Although we have all dealt with rabbits more or less intensively, few people know the answer to the question of whether rabbits are actually vindictive.
Can they get angry?
Can they even be capable of feeling emotions?
In this post, we’ll provide the answers to your questions and give you proven tips for understanding and positively influencing your rabbits’ emotional world.
Are rabbits vindictive?
First things first: No, rabbits are not vindictive.
However, the animals are quite capable of storing experiences – both positive and negative – and recalling these memories in similar situations. As a result, they behave appropriately to the best of their knowledge of the situation.
But rabbits are not vindictive in the real sense.
For example, if you enter the enclosure of your rabbits to bring them fresh food, your rabbits will be happy about your visit – or much more about the food associated with it – after a short time. They associate your presence with a positive experience: humans come = food comes.
If you come a few times without food and maybe even try to grab your rabbits from above and pick them up (which rabbits don’t like at all) – your rabbits will probably hide in the future when they see you coming.
Human coming = danger.
However, this has nothing to do with the fact that they have something against you as a person, but rather with the fact that they consider your behavior as threatening and therefore can’t judge you (anymore) – and as is well known, forewarned is forearmed!
Your rabbit forgives you for the mistakes you make, but at the same time it always links your behavior to positive or negative experiences and adapts its behavior to these experiences again and again.
Can rabbits feel emotions?
Of course rabbits are able to feel emotions!
Your rabbits have as wide a range of emotions as we humans do, ranging from feeling good to feeling depressed. They can also be stressed, anxious, happy, relaxed, sad, or even angry or upset.
However, to be able to change their mood, animals always need a trigger. Compared to us humans, rabbits are not able to change their mood from within themselves.
Rabbits are therefore able to feel emotions, but they cannot regulate them on their own.
In order to be able to regulate their feelings, they therefore need their conspecifics or you. You can actively influence the emotional world of your rabbits by conditioning them.
In the next chapter but one, we will show you exactly how such conditioning can work.
First, let’s take a quick look at another important question….
Why feelings are important for social beings
It is simply necessary for survival that your rabbits can feel emotions.
Otherwise they would not be able to react adequately to danger and would be a target for all furry hunters. However, if a rabbit is able to feel fear, for example, it can not only escape in time, but also inform the rest of the pack of the impending danger.
By the way, rabbits warn of danger by standing on their hind legs and drumming with them on the ground by small, fast jumps.
Conditioning rabbits – this is how it works!
Before we start with the step-by-step instructions for conditioning your rabbit, it is important to understand that you can create not only positive, but also negative links.
So be careful and always pay attention to your animals body language to make sure you are really creating purely positive links.
So here we go!
- goal setting
First of all, think about what you want to achieve with the conditioning. For example, if you have a rabbit that is very restless and constantly on the move, your goal could be conditioned relaxation.
What does this mean?
Well, you condition your rabbit so that you can target a specific stimulus to which your rabbit will instantly relax.
- what stimulus do you want to use?
Just as important as thinking about the objective itself is thinking about the implementation.
What stimulus do you want to use for conditioning?
If we stay with the conditioned relaxation example, you might use a particular tune here. Your goal is to condition your rabbit to relax when it hears the melody. 3.
- put your plan into action
The trick to conditioning is to capture the moments when your animal is already exhibiting the desired behavior and underlay them with your chosen stimulus.
If you observe your rabbit lying relaxed in the enclosure, this is the ideal time to play your melody.
Caution: Play the melody only as long as your rabbit is really relaxed! This is the only way your rabbit will associate the melody with relaxation.
4 Good things take time
Conditioning will take some time.
You may well need about 100 repetitions until the stimulus-response scheme is consolidated in your rabbit’s brain and can be specifically retrieved.
Therefore, you should also wait some time before checking whether your rabbit can already relax by playing the melody.
The more often you run tests that don’t work, the harder it will be to link the melody to relaxation – because relaxation doesn’t always occur in that context.
Is my rabbit mad at me?
Rabbits, as you have already learned, do not hold grudges.
Since they always live in the here and now, they can’t hold a grudge against you. However, your rabbit may consider you dangerous based on certain behaviors and begin to avoid you.
For example, if you sit with your rabbits in the outdoor enclosure and feed them from your hand, it may be sufficient for you to wave your other hand wildly to scare away a mosquito. Your rabbit cannot appreciate this behavior and will most likely react by fleeing.
However, this is a completely normal, instinct-driven behavior and has nothing to do with your rabbit being mad at you. However, it may very well hold some resentment against you if, for example, you keep pulling food away from your rabbit when it tries to bite into it.
This frustration, or in some cases even anger, is gone as soon as you stop stealing food from under your rabbit’s nose.
A sign that your rabbit likes you is licking your hand. This behavior is similar to grooming between conspecifics and therefore shows that your rabbit fully accepts you and feels safe and secure in your presence – congratulations, you’ve done everything right so far!
6 Tips for bonding well with your rabbits
What rabbit owner doesn’t want to be loved by their pets?
Here are 6 tips that will help you build a good bond with your rabbits.
- behave predictably
Your rabbits, as escape animals, will wholeheartedly appreciate it if you always behave predictably for them.
In plain English, this means paying attention to your body language by not leaning over them from above, avoiding frantic movements, and always speaking to your animals in a calm voice.
- take advantage of the bribe
The way to a pet’s heart is through his or her stomach – so take advantage of this fact to make yourself popular with your fluffy roommates. A carrot or other treat every now and then can do wonders to tame your rabbits.
But beware: rabbits are NOT carnivores.
- keep your animals species-appropriate
Only if your animals can fulfill all their needs, you will find relaxed and balanced contemporaries in the enclosure. Make sure that your rabbits have enough space, food, water, companions, etc.
Tip: Rabbits are good climbers. Provide opportunities for this as well. 4.
- respond to their needs
Help your animals when you notice that something is wrong. If there is a fight in the enclosure that threatens to degenerate, you can separate your animals for a while until the tempers have calmed down.
Your animals will learn that you care for their safety and well-being and will reward you with a piece of their trust.
- do not force anything
You want to pet your rabbit, but your rabbit doesn’t feel like being petted right now?
Then accept that!
The foundation of any friendship is mutual respect. Only in this way can trust grow between you and a sense of security develop.
- lower your expectations
Just unwind and enjoy a relaxing time together!
That’s what a good friendship is all about. So just sit with your rabbits for a few minutes a day and just watch them without asking anything of them.
You will quickly notice how this behavior will change your relationship with your animals – in a positive way!
My name is Mark and the senior editor
I take great pride in being the best possible author and giving you the knowledge that i have on all different types of animals!
I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
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