Wednesday, March 28, 2007

3/28/07 Mid-week bunny fix

Peeper was found as a stray in the neighborhood last July and a neighbor brought her to me to see if I knew of someone who could keep her. As if!

She was probably an Easter dump, let loose after she got over being cute and started acting like a real rabbit. She is still something of a terror, but thankfully having her spayed stopped her from trying to hump my feet all the time. She is not very accepting of affection, but likes to eat and loves to run and play, and is perfect with her litterbox. A good bunny despite her personality issues.

Most bunnies will learn to accept being petted and stroked once they learn to trust you. Some come to love affection and will seek it out. Others don't. Peeper seems to be that type. She lunges at me sometimes and will bite if I'm not careful. She boxes at me with her front paws if I'm not careful about how I approach her with my hands. None of this is to say that she is a mean rabbit, but instead that she seems to anticipate the need to protect herself.

The rescue that I work with recently sent an email looking for a foster home for a bunny with similar issues. This bunny has been adopted out a few times, but is always returned because the owners don't want to or don't know how to deal with the problem behaviors, mostly boxing and cage protectiveness. I can understand that from someone adopting a dog say, when fear aggression can be really dangerous and that requires an owner with special savvy and commitment, but we're talking about a little bunny here. How bad could it be?

So, I'm wondering about those of you with bunnies. Have you ever had that kind of experience with a bunny and was it bad enough that you would have given the rabbit away for it? Any good ways of dealing with it that you might suggest?


Mary said...

Laura, I've never owned a bunny. But I had a cat who sounds like Peeper as far as personalities. I could never just "pick her up" without her going crazy with fear and running away. She was loveable on her own terms and would lay on my lap - she was OK with a one-handed stroke, but two hands was a no-go. Unfortunately, when she was 8 years old I had to euthanize her because of a stomach condition she had. I wasn't able to medicate her without being attacked. Putting meds in her food was useless as I had two other cats. I know this ramble didn't answer your question, but want I really wanted to say is accepting them as they are is the best chance for a good relationship.

Susan Gets Native said...

I am bun-less, and can't expound on the unpleasantness of some bunny's behavior. But I had to put down a dog for aggression, and as you know, had to give Boomer away because of his anti-cat feelings.
I truly can't see someone giving away a rabbit because of behavior issues. It's not like they are going to eat you alive.

LauraHinNJ said...

Mary: Thanks - I think you mention an important thing about giving meds - something I hadn't considered. I agree that we ought to accept them as they are and would hardly think of *giving back* an animal unless the situation was intolerable.

Susan: No, they won't eat you alive, but they can hurt you when they bite. It seems like such a little thing with a bunny, and really just takes time and lots of patience to show them another way of being, but I guess some people are stuck on the idea of a bunny being a cuddle-ball. Not!

Are your rats ever aggressive?

Lynne said...

Buddy has never lunged or done the boxing thing. He has bitten, but only when someone has picked him up. He HATES to be picked up!! He always lets loose with a few loud thumps afterwards. He does occasionally nip at me when he wants petting or scratching and I'm not paying attention. Really the only bad behavior that he has is chewing. Electrical cords, phone cords and shoe laces. I also have to be careful to not leave my clothes on the floor. He likes to make a nest out of my dirty clothes and he'll leave little bite holes in them. (Only MY clothes though)

I could NEVER part with our Buddy.

bunnygirl said...

My first bunny was a rescue I found dumped at the park with a broken foot. She never became affectionate and had a bad habit of terrorizing the cat. We sometimes called her "Bunny of the Corn."

But with time, she learned to allow me to hang out with her on the floor and pet her. We wouldn't have dreamed of giving her up because we knew she needed us. We were heartbroken when she died suddenly one evening.

Tidbit is the complete opposite-- all binkies and snuggles. She's easy to love, and yet she was abandoned, too, albeit at a shelter.

You just wonder sometimes what goes through people's minds. Animals aren't disposable. I would only give on up on a pet if it were a danger to me or another person/pet in the house, or if something happened to me that I couldn't properly care for it.

Laurie said...

I have a cat that won't let me pick her up, but she loves to sit on my lap. She will let me pet her on her terms, but mostly she just wants to be near without being touched. It had nothing to do with her upbringing. I raised her myself with nothing but love and tenderness, she just doesn't like to be picked up.

DK & The Fluffies said...

I've not had that issue with a bun, but I did take me a good three years to get Sophia to trust me.

Liza Lee Miller said...

I had a bunny for a short (too short) while. She had been owned by my ex-brother-in-law for a number of years (like 5 maybe). She had always been an outdoor bunny and suffered from benign neglect. When I got her, I kept her an outdoor bunny as she would not tolerate being held or even touched. She did not seek out human contact but did seek out human socialization. She was a sweet bunny and we did admirably together for the few weeks she was here. Unfortunately, she died. I was very sad and I still miss her.

I know that having outdoor bunnies is frowned upon but I didn't think that trying to transition a bunny who had only been outdoors would have worked well. I was relieved to read later that she had pretty much lived her expected lifespan and I know she had a good life and was happy with me.

She always greeted me when I went out to feed the dogs and her. She enjoyed it when the kids would sit in her pen (she had outdoor access when I was in the yard with her). They didn't try to touch her and were just there. She would eventually come right up to their feet.

I guess my point is that I wouldn't give her up . . . I'd try to find a way for her to be happy while still helping her to fit into my family.

