Last Updated on April 13, 2022 by Rei Garnet
Rabbits are prey animals and are some of the most easily scared animals on the planet. That’s why most rabbits often get spooked by sudden movements or sounds that are new to them.
The reasons why rabbits would run away from their owners can be due to fear, health issues, or when a rabbit is unneutered. It’s a normal response for a rabbit to run away from whatever it is they perceive as a danger to them.
Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail why your rabbit is running away from you:
Why is your rabbit running away from you?
In order to stop our rabbits from running away from us, we must first discuss every possible reason why they do it in the first place. Only then can we properly formulate a plan to mitigate it from happening.
Here are the most common reasons why a rabbit would suddenly run away from its owner:
1. You unintentionally hurt your rabbit.
You might have hurt your rabbit unintentionally. A lot of rabbit owners often mishandle their rabbits by holding them the wrong way.
This is quite common for new rabbit owners because they like to hold and pick up their rabbits to play with them. The problem is that they often don’t know how to do it the right way.
Rabbits are fragile creatures. Without proper knowledge on how to handle them, it’s very easy to injure them.
Here’s a great video that shows the proper way to hold and pick up your rabbit without hurting them:
2. Your rabbit is not feeling well.
Rabbits that are not feeling well will often exhibit changes in behavior. Behavior changes like running away are common because it’s their natural reaction to pain.
You can tell that this is the case for your rabbit if it’s accompanied by other symptoms like:
- Appetite changes
- Changes in fecal output
- Changes in posture
- Abnormal behavior
- Difficulty eating
When you notice this behavior, immediately bring your rabbits to a rabbit-savvy veterinarian.
3. Your rabbit is not neutered.
Unneutered rabbits are prone to having hormone-related behaviors like sudden mood changes. This behavior is especially true for female rabbits, but is not uncommon for both genders.
By observing for additional behaviors, you can usually spot that this is the reason why your rabbit is running away from you:
- Loss of previously good litterbox habits
- Spraying urine
- Mounting/humping of objects such as toys.
- Growling and boxing
- Territorial biting or nipping
- Aggressive or possessive lunging and biting
- Circling and honking
- Destructive chewing and digging (especially in females)
Why is your rabbit running away from you when you try to pet him?
Most rabbits don’t like to be touched because they are prey animals. In the wild, once another animal “touches” them, it’s game over.
That’s why when you unexpectedly touch them when they are not looking or ready, they would get spooked. That’s their instinct kicking in.
1. You touched your rabbit in the wrong place.
Another reason why your rabbit runs away when you try to pet them is that you touched them in the wrong place. Rabbits don’t like to be touched in the neck, mouth, and stomach areas and will usually run away when you touch them in those areas.
To avoid spooking your rabbits when you want to pet them, stick to petting them on their heads and backs. Rabbits like those areas the most.
2. Your rabbit is injured.
Injured rabbits or rabbits that are in pain dislike being touched. Rabbits do not have an obvious sign when they’re injured, unlike dogs or other domesticated animals.
That’s why rabbit owners need to be observant when it comes to their pet’s behavior. The way you can tell that the reason your rabbit is running away from you is due to injury is by looking for additional symptoms like:
- Low energy
- Rapid breathing
- Low appetite
- High-pitched squeals
- Loud tooth grinding
3. Your rabbit wants to explore.
Experts believe that the best environment for rabbits is the one that mimics what they have in the wild. And rabbits in the wild run around freely, going where they want, whenever they want.
If your rabbit is not in the mood to play and cuddle with you, it’s usually because they just want to explore your place and play on their own. This behavior is common when the rabbit is in a new environment.
When your rabbit wants to explore and run around on their own, you should let them and never force your rabbit to play with you. Forcing your rabbit to do anything would scare them, which, in turn, prolongs the bonding process.
Why is your rabbit running away when you try to pick him up?
Rabbits don’t like to be picked up because, in the wild, once a predator animal “picks” them up (usually with the predator’s mouth), it’s game over for the rabbit.
Furthermore, it could also be that your rabbit has an injury and is in pain whenever you try to pick them up. If you notice any additional odd behavior like refusing to eat, immediately bring your rabbit to a veterinarian just to be safe.
Finally, if you want to pick up your rabbit, be very careful that you hold them properly because rabbits are prone to thrashing when picked up. Thrashing could lead to serious injuries like sprains or, worse, you could drop them.
Make sure that you’re holding them properly before getting up.
Why does your rabbit run and hide from you?
Your rabbit may hide and run away from you when he/she is not yet used to you or doesn’t trust you yet. Don’t worry though, because this behavior is common, especially when your rabbit is new.
Allow them to hide and become familiar with your place. After a while, provide them with some treats to start training them to trust you.
Also, remember to never force your rabbit to play with you, especially at the start. Rabbits are prey creatures and are easily scared of just about everything. Forcing them to do anything would prolong the time they start to trust you.
1. Your rabbit is in a new or unfamiliar environment.
Rabbits that are in an unfamiliar environment would tend to hide and be cautious of any sudden movements or loud sounds.
When they are in this period of getting to know the place, rabbit owners should be patient and let their rabbits explore on their own.
Don’t worry though, because once they are familiar with their place, they will be dashing everywhere and be very playful.
2. Your rabbit is just being themselves.
It’s natural for rabbits to hide and run away from everything because they are prey creatures. A lot of inexperienced rabbit owners get frustrated because they expect their rabbits to be affectionate like cats or dogs.
Rabbit owners need to understand that rabbits want to be left alone except when they want food. Rabbits dislike being handled or picked up.
How do you stop your rabbit from running away?
Rabbits at the start are very cautious and will likely run away from you if you try to play with them. One thing you can do to gain your rabbit’s trust is to give them the space they need and wait for them to come to you.
After they come to you on their own terms, give them some treats to show them that you are not a threat. Remember, no sudden movements or loud noises. Rabbits are easily spooked, especially at the beginning of your relationship.
This bonding process would usually take weeks, so be patient and never rush your rabbit to bond. Don’t worry, because all that effort is definitely worth it.
It’s a special kind of bond when a prey animal trusts you. Rabbits are one of the sweetest pets to have once they trust you.
Rabbits naturally don’t want to be picked up and will likely thrash and injure themselves if you force them to do anything. The reason for this behavior is that rabbits are prey animals, and they need to be alert to survive.
To safely gain your rabbit’s trust, you need to have patience and let your rabbit naturally come to you on its own terms. Forcing your rabbit to play or cuddle with you would just prolong the bonding process.
You can speed up the bonding process with the help of treats. Rabbits love treats and will likely come to you on their own if they smell that you have one.
Lastly, your rabbit may be running away from you because they are in pain or sick.
Rabbit owners need to be aware of any sudden changes in their rabbit’s behavior. Unlike a cat or a dog, which would make a sound to indicate that something is wrong, a rabbit would just stay silent.
Cite this article:
- 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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