Pet Talk: February 17, 2021
Pet Talk

Pet Talk: February 17, 2021

February 17, 2021

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka describes about the mannerisms of rabbits and more

By Maneka Gandhi

Do rabbit get jealous of other rabbits?

No matter how many rabbits you live with, they must be considered part of the family. If your rabbits don’t feel like they’re a priority, they’ll become jealous of each other, or your spouse or children. Rabbits demand attention, and will act out if they don’t receive it.

Are rabbits more intelligent than cats?

Rabbits have strikingly distinctive personalities. They can be as playful and silly as puppies or kittens, as independent and fascinating as cats, or as loyal and openly affectionate as dogs. And long-time rabbit owners claim that domestic rabbits are, in their own way, every bit as smart as cats and dogs.

Are rabbits high or low maintenance?

Rabbits are high maintenance and require daily care. Most pets, in fact, also need daily care, but rabbits are much more sensitive to changes than the average pet. It takes a daily commitment to make sure a rabbit is in good health, has unlimited hay and water, and a clean cage.

Where do they fall on pet intelligence spectrum?

Rabbits are intelligent. They can get bored. Most rabbits learn to understand certain words, phrases, or commands, but don’t expect them to obey you every time, because their intelligence also propels them to make their own decisions. You need to know what motivates them at that time.

What are their common mannerisms?

The key to a happy rabbit is companionship, lots of space to run around and a bolt hole to retreat to. In this way, they are very close to their wild cousins still. In the right environment, rabbits reveal their true nature — intelligent, affectionate and often cheeky! Rabbits are wonderful companions and are increasingly being kept as free range, indoor pets (house rabbits). Every rabbit is different and discovering your rabbit’s own unique personality is one of the great joys of rabbit ownership.

Which one makes a better pet. Male or female?

Males are slightly more outgoing than females. Because rabbits have such distinct individual personalities, however, it’s impossible to conclude that one sex always makes better pets than the other.

Is raising a rabbit as a pet legal in India?

Yes, it is absolutely legal to raise a rabbit as a pet in India.

How to keep a baby rabbit from screaming?

Screaming, or loud squealing sounds, exactly like a small child’s scream. Some rabbits will never scream, but many will do so at least once in a lifetime. If your rabbit screams, offer immediate comfort and stay close for a few hours.

Why do rabbits dig holes and fill it with grass and then fill it with dirt?

Rabbits dig holes and fill them with leaves, fur or twigs. This makes their holes almost invisible for their predators, and for you! They like to sit in them to feel safe and secure. They also dig holes and fill them to hide their babies.

Should I keep my rabbit in a cage?

Keeping any animal, especially small animals like birds, mice and rabbits, in a cage is wrong. The rabbit must not be caged. But he should have a place of his own where he can retreat to, and if you make a cage that he likes then he can go there when he wants.

Does a rabbit [both baby and adult] knows the limit of their eating?

Rabbits do register being full. They can’t throw up, however, so if they eat something bad for them, they’re stuck with it until it passes through their system. They are supposed to eat hay, more or less constantly, to keep their digestive system moving.

Can I keep 2 male rabbits together and of the   same age?

A pair of male rabbits may work together well, but  male and female pairings may be more successful as long as both of the animals are neutered and spayed.

Are rabbits easy to train?

Rabbits are very intelligent, social animals that can be trained quite easily.

Unfortunately, many humans fail to train their rabbits, either because they use the wrong approach, or they don’t spend enough time on training. 

Training rabbits to follow commands:

1. Devote plenty of time to training: Two or three short sessions of 5 to 10 minutes at a time will keep your bunny interested in learning.

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2. Use your rabbit’s favourite treats: Since training is based on incentives, you’ll need to find a treat that provides the most positive response.

3. Get your rabbit in position for training: Stage your training in the area and situation where and when you will want the behaviour to occur. For example, if you want to teach your rabbit to jump up on your lap when called, first put it near the couch.

4. Have a plan: Start simple. Carefully plan what you want your rabbit to perform and break that task down into small steps. You reward the rabbit after completing each new step. Once the rabbit is performing the task with regularity and confidence, give the command a name.

How do rabbits like to be petted / held?

It’s important to remember that rabbits are prey animals. Prey animals interact with their environment very differently than predators like cats and dogs. In general, rabbits do not like to be picked up. The act of bending over them and grabbing them, by their ribs to pick them up, is very similar to being picked up by a hawk. They generally like to sit beside, rather than being held.

Do rabbits respond to their name the same way as a dog or cat?

Yes. Rabbits can understand their names and some other short, simple words. Some rabbits are smarter than others and can understand more words, but generally speaking, all rabbits will eventually learn their own names and may respond to you when you call.

Do rabbits snuggle?

Most rabbits love to be cuddled and stroked when approached in the right way. Few like being held or carried, as being so high up from the ground makes them feel insecure, however, many will happily sit on your lap or snuggle up next to you for a cuddle. Avoid disturbing your rabbit when it is sleeping.

How do pet rabbits show affection?

Rabbits show affection by grooming, so if your rabbits gently nuzzle, lick, and perhaps even try to nibble you gently, they are showing you that they love and care for you.

Do Rabbits develop behavioural problem?

