Yes, rabbits do hold grudges. It’s pretty common for rabbits to hold a grudge, causing them to shun you and possibly even get a bit aggressive. If you’ve done something to upset your bunny, you may notice them acting differently – they may refuse treats, ignore you, or urinate in unusual places.
While rabbits do hold grudges, there are a few ways to get your friendship back with your furry friend. After your rabbit makes amends with you, it is crucial to understand what caused the grudge to start in the first place. A long-term resentment could turn into behavioral problems in the future.
Read on for tips on how to apologize to your rabbit if they’re holding a grudge.
What Causes Rabbits to Hold Grudges?
Rabbits will use their behavior to let you know that they’re upset with you until you make an effort to apologize. Sometimes, your rabbit will move on and forgive you either way, but it’s a good idea to make amends the best you can.
There are many scenarios where you may notice a behavioral change in your rabbit. Many bunny owners see their rabbits holding a grudge after giving them medication, clipping their nails, or transporting them. While these scenarios seem simple, they can be scary for rabbits. When they feel trapped or fearful, they will determine that you are the source of their fear.
Rabbits might also hold a grudge after a visit to the vet. When removed from their safe space, it can cause them to feel like they can’t escape. They might hold a grudge until they’re back at home where they feel safe.
Some bunnies can get upset if you mess with their stuff. For example, if you choose to rearrange their furniture after cleaning out their enclosure, it might upset them. You might even notice your rabbit attempting to reorganize their things back to where they like it.
Bunnies want to feel safe and have some semblance of control. Anything that challenges their idea of safety or control could cause them to be upset with you and even lash out.
How Long Will a Rabbit Hold a Grudge Against You?
In general, rabbits do not stay upset for too long. In some cases, when things are back to normal, they may be okay within a few minutes. You may need to show an act of apology to get your bunny to forgive you. In some cases, just giving your rabbit some alone time is enough for them to move on and befriend you again.
Depending on how offended they are, they may decide to hold a grudge against you for a few hours. You might need to either show them that you’re sorry or give them some time to cool off alone.
Is It a Behavioral Issue When a Rabbit Holds a Grudge?
If your usually loving and playful bunny has been a bit aggressive lately, you may begin to worry that they may never be the same again. Usually, a little bit of aggression is not a sign of a long-term issue.
A rabbit will hold onto memories that hold emotional resonance for them. When rabbits constantly feel a sense of stress, it becomes a core memory. Though you can’t always avoid actions that offend your rabbit (such as cleaning their enclosure) it’s essential to try not to do things to upset them.
If stressful situations occur here and there, the grudges will likely pass. So, if your rabbit becomes stressed when you clip their nails or take them to the vet, try not to worry.
However, with each event that occurs, your rabbit will begin to trust you less and less. Over time, this short-term shunning could wind up being a long-term behavioral problem unless the behavior stops.
Five Signs Your Rabbit Is Holding a Grudge
A bunny’s behavior isn’t always easy to read. Rabbits can be subtle, and you may not notice that they are upset right away. Rabbits will show you their dissatisfaction in their own way. These are some common signs that your rabbit is holding a grudge against you:
1. Your Rabbit Is Ignoring You
You may notice that your rabbit hops away from you, skips you, or turns away as if they’re ignoring or avoiding you. This behavior is your rabbit’s way of letting you know they are upset. Some rabbits will even glance over their shoulder to ensure that you see the message they are sending.
If you attempt to pet your rabbit and they hop away so they’re facing away from you, this is a sign that they need to be left alone for a bit. Your rabbit is likely not ready to make amends at this time. After a bit, you can attempt to pet your bunny again to see if they are prepared to accept your apology.
2. Your Rabbit Is Flicking Their Feet at You
After holding your rabbit, they might flick their feet toward you as they hop away. When rabbits kick their feet back forcefully, this is a strong indicator that your rabbit is upset with you. You may also notice this behavior after clipping their nails.
They want you to know they are upset by doing this action a little more forcefully than their usual hop. If your rabbit is especially offended, they may ignore you for some time after flicking their feet.
