Bunny
    Participant

    Mickey is adorable. Do you mean the little bird?? I like using tiny pieces from papaya or strawberry dried treats instead of greens or pellets. I break it up so they don’t get a sugar overload. It sure sounds like you need an extra pair of hands to hold the bunnies.


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