Do rabbits bite? Well, they are prey animals. This means that if they get a little bit scared, they are going to bite. In fact, rabbit bites are part and parcel of owning a rabbit. It will happen. It isn’t a case of ‘if‘, it is a case of ‘when‘. Thankfully, most rabbit bites are not going to be that dangerous, and you will be able to treat them yourself.
Even a well-taken-care-of rabbit and well-loved will nip you on occasion, however, that’s not being mean or aggressive – it’s a standard part of owning a rabbit.
On this page, we are going to take a look at rabbit bites in-depth and provide you with all of the advice you need to ensure that you are healthy if you have been bitten.
Do rabbits bite?
Yes, rabbits bite. No matter how friendly your rabbit is with you, it is probably going to bite or scratch you at some point. What you need to remember is that a rabbit is a naturally ‘scared’ animal, particularly when it is on its own.
This is their instinct. When they are out there in the wild, they will try to defend themselves at the smallest hint that they may end up getting hurt. So, if you pet them slightly wrong, there is a chance that your rabbit will bite you.
It is probably going to hurt too. This does not suddenly mean that your rabbit is dangerous. It isn’t. It does mean that you will need to pay attention to the way that you are interacting with your animal.
Are rabbit bites dangerous?
For the most part, rabbit bites are not dangerous. As long as you make sure that you clean the wound out and dress it properly, then there is probably going to be nothing wrong with it. As we said before; it is going to hurt you a lot, though.
If it is your child who has been bitten by a rabbit, then they are likely going to complain! It won’t be dangerous for a child, although if it is a deep wound, they may need to get a tetanus shot.
When will a rabbit bite?
Rabbits will bite you probably when they want to get your attention while playing, or when they want you to move out of the way, assuming that you haven’t responded to previous attempts from the bunny to signal you.
Another usual circumstance in which the bunny can bite or scratch is when grooming.
A bunny might also bite if you handle or pet it somewhere that it doesn’t like to be petted.
Why does my rabbit bite me?
Rabbits are naturally gentle pets. If your rabbit randomly bit you or has been doing it for a while, there are various reasons behind it. They include:
Rabbits are small, prey animals. This makes them easily scared and always ready to defend themselves. If something suddenly scares your bunny, they are likely to bite in self-defense.
A stressed rabbit will become irritable and can bite you unexpectedly. Rabbits will become stressed if they are not comfortable in their surroundings, or if they are bored.
Some rabbits are territorial and mostly female rabbits. If they see you trying to invade their space, they could easily bite you.
Rabbits may become aggressive when they are around 4-6 months old. Hormonal changes caused by maturity can make your normally gentle pet quite aggressive.
Pain brought about by injury or illness will make your rabbit very irritable. This can cause them to bite you if you come close to them.
Mistaking you for food
Trying to hold your rabbit after touching their food, or hand-feeding them treats can make them bite you too.
What does a rabbit bite look like?
A rabbit will either nip or bite you. Nipping is painless and quite common. The bunny gently nibbles on your skin with their teeth and may leave pinch marks. They will usually do this to get your attention, as a sign of affection, or if they need something.
A bite is more serious and painful. A rabbit biting you will latch onto the skin and dig in their teeth while not letting go. This can easily cut into the skin causing bleeding and leaving a wound behind.
How to train a rabbit not to bite
If your pet rabbit bites you, always try to understand why they did it. This is the first step to ensure that they will not do it again. Whether they were triggered by hormones or stress, there are some things you can do about it. These include:
1. Creating a relationship
Rabbits, just like with other pets, need you to build a relationship with them so that they can get used to you. This makes them comfortable around you, and they stop fearing you.
You can build a relationship with them by spending more time with them and offering them treats to encourage good behavior.
2. Spacious cage
Rabbits are small pets and you can be tempted to get a small cage for them. A small space will frustrate them because they cannot stretch or jump. Having a big enclosure for your pet will give them the freedom to move and play around freely.
3. Have a set feeding time
Have a feeding schedule for your pet. Maintaining a routine makes them know that food will be coming and prevents them from greedily eating when you approach.
