Posted: August 13, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: I have an 8-month-old, mini lop rabbit. He’s super friendly, but sometimes he pounces/lunges/growls. It seems to be when he wants attention and is in a playful mood — like if I don’t pat him enough, or have patted him but not for long enough (as I start walking away he'll chase me and pounce). One time his teeth actually made contact with my ankle a little bit, and it hurt! I’m almost certain it’s playful, (even though everywhere on the Internet says otherwise) as it’s usually after he’s been running around shaking his head happily. It’s just a bit scary sometimes, and I don’t like the growling sound — it makes me scared to stop patting him. Is there a way to make it stop, or is it just hormones?
A: Yes, this is due to hormones. Unneutered male rabbits tend to protect their territory by grunting and lunging. Your rabbit considers you his and may also follow you around and circle your feet, which is also hormonal behavior. It’s best to get him neutered to stop all of this. He may start spraying urine, too, to mark his territory and will be much better at using the litter box once he is neutered.
Find a veterinarian who is rabbit knowledgeable so your rabbit can be properly operated on and cared for during his neuter. Before his surgery, feed him like normal. Rabbits, unlike cats and dogs, should have food available for the night before and day of the surgery.
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