Thursday, 5 January 2017

Rabbit 101 - Bonding with your rabbit

Although rabbits need to be with at least one of their own kind, it is also important that you are able to bond with your rabbits too. This is essential for health checks and being able to get them to the vets if and when it is needed.

Sitting in with your rabbits or near your rabbits daily can encourage them to come to you, talking softly with lack of movement will let them get used to your voice and know that you aren’t all that bad.

Sitting in with your rabbits will encourage them to explore you and get used to your scent and voice, firstly try not to say or move. Once they get used to you, then the next time you can talk softly and then once they are used to that, you can reach out, let them sniff you and stroke them on their head, they may even start to lay next to you or bow their head down for you to stroke them.
If they are really not wanting to engage with you at all, you can try sitting with them in the bathtub, that way the rabbits can’t go anywhere and may be more likely to engage with you.

Laying on the floor
Laying on the floor, face down, even just reading a book or playing on a device without exposed cables can really help, as you are occupied with something else and can sit there for some time whilst your rabbits are wary of coming close, but as you aren’t doing anything to scare or irritate them, then they are likely to climb on you and you will then be bunnies climbing frame.

Whilst sitting in with them you can hold a piece of their favourite food or a healthy treat stick (No nuts, seeds, corn or meat.) Keep hold of it and they may munch on it whilst you are holding it, keep it in one place though as to not startle them.
Rewarding them with food when they come to you when you call them can also help, you can train rabbits just like a dog, especially those that are food orientated, so it is worth spending the time training them, if they don't seem stressed doing so.

Making toys
Making toys can really encourage you or your family member to get involved and it will also contain your scent, so the bunnies will have enrichment but also getting used to your scent and fun for all the family to get involved. There are lots of different toys you can make, cardboard and PVA glue is safe once completely dry and if you use minimal glue, so you can make all sorts of structures from cardboard or another good one if to cut holes in the side of kitchen roll tubes and stuffing them with different types of hay, their daily pellets or another tempting treat. (I wouldn’t advise putting perishables in them such as fresh vegetables, kale etc.)
At Christmas you can make paper chains from newspapers or crackers from cardboard tubes wrapped in newspaper.

Cuddly toy
Cuddling a stuffed animal, that has no hard embellishments, eyes or noses and not to flurry on the outside and stuffing filled (preferably a cuddly, stuffed, plush, toy, suitable for babies or toddlers) overnight or for a few hours in the day and then putting it in with your rabbits, making sure they are not ripping it apart, as it could cause blockage if consumed, can help the rabbits get used to your scent without you having to be there and without the rabbits feeling intimidated that others are in their area.

Rabbits should have a large area to run around in all of the time and but if they are just in a hutch they need a minimum of 4 hours outside of the hutch, the more the better! But you should spend at least an hour a day with them to get them and keep them used to you, so you can check their nails, brush them and so they feel comfortable around you.

Rubbing your chin on their head can let them know you trust them and it is okay, always remember to support your rabbit's bottom if/when holding them for support and security.

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