Why is My Rabbit Scared of me all of a Sudden ?
Your rabbit may suddenly be afraid of you because of a sudden change in its environment such as a new smell or noise, stress and illness may also be the cause if not a change in its diet or even your schedule.
The reasons for your rabbit to become suddenly fearful and timid, hitting the ground with their hind legs and moving away from you, can be multiple, rabbits are prey by nature and fear often saves their lives in their natural habitat.
What are the signs that your rabbit is suddenly afraid of you?
Rabbits generally prefer to hide when they are scared, and that’s what your rabbit will do if he is suddenly afraid of you.
- He or she will look for the darkest and farthest corner from you and take shelter there, he will go into his little house if he is in his cage or even if he has enough hay, he will create a little den and go inside.
- Your rabbit is suddenly afraid of you if he becomes so agitated, if he jumps at the slightest movement of your hand or when you move near his cage !
- If your rabbit doesn’t trust you anymore, he won’t let you take him easily in your arms and will even bite or scratch you to release him and put him on the ground, he will also scream until you release him which will surely break your heart !!! .
- He won’t come to eat out of your hand and may even refuse to eat his favorite treat… yes this may happens when a bun is scared of its own parents !!!!.
- If your rabbit is afraid of you, he will always turn his back and will not lie down next to you as before. He will also look tense and will always adopt a position with his hind legs ready for use, that is, he will always be ready to run away from you at the slightest sudden movement you make.
Don’t feel guilty, we will see the main and frequent reasons that can be behind this sudden change in behavior of your adorable rabbit, I will tell you why your rabbit is suddenly afraid of you and also what you could do, in each case to regain the confidence of your adorable rabbit; let’s dive into it:
1- Your rabbit is suddenly afraid of you because of an illness
Your rabbit is running away from you and seems to be afraid of you because of an illness that he can no longer hide from you ! For example, a small wound that he hides from you and that hurts him when you take him in your arms.
It could also be a bowel obstruction, not too serious and touching his belly hurts him too.
I recommend that you start by checking to see if he shows any of the symptoms of common rabbit diseases.
Your rabbit will quickly forget his fear and come back to your arms as soon as he is healed if this behavior is caused by an injury or disease, treat it or just be patient if it is a small injury.
2- Your rabbit is afraid of you because of stress
If your rabbit has suddenly changed its behavior and seems to avoid you, it may also be due to stress.
Rabbits, especially those who live alone, without a cage companion, may suddenly become victims of stress due to loneliness for example or other reasons.
In these cases, you will notice frequent symptoms of stress, he will curl up in a corner of the cage, his ears will fall off, his eyes will look blank and you may even see signs of diarrhea in the cage.
Watch your rabbit more closely, leave it in its corner, talk to it in a soft voice, then open the cage door and sit down next to it.
Let him come towards you and offer him a treat, and take him in your arms if he lets himself do it while putting your hand over his eyes and hold him as well, he might suddenly struggle and fall out of your hands !
Here are some causes of stress in rabbits:
- Travel and visits to veterinarians
- A visit from a friend or family member, especially if they are bringing children home.
- Changing the location of the rabbit’s cage or putting him in a smaller cage or just forgetting to take him out of his cage at the usual time (respect your habits with your rabbit).
- A new cage companion, not correctly introduced.
- Too much manipulation and invasion of its space, too often put your hands in its cage and get out of its house or its hiding place against its will.
- Ignore your rabbit while it is trying to get your attention or asking for its grooming session.
- The air current, a sudden drop in temperature
- Give him moldy, damp or smelly hay, or too much dust, or vegetables that are not fresh or out of the freezer.
- Too much sugar because of too many sweets.
3-Your rabbit is running away from you because he doesn’t trust you anymore
If your rabbit is suddenly afraid of you, it’s because maybe he doesn’t trust you anymore because of something you’ve done without realizing it and that he didn’t like !!!
Every rabbit has its own personality, but they have one thing in common, you have to gain their confidence and especially avoid losing it because it’s an everyday job.
Your rabbit is running away from you because you may have shouted at him, right next to him, didn’t you stroke him where he shouldn’t be, under his chin for example, on his tail, didn’t you catch him by his legs or ears ?
