First, some introductions
I have two rabbits: a grey Dutch called George and a French/German (not sure which) lop called Isobel. George will be 9 and Isobel is 6.
Now, I love rabbits. They’re the perfect pet for me: quiet, fairly tidy and cute (they are wholly unsuitable for children – consider a guinea pig or degu instead). But why are my rabbits so antisocial? A cou
ple of years back we had two other rabbits that we’d found and have subsequently rehomed, both of which were much more sociable than these two. NB was nervy (for example she was TERRIFIED if the oven was switched on) but would approach us for strokes and loved being brushed.
Molly was very bouncy and had no patience for strokes but loved being (no judgement please) kissed on the forehead. She also used to jump on the sofa and sit with us, much to the dismay of the others. The other three have NEVER been on the couch, even though we have no objection to them being there.
George will tolerate being stroked, and has been known to come up to me when I’m sat on the sofa and nudge my feet until I stroke him, but this is RARE. Isobel on the other hand, has some sort of personality disorder; the symptoms of which involve her sometimes (i.e. when we have food) being best friends with everyone in the whole world ever, but most of the time she acts like she’s Ann Frank and we’re the Gestapo.
Isobel is a NIGHTMARE when we have people round.
For a start, put a bag on the floor at your own risk. If you leave your back open, she will go through all your stuff (without asking, the minx) and if your bag is closed she’ll loiter by it and keep casting you and the bag conspiratorial looks. I have yet to ascertain what she's after.
A few weeks ago I had my family round for food and wine. It was the first time my brother’s girlfriend had been to my house and she was overcome with emotion at seeing just how damn cute George and Isobel are (it’s hard to take sometimes, especially when Isobel flumps over onto her back). She let out an involuntary ‘aaaaaww!’ at the sight of them lying casually on the florr in their preferred ‘pisces’ formation.
Did they play the part and do something cute?
Did they hell.
Did they do rabbit equivalent of smile through gritted teeth and play along?
They both got up in dignified silence and hopped back into their box, acting convincingly like nothing had happened. I was mortified at their rude behaviour (I also lolled a bit internally) – they may as well have said ‘WE DON’T LIKE YOU, AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO PRETEND WE DO’ to the poor girl. Absolute nightmare.
In a similar situation, my mum brought my niece (also called Isobel, because why not?) round to play with the rabbits. Isobel (the rabbit) didn’t even try. She sat in the wee box LITERALLY FACING THE WALL until everyone left. No manners, that one. I encouraged my niece to stroke the rabbits, but they had that look on their face that clearly states that if you so much as look at me I’ll have your hand right off.
Naturally my niece wasn’t willing to take the risk.
I see on Pinterest all the time these cute little bunnies hopping around being adorable and playing with cats and all that stuff and I can’t imagine mine accepting a cat. Isobel and George were originally matched pairs with other rabbits, but both their partners died (one due to old age, the other didn’t recover after being spayed) and we hated the thought of them being lonely. If you’ve ever tried to pair rabbits, you can probably imagine how that went. On their first meeting Isobel bit George’s ear (there’s still a chunk out of it) and. Oh. My. God. do rabbits ears bleed a lot. There was blood spatter all up my white kitchen units; it was like something from CSI.
We tried putting them in the (empty) bath together because they can’t get any grip so can’t really fight. This culminating in Isobel humping George’s head, whilst George stared pathetically up at us, wondering what he’d ever done to deserve this.
In the end we just let them out together in the living room. Each sulked at separate ends of the room, meeting for a scrap every hour or so until they got bored, and then we put down a big pile of watercress to munch – a couple that eats together, stays together.
They’re besties now – it’s just everyone else in the whole world that they hate. It’s funny to see Isobel groom George, because her fur is five thousand times thicker than his, so she can be a bit… rough. He doesn’t seem to mind though. She constantly interrupts him when he’s trying to wash himself too, by sticking her enormous head under his chin in a stealthy attempt to get a quick groom.
So why are my rabbits so antisocial with humans?
I think it’s important to just let them get on with it. I used to force Isobel to engage with me by sitting her on the sofa with me, but in the end I accepted that she just doesn’t like it. Rabbits are prey animals (I would NEVER say that to her face though – she’d kill me) and scare easily. I’d rather they were happy in their own introverted world and didn’t have to socialise with people they didn’t want to and…
OK I’VE JUST ANSWERED MY OWN QUESTION.
My rabbits are antisocial because they take after me.
Thank you and good night.