When you look at fluffy bunnies, the last thing you expect is aggression. You certainly don’t see people being attacked by rabbits in the news! So, do rabbits bite?
The short answer is rabbits can bite like any other animal. In my experience, a bite from a rabbit is rare but it does happen!
This article will cover everything you need to know about rabbit bites. We’ll also talk about how to deal with a bunny biting if it does happen.
Do Bunnies Bite Humans?
Yes, rabbits do bite humans but it’s rare. They’re not naturally aggressive animals and biting is their last resort. If they do bite, it’s more likely to be in self defense. Rabbit bites can be serious so it’s important to deal with them quickly.
How Common Are Bites From Pet Rabbits?
Rabbits are prey animals and become frightened easily. By nature, they’re far more likely to run away and hide if they feel threatened rather than fight. Therefore, bites from domestic bunnies are uncommon.
I’ve worked with many bunnies over the years and while I’ve been nipped a few times, I’ve only ever been properly bitten once!
Do Rabbit Bites Hurt?
Rabbits may nip or nibble, which doesn’t really hurt. If a rabbit bites you properly and their teeth break the skin, I can tell you from experience that it does hurt! Those from incisors are strong and surprisingly sharp.
Is My Rabbit Biting Me a Bad Sign?
If your pet rabbit bites you, it can be upsetting. You’re doing everything you can to take care of your rabbit and aggressive behavior can be disheartening. But, don’t worry! If your rabbit bites you, it doesn’t mean that it hates you or even that it’s an aggressive rabbit.
In fact, some nibbles mean your rabbit is showing affection!
However, a proper bite usually means that there are changes you need to make. You may need to change how you’re handling your rabbit or switch up their daily routine. A rabbit will only bite if it feels threatened or isn’t getting what it needs.
Do Rabbits Become Aggressive?
Rabbits can display aggressive behavior in response to some situations, but they’re not naturally aggressive creatures. As prey animals, they’re always on alert for danger to keep themselves safe. If they can’t run away, they may become aggressive to try to defend themselves.
In some cases, rabbits become aggressive because they’ve been treated badly by humans previously.
The one time I was bitten by a rabbit, it was by a bunny who had an abusive past. We were trying to rehabilitate the rabbit and build trust with her. She bit once out of fear. Yet after a few months of working with her, her true personality came out and she was a gentle, cuddly girl.
There’s always a reason for rabbit aggression and in most cases, it can be fixed!
Are Rabbit Bites Dangerous?
If a rabbit nips or nibbles, it’s unlikely to be dangerous. If a pet bunny bites hard and breaks the skin, it can be dangerous just like any other animal bite. However, in most cases, the bite will heal quickly with some basic first aid.
It’s unusual for a rabbit bite to be very deep or to become infected. If you’re concerned or it’s a particularly bad bite, it’s always best to get checked by your doctor. You might want to make sure your tetanus vaccine is up to date if the bite is deep.
Do Wild Rabbits Bite Humans?
Wild rabbit bites are extremely rare (I’ve never heard of it happening). Wild bunnies are far more skittish and quick to run away than pet rabbits. The only way they would bite a person is if they were cornered and had no way to escape.
If a wild bunny does bite you, get checked by a doctor. Although it’s highly unlikely that the bunny would be carrying rabies, it is possible. The rabbit could also be carrying an infection that could potentially affect humans.
Will Your Rabbit Bite?
All this talk of biting can be quite concerning if you’re considering getting a bunny for the first time, but try not to worry. Biting is uncommon and for the vast majority of bunnies, biting their owner isn’t something they want to do.
If you bond with your rabbit and provide it with all it needs, it’s far less likely to bite. The more a rabbit gets to know you, the more comfortable it will feel! Not all bunnies bite and even if yours does, it’s usually a one-off and something you can fix.
Reasons Rabbits Bite
You might be surprised to know that there are lots of reasons a bunny might bite!
If you have a close bond with your rabbit, you might find it gently nips or nibbles at you or your clothes. Don’t panic – sometimes rabbits nip to show love!
The Bunny is Protective of its Territory or Kits
Rabbits are naturally territorial because they need to be in the wild. Pet rabbits might be territorial over their enclosure and their belongings. If you have a pregnant female rabbit, she will likely become more protective of her living area and her kits (baby rabbits) when they’re born.
The Rabbit Wants Dominance
In the wild, rabbits live in big groups with a hierarchy. They need to fight to be dominant. Pet bunnies have these natural instincts so might try to establish dominance over you. This is more likely when they reach sexual maturity and are intact (meaning not neutered).
The Rabbit is Bored
Rabbits are intelligent animals. New owners are often surprised at just how smart rabbits are! Bunnies need lots of stimulation and exercise to be happy. Without this, they can become frustrated and bored.
You’ve Startled the Bunny
If you approach your rabbit suddenly, it will get a fright. If your rabbit can’t run away, it might turn and nip out of instinct as part of it’s fear response.
