Why Does My Rabbit Bite Me When I Feed Him?

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  • Post last modified:February 26, 2022
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Have you ever gone to give your rabbit a delicious treat or their daily pellets, only to have him bite you? 

While it is frustrating, your rabbit is often only trying to communicate an issue. By biting, he lets you know that he is upset, scared, angry, or just experiencing hormones. 

Try to be patient in learning what is bothering your bunny and how to prevent any future bites. 

Keep reading to learn about the many reasons your rabbit may bite and what to do after your rabbit acts out. 


Why would my rabbit bite me when I feed him?

Over-excitement

If you are feeding your rabbit a particularly rare treat, your rabbit may bite in his eagerness to get to the food. This may also happen if it is past feeding time and your rabbit is hungry.

Usually, this will be a nip and not hard enough of a bite to draw blood. 

Food aggression

Rabbits may become food aggressive. In this case, he may bite hard enough to draw blood. He may even latch hard enough that he won’t let go when you pull your hand away. 

Your rabbit does this to try and establish that the food is his. This can happen even if he constantly has enough to eat and there is no threat of a shortage. 

The process of moving in to pour the food and then stepping back mimics how wild rabbits move when examining a food source. 

Often, they move in, sniff around, and then back up quickly. This could potentially be what is setting off your rabbit’s aggression.

Boredom

If your rabbit doesn’t have enough mental or physical exercise, it may become aggressive or destructive. 

Rabbits don’t have a way to communicate their feelings effectively and often resort to biting or destroying objects to make their point. 

No bonded yet

If you and your rabbit are still learning about each other, your rabbit may not be very comfortable around you. 

When you reach into his space to grab the bowl or pour in the food, he may bite in self-defense. 

They are not used to you, and you coming into their space may make them feel scared, protective, and trapped. 

Territorial

Territorial behavior is very common in rabbits when they aren’t desexed. When their hormones are high, they will try and protect a place they consider their territory. 

If your rabbit is friendly and loving sometimes and goes in to bite you, the most likely reason is that his hormones are causing him to be aggressive. 


Eight ways to stop my rabbit from biting me

Spay or Neuter

The natural hormones rabbits have can make them aggressive and territorial when they start to reach maturity or at certain times of the month. 

They can bite, spray, destroy territory, and may even struggle to bond with you or other rabbits. 

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For this reason, it is highly recommended you fix your rabbit. Desexing a rabbit often makes them calmer and much less aggressive. 

It can be costly but will save a lot of headaches in the long run. 

Don’t reward bad behavior

It is important with any animal to not reward bad behavior. 

If your rabbit bites you while you are attempting to feed him, do not continue to put food in his bowl. They may come to associate biting with food. 

Instead, when your rabbit bites you in the middle of feeding him, calmly take the food back out of their cage and wait to feed them again in a few more minutes. 

If he does not bite you this time, you can give the food as normal. Otherwise, repeat until he stops. 

This can be a frustrating process, but eventually, your rabbit will understand that they don’t get anything by biting you. 

Move the bowl

If your rabbit is being territorial or protective of his place, a simple solution is to move his food bowl out of that space. 

This will help reduce aggression as their bowl isn’t in a place he registers as his territory. 

Another option is to move the bowl around with every feeding. By doing this, the rabbit will struggle to stay protective of an object that is constantly moving. 

A final option is to get rid of the bowl altogether. Many people will just sprinkle rabbit food across their whole space. 

Your rabbit will be unable to protect every location and won’t be able to be as aggressive. 

Also, because your rabbit has to now search for the food instead of sitting and eating, he gets the benefit of mental enrichment. 

Don’t let them see biting affects you

Wearing something to cover your hands, such as rubber gloves, allows you to handle a bite from your rabbit without any reaction on your end. 

Sometimes, a rabbit will bite you to see what you will do. If you don’t react at all to their tactics, they will often just leave it alone. 

Distract him

Giving your rabbit a toy or some much-loved scratches while you are feeding your rabbit can often distract him enough that he doesn’t remember to give you a nasty bite. 

Another option is to give your rabbit a chance to explore outside for some exercise before feeding time. This is a good idea, especially if your rabbit is kept in a cage often. 

He will be distracted and run around while you pour the food into their bowl. 

Work to bond with your rabbit

If your rabbit is scared and unsure around you, they may act out. To prevent this, try and spend a lot of time with your rabbit. 

At first, it will be just you sitting in an area they can freely explore. 

After enough of this, your rabbit will begin to come up to you and eventually grow to trust you and not be so scared when you enter their space. 

Give your rabbit plenty of stimulation

Rabbits can become easily bored, and they will lash out to show their frustration. 

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Try to give them plenty of time to run around and play during the day, as well as a lot of toys that they can chew on as entertainment. 

Also, rabbits may lash out when lonely, as that can increase their boredom. If you can, try and spend a lot of time with him. 

If that isn’t possible, think about getting another rabbit he can bond with, to reduce his boredom and loneliness. 

Pin them down

This is an option that is argued about often. 

Some people argue that gently pinning your rabbit down against the ground or wall for a few seconds will register you as dominant in their mind, and they will stop acting aggressively. 

However, if the rabbit was scared, it might only worsen the situation. 

For this reason, a good amount of bunny owners say that it isn’t worth trying. So, it might only be worth a shot if you are desperate and have tried everything else.


What to do if I got bitten by my rabbit?

Clean the wound

As soon as you can, you must take the time to clean the wound. Wash the area thoroughly and apply an antibacterial. 

To protect it further, apply a Band-Aid. This will reduce the risk of infection and pain. 

See if you can identify the cause

You won’t be able to solve the problem and prevent further bites without first identifying the main cause. 

Your rabbit could be angry, aggressive, scared, or just bored. However, if you can identify the issue, you may be able to fix it or develop a solution. 

Try and be patient, as it can take several tries to get it right. 

Gently convince your bunny to go into its cage

If your rabbit bit you, and you need a moment to calm down, try guiding your rabbit into his cage. 

Think of it as a sort of bunny time-out. If your rabbit is comfortable with you, you may be able to simply pick him up and place him in the cage. 

If he is still new and frightened, you might just try to gently guide him in instead. 

Stay calm

Bunnies have a different way of communicating with people. They cannot speak up to say what is bothering them and instead must act out in the ways they know how. 

A bite can hurt a lot, but it is the only way they know to communicate with you. You have to make an effort to understand them. 

Despite your frustrations, make efforts to stay calm when your rabbit bites you. Don’t act out, yell, hit, or scare your rabbit, as it may make them act out more. 


Conclusion:

It can be frustrating when your rabbit bites you when you are trying to feed them. However, they may be trying to convey their frustration or anger to you. 

By trying and understanding what may be bothering your rabbit and working to fix the issue, you and your rabbit can grow closer and avoid any future biting.