Didn’t you surprise your rabbit ? You may have walked towards him coming from behind or even on tiptoes (or when you only put on socks !!) and he jumped with fear because of that !!! This kind of incident is very serious, especially if it happens at night, you should never surprise your rabbit, don’t even try to wake him up when he’s sleeping !!
You must ask your bun for forgiveness in this case and be patient, know that rabbits touch their heads to forgive each other, you can do the same and offer treats of course.
Didn’t you make him angry by taking him in your arms without his consent while he was struggling ?
Didn’t you take away his treats before he finished eating?
Your rabbit could suddenly fear you if you put him back in his cage a little faster than usual, if you or a guest showed him the teeth even if you just laugh out loud, with your mouth open and facing his direction. Rabbits are complex beings, you should never show the teeth to a rabbit.
What you have to do in this case is to think about what you did wrong and what caused this fearful behavior in your rabbit and try to avoid it in the future.
Your rabbit will be back to the way it was in a few days, just have a little patience, hugs and treats will help you get back to your rabbit’s heart.
4- A new smell may be the cause of your rabbit’s fearful behavior
In their natural habitat, rabbits rely heavily on their sense of smell to stay alive and away from predators. Rabbits are very sensitive to strong odors, they hate them because they saturate their muzzles and prevent them from smelling predators from afar !
A new smell for a rabbit is often a reason enough to run into its den or cage ! and maybe that’s the reason why your adorable fur ball is suddenly afraid of you.
Don’t feel guilty, maybe you just put on a new perfume and your rabbit doesn’t recognize you anymore ! If you have a new shampoo or conditioner, or a chemical product at work, did you put some perfume on your hand in a store ?…
Didn’t you use a new detergent ?
Didn’t you clean the floor or a stain with a chemical product that smells strong or even bad?
Didn’t you, before you go home, pet the neighbor’s dog or cat and you still carry its smell with you ?
This could cause your bunny to be afraid or even displeased because he will see this as an act of betrayal !
Aren’t you trying a new dish, a new ingredient that gives off a strong smell in the house ?
Aren’t you wearing new clothes, a new coat with a collar made of animal fur ?
If you’re a girl, a new haircut or a new makeup can also be the reason why your rabbit is running away from you ! Because he may not recognize you anymore !
Didn’t you put a new air freshener in the house or a scent diffuser?
Maybe the neighbors have adopted a new dog and his scent is coming in through the window to your rabbit’s cage !
In that case, try to put on clothes that have the smell of your rabbit, close the door and the window of the room where you have installed him, put yourself at his level, talk to him and approach him little by little until he comes to you, plan his favorite treat, food is the fastest way to regain the confidence of your rabbit.
5- A new noise can make your rabbit fearful of you
Rabbits are very sensitive to noise and it may be the cause of his sudden fearful behavior!
They don’t have such long ears just to brag ! The sense of hearing is highly developed in rabbits and in their natural habitat, their ears often save them from predators.
If your Bun, in your absence or because of you, was frightened by a new noise or a noise too loud than usual … know that this may be the reason that justifies this sudden fear he has towards you.
Did you leave the window of his room open when it is usually closed, especially if the window faces the street; an ambulance or a fire truck passed through the neighborhood while you were away and this is what triggered this feeling of fear in your rabbit?
Did you or another member of your family, a roommate…put the music a little louder than usual…screams in the house or outside, at the neighbors but which caused the stress of the rabbit and its fearful behavior…?
Isn’t there a party in town ? firecrackers ? Maybe it’s the 4th of July !!! … or it’s just some works and it’s the noise of the machines that frighten your Bun and make him so afraid of you !!!
If you think it’s because of the noise, try to take your rabbit in your arms after you close the door and the window.
Put your hand on his ears too, talk to him gently while caressing him and a piece of his favorite fruit will also help him to regain confidence in you and don’t worry, in two or three days, your rabbit will be back to his old self and won’t be afraid of you anymore.
Just let the noise that caused this stop and calm will return to its cage and surroundings.
6- Other reasons that can push a rabbit to develop a sudden fear of its owner
Bunnies can have a very complex personality, it is also known to adopt the emotional state of its owner, if you are stressed, your rabbit will become stressed as soon as you sit with him.
