Many people are shocked by how much effort goes into raising rabbits. These small animals look like easy pets to care for. Rabbits are clean, quiet, do not need to be walked, and live in a hutch. This gives the impression that rabbits can be left alone for hours. This could not be more wrong.
Rabbits are social animals that are used to living in groups. If a rabbit lives alone, she will quickly become lonely and withdrawn. This means that you’ll need to fulfill all of her needs for attention and stimulation.
If you get your rabbit into a schedule, your life will be easier. If your rabbit knows that she’ll receive attention at set times, she’ll wait for that one-on-one time together.
Do Rabbits Attention Seek?
Some rabbits are born attention seekers, while others are more reserved. It depends on the breed of rabbit, and her personality. But rabbits loathe being left alone and ignored.
Rabbits are among the most social breeds of domesticated pet. A rabbit makes you work for affection, and it must be on her terms.
Think back to whenever you have seen these animals running free in the wild. You’ll rarely see a solitary rabbit. This is because rabbits live in sizable colonies, and continuously seek company.
If your rabbit is left alone for prolonged periods, she’ll become bored, lonely, and depressed. This can lead to stress and anxiety, which causes ill health in rabbits. If your pet doesn’t have a mate, you’ll need to shower her with attention.
This will boost your relationship with your rabbit no end. If you provide attention, your rabbit will trust you more. This will make her more amenable to training and less destructive. She’ll also be more affectionate.
Do Rabbits Need a Lot of Attention?
Rabbits hate being alone and grow bored easily. This means that if you keep one rabbit, she’ll need extra attention. Never make the mistake of thinking that rabbits are low-maintenance pets.
How often do rabbits want attention? It’s far to say that, if your rabbit is awake, she wants attention. If you have a particularly dominant rabbit, she’ll be more assertive in these demands.
Think about a typical day in the life of a rabbit. This will give you an idea of how much of your time your pet will dominate.
- Daybreak. Most rabbits wake up at dawn. Your pet will amuse herself for the first hour or two. Ensure she has toys and fresh food in her hutch. This will keep her happy until you rise.
- Early morning. You should visit your rabbit to say good morning when you wake up. She will be expecting this, and it’s a great way to boost your bond. Offer some petting and grooming.
- Morning. Before too long, your rabbit will reach the peak of her energy. Rabbits come to life around mid-morning. You must let her exercise at this time. She’ll likely want you to get involved and play with her.
- Late morning to afternoon. After a couple of hours of manic activity, your pet will be exhausted. She may even flop on the spot and fall asleep. Return your rabbit to her hutch for her afternoon nap.
- Late afternoon/early evening. When your rabbit wakes up from her nap, she’ll have a second wind. She will want to spend the evening with you and your family. Be prepared to keep her entertained throughout.
- Bedtime. Rabbits will want to stay up far later than you, and frequently protest being put to bed. It means she won’t get any more attention that day. Make your pet’s hutch appealing.
If it’s an option, always look to keep two bonded rabbits together. It’s more expensive, and it takes work to bond the pair. Both pets will be much happier, though. It will save you a lot of work in devising rabbit entertainment.
No matter how many rabbits you keep, remember two things. Any attention is good attention. Even if you tell a rabbit off, she will consider it a win. It means you stopped what you were doing and paid her attention.
Never overlook the importance of routine for a rabbit. If your pet knows that she’ll be groomed, petted or played with, she’ll calm down. Try to establish a schedule. This will help your rabbit know that her needs will be met.
Which Breeds of Rabbit Need the Most Attention?
Some breeds of rabbit are more natural attention seekers than others. Breeds that will likely wish to be the constant center of attention include:
- Harlequin. These rabbits are natural show-offs. She’ll expect to be the centerpiece of your family. The Harlequin is well named as she is essentially a family jester.
- Lionhead. These rabbits are tiny, but affectionate and playful. Your Lionhead rabbit will want to be entertained all the time. Expect lots of cuddling once you gain this rabbit’s trust.
- Holland Lop. These adorable rabbits have bags of energy and love people. Holland Lops are great pets, but only if you can keep up with them.
- Rex Rabbits. There are many Rex breeds of rabbit. All are widely considered to have above-average intelligence, though. This means that a Rex rabbit needs attention and stimulation.
If you’re concerned about how much attention a pet rabbit may need, consider a dwarf breed. They are more wary of people, and sometimes skittish. This makes human interaction less desirable.
Of course, there is a flipside to this. A wary rabbit that doesn’t enjoy as much attention will also be less playful. This means your pet is unlikely to cuddle. It’s up to you if this is a trade worth making.
Do Rabbits Thump for Attention?