They Feel Threatened
If your rabbit feels threatened in any way it will naturally act to defend itself. Rabbits may be scared in new or stressful situations, for example if they have to go to the vet or if there are lots of loud noises. If a rabbit feels cornered they may show aggressive behavior.
Rabbits Biting Out of Food Aggression
In the wild, rabbits have to fight to get enough food because resources are limited. Even though they don’t need to do this as pets, they sometimes still have those instincts.
The Rabbit is in Pain or Unwell
Rabbits might nip if they’re in pain or not feeling well, especially when you try to handle them. Don’t we all get short-tempered when we’re in pain? I know I do! If your rabbit is biting all of a sudden, get it checked by a vet.
The Rabbit is Unhappy
Rabbits are active, social animals. If you don’t meet your rabbit’s needs, it can become unhappy and express that through biting.
It’s An Accident
We all make mistakes and rabbits are no exception! Sometimes a bunny might bite accidentally when it’s playing or taking food from you.
What to Do if Your Rabbit Bites You
If your rabbit bites you, stay as calm as possible (I know that’s easier said than done). Panicking will only scare your bunny and may make the situation worse.
The following steps will help you to deal with the situation.
Distract Your Rabbit
If your rabbit nips you, it will likely move away from you straight afterward. If you are holding the rabbit, release it safely straight away.
However, if your bunny won’t let go or is continually attacking you, the best thing to do is distract it. You might be able to do this by moving something else in it’s eyeline to catch its attention. If your rabbit is attached to you by the mouth, don’t try to pull it off you as this could hurt it and could make your bite worse.
You should never hit or punish your rabbit in response to biting. This only increases fear and destroys the trust between you and your pet.
Put Your Rabbit in a Safe Space
If you can, put your rabbit straight back into its enclosure. If it’s free-roaming or you can’t pick it up, you can use anything around you as a barrier. The goal is to keep your bunny safely enclosed while you deal with your bite.
Put Pressure On The Wound
Check if your rabbit has broken the skin. If so, apply pressure to the wound to stop any bleeding. In most cases, the bleeding should stop quite quickly.
If the bleeding won’t stop or the wound is particularly deep, seek medical attention. If you haven’t had a tetanus injection within the last 10 years, your doctor might advise you to have one as a safety precaution.
Clean Your Wound
If the bleeding has stopped and you don’t need medical attention, clean the bite under running water. Apply an antiseptic cream or spray to prevent infection. I prefer a spray like this SkinSmart Antimicrobial Wound Therapy. You can then cover the wound with a bandage if needed.
Keep Checking The Wound
Change the bandage every couple of days as needed and keep checking on the wound. Keep an eye out for signs of infection like swelling, discharge, or a foul smell. You can keep applying the antiseptic every day until the wound is healed.
How to Stop a Pet Rabbit Biting
If your rabbit bit you, it’s important to find out the cause if possible. That way, you can stop biting happening again!
There are some more tips to prevent biting below.
Make a Loud Noise
Some people find it helps to make a high-pitched noise when a rabbit bites. This noise lets your bunny know that it’s hurt you. This can be particularly helpful if you think your bunny is trying to play or be affectionate, but it’s nipping a bit too hard.
Use Positive Reinforcement
If you’re training your rabbit, you can use positive reinforcement like treats and giving praise when your bunny behaves positively.
Read Their Body Language
Rabbits rarely bite without first showing other warning signs that they’re unhappy. If you learn to read your rabbit’s body language, you can stop things from escalating.
Handle Your Rabbit Correctly
Being handled can be quite worrying for rabbits. Take it slow and build a bond with your new pet rather than rushing in.
Do Rabbits Like to Be Held?
Most rabbits don’t like to be picked up so it’s best to avoid this as much as possible. It’s a very vulnerable position for them and can scare them.
Do Rabbits Like to Be Cuddled?
A lot of bunnies will enjoy sitting on your lap and being stroked. Most rabbits won’t like being picked up or feeling ‘trapped’ in your arms.
Spay or Neuter Your Rabbit
Neutering male rabbits or spaying female rabbits can help to reduce aggression. It’s also much better for their health!
Bond With Your Rabbit
Take your time to build a bond with your bunny. Over time, they’ll learn to trust you and feel safe when you’re around.
Make Sure They Have What They Need
Make sure your bunny has a big enough enclosure, enough stimulation, and everything it needs to keep it happy and healthy. Happy rabbits are unlikely to bite!
Tips for Territorial Behavior
If your rabbit is territorial, you can reduce stress for both of you by:
- Minimizing how much you go into your rabbit’s territory
- Moving your rabbit to another room while you clean its litter box or enclosure
- Providing a consistent feeding routine if your rabbit is food aggressive (so your rabbit knows when its food is coming and how much it gets)
- Giving treats on a spoon or in a food bowl to avoid your bunny biting your hand
Sometimes rabbits do bite humans, but it’s uncommon. If a bunny does bite you, there’s always an explanation. Most of the time, you can take action to correct the problem so you can build trust with your furry friend.
Did you find this article useful? We’d love to hear any thoughts or questions you have in the comments.