3. Your Rabbit Refuses to Eat Treats
In some cases, your rabbits will signal that they are upset with you by turning their nose up at treats. You might try to offer them a treat that they ordinarily couldn’t resist, but they don’t budge. Typically, rabbits will continue to eat food as usual but avoid eating anything directly from your hand.
If your rabbit doesn’t accept any treats by hand, you can try leaving the snack in their enclosure. Your bunny may not take it right away, which is a sign that they’re not ready to forgive you yet. Give it some time and keep an eye on the treat. Once your rabbit has grabbed it, things are on the mend between the two of you.
4. Your Rabbit is Aggressive
Rabbits can act aggressively when holding a grudge against you. Rather than avoiding you, your bunny may take a quick swipe at you or even try to nip you. If this is unusual behavior, then it probably isn’t a sign of a permanent personality change.
Usually, rabbits will only show aggression to signal that it is time for you to back off for a bit. Give your bunny some time to cool off, and they will likely shrug it off.
5. Urinating in Unusual Places
Rabbits are intelligent animals and know where their bathroom is. If they are upset with you, your rabbit may urinate in an unusual spot to get your attention. Urinating is your bunny’s way of marking their territory and signaling to you that they are the boss.
This sign is common when your rabbit is upset because you were recently cleaning their enclosure. In your rabbit’s eyes, this is their home, so they will instinctually replace their scent to remind you of this. By cleaning, their unique smell disappears, so your bunny will do this to replace it.
How to Make Amends with Your Rabbit
Most rabbits will stay upset until you do something to apologize. Naturally, if you notice that your bunny is upset with you, you will want to do your very best to make amends. By doing the following, your rabbit will forgive you in a flash.
Give Your Rabbit a Treat
Most rabbits love a good treat and will let go of their grudge against you if you offer them a little snack. Offer them a piece of fruit or vegetable that they love. Even if your rabbit rejects your offer at first, they’ll notice your attempt at apologizing.
If your rabbit refuses the treat by hand, leave it someplace within their enclosure. Once your rabbit grabs the treat, this is their way of telling you everything is okay again.
Give Your Rabbit a Massage
Petting your rabbit will help them to relax and can allow them to bond with you. As with most pets, rabbits love a good massage. If your rabbit is holding a grudge with you, attempt to pet them. Avoid picking them up because this may worsen matters between you and your rabbit.
If your bunny avoids you or indicates in any way they do not want to be touched, give them some space. Check on your rabbit later and try again. Once your bunny allows a massage, you will know you are back in their good graces.
Allow Your Rabbit to Have Some Alone Time
Your rabbit may be communicating that they are not ready for an apology. Trying to force an apology with petting or treats can signal to them that you do not respect their boundaries. If all else fails, give your bunny some space.
After giving your bunny some alone time, you may try another method of apologizing. Take notice of your bunny’s signals to avoid overwhelming them. Even if your rabbit needs some space, they will be back to being your snuggly friend after they’ve had some time to cool off.
Do Rabbits Remember if You Hurt Them?
Rabbits are highly intelligent animals, and they’ll remember if you (or anyone else) hurts them. Although rabbits have poor short-term memories, they will hold onto bad experiences. Accidents happen but if something does happen, do your best to apologize as soon as you can.
Attempt to offer your bunny a treat or a massage. If it seems that they do not want either of those, give your rabbit some space. After a while, you can reattempt your try at apologizing.
How Do Rabbits Apologize?
As a member of the Leporidae family, rabbits are social creatures. So, while rabbits do hold grudges, they also apologize. Rabbits communicate by using body language, and apologizing is no exception. Typically, they will groom the rabbit or person they are apologizing to.
What Does It Mean If Your Rabbit Is Growling at You?
Growling can signify your rabbit is upset, stressed, or angry with you. Growling or grunting may happen if you touch your rabbit’s enclosure because they take this as an invasion of their territory. If your rabbit feels threatened, they may use sounds as a warning for you to back off.
How Long Does It Take to Bond With Your Bunny?
Every rabbit is different from the next. Some rabbits will feel a bond with you from the second you take them home. Other bunnies may take a little more time to bond with you fully. Typically, rabbits will be comfortable with you within a few weeks.