While there's no fool-proof way to ensure your rabbit never bites, there are many things you can do to diminish the potential of him biting, scratching or otherwise behaving in an aggressive manner. If you adopt a rabbit from a shelter, ask about his past behavior to find out if biting was a problem with other owners. If you get him from a breeder or pet store, ask about the behavior, attitude and demeanor of his parents.
Rabbits are delicate creatures, and they require patient, gentle handling. According to the ASPCA, you should pick up your rabbit by supporting his forequarters with one hand and his hindquarters with the other, holding him close to your body so he feels secure. When your rabbit feels safe, he's less likely to bite or scratch out of fear.
Rabbits and Children
Many unsuspecting adults think rabbits are cute and easy pets for children, when in reality, children can startle, scare and harm rabbits simply because they don't know any better. Only allow children to handle a rabbit when in the company of a knowledgeable adult who can direct them on appropriate and inappropriate rabbit interaction. Jumping, chasing or grabbing at the rabbit should not be tolerated, or the rabbit may respond with defensive boxing and biting.
Rabbits need interaction with their human companions to become well socialized and comfortable around people. You should regularly give your rabbit time out of his pen or hutch where he can interact and play with you. Purchase rabbit toys to give you an opportunity for stimulating interaction.
Rabbits have sharp teeth, and it can be difficult for them to understand where the carrot ends and your fingers begin. Use caution in hand-feeding your rabbit and never tease a rabbit with food, because he will jump and bite you. If your rabbit displays high levels of aggression, handle him by putting on gloves and picking him up with a towel and take him to the vet for an exam. The biting may be related to an underlying health issue.
Spay or Neuter
Aggressive rabbit behavior such as biting can sometimes be hormonal. If you don’t plan to breed your rabbit, ask your vet about the most appropriate age to spay or neuter your pet. This act can cut down on aggression and make your rabbit more calm and more social.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.