Rabbits are prey animals and fearful behavior is written deep down in their genes. Since they survive in the wild avoiding predators, they had to develop instincts to help them in that battle.
Keen senses are the only weapon they have and fear is rather useful in this case. So rabbits are afraid of many things but there are also some things they dislike or hate.
Rabbits are always on alert. They are afraid of unknown things, living-beings and objects. Sudden movements and loud noise terrify them. The rabbits are scared of other pets, especially predators like cats and dogs.
Rabbits don’t like being carried or hold, and car rides are not something they enjoy. If you chase your rabbit be aware of how stressful that is for him. Avoid petting their backside as they don’t like that. Rabbits hate the smell of vinegar, garlic, blood.
What Are Rabbits Afraid Of and Why?
Rabbits have very sharp senses. All three senses – hearing, smell, and eyesight are exceptional. Rabbits are able to detect long-distance danger which allows them to escape and survive.
Although the topic of this article is a pet rabbit that is not in danger that much as his wild cousin, he still has survival instincts and will react similarly in many situations.
1. Other Animals/ Pets that Rabbits are affraid of
Rabbits are afraid of other animals, especially those larger than themselves and predator animals.
This is super important if you keep the dog or cat in the same household. Even though you can find some cute videos on Youtube that show rabbits and dogs/cats as best friends, don’t try to make that at your home.
No matter how friendly your dog is and how his breed is considered bunny-friendly, introducing a dog to a rabbit is not the best idea.
If you want to read more on this topic there is another article called ” Do Rabbits Get Along With Dogs” with bunny -friendly dog breeds list included.
Cats are also not supposed to be best friends of rabbits. Although the size of a cat could be similar to the rabbit’s size, these two are not a good match. Cat is a predator and could easily hurt your bunny.
Other pets such as lizards, ferrets, snakes … would certainly scare rabbits to death!
Even pets that are also prey animals, guinea pigs, or hamsters are not the best company for your rabbit. Rabbits are too big and too strong for tiny hamsters and guinea pigs communicate in different ways.
So if you put rabbit and guinea pig together, maybe nothing bad will happen but those two won’t understand each other. Plus, the rabbit could be annoyed by the guinea pig’s talkative nature.
2. Humans and things they do (wrong)
Rabbits are afraid of humans especially if they didn’t deal much with them in the past.
It takes time for one rabbit to accept his owner. In order to make this happen, you as the rabbit’s owner must gain his trust. It takes time and patience but eventually it will happen.
If you are new to your bunny, you need to go step by step. First of all, don’t try to pick up and hold your pet. Rabbits like the solid ground and to be on it with all four feet.
Picking up and carrying is something they associate with predators that have just caught them. Scary thought isn’t it?
Rabbits don’t like things nor humans towering over them. So don’t do that. The best is to approach your bunny from a side so he can see you clearly and slowly come down to his (floor) level.
Once you are on the floor, let the bunny come to you. Don’t try to catch him. Let him sniff you, explore a little bit while you do nothing. Don’t even make the slightest move.
When your bunny gets familiar with you and become more relaxed in your company you can start petting it. Remember that rabbits dislike when you stroke their backside.
Again, it’s a matter of instinct, predators in the wild catch them for the backside. Instead of his butt, you can gently stroke his head, ears, nose… but be careful, once he discovers how nice it is, he will be asking for more again and again.
Pay special attention if you have kids. Kids tend to treat all their pets like toys but rabbits are rather fragile animals and could be easily hurt. Kids also find it funny chasing a bunny around.
It’s important to supervise any possible interaction between your kid and the rabbit and to prevent any stressful situation for your bunny.
Not just kids but their toys can also be very scary to your bunny. Kids’ toys are usual made in bright colors, the majority of them can produce some very loud sounds and kids can also make a great noise playing with toys.
That is why is better to keep both kids and their toys away from a rabbit or at least to pay special attention when they are together.
3. Appliances and Devices that Rabbits are afraid of
There are also appliances that rabbits are afraid of. These are objects that produce loud sounds such as vacuum cleaners, dishwasher machines, tea kettles, food processors, etc.
Of course, you cannot stop using those useful house/kitchen gadgets as your rabbit is afraid of them. You have to get him used to these things but using them on regular basis.
Try to use a vacuum cleaner every day, at least a couple of minutes only. Don’t shut the kitchen door or move the rabbit to another room when you have to do some work in the kitchen.
Maybe your bunny will find the sound of boiling water very stressful at first but as time goes by he will get used to that.
Devices such as TV, radio, cell phones, tablets may also be a source of great fear for your bunny. The biggest issue your rabbit has with all these devices is the volume.
But not only the loud sound terrifies your furry friend. Type of sounds can also be a big problem. Sudden bang, screaming, explosions, glass that is breaking… will scare your bunny very much.
Cell phones and tablets have those sudden flashes and produce loud sounds when somebody calls you. Even a vibration may cause great stress in your bunny.
But as said before, it’s not the solution to avoid using all that devices, but to get your rabbit used to these. Of course, pay attention when watching TV or listen to music, it doesn’t have to be on maximum volume. Take your rabbit’s exceptional sense of hearing into consideration.
4. Smells that Rabbits are afraid of
Rabbits are afraid of unfamiliar smells. For example, you may end up puzzled as your rabbit ran away from you and you don’t know the reason.
