A rabbit has a very strong fight or flight instinct and can be frightened by sudden movements. If you pick up a rabbit and start petting it, the rabbit might decide that since you are not trying to hurt it, you must be okay. The rabbit will then start to calm down and allow itself to be petted/cuddled/held.
However there is no set time as each bunny will bond at their own speed – some take minutes others take months, but as long as the bunny allows itself to be held there is hope for a solid relationship between bunny and human!
Certain factors such as health & stress levels also affect how quickly rabbits will become friendly with their owners: A healthy well-fed bunny will be less stressed and therefore quicker bond with you than a malnourished, neglected, or abused bunny.
So what can you do to speed up the bonding process?
– Spend time with your bunny – sit on the floor and let your bunny come to you, offer treats and pellets and pet your bunny when it comes close.
– Give your bunny a safe place to hide – some bunnies like boxes, others prefer tunnels, or even just a pile of clothes. This will help your bunny feel safe and secure around you.
– Be patient – bonding takes time, don’t get discouraged if your bunny doesn’t seem to be warming up to you right away! Just keep spending time with them and eventually they will come around.
Q: my rabbit is an outside rabbit, can I still bond with him?
A: It is possible to bond with rabbits of all ages, but it will take more time if they are older.
Q: my hobbit hates being picked up, how do I bond with him?
A: Bonding takes time, and it is important that you never force your rabbit into doing something that he/she doesn’t want to do. Try sitting next to your hobbit on the floor, offering treats and talking in a soft voice – if they come close enough, you can start to pet them gently – you can even try rubbing their cheeks, which is a very rabbit-friendly way of showing affection. Be patient!
Q: my bunny is always trying to bite/scratch me, how do I bond with him?
A: Bunnies (and most other animals) tend to show affection through grooming and biting/scratching is a common way for bunnies to groom their owners. However, this doesn’t mean that they actually *like* being scratched or bitten – it’s just how they show affection.
Try changing the way you pet your bunny – instead of scratching them try gently massaging their cheeks and forehead without touching the top part of their head, as this is where they have their scent glands and can get aggressive if they feel you are trying to take their territory away. If your bunny still bites/scratches you, try using a soft brush or cloth to pet them instead.