Last Updated on March 15, 2023 by Marjon Ramos
Ever wonder why your rabbit is scared of you all of a sudden? Most rabbit owners can attest that even though their rabbits have been with them for many years, they still get scared of them for seemingly random reasons.
The most common reasons why rabbits get scared all of a sudden are lack of trust, injury, being startled, or when you move your rabbit to a new environment or place.
It’s natural for a rabbit to be easily scared of people or things around them. The reason for this is that rabbits are prey animals, and they need to be alert at all times because the consequence in the wil is death.
Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail why your rabbit is scared all of a sudden:
Table of Contents
Reasons why your rabbit is suddenly scared of you.
In order to prevent your rabbit from getting scared of you, we must first discuss the most common reasons why a rabbit would suddenly get scared of its owner.
Here are the most common reasons why rabbits suddenly get scared of their owners:
1. You startled your rabbit.
Rabbits, being prey animals, have developed an instinct that causes them to always be on the lookout for any potential threats around them.
As a result, even though your rabbits trust you and have been with you for a long time, it’s still possible for them to get scared of their owners all of a sudden.
But it doesn’t mean that your rabbit doesn’t love or trust you.
It’s just their instinct kicking in. This usually happens when you suddenly move when they’re not watching or when you make any loud noises.
After the initial shock, most rabbits would usually come to their owner after they verified that what they heard or saw was not a threat.
2. Your rabbit is in a new environment.
Rabbits are extremely territorial and will always be cautious when they are in a new environment.
This usually happens when you move your rabbit to a new location. Rabbits rely a lot on familiarity to gauge the level of safety in their surroundings.
The reason for this is that, in the wild, rabbits only have a few seconds to process the information around them to decide whether or not the things they see are a danger to them.
So anything that seems to be out of the ordinary would naturally make them cautious.
You might notice that your rabbit seems to stay in a corner looking scared and not moving whenever you move them to a new location.
Don’t worry though, because this is completely normal. Your rabbits just want to make sure that the new place you moved them to doesn’t have any threats to ensure that it is safe.
To properly handle this situation, make sure that you don’t force your rabbit to play or do anything they don’t want. You can also give them treats to show them that the place is totally safe.
Another thing you can do is spend some time with your rabbit in the new place.
As I said earlier, rabbits rely on familiarity to gauge the level of safety. Their owner’s spending time with them should let them know that they are in a safe environment and they should not worry.
This behavior usually lasts for a couple of days up to a week.
3. Your rabbit doesn’t trust you yet.
If you just got your rabbit, it’s normal for them to be scared of you. This usually lasts for a few weeks up to a month, depending on your rabbit’s personality.
Make sure that you’re not forcing them to play or handling them too much, because doing so would just prolong the bonding process.
What you should do is give your rabbit some space and provide them with some treats to show them that they can trust you. Be careful that you only give them hay-based treats if your rabbit is young or less than 7 months old.
The worst thing you can do to a new rabbit is to lift them up when they are not comfortable with you yet. A lot of injuries can happen when they suddenly thrash and you drop them.
Your rabbit could even break their back when they want to get away from you. So, make sure to be patient with your rabbit, especially at the start.
4. Your rabbit is sick or injured.
Rabbits that are sick or injured tend to be unsocial and distant from their owners. Therefore, it’s important that rabbit owners be mindful of any sudden changes in their rabbit’s behavior.
But being unsocial or distant is usually accompanied by other symptoms like:
- Appetite changes
- Diarrhea or any changes to their stool
- A sudden change in behavior
- Changes in their fur
- Respiratory changes
If you notice any of the signs or anything that is out of the ordinary, immediately bring your rabbit to a veterinarian. Some conditions, like diarrhea or gastrointestinal stasis, are fatal to rabbits fast and would need immediate medical attention.
How to tell if your rabbit is scared of you?
The most common behavior rabbits exhibit when scared is staying still and not making any noises. Wild rabbits exhibit this behavior because they are hoping that the predator they see didn’t notice them.
So if your rabbit is just staring at you while not moving, it’s possible that your rabbit is scared of you.
Another way you can tell if your rabbit is scared of you is when it’s hiding from you. Rabbits’ first instinct to anything that scares them is to run away and hide.
Finally, rabbits that are scared will sometimes squeal or grunt.
What to do if your rabbit is scared of you?
First, make sure that the reason your rabbit is scared of you is not medical.
Then, give them some space and limit the times you lift them up, because rabbits don’t like being lifted and will usually thrash.
This could lead to injuries like broken feet or worse, a broken back, which is fatal to rabbits, and most veterinarians can’t do anything about it when it happens.
After some time, your rabbit might come to you on its own, so be sure that you have treats to give them. Treats would speed up the bonding process because it shows them that you’re not a danger and can be trusted.
You could also try to pet them if they allow it. Focus on petting them on their heads and back areas.
Avoid touching them in their stomach and neck. Rabbits would naturally want to protect those areas (which are fatal parts when targeted by a predator).
Rabbits will usually run away when you touch them on that part of their body.
Here’s a great video on how to gain your rabbit’s trust:
If you did everything properly, after some time, your rabbit will show signs of affection, like laying down when you’re petting them.
Another sign that your rabbits trust you is when they run around your feet when you’re close.
Also, rabbits that trust their owners get excited when they are near them and will “binky” or jump all of a sudden.
Rabbits get scared for all kinds of reasons, even though you have had them for a long time.
The reason for this behavior is that rabbits are prey animals. They can only survive in the harsh conditions of nature when they are alert and ready to run away at the first sign of danger.
That’s why rabbit owners need to be patient when their rabbits seem distant and unsocial to them.
Another reason why your rabbit is scared of you all of a sudden is that your rabbit might be sick or injured.
Rabbits have a lot of energy and can play for hours. Rabbits that are sick or injured tend to stay in one place and not move for hours due to pain.
Conditions like gastrointestinal stasis or diarrhea are fatal to rabbits extremely fast. That’s why if you notice any changes in their behavior, it’s important to get them checked by a vet to make sure that everything is fine and your rabbit is healthy.
After making sure your rabbit is healthy, you can now begin to make them trust you.
Here are some tips I picked up from owning rabbits:
- Limit or don’t lift your rabbits if they don’t trust you yet, because it could lead to all kinds of injuries like broken bones.
- Let them scout their new home and let them do whatever they wanted in the beginning. Don’t force them to play or cuddle because they will usually run away if they don’t trust you yet.
- Let them come to you on their own, and when they do, make sure that you have a treat ready. This would show them that you’re not a threat and that you can be trusted.
After some time, usually a few weeks, your rabbit would get excited to see you and would run and circle around you when you’re near.
That’s how you know your rabbit loves and trusts you.
But even though your rabbits trust you, they can still get scared if you make any sudden movements when they are not looking or if you make any loud noises that they’re not familiar with.
It’s completely normal. Rabbits usually realize that it’s just you and there’s nothing to worry about.
Cite this article:
Sources and Further reading
- Buseth, Marit Emilie., and Richard A. Saunders. Rabbit Behaviour, Health, and Care. CABI, 2014.
- Patry, Karen, et al. The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding, and Kindling. Storey Publishing, 2014.
- Basic Rabbit Care
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