Stubborn Rabbit Choosing a Spot

by Nikki
(Toronto nsw)

My rabbit keeps going to this certain spot in the house and she won't leave from there. It's behind my bed in the corner. I blocked it off because she started to scratch up the carpet in that area.

It's been blocked off and she keeps trying to jump on my bed or go under my bed to get to this spot.

I keep picking her up and putting her on the ground but she keeps jumping up to get to this spot.

Now she has started to bite and scratch me, which she has never ever done before. I don't understand what's going on or why she wants this spot so much?

***** Karen Sez *****

Thanks for asking, Nikki. I'll give you my 2-cents' worth, but I hope pet owners who have seen and solved this dilemma will also speak up and share their wisdom.

So, why the fixation on the one corner in her space?

Could she be pregnant?
Or, might she be experiencing a false pregnancy? Does are induced ovulators. Mating induces ovulation. In the absence of a buck, an environmental stimulus can trigger ovulation, for example, interactions with another rabbit (even a female), or your own petting her by stroking her back.

Once the doe ovulates, her body truly thinks it needs to prepare for babies, and it does. The maternal drive to prepare a nest can be very strong. But without any growing babies in the womb, the process peaks around day 17 - 18 with a lovely nest, and then the hormonal drive completely dissipates. The bunny returns to her normal happy self and forgets why the heck she was building a nest.

This explanation sounds plausible to me. If the bunny suddenly normalizes like nothing ever happened, a false pregnancy was probably the cause. Of course, if she has a litter, THAT would be the cause too, lol. In this case, the doe will become nice again in a couple more weeks.

What you can do:
I'll address the biting below, but first, try placing a cardboard box in the carpeted corner so coveted by the bunny, and then grant her access to it. Weigh down the box so the rabbit can't move the box or destroy the carpet, and possibly put old towels in the box as well, to help delay the destruction of the cardboard. Then observe and see how it goes.

Another option might be making some sort of a wooden platform out of 1x6's and lay that down on top of the corner the rabbit is damaging. She'll chew the wood, but it'll last a lot longer than cardboard!

Nothing says you have to let the rabbit destroy your belongings, for example, the carpet. If the above solutions don't work, ban her from the space again. But hopefully her behavior will normalize soon, and all will be well. Another later false pregnancy will result in similar behavior, however, so being prepared will be a good thing, lol.

Other possible causes:
I think the above scenario is likely, but perhaps the rabbit considers the corner behind your bed as her safe spot. This might be the case if there are disruptive influences in the home - lots of people stomping around on wood floors, yelling messages from upstairs to downstairs, the 150-pound mastiff slobbering outside your room, lol. Fear and anxiety would then be driving forces behind your rabbit's behavior, and the carpet destruction would be an attempt to burrow (as it is for nest-building) to safety.

It's hard to say, if the rabbit is anxious, why it doesn't just go find a new safe spot once it cannot get to the spot under the bed!

But if this is the root cause, you'll want to evaluate the home situation and explore ways to minimize the rabbit's stress. One solution is to move the rabbit outside into a hutch, perhaps situated near the back door. This way you can bring it inside when you're available, interact with it frequently, and then move it back into its peaceful hutch overnight.

It's never okay for rabbits to scratch and bite you, pregnancy or no pregnancy. She is not the big bunny, you are. Therefore you need to demonstrate to her that her behavior is not acceptable by showing her in bunny-terms that she is the submissive one, not you. Get this information in the Rabbit Raising Problem Solver book. Rabbits CAN learn.

There's nothing cruel or mean about this. All rabbits know and practice dominance and submission, depending on their place in the bunny social ladder. It is very similar to the chicken "pecking order," which all chickens know or quickly learn in any given flock.

Since you're the big bunny, it is up to you to communicate this to your rabbit in terms she can understand.

The bunny will learn that you are there to help, she can proceed with all the nest-building she wants (without being destructive), but biting is not permitted.

Good luck with everything!

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