4. Spray and neuter them
Spraying and neutering your rabbit helps with hormonal aggression. After the surgery, give your pet at least a month to stop aggressive behavior and become calm once more.
5. Keep your distance
If your bunny is naturally territorial, always try to keep your distance. This will prevent them from feeling like you are invading their space. When cleaning the enclosure, always place them in a different area and feed them from a spoon to avoid accidental bites.
6. Provide toys
Buy some toys for your rabbit to keep them occupied and enable them to exercise regularly. This will prevent stress while keeping them healthy.
Do rabbit bites spread diseases?
Rabbit bites have the potential to spread disease, just like a bite from any other animal. However, rabbit bites aren’t really that dangerous. If you are keeping a rabbit in your home, it is unlikely to pick up a disease that can spread.
In fact, even having it outside in a hutch would make it difficult for the rabbit to pick up a disease that can spread. Yes. It is going to hurt when a rabbit bites you, but it isn’t dangerous. Just clean the wound.
You will want to check to see whether it turns red or there is a track leading out from the wound. This could indicate that the rabbit bite was infected, but even then the chances are slim.
If you are bitten by a wild rabbit, then that is a completely different story. There could be an infection in that case, and you absolutely would need to go to the emergency room to see whether there is an issue.
Rabbits can pick up diseases in the wild incredibly easily, and they spread very quickly between the rabbits too.
Can a rabbit bite cause rabies?
A rabbit bite can be either minor or deep. Many rabbit diseases are not contracted by humans. However, a rabbit bite can still cause some diseases like rabies.
This is likely to happen if the pet has rabies, or in the case of a wild rabbit. Rabies can cause death in both rabbits and humans. To avoid this, you should seek immediate treatment if bitten by an infected rabbit.
Rabbit bite treatment
Most rabbit bites are not dangerous, and you can treat them at home. If you have been bitten, here are the measures to take:
1. Move away from the rabbit
A rabbit biting you will hold on to your skin with their teeth. Try not to pull away forcefully or to hit the rabbit because this could make the wound worse. Instead, distract the pet by making a loud noise or dangling something else in front of them.
This will make them let go of you. Move away to prevent further bites.
2. Apply pressure and check the wound
Use a clean piece of cloth to apply pressure on the wound to minimize and stop bleeding. Young rabbits have smaller teeth and their bites are not too hard, compared to adult rabbits with big sharper teeth.
If the wound is not too serious, you can treat it yourself.
3. Clean the area
Use some soap and running water to clean the area. Wipe it up and apply antibacterial cream to prevent infections. You can leave the wound open or choose to bandage it.
Bandaging a wound keeps the area moist which helps it to heal faster. Most rabbit bites should heal within a few days.
Sometimes, the wound could develop infections. If the area becomes red, hot, numb, begins to swell, ooze, or has an odor, you will have to see a doctor.
Do I need a rabbit bite vaccine?
If you think that your rabbit has a disease, specifically rabies, then you should head to an emergency room as soon as possible. The doctors will be able to analyze whether you need a vaccine or not.
There is no specific rabbit bite vaccine.
If the rabbit bite is fairly deep, and it has been more than five years since you last had a tetanus vaccine, then you should probably receive one of them.
The chances are slim that you are going to get tetanus, but it is better to be safe than sorry. You should be receiving regular tetanus boosters anyway.
If the wound is shallow, or you do not believe the rabbit has any disease, then you can easily treat the rabbit bite on your own. For the most part, you are going to need to do nothing more than wash the bite in a bit of water. You can then dress it appropriately.
You may want to keep an eye on it over the next couple of days, but the chances of anything happening are slim.
A rabbit bite is not dangerous and most bites can be treated at home. A rabbit will bite if they are feeling scared, threatened, stressed, or having hormonal changes. If you have been bitten by a rabbit, try to find out why it happened.
Offer your pet toys, a spacious cage, keep a distance from them and ensure they are spayed or neutered to avoid regular bites. If your pet still bites even after trying out these measures, always consult a vet for further guidance.