It was a rough day around the rabbitry for No Ears.
If you’ve been following our blog for awhile, you’ll remember that back in February we had a litter of Cinnamon born where their first-time mother got over zealous in her cleaning at birth and ate the ears of several of her kits! Most were damaged only a little bit, but one poor rabbit had his ears bitten right down to the ear base.
This little buddy has been known as “No Ears” since then. I wasn’t sure he’d make it through the summer, as rabbit ears are important for a rabbits body temperature regulation and our rabbitry is outside in Arizona! (It’s a mountain town but it can still get hot here!) He made it through the summer just fine but this afternoon… he’s hit a spot he probably won’t make it through.
We have children here. Our children get rabbits out and play with them almost every day. Our rabbits are loved, harrassed, and spend time hanging out on a trampoline with kiddos regularly.
When you have children and animals, there’s a special level of kindness necessary on the part of both the children and the animal. We think of it kind of like this – the children have to treat the animals in a way that will engender trust… and the animals have to not bite the children.
We’ve only had two biters around here and both found their way to the slow cooker almost immediately. Today, No Ears made the unfortunate choice of unleashing his teeth on my arm.
At this moment, he’s still breathing, but he signed his death warrant with that decision. Some might say we’re harsh to have such black & white stance on the subject, especially since No Ears is the last of his line and has a pretty nice body type. I’m tempted to breed him before he hits the road… but we’re also firm believers that personality is a genetic trait as much as body type.
No Ears has proven his mama was a biter and he’s a biter – I’m a little concerned about any animals produced out of him and their demeanor.
Do any of you have experience with this? Can you confirm or deny the biting tendency and whether it is passed down from generation to generation?
Tagged: biting rabbits, genetic charateristics
I too believe characteristics are passed down generation to generation. Growing up I bred gerbils, some were biters, and they raised skittish babies that turned into biters. My mom was given a simese cat named Miss Kitty, we quickly learned why she was free and renamed her Evil. She ended up having kittens and they would gang up and attack our dog like a pride of lions on a gazelle. She also scratched my sister to the point of questioning if sje needed stitches. I am adamant on culling any hand shy or agressive behavior, I don’t have the time, nor do I want to deal with pchyco bunnies.
Wow – sorry for your sister! I just don’t think it’s worth taking a chance on handling an animal that can leave scars. I’ve also bee really pleased with the temperaments of our rabbits and how complimentary people have been of their personalities… I don’t want to take a chance on messing up that reputation… We like sweet buns!
I’m with you. Never keep a mean rabbit, and yes, these traits ARE passed down. That’s why we have relaxed breeds and psycho breeds…I truly think it’s our responsibility to NOT breed these rabbits, and it’s a defect as surely as any physical defect.
Most people laugh at the idea of an attack rabbit, a la Monty Python, but an aggressive rabbit is a dangerous critter. And in a large breed it’s that much more so. I’m so sorry this happened, but still glad it wasn’t one of the children. Crock pot it is!
I’ve been shocked by how bad the bites are that we’ve gotten – those rabbit have HUGE teeth and SHARP claws! (I just had a moment where I felt like I was quoting the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast when they were inciting the crowd to go after the Beast!) It’s surprising to me that people will have rabbits as pets, but I suppose it’s all about your expectations.
First, let me say I love your blog 🙂
In regards to the biters, I.think some traits are bred and some are learned. Either way he bit, but I would say that if he has enough “good” things about him give him a chance and maybe it was a learned trait, in that case he won’t teach his kits as they won’t be with him…
Thank you for your positive comment on the blog – I’m always really excited to hear that it’s useful to anyone! Thank you!
What you say is why I’m still considering breeding him before sending him along. He won’t be there to potentially influence the babies. HOWEVER, his mom was a biter (at birth, granted. She was sweet as pie with us.)… and the breeder I got his mom from has on occasion made comments about the temperament of their Cinnamons that are not complimentary. So I’m wondering if I’ll just continue a potential problem.
Rabbit personality definitely has genetic components to it. Some is probably learned, but much seems like it is genetics based. I have some rabbits that really like to get petted and greet you at the front of the cage at feeding time. They tend to beget rabbits that also like to get petted and are friendly. These nice rabbits are a bit more domesticated than a few that I have that hide at the back of the cage probably are thinking to themselves don’t touch me. Ahhhhh.
I recently had a litter from a new line that is very tame. One of the bunnies started to talk regularly, which I have never seen before in rabbits. A few other related half siblings in other litters picked up the trait too. They had the genetics for it, but seemed to learn it from the rabbit that started it all. These bunnies didn’t care much about being quiet all of the time and would actually squeal with excitement for treats and at feeding time. It is not the same kind of squeal when they are scared. It seems kind of strange to have talkative rabbits. They have since quieted down, but as the rabbits become more domesticated with further breeding and selection, they will be more inclined to lose traits like quietness necessary to hide from predators.
I listened to this interesting program on Radio Lab about the domestication of the fox in Russia. It took them about 10 years of selective breeding. Now the fox wags its tail, barks like a dog, and unfortunately urinates when excited to see its owner. It reminds me somewhat of the selection that has occurred against mean rabbits over the generations in rabbits. Maybe we will see nicer noisier rabbits as they become more domesticated.
That’s really interesting! Ours don’t make noises at this point, although we have a few does who will grunt at us when they want to be bred!
My hand is actually shown in the upper right hand corner of that meme. That was a bite from a Mini Rex. We had an earthquake here and when I went to check on him he attacked me. However, he had bitten before, but never to that extreme. I believe aggression is genetic, so we got rid of him. Any overly aggressive rabbit we immediately cull from our herd.