The key to rabbit behaviour is understanding their nature as prey animals, and adapting your behaviour towards them to allow for this. Most “bad” behaviour in rabbits stems from mistrust of humans, or a lack of security in their environment, and can therefore be overcome with time and patience.

• Aggression: Aggression is generally caused by the rabbit either trying to defend its territory, or itself, but it may also be caused by a lack of trust in humans — the rabbit assumes you are going to do something bad to it, so it reacts first by warning you off with a growl or bite.

• Lack of trust: This takes a lot of patience. Spend time with your rabbit at ground level, lying or sitting on the floor and letting it approach you in its own time. Tempt it with bits of food, talk to it in a low, soft voice and avoid sudden movements. Let your rabbit become comfortable with simply being close to you before trying to touch or stroke it.

• Territory: For example, a rabbit may growl or lunge at you with its front feet when you are trying to clean out its hutch or litter tray, or if you enter its sleeping area. This is more common in female rabbits. Avoid entering your rabbit’s territory when it is there — put your rabbit in its exercise run, or a different room, when you are cleaning out its hutch or litter tray.

• Defence: For example, a rabbit may bite you when you are trying to clip its nails. Wrap your rabbit in an old towel or blanket to restrict its movements, this also makes the rabbit feel more secure.

• Bossiness: Rabbits can be surprisingly bossy, particularly house rabbits. This seems to come from their belief that the whole house, or flat, is their territory. Many rabbits will nip your feet to move them out of their way, which, although not a proper bite, can be painful. You may be able to train your rabbit out of this, by making a high-pitched screech every time they do it. Or take the easy route and simply keep your feet out of its way.

• Destructive behaviour: This is not a behavioural problem, it is a natural aspect of being a rabbit and it is very hard, if not impossible, to train rabbits out of this. The best option is to give them more tempting toys to play with and destroy, such as bits of cardboard, newspapers, twigs, pinecones, blankets and towels, and always make sure they have plenty of hay to eat.

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How can I bond with my pet rabbit?

1. Use a soothing voice to calm your rabbit.

2. Never yell at your rabbit.

3. Offer your open hand for your rabbit to sniff. 

4. Never make any sudden movements around your rabbit.

Can Rabbits see in the dark?

Yes, rabbits can see in the dark. However, their vision is better suited for half-light conditions, such as early morning and evening. Rabbits can see at night, but it looks grainy to them instead of sharp and clear.

When getting a new pet rabbit, should I get two so they can have company, or are they okay being the only rabbit?

Rabbits are naturally sociable, preferring other rabbit company, and keep together to form a ‘pecking order’. Some animals become more dominant than others. If your rabbit has to be kept alone, you must provide them with companionship by interacting with them daily.

Why do rabbits stomp?

Foot stomping is a crucial part of rabbit communication. While it may appear your pet is just being noisy, the behaviour always has an explanation. They may stomp their foot when they think about: danger, frustration, playfulness or rage. Rabbits will keep this behaviour up until they feel the threat has passed. This could take some time, and they’ll grow increasingly distressed. Your rabbit is trying to give you a warning. Most of the time, it’s nothing for a human to worry about. Your rabbit may smell or hear a cat in the distance. Alternatively, they may have been startled by a loud noise. Car doors slamming, for example, can be deafening to a rabbit. All the same, show your rabbits that you are taking their fears seriously. Acknowledge their thumping, and take action. If necessary, return them to their hutch. Most rabbits feel safer in their own home.

Are rabbits normally aloof with their owners?

Rabbits are very loving, social animals, which means they not only love to spend time with their humans — they require it. Without human interaction, rabbits can get bored, even to the point of becoming lonely and depressed. Each rabbit has a different personality, just like each person does.

Will a rabbit hold a grudge against a child who accidentally scared it once?

An offended rabbit, who is not apologised to, can hold a grudge or maintain a sulk for many, many days. Insulted rabbits will typically step away, at least slightly beyond easy reach. If a rabbit turns away completely, and folds its ears down onto its back, you are definitely in the doghouse.

How will I know my new rabbit has settled in?

It takes a rabbit a while to adjust. Being a prey animal it doesn’t get settled easily. Give it time and earn its trust. When he starts becoming comfortable with your petting and sitting around him, that is when it can be said that a new rabbit has settled in.

When a rabbit is picked up does it fear it is about to be eaten?

Being picked up is not a natural experience for a rabbit. Unlike many animal parents, such as cats and dogs, rabbit mothers don’t pick up their kits and carry them around. The only time a rabbit would experience this type of movement is if a predator attacks them. So, yes it does fear about being eaten.

Can rabbits be fed cheese?

Yogurt or dairy products should never be fed to rabbits, for the following reasons: Adult rabbits naturally do not have the right bacteria to digest milk derivates in the caecum and intestine — In the absence of those Lactobacteria, milk derivates accelerate the onset of stasis (a stoppage, or a slowdown, in the flow of blood or other body fluid) in adult rabbits.

What all to consider before buying a rabbit?

Rabbits need company of their own; they poo a lot; they eat their own poop; house rabbits can be destructive; they need lots of space; they aren’t cheap pets; they like to play; most rabbits don’t like being cuddled; rabbits need to be neutered.

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