Rabbits thump for several reasons. Requesting attention is one of the possible explanations. Wild rabbits thump to warn underground friends that danger is coming. Equally, thumping can denote a rabbit tantrum. Your pet is expressing distaste for something you have done.
Rabbits may also thump for attention, though. This could be because you have failed to pick up on subtler cues. Alternatively, your rabbit may be trying to tell you something. She heard a strange noise, and thinks you should investigate.
Don’t ignore prolonged thumping. If your rabbit keeps stamping her foot, there will be a reason. If she will not stop, it suggests that she is frightened and convinced that danger is nearby.
How Else Do Rabbits Ask for Attention?
Rabbits have a wide array of methods for requesting attention. These include:
- Biting at Hutch Wire. Your rabbit is bored and wants to come out to play. Don’t let your pet bite a hole in her hutch.
- Circling. If your rabbit runs rungs around your feet, she wants to play. You’ll often see this first thing in the morning. Some rabbits will circle you while walking down a flight of stairs.
- Begging. Rabbits are not silly. They’re fully aware of how cute they are, and use this to their advantage. A begging rabbit will almost always be petted on demand.
- Nudging. Your rabbit will often nudge you with her nose when she wants attention.
- Nipping. If you ignore the delicate nudging, your rabbit may escalate to nipping with her teeth. She thinks that you missed the nudging cue.
- Destructive Behavior. If your rabbit feels ignored, she’ll up her game. She may start chewing something inappropriate or knock over a glass, knowing that you’ll react.
Keeping a rabbit content can be a fine balancing act. If you react to her every demand, she’ll expect constant attention. If you ignore her, she’ll become anxious and withdrawn.
My Rabbit Demands Attention Constantly
Do you drop everything and provide her with attention the moment she demands it? Your rabbit considers your attention to be a reward for her behavior. The more you respond to her demands, the less inclined she’ll be to change her approach.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can turn your back on your rabbit and ignore her. This will upset and confuse her initially. A rabbit in a sulk can be difficult to live with, so tread carefully. The Language of Lagomorphs explains offended body language in rabbits. Signs include:
- Approaching you, but refusing to look directly at you.
- Giving you the ‘side-eye,’ and though suspicious of your motives.
- Staring at you with ears pointed backward.
- Turning her back on you. If she also pulls down her ears and closes her eyes, you should expect a prolonged sulk.
If you notice this behavior from your rabbit, you should make peace quickly. Rabbits are more than capable of holding a grudge. Swallow your pride and make friends again. A small treat and a little petting will usually do the trick.
This doesn’t resolve the attention-seeking problem, though. That involves teaching a rabbit to compromise. Introduce a, “wait” command. If she’s patient, reward her. Don’t leave it too long. Just enough for your rabbit to learn patience.
This teaches your rabbit that she will get attention, but at a time that suits you. It may take a while, but you’ll reach an understanding. The pet and human relationship will run much smoother.
How to Give a Rabbit Attention
If you know how to meet your rabbit’s demands for attention, you’ll have an easier life. Your pet will know that you can be relied upon to react when necessary. This may calm her down and make her easier to live with.
Learn what your rabbit’s different verbal and physical cues mean. Your pet may just be demanding attention for attention’s sake. Other times, she may be telling you something important.
If you respond appropriately, your rabbit will trust you more. This is never a bad thing. It takes time to earn a rabbit’s trust, as we’re so much larger. Your pet will be naturally wary of you until you prove that you’re harmless and trustworthy.
When it comes to giving your rabbit attention, there are five core approaches that you can take. Vary these to maintain your pet’s interest.
- Grooming. You may find that your pet demands grooming by nudging your hand. It’s the fastest way to bond, and will leave your rabbit satisfied.
- Petting. Gentle strokes on the cheeks, forehead, nose, and back will go a long way. Don’t be surprised if your rabbit regularly asks for petting.
- Playtime. Learn how your rabbit likes to play, and fit it into a schedule. Dedicated one-on-one playtime is a real treat for a rabbit. Your pet will love you for making an effort.
- Teaching Tricks. Many rabbits love to learn new tricks. If you teach your pets new commands, she will enjoy personalized attention. She’ll also use these tricks to show off and gain more attention in the future.
- Treats. Rabbits are notorious beggars, and will eat beyond their fill. Sometimes, a raisin will sate and distract a pet in the short-term.
Rabbits are naturally attention-seeking animals. This isn’t because your pet is behaving badly. She isn’t deliberately being a pain. She just instinctively craves company, and that means attention.
We cannot stress enough how advisable it is to pair up two rabbits in a hutch. This will free up so much of your time. If not, just accept that you will essentially be adding another child to your family.