How to socialise your rabbit

Rabbits are inquisitive and adventurous pets who love to have a spacious environment to explore and tasty food to graze on. They are often seen as cute and fluffy, but they come with big characters and a variety of needs – they’re not a pet to be taken lightly.

Rabbits don’t enjoy being handled, but they are cheeky and intelligent. They’ll soon learn and enjoy taking treats from you and following you about.

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Don’t expect cuddles from your rabbit

Although traditionally rabbits are a popular children’s pet, they are only really suited to families who will be happy to socialise with their rabbits sitting on the floor and not cuddling them.

Rabbits find being picked up and cuddled extremely stressful. You may well be scratched, kicked or bitten as they try to struggle free. This is not an aggressive behaviour, simply a way of escaping from a potential predator.

You may expect that the more you handle a rabbit as a kitten, the calmer they will become. Sadly, this often has a negative effect as the rabbit matures and often goes on to be a grumpy grown up.

Let your rabbits come to you

The best way to socialise your rabbit is to sit on the ground in their run area offering tasty treats. This will help both you and your rabbits get the best out of living together. Avoid the temptation to stroke and pick them up. This way, your rabbits learn to hop up to you and away again without anything but pleasant things happening – this being food!

After a while, even the shyest rabbits will come up to inspect you. They will often rub their chin on your shoe or leg and hop over to nibble the treats on offer. This is their way of claiming you and feeling relaxed. If you’re able to do this with your rabbits daily, you’ll soon find they happily choose to hop and sit on your lap or follow you around.

Never offer your hand in front of your rabbits’ face to sniff. This will often result in a bite – it’s their blind spot and will take them by surprise.