I get this question on a daily basis so that always means it’s time to blog! The number one quality families want in a bunny is for them to be snuggly. You will see in our videos we post on Instagram of us holding and handling the buns and they are calm. I’m always asked… “Which bunny is the most snuggly out of the litters?” So let’s get into the nitty gritty of what to expect when adopting a baby bunny.
First off, rabbits are a prey animal but did you know that domesticated rabbits are not even the same species as wild rabbits? Those cute cotton tails you see hopping around your backyard are apart of the hare family. Domesticated rabbits belong to the Lagomorpha family. Although rabbits are prey animals, there are many ways to socialize domesticated rabbits to have them living happily in your home.
The first and most important stage in bunnies lives is how they are raised from birth, which is the breeders job. Here at Blue Clover our bunnies live indoors in the most realistic home style environment. We have individual solid floor pens that are spacious enough for each mama and her babies. Aside from a clean and spacious environment, socializing is the most crucial part of a bunnies development. Every breeder or person has their own opinion and I respect that but this is my point of view from raising rabbits since 2011.
When babies are born here they are handled from day one. Did you know domestic rabbits eyes don’t even open until around 10-11 days? Wild baby bunnies are born with their eyes open for obvious reasons. Otherwise there probably wouldn’t be very many wild buns hopping around due to predators! So since domestic bunnies eyes aren’t open, they cannot associate anything with sight yet. They are also born deaf. So this leaves “touch”. They can most certainly feel everything around them. It’s so important to make a bond with them at this early stage so they are familiar with being handled and pet. Once their eyes open, they can associate you handling them with sight now and you are not a threat to them. This is a crucial step in development and one of the main reasons why we are not a “hobby breeder”. This is a lifestyle and it’s every single day for me. Occasionally I have helpers come too!
So all that being said, no breeder can ever guarantee personality traits in baby bunnies. We can give you a description of what they are like currently, which is usually easy to handle and sweet, but things can change and most likely will change. Some change more than others and it’s not always bad changes. Just normal bunny behavior changes! I've seen it where people have had super snuggly babies and then a few months pass by and they are still very social but don’t like being handled. Sometimes it is honestly human error and I have actually helped numerous people just tweak and adjust the way they pickup and handle their bunnies and everything is ok after that! And in rare cases, sometimes the buns just do not want to be picked up. So yes, you can have a snuggly baby bun (and you most likely will) but it “can” change.
Rabbits go through a hormonal stage and it can start as early as 8 weeks which is right when you would be getting them. That doesn’t mean that every rabbit that leaves changes the day they get home. But it’s just to educate you that it is possible that the hormone levels could increase that early. A hormonal rabbit will usually be “testy” or have an attitude like a teenager. Males will tend to run in circles around your feet and almost all male buns will spray pee once they start getting hormonal as well. Both genders can get attitudes and you may notice them stomping their feet because they don’t approve of something or they are irritated. This is all normal behavior to expect and the solution is getting them fixed sooner than later. Call to ask your local exotic (experienced with rabbits) vet to see what age they spay and neuter rabbits. Some can do it as early as 3 months while others will wait until 6 months old.
All in all, when you see cute tiny baby bunnies online, be sure to keep this information in mind when making a decision whether to get one or not. Baby bunnies are cute and snuggly and adopting them from responsible and reputable breeders will definitely increase the odds of having a social and hopefully snuggly bunny. But the reality of it doesn’t always turn out that way. We are in contact with SO many families that have adopted bunnies from us and a lot of them have snuggly bunnies still to this day. It’s not too common that we’ve had families have difficulties handling their buns but it has happened as with every other rabbit breeder in the world.
If you are completely set on only wanting a snuggly bun then your absolute best option is to get one that is at least 6 months old and already spayed or neutered. Those buns will mostly be set in their ways by then. So if they are easy to handle at that stage then you probably got yourself a winner!
This blog wasn’t to scare you out of adopting a baby bunny. But more so to educate you on what you could possibly encounter. Like I said above, if you find a responsible breeder that handles their babies daily, your chances will definitely be higher of getting a snuggly bun!
Understanding rabbits and their behaviors is important when wanting to add them to your family. Rabbits do make great pets but they are not the same as your dog or cat. Read through this list of behaviors to educate yourself on bunny behaviors!
Binkying (Twisty jumps)- When rabbits are excited they will run, jump, and twist in mid-air. This is called a binky. Your bunny is happy and getting their exercise in!
Biting- Biting usually means they are angry or scared. If you are handling them and they really don’t want to be messed with, they could potentially bite you. If they feel threatened by anything such as an aggressive dog while you are handling them, they may bite out of fear. Give them space if you’ve been bitten and regroup later with a treat and head rubs. Never hit your rabbit. That will only make the bonding process worse for you and the bun! Abuse does not correct rabbits.
Buzzing sound- If your rabbit is making a buzzing sound, it usually indicates they are happy or ready to mate. Even if your rabbit is fixed, they can still make this buzzing sound.
