Image of a rabbit and a bandage for rabbit bite. The caption read "do rabbits bite."

Some rabbits do bite, but the majority of rabbits will not bite someone unless they forced to out of fear. Nipping should not be confused with biting. Nipping is when a rabbit uses its teeth to lightly graze you, this is a communication method that is meant to get your attention.

Do rabbits bite?

In general, a pet rabbit will not bite you if it is loved, handled properly and cared for. Many people think that rabbits are for holding and cuddling but most rabbits do not enjoy this type of activity. Many people have a lot of false expectations of pet rabbits. I have covered a lot about the expectations you should have if you get a rabbit and if rabbits make good pets here.

Rabbits are excellent pets for SOME people and terrible pets for others. Television commercials, the internet, YouTube and pet stores often create false expectations, some on purpose and some accidentally.

It is important to keep in mind that rabbits are prey animals and they do not like to feel trapped in anyway. If you put a rabbit in a position that it doesn’t want to be, they may become aggressive and possibly bite or nip. This is not the norm though.

Why do rabbits bite?

There are several reasons why rabbits may choose to bite someone. From my personal experience of owning rabbits over the past 20 plus years I have never had a rabbit bite me. Why is this? Because I have a full understanding of what rabbits think.

Reason 1) Fear – Rabbits can bite if they are scared and want out of the situation they are in immediately. If a rabbit is cornered and can not use their speed to escape it is possible, they will fight back by biting. Never put a rabbit in a position where they can’t easily leave on their own terms.

Reason 2) Holding and Cuddling – Rabbits like all four feet to be on the ground. While some rabbits will be fine with being held and cuddling others will hate you for it and possibly bite. You rabbit does not want to hurt you, but they want to tell you, or communicate to you, “stop don’t do this to me.” If your rabbit keeps biting you then stop doing thing that they don’t like!

Reason 3) Not spayed Nurtured – Hormones can cause rabbits to be overly aggressive and bite. All rabbits should be spayed or neutered by a qualified rabbit veterinarian. Having this done will also make you able to litter train your rabbit. If you have not had your rabbit fixed, I promise you it will make all the difference in the world and can keep your rabbit from biting.

Reason 4) Territory – Rabbits are very territorial. Who knew that those little fluff balls will guard their “property” so strongly? Its true and you should respect their space.

You should not do the following:

  • Clean your rabbits cage or litter-box while your rabbit is awake or near.
  • Put food in a cage while your rabbit is in it.
  • Pet or disturb your rabbit while they are eating

What to do if your rabbit bites you?

You should bite your rabbit back… Joke, don’t do this. Rabbits can inflict a good bit of damage if they are fighting for their life, or if they think they are fighting for their life. Their teeth are extremely sharp and are designed to cut through very hard materials.

Rabbit bites can be deep and very painful. Infection is a risk with any type of cut or wound but animal bites carry greater risk for infection. If your rabbit bites you then you should follow your physician’s advice for treatment. This article has good information regarding the treatment of animal bites.

How to stop your rabbit from biting

I have a very simple answer, don’t do things that he or she doesn’t like. If your rabbit is not spayed or neutered talk to your veterinarian. Diet is another consideration and can impact your rabbit’s behavior. Make sure that your rabbit is on the best diet and is getting plenty of hay.

The reality is that you are not going to be able to stop your rabbit from biting until you can figure out why he or she is biting you. If you get bit when you handle or pet your rabbit, then stop doing that.

Breeds of rabbits

There are many great breeds of rabbits, some are more aggressive than others though.

  • Dutch rabbits – One of the most popular breeds of rabbits in the United States but AI will say that that I have never had one that likes being picked up.
  • Lop Rabbits – Lops, like the Holland lop is known for be docile and easy to handle. Keep in mind though that every rabbit has its own personality.
  • Havana Rabbits – This breed is known for their relaxed and friendly personality.

Male vs Female and biting

After having rabbits for many years, I do believe that bucks, male rabbits are easier going than does, female rabbits. Are female rabbits more likely to bite than a male rabbit? Yes, most likely but I do not have any data or research to back up this claim.

Rabbits and children

Rabbits are more likely to bite children because children often roughly handle rabbits and want to carry them around. I do not believe that rabbits make good pets for young children for several reasons.

Rabbits are prey animals and do not want to be chased around. Children naturally want to spend time with their new pet and will want to cuddle, hold and play with their rabbit. This can cause a problem for your child and your rabbit. If this behavior can continue then there is a possibility that your child will end up being bitten by your rabbit.

If you do decide to get a pet rabbit for your child you should have the expectation that you will be the one that will have to take care of the rabbit and that your child may loose interest quickly since most rabbits do not like to be handled.

Do wild rabbits bite?

I have handled many young baby rabbits in the past and have never been bitten before. Mother rabbits only visit their nest twice a day on average to feed the baby rabbits. If you find a nest of baby rabbit leave them alone. Most likely everything is fine and mom will come back.

Rabbit Nipping vs Biting

Nipping is softer feeling than a bite. Rabbits use their teeth to communicate sometimes. Nipping is part of normal rabbit behavior as long it is soft. If your rabbit is licking and nipping, you he or she may simply be grooming you.

Often rabbits will nip when they need attention or something from you. If your rabbits nipping is unwanted or painful then try to yell out loud in a high-pitched voice when he or she nips to communicate pain to them. This may stop the nipping behavior easier than other methods since you are “speaking rabbit” to your rabbit.

Bonding may stop biting

It is especially important that your rabbit trusts you and bonds with your family. If your rabbit sees you or your family as competition for territory, then your rabbit will be likely to bite you. Bonding does not mean holding or cuddling. Check out this article about bonding with your rabbit.

Rabbits are territorial

As small as rabbits are, they are very territorial. Their cage, litter pan, toys, food, and places they sleep are “theirs” and they will fight for them in their own way. If you invade this territory it is possible some rabbits will bite.

Another sign of a rabbit being territorial is peeing on something you use regularly like your bed or couch. Often this type of behavior is stopped or diminished by spaying or neutering your rabbit. Proper litter training is also key to stopping this type of behavior.

How dangerous can a rabbit bite be?

Rabbit bites as well as other bites can become serious if they become infected. Animals do tend to have a lot of bacteria in their mouths. If you are bit you should seek the advice of a medical professional.

About the Author

My name is Vanessa and I love my buns. My current house rabbit is Mr. Bunny, he is a black and white Dutch that just turned 9 years old.

I believe that rabbits are a magnificent animal that make great pets for SOME people. My mission is to share what I have learned about rabbits over the past 20 years to improve the relationship between our pets and us. Please contact me or comment if you have any questions or comments.