While rabbits may be fearful and shy by nature, some are more afraid than others. With that being said, do not panic, it is possible to overcome this type of behavior.

Why is my rabbit scared?

A rabbit can be afraid for a multitude of reasons. Whatever the reason may be, it is not inevitable.

Generally, a rabbit is scared because they are not used to contact with humans. It is often the case for rabbits from pet shops that have not been held very much since their birth.

A rabbit that suffered from a traumatic experience can also become fearful. For example, if they have been mistreated or abandoned in the past, they can become very wary around humans.

If a rabbit lives in a noisy environment or if their owners are very rough with them, they can develop anxiety. In addition, rabbits who only live in cages may often show signs of stress or sudden aggression.

If they feel like they are in danger, rabbits can show physical signs of stress: rapid breathing, puffy eyes, a runny nose, or have their ears folded back. A rabbit that is scared can also be aggressive. If this is the case for your rabbit, it is not because your rabbit is "mean". They are afraid.

What can I do to help when my rabbit is scared?

Just like cats and dogs, rabbits need attention. While rabbits are known for their independence, they truly appreciate bonding time with their owners.

When you first adopt your rabbit, your rabbit might stay away and hide in their shelter until they are used to their new environment. If this is the case, you should not believe that your rabbit is unhappy with you. They just need time to adapt.

To gain a rabbit's trust, it is important to handle things progressively and gently. In an effort to get your rabbit used to you, it is preferable to place the cage in a room that you are in often. This way, they will be able to hear you, observe you, and get used to your lifestyle.

Let them out of their cage and come to you by themselves. First, they will sniff you to identify you. Do not bother them during this stage.

Repeat this action for several days and you will notice that little by little, your rabbit will not fear you anymore. To congratulate them for coming to you, do no forget to offer them a treat. They will associate this behavior with a positive experience.

After, try to put yourself at their level and speak to them gently. Even if they do not understand what you are saying, they are sensitive to the intonation of your voice and your body language.

While some are calmer after a few days, others will need several weeks to adapt. If your rabbit seems very anxious, do not hesitate to discuss this with your vet who will be able to advise you.

Originally written in French by Irène (Yummypets) and translated by Jennifer Eubank (Yummypets).

Is your rabbit afraid? What are your tips for calming them?

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