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Home > Rabbits > Does a Pet Rabbit Bite? 5 Possible Reasons For This Behaviour

Does a Pet Rabbit Bite? 5 Possible Reasons For This Behaviour

woman holding cute rabbit

Pet rabbits usually are among the more docile pets you can own, but just because they usually don’t bite doesn’t mean that it’s completely unheard of. In fact, while it’s rare for a pet rabbit to consistently bite, the occasional pet rabbit bite is a fairly common occurrence.

But why do pet rabbits bite, what do you do if they bite you, and how do you keep them from biting you in the future? We’ll answer all those questions and more for you here.


The 5 Reasons Why Your Pet Rabbit Might Bite You

While pet rabbits are usually remarkably placid pets that don’t bite, there are a few different reasons one might chomp down on you. We’ve highlighted five of the most common reasons you’ll need to consider if your pet rabbit bites you here:

1. You Scared Them

This is probably the most common reason a pet rabbit might bite you. While rabbits are usually well-mannered pets, if you startle them, they might bite out of instinct. If this is the case, they’re not biting to hurt you, they’re biting you in a moment of fear!

As soon as they realize what’s going on, they should let go, and in the future, ensure you do your best not to sneak up on them so they don’t bite you.

Girl stroking a small English spotted rabbit
Image Credit: osobystist, Shutterstock

2. They’re in Pain

Your pet rabbit can’t come right up to you and tell you what’s hurting, but if they are in pain and you aggravate the area, they might bite you as a way to get you to leave it alone. If this is the case, they’re not trying to hurt you, they’re just trying to get you to leave them be.

In order to fix the behavior, you’ll need to address the injury, which often means taking them to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

3. They’re Playing With You

If your pet rabbit is chomping down hard and instead giving you little nibbles, they’re likely trying to be affectionate. These nibbles might not be the most comfortable for you, but they won’t be downright painful like a full-on rabbit bite.

White Rabbit Playing with People in the Cafe
Image Credit: KArd, Shutterstock

4. It Was an Accident

Sometimes, your rabbit bites you when they’re simply not trying to! Perhaps they saw something else they wanted to chomp down on and just missed, or maybe they just didn’t see you there. Either way, it’s not uncommon for a pet rabbit to accidentally bite you. While this doesn’t make it any less painful, you shouldn’t hold it against them.

5. They’re Territorial

This is a common issue with wild rabbits or with pet rabbits that don’t get enough socialization. If it’s a wild rabbit, leave them alone, but if it’s a pet rabbit, you’ll need to take some extra time to socialize them. Take it slow and, just in case, keep your fingers in a safe place.

rex rabbit held by owner
Image Credit: Kyttan, Shutterstock

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What To Do if Your Pet Rabbit Bites You

In the unlikely event that your pet rabbit does bite you, it’s important that you know what to do. It will hurt, but with prompt action, it shouldn’t present too serious of a condition for you. Below, we’ve highlighted exactly what you need to do if your bunny bites you.

1. Get the Rabbit Away From You

It might seem obvious, but the first thing you need to do is get your pet rabbit to stop biting you. There are some times when this is easier than others, as occasionally, your pet rabbit won’t want to let go. This is more common if your pet rabbit is aggressive instead of scared or hurt.

rabbit cage
Image By: photosforyou, Pixabay

2. Put Pressure on the Wound

Once you get your pet rabbit to stop biting you, it’s time to get the bleeding under control. Apply direct pressure to the wound for five to ten minutes to help control even the most severe cases.

3. Clean the Wound

At some point, you need to clean out the wound to keep infection away. All you need to do to clean out the wound is to run it under water for a few minutes to thoroughly flush the wound of any bacteria.

man washes his hands up to the elbows under the tap
Image By: Madhourse, Shutterstock

4. Determine if You Need Further Treatment

Once you clean out the wound and control the bleeding, you need to figure out if you need additional medical treatment. Signs you need further treatment include not being able to get the bleeding under control or determining that the pet rabbit didn’t have all the recommended shots and vaccines.

5. Treat the Underlying Behavior Problem

Once you get the wound under control, it’s time to address your pet rabbit. Pet rabbits usually don’t bite, so if yours did, you need to figure out why. If it’s something like you startling them, there are no further actions you need to take, but if there’s an underlying aggression problem or an injury, you’ll need to figure it out and treat it.

small gray rabbit eats from the hand
Image By: Elizabett, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

Now that you know a little more about why pet rabbits bite and what you can do about it, it’s up to you to ensure you have everything you need to treat a rabbit bite on hand if you have a pet rabbit in your home.

While it shouldn’t be a life-threatening condition, it is painful, so you’ll want to take the time to get to know and socialize your pet rabbit so they don’t bite you again in the future.

Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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