That said, I did return a dog to his breeder last year because of health issues. We could not handle his epilepsy -- it was too upsetting to us all. I still feel that I took the easy way out but it was the right choice for my children, the dog, and and me.

Does any of that help?

maggie said...

I've only had one bunny, Benny, but I have to say what we, (humans) consider a personality flaw in bunnies ie boxing and biting when being picked up seems to me a perfectly natural reaction for the fuzzy little beast. Never picked Benny up but he was a great little rabbit.

Rurality said...

Haven't had a rabbit for a long, long time, so can't help with that, but... "got over being cute"? That cutie-pie little bunny?!

dguzman said...

Niblet was a bunny rescue from a breeder who didn't want him anymore (no ears, remember? Mom chewed 'em off). He was in the local animal feed store, and he allowed me to put my hand down and pet him right away; I was hooked after that! (Kat and Em had originally fallen in love with him, so my vote was just to confirm.) Since he came home, he has been friendly to the kitties, who were terrified of him at first, despite his attempts to make friends and run after them. They all get along great, with the exception of Clawsie's occasional bat at him (claws always withdrawn, though--I think it's her way of playing).

But we recently adopted another kitty, whose previous owner had written an EIGHT-PAGE letter about her "craziness" and how their whole family was just at their collective wit's end with her running around crazy, aggression, chewing, etc. They had her on downers, and even then they just couldn't handle her. We brought her home and she has been the loviest, lappiest kitty ever! She's wonderful! I think some people are just unrealistic in their expectations of what an animal should be like.

Still, we've been lucky. Clawsie may be tempermental, but she's still a sweetie when she wants to be (i.e. treat time). And while Nibble refuses to be picked up, he LOVES petting and attention.

Susan Gets Native said...

The rats I have now are gentle and friendly. But the first female rat I had was a PMSing hag.

LauraO said...

I don't have bunnies either, but I used to do wildlife rehab, and have dealt with many dogs and cats. I have to agree with you - how dangerous can a little bunny be? Seems like people opt for the easy way out at the expense of the animal..

Cathy said...

I've never owned a bunny, but your pictures are so endearing and could convert anyone to bunny-lover.
I want to add: you people who rescue animals are very very special.

The Ridger, FCD said...

I worked with a man who had had his finger bitten off by a rabbit when he was young. He admitted to it being his fault, but he was a child and so if the family who returned the rabbit had children, I'd cut them some slack - on both ends. Some animals aren't meant to be around children, and it can be fault on either, or both, sides. At least they didn't have it put down.

LauraHinNJ said...

Lynne: That nipping I think of as polite communication from a bunny! Sort of like "get out of my way" or "pay attention to me!"

Bunnygirl: Yea, I agree. You have to take them as they come. I guess though if it were a pet meant to be a snuggly friend for a kid, a furshark could be a disappointment!

Laurie: I haven't had a cat in a hundred years, but yes, like bunnies, or dogs, some don't like too much attention. That's okay with me so long as they're happy.

DivaKitty: 3 years seems like a long time, doesn't it? Most wouldn't wait so long.

Liza: Bunnies are as curious as they are fearful, I think!

My flemish giants had been outdoor bunnies before I got them, and I worried how well they would adapt to being inside with less space and less to get into!

I think the issue with outdoor bunnies is more that they're often forgotten and not really cared for properly as a result. In a lot of ways I think mine would be happier with dirt to dig in and fresh grass to eat, but I don't know that I could keep them safe living outdoors, you know?

LauraHinNJ said...

Liza: Also, I think that unless you have a very giving heart (and one that can stand it!) a dog or other animal with health issues (or temperment issues) is one not to be taken on lightly. It's hard, I know, I've been there. Especially when the animal comes from a breeder!

Maggie: Hi! Thanks for stopping by, I've missed you!


Yea, typical of a bunny, but something that can be worked through with lots of time and patience. I love that they're brave enough to bite and box!

Rurality: She is a terror - you should see her when she's in mood!

Delia: Perfect example of how animals can behave differently when given the chance to do so. She sounds like quite the characer, for a cat. And Niblet is just adorable - ears or no!

Susan: I don't guess rats are regularly fixed?

Laura: Yes, sad huh!

Cathy: Maybe, but it is so nice to see them get over themselves and become sweet and loving.

the ridger: Yes, hi, thanks for coming by. I have a really hard time believing that a bunny could bite anyone's finger *off* but, who knows? My one flemmie, who is a big 18 pound girl has done a number on various parts of me at times, but mostly my fault.

For my way of thinking the problem is that people don't take the time or interest to understand how an animal's mind works, and to see how easy is could be to prevent those issues that are caused by the way we keep them. It's easiest to blame the animal for being mean.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Our bunny is totally adorable, doesn't really like being picked up but will come to us for affection. She used to leap on my head in the night before she was spayed but has stopped that now. She can be a bit temperamental but a good snuggle and a couple of dandelions usually sorts that out. I don't know how aggressive bunnies can get and can't offer any tips really. Sorry!

somebunnysloveDOTcom said...

I remember having a rabbit as a kid and doing the things that I know now is not healthy for a bunner (hutch, picking her up, chasing her relentlessly to play). Since Rich and I brought home Jessi and the others in our warren, no matter what they do (I finally accepted that Caesar and Julius will never bond) I could NEVER give them up. Even when Caesar sprayed me (top of my head to my toes in ONE SHOT, and he was binkying afterwards!) before work one morning 2 days before his neuter. ;)