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Why Bunnies Attack

Updated on January 9, 2010

A reader asks: My son had been stroking our bunny on our floor and then she pounced and scratched his hand. My son had small toy in his hand and moved it along the floor near her. Why would she scratch him?

What you're dealing with here is most likely bunny play. Yes, bunnies play just as much as any other animal, and much like other animals, they have claws and teeth that you need to be careful of.

The other possibility is that your rabbit was not playing so much as attacking your son's hand because he was annoying her. Rabbits are prone to being annoyed by humans, and depending on their temperament, they may be quite assertive in showing their displeasure.

Either way, this is not something you will be able to 'cure' your bunny of. If she is a docile, sweet pet most of the time, then count your blessings and don't let your children move toys around in front of her nose. Rabbits like to play with toys, which they will bat and throw around, sometimes quite aggressively, some bunnies will even play a form of 'catch' if you roll a little ball to them, they will butt it back to you.

In much the same way you would counsel your children to be careful when playing with cats or dogs, you should counsel them to be careful when playing with rabbits. Rabbits are just as capable of inflicting bites and scratches as dogs and cats, and in my personal experience, are actually more likely to do so than either species. See that adorable bunny in my profile picture? She's coming on five years now and she'll still kick me in the stomach when I pick her up. It is simply the nature of the beast.

Unfortunately, people quite often write silly articles saying how lovely and mild rabbits are, and what good pets they make for children. Now, they can be mild and lovely, but there is no guarantee of it. If you have a look at the comments on my hubs, you'll see people lamenting angry bunnies left and right. It's unfortunate that blatant misinformation about rabbit temperament continues to be spread, but that's simply a side effect of anyone being able to write whatever nonsense they want to write on the Internet. 

Given the fact that your bunny has shown herself to be a scratcher, you simply need to respect the fact that she will scratch if she is given a reason to. Most rabbits behave rationally, so if you don't do the sorts of things that make her want to scratch, odds are you won't get scratched. You and your son can continue to bond with, love and play with the bunny, just keep in mind the fact that she has her rules and she expects you to live by them.


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      Rabbit Breeders 6 years ago

      Fight bunnies fight fight fight! He he I wonder if any school mascot is a warrior bunny. If I ever get the chance to start up a school I will definitely be choosing a warrior bunny for the mascot. If it is up to vote I will try to convince all the breeders from to vote for the cause! :))

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      Abree 8 years ago

      When bunnies scratch, does it REALLY hurt as in bloody agony?!

    • MinPin Heaven profile image

      MinPin Heaven 8 years ago from London UK

      That is so true, thanks for clarifying that. I hate it when children pull dog's ears and think they are playing with them. This is so wrong and it upsets the dogs. I mean, you wouldn't like it if someone pulled your ears right? There is a reason why animals behave in a certain way, and if they scratch you or bark at you, it’s because they don't like what you're doing. So don't tease or provoke them.

      I went to the zoo last summer and there was this teenage boy waving a banana in front of a Gorilla and it really annoyed me. We have to tell children that it’s not nice to tease animals. When I told the boy that he shouldn’t do that, he just swore at me and just walked off. Then I told the zoo keeper about him, and the Zoo keeper had words with him. He has since been suspended from coming to the zoo. Hopefully, he has learnt his lesson not to tease animals. I mean, its bad enough being in the enclosures all day, let alone being teased with food. But don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that zoos keep animals to protect them as well as for educational purposes but I won’t go into this.

      Linda at