Rabbits are known for becoming anxious and stressed. As small and often defenceless animals, rabbits are naturally wary of those around them.
In their natural environment, rabbits make easy prey for their predators, however they are very much considered to be a pet in their own right. Their tendency to anxiousness can have repercussions in their daily lives and even became a real problem for their long-term health.
Why are rabbits stressed?
Many different situations can foster feelings of stress in rabbits, and it’s important to learn which stresses cause problems for your pet. By understanding when stress and anxiety occur, you can anticipate your rabbit's needs and help to avoid situations that could be harmful to their wellbeing.
Being confined to a cage
A rabbit’s cage needs to be sufficiently large, or they won’t feel comfortable inside. Being too confined can cause them to develop problems with anxiety, whereas a rabbit with enough space to stretch will feel more at home and in their natural environment.
Make sure to let your rabbit walk around the house several times per day. This will avoid the stress of being cooped up all day long and they will be stimulated by their environment.
An abrupt change of environment
Rabbits are animals who become accustomed to their surroundings. As creatures of habit, suddenly changing where they live can cause complications.
Contrary to popular belief, rabbits do indeed become attached to their owners.
Sudden gestures or rough handling
Rabbits do not have the same reactions as cats. Too many sudden gestures and a lack of gentle handling could hurt them and cause them to feel anxious.
You should try and approach your rabbit slowly and leave them to come out of their cage on their own, when they’re ready.
We often see rabbits become more stressed when they are around children. This is because children are less conscious and careful of their actions around animals and so can scare them more easily. As a result, it is important to teach children about care and respect for animals.
New smells and noises
As stated, rabbits get used to their environment and can settle down well. A change in smell or sound that seems normal to us could cause intense stress in rabbits. This includes loud music or building work.
Rabbits are able to perceive noises that humans would consider very quiet. This means that loud noises can really trouble them.
Rabbits also have a keen sense of smell, and this is how they identify people and other pets. Even changing perfume can be unsettling for your rabbit, as they struggle to identify their owner.
Symptoms of stress
When rabbits are stressed, it often shows. Separate to sleeping, the most visible sign is a rabbit who has curled up, with their paws tucked in underneath them and ears hanging down. Breathing can also become quicker.
Other signs include intense grooming, or scratching that causes fur to fall out. Stress can also lead them to behave in strange ways; they may start to damage their cage by nibbling at the bars or destroying things inside.
If you start to notice any of these symptoms, it is recommended you take a trip to the vet, as well as review the entire environment in which your rabbit lives. A vet check will be able to help you decide on the best course of action. The most important thing is that the situation improves and your pet begins to feel better.
Have you been faced with a stressed rabbit?