If you are afraid of something yourself, your rabbit will feel this fear and it will also be able to move away from you.
There are even those who say that rabbits feel the disease in other rabbits and people too, so your rabbit will go away from you just because you may have the flu.
If none of the reasons I have mentioned so far seems to be the reason why your rabbit has suddenly become cowardly and fearful, it could be because of an aggression from his crate mate or even your other pet, a cat or dog that got a little too close to the crate while you are at work !
Your rabbit may be just a little traumatized because of this aggression that you didn’t witness ! It often happens with rabbits that live in hutches or cages outside the house.
Just be patient and this kind of incident will be quickly forgotten by your rabbit, and he will come back to you in a few days, just talk to him a little more than before, plan a few more treats and a couple of new games or even new things to chew on so that your rabbit will quickly evacuate his stress and forget this incident.
7- A sudden change of weather
Your rabbit could very well hide in his little house and never come towards you if it’s the first time he hears thunder or lightning through the window.
Same for the wind, the sound of rain and thunder, it often happens during the first winter in a rabbit’s life, and in one of these cases, stay right next to your bun, talk to him, reassure him and if you are afraid of the storm don’t show it to him !! !
It’s very rare and people often don’t even pay attention to that, but they also happen to foresee a disaster and your Bunny can be afraid and run away just because an earthquake of very small amplitude has just happened, you may not have felt it yourself, but animals feel well this kind of frequencies …
How can you regain your rabbit’s confidence after it suddenly develops a fear of you?
Here are a few steps and tips to help your rabbit become fearful, trust you again and everything will be back to normal after only a few days:
1-Find out what caused the sudden fear and avoid it in the future.
2-Talk to your rabbit gently and with a reassuring voice and avoid at all costs shouting at him and tell him how much you love him and that you are his friend and that he has nothing to fear from you.
Let your rabbit come to you when he is ready, never invade his space and never force him by trying to pick him up or pet him without him coming to you and tilting his head forward ! Some rabbits like to be petted and others don’t ; there are others who like you to take them in your arms while other rabbits will just be satisfied with you stroking them while they are just lying next to you !
Also avoid sudden movements and making loud noise, prepare a good amount of treats, you will need them in the coming days because food is an effective way to regain the confidence of your rabbit.
3- Get on his level, at ground level, lie down on the floor when you interact with your Bunny, so he will be less intimidated by your size.
Present your face to your rabbit more than your hands, rabbits are more confident facing your face and try to touch his head with your head as often as possible, because it is a sign of appeasement and reconciliation in the language of rabbits.
4-Avoid surprising your rabbit in the future, so always stand either on his left or on his right, because he will find it difficult to see you coming if you stand straight in front of him because of the position of his eyes.
It is also known that covering your rabbit’s eyes or ears with your hand or a small dry towel will help him a lot to calm down, but he will have to let you wear it before that !
5-Never neglect your rabbit, his needs, make sure he always has at least hay and fresh water in his cage, his cage must also always be clean and his litter box.
6-Learn to know the unique character of your rabbit and try never to do what he likes, and don’t forget that rabbits can get angry and become jealous, sad and they also get very easily angry which could become a source of tension between you and a good reason for him to run away from you.
7- Classical music works wonders with stressed and nervous rabbits, so make your rabbit listen to classical music, this will calm him down and he will be more inclined to trust you and come to you.
8- Take your rabbit to the veterinarian as a last resort if you can’t calm him down, because the cause may be a disease, and your rabbit has hidden the symptoms from you (common behavior in prey).
Taking care of your rabbit will help it to become like it was before and trust you again.
Let’s wrap this up
We often tend to forget that Buns are not born to live with humans, that they are sensitive, shy and fearful creatures of nature and that they prefer to stay alone even in the company of their own fellow bunnies.
If your rabbit is suddenly afraid of you, don’t feel guilty because usually the parents have nothing to do with it and it’s just because of the habits and character of the Bunt itself.
Don’t worry , your rabbit will quickly forget this fear, especially if you find out the reason and act accordingly.
Usually, rabbits regain their parents’ trust just after a few days and in the most severe cases !
Just be patient, provide new treats and a new toy or two so that your rabbit will erase this incident for good from his memory.