Maybe you were petting some other animal shortly before. A dog, maybe? Your rabbit can detect any scent on you but the smell associated with a predator will scare him to death.
What Things Do Rabbits Hate /Dislike? (Top 10)
1. Rabbits Hate (Dislike) Isolation
Rabbits are social creatures and don’t like to be isolated and alone. That’s why you should never keep your rabbit in an outside enclosure.
If you do that, your bunny will never make a tight bond with you. Another thing- if you have to be out of your home for many hours every day, do consider adopting another bunny so your pet has a friend.
2. Rabbits Hate (Dislike) Rearranging their stuff
Bunnies hate change, they hate someone mess up with their territory, even if that is you. So don’t remove your rabbit’s things. Some owners notice that their rabbit rearrange their space pretty regularly but that’s OK, they can do that, you can’t!
3. Rabbits Hate (Dislike) Dirty Environment
One thing you should be removed every day and that’s soiled hay. Rabbits hate the dirty environment. They are super clean animals and they will gladly remind you to change the hay and add some new if you forget.
4. Rabbits Hate (Dislike) Playing dress up
Some people think it’s cute to put some clothes on their bunnies. It looks cute in the photo but it’s completely unnecessary and rabbits hate it. As soon as you put anything on your bunny he will try to get rid of it immediately.
5. Rabbits Hate (Dislike) Windy weather
Rabbits hate wind! Not only the wind can cause sudden bangs and other terrifying sounds but it also affects a rabbit’s sense of hearing.
When it’s windy the direction of external noises is changed so the rabbit cannot easily discover from which direction the danger is coming and the rabbit also has a hard time detecting smells for the same reason.
6. Rabbits Hate (Dislike) Lack of routine
Rabbits like routine and schedules. Lack of it may leave them confused and annoyed. If you need to change something in your rabbit’s daily routine, make that change really slowly and gradually.
7.Rabbits Hate (Dislike) Car Ride
No matter what you do, your bunny will never enjoy a car ride. From the moment they enter the car inside the travel carrier they and the engine starts, rabbits are terrified. With time, some rabbits learn to tolerate car rides but that doesn’t mean they like it.
8. Rabbits Hate (Dislike) Chasing them
Never chase your bunny. No matter how funny may look, this can really scare your rabbit and they hate it. As you assume, they associate it with predators chasing their prey.
9. Rabbits hate (Dislike) Stroking their Backside
As mentioned before you can pet your Rabbits head, ears, nose and they will enjoy it but when it comes to their Backside they don’t like you touching that area. They associate it with predator grabbing them so you should avoid it.
10. What Smells do Rabbits Hate (Dislike)?
Rabbits hate the smell of :
- crushed red peppers or red pepper sauce
- coffee grounds
- the smell of ivory soap
Rabbits generally find pet bitter sprays disgusting but on the other hand, some rabbits will perfectly accept their bitter taste.
All sorts of chemicals and cleaning solutions are also something that rabbits don’t like. That’s why the trip to the vet may look scary. If you add the car ride, you understand how stressful the experience is.
How Does The Scared Bunny Look Like
It’s very important to know how the scared bunny looks like otherwise, you won’t know that your rabbit is distressed.
Bunny that is scared will:
- Runaway and hide
- Be restless
- Have heavy breathing
- Thump the ground with his feet
- Act aggressively, try to the nipple or even bite your or another pet
The rabbit with a compromised sense of hearing becomes jumpy when he is scared. If you have a rabbit with a hearing problem, make sure he always has some sidelight on so he can see that there is no danger close to him.
How to Help a Rabbit Overcome Fear
It’s recommended for a baby rabbit to stay with his mother until 4-5 weeks old. Spending early days in the secure nest may reduce anxiety in the adult period.
Also, gentle handling by humans in the same period ( 4-6 weeks), will reduce the fear reaction in rabbits as adults.
Of course, rabbits will always be timid creatures that will be afraid of many things. Some of the things they are scared of, you can remove.
For example, you won’t keep the dog near the rabbit and you won’t turn on the TV at maximum volume as you know that this is highly stressful for your pet.
On the other hand, there are things, situations, objects, devices you cannot remove from your life. In that case, your rabbit needs to get used to it.
It’s important to make sure that all rabbit’s essential needs are met. That means that your pet has adequate living space, high- quality diet including fresh hay, enrichment as well your attention and proper care.
If basic requirements are met you can be sure there is some other reason for your rabbit’s fearful or aggressive behavior.
When you find the cause, slowly start exposing your rabbit to stimuli that he is scared of. Always make sure to provide a safe place where your rabbit can withdraw at any moment.
For example, if you need your rabbit to get used to kitchen sounds, let him be in the kitchen while you are washing dishes or using a food processor.
You can also try to associate those stimuli that he is afraid of with something good like treats.
So after your rabbit remains in the kitchen while you cut the vegetables in the food processor give your bunny some nice treat as a reward.
Since rabbits are prey animals, they are afraid of many things, other animals, humans, objects, sounds, smells, different situations.
If you learn more about things that the rabbits are scared of or dislike you will be able to provide a more relaxed atmosphere for your pet. If your rabbit is happy, you are happy too.