Chinning- Rabbits have a scent gland under their chin. If you see them chinning things, they are essentially marking their territory. It does give off a smell but not strong enough for us humans to smell. So next time your rabbit starts chinning you, they’re saying “you’re mine!”.
Circling- Rabbits do this when they are looking to mate. It could be displayed as a courting behavior, or they just want your attention. A good head rub, quality time, and a treat will get them to stop. Until the next time that is.
Grunting- Grunts usually indicate that they are unhappy or angry about something going on around them. If they feel threatened they may grunt, scratch, or even bite. They are territorial of their things such as food, food dish, bed, ect. So if you are cleaning out their area while they are inside of it and they begin grunting, just relocate them to a different area while you clean. If your rabbit is grunting, it’s best to give them some space.
Honking- If your bunny is honking, then he/she most likely wants to be more then just friends. This is an act of courting. They also could just be happy.
Flopping- This is usually a very dramatic and entertaining action your rabbit will do when they are extremely comfortable and feel no threats at all. Not to mention it is adorable to watch! It usually starts out with a long stretch and then a dramatic flop to one side or even a full roll.
Frog legs- Your rabbits hind legs will be stretched out behind him/her into a frog shape. They are content, relaxed, and feel safe.
Leaving random poos in the house- Sometimes you will see random scattered poos here and there. These are territorial poos to let other animals or anyone in the house know that this is their area. Especially when they enter a new environment this may increase for a period of time until they feel like it’s “their” space. Simply vacuum or sweep them up as necessary.
Licking- If your rabbit is licking you this shows signs of complete trust. They love you!
Lunging- This mostly happens when they feel you are invading their territory such as reaching your hand in to feed them. They are being territorial. Some ways to get them used to it is to have a treat noticeable in your hand. Open the cage and let them run up to you before sticking your hand in. Slowly and gently hand them the treat just outside of the cage door. When they approach you, be sure to give them head rubs so they associate cage opening with something good!
Mounting- Sometime families adopt two bunnies that are the same gender and then they catch one mounting the other one and immediately panic thinking they got one boy and one girl. Not saying that it’s not true because it does happen a lot especially when you buy from an uneducated breeder. Although even the best breeders still have room for error. If you are ever worried about their genders, take them to a vet to have a professionals opinion. Mounting is to usually show dominance or if not fixed yet, they could be trying to mate.
Nipping- This can mean multiple different things. They may just want attention from you. Rabbits sometimes groom each other by nipping softly. It doesn’t usually mean they are angry. A bite is different then nipping. Nipping is a soft bite. If you are bit by a rabbit it will usually break the skin and hurt pretty bad.
Nose-nudging- When a rabbit is nudging you with their nose they usually want to be pet or they want you to get out of their way. If you are petting your rabbit on the head and stop, they may nudge you for more pets.
Playing- Rabbits play by grabbing their toys in their mouth and throwing them around. They also like a “digging box”. If you shop at Costco or any wholesale store that gives away boxes, grab a few next time you’re out. Your bunny will thank you. Fill the box half way with newspaper, toilet paper rolls, ect.
Ripping up carpet- Every rabbit has different behaviors. When you start off with a baby bunny, they are not hormonal so they usually don’t have any extreme behaviors yet. It’s usually a few weeks after you’ve brought them home that their personality really sets in. If they are digging up carpet try to have more toys for them in their area to deter them from scratching the carpet.
Screeching- If you ever hear your rabbit scream a high pitched sound, which is horrifying to hear, they are either in excruciating pain or extremely terrified. Some rabbits that are not very socialized with people may have trust issues. Never pick up your rabbit without them being aware of what you are doing. If they are asleep, be sure they are awake and alert before picking them up. Side note: Also educate yourself how to properly handle a rabbit.
Spraying- Males that are not fixed will nine times out of ten spray urine to mark their territory. When I say nine times out of ten, what I really mean is nine point nine out of ten times. It’s very unlikely that they won’t spray urine. Some females can spray as well but it’s more common in males. Females still leave urine as territorial markings but they usually don’t spray it out like males do. Getting them fixed will reduce their hormone levels and will likely stop them from spraying. It can take anywhere from one week to 4 months or in some cases even longer for their hormone levels to drop so don’t get too impatient or give up on them! Sometimes getting a higher litter box works great for the time being so any urine that is sprayed in the box will stay inside instead of spraying outside of it.
Thumping- This is usually a way of expressing anger or that they are irritated with something going on around them. Un-neutered males will thump when with a female to show dominance as well. It also could mean that they are wanting attention.
Tooth clicking- This light sound usually means they are pleased and content. Similar to cats purring, you will mostly hear this sound while petting your rabbit while they are completely calm and comfortable.
Tooth grinding- There is a difference between tooth clicking and tooth grinding. Clicking is more of a purring sound. Tooth grinding means they are in pain. Usually this will be accompanied by them looking very sickly. Hunched over, eyes closed, and not very active. If this is happening, immediately seek a vet.