Rabbits are prey animals, and making a move to grab or hold them sends a signal to their brain that you’re about to cause them some harm. Why would a rabbit think that way?
One, you are much bigger than they are; and two, your rabbit might have had an encounter with trauma in the past, which can make it difficult for her to trust you.
But how do you create a safe space for your rabbit to trust you? Better still, how can you get your rabbit to cuddle with you?
Do rabbits like to be held and petted?
Rabbits love to be petted, but most of them don’t love being held and might even avoid you if you keep trying to do so. However, if you’re able to build trust with your rabbit, you might be able to hold and cuddle them for even a few minutes.
Bonding with your rabbit should never be forced, so allow them to do things when it’s convenient for them.
Why is my rabbit not cuddly?
Not every rabbit is affectionate or wants to cuddle with you. There are breeds of rabbits more affectionate than others, and wanting to cuddle with you depends on your rabbit’s personality and also their gender, which is why it’s important to get your rabbit neutered to reduce health risks and aggressive behaviors.
Breeds of affectionate rabbits, in no particular order:
- Lionhead Rabbit
- Rex Rabbit
- Harlequin Rabbit
- English Lop
- Mini Rex
- Polish Rabbit
- Dutch Rabbit
- American fuzzy Lop
- Jersey Wooly Rabbit
- Havana Rabbits
- English spot Rabbit.
How long does it take for a rabbit to bond with you?
It could take months, weeks, or even a year. Keep trying, and when they do, it will all be worth it.
How do I get my rabbit to cuddle with me?
Most rabbits aren’t cuddly, but some might sit on your lap, allow you to pet them, and you might get lucky enough to cuddle with them.
Getting to that part is tricky because you have to work for it to gain trust from your rabbit without seeming too obvious and scaring them with too much attention.
Listed down below are steps to get your rabbit to cuddle with you and also build trust with them along the way.
Tips for cuddling your rabbits and building trust with them
- Get down to their level. Imagine you wanted to talk to a kid and you’re much taller than they are. Wouldn’t you crouch down to their level? Now, that’s exactly what you need to do when it comes to your rabbit.
Rabbits are distrustful due to their nature as prey animals, but if you get down to their level and pet them, they will get used to it. Eventually, it won’t be a hassle to get them to understand you aren’t going to cause harm to your rabbit, but before all that, the first thing you have to do is lie next to your rabbit before reaching out to stroke her.
- Offer treats. If rabbits love sweet treats, then why not use that to your advantage? All you have to do is to stand where you are, wiggle their favorite fruit to get their attention, and if you keep repeating the action, your rabbit might become your best friend and start to follow you around the house.
- Take it slow. When it comes to rabbits, set low expectations. Giving them their favorite sweet treats or petting them doesn’t mean they will instantly become your loyal companion. In most cases, it takes weeks or months to build trust and create a space for your rabbit to feel safe with you.
- Wait for them to take a step toward you. It’s difficult when you try everything but your rabbit doesn’t trust you. In situations like this, let them make the first move.
If you’ve been trying your best to be there for your rabbit, then the ball is in their court. Let them take the first step when it’s most convenient for them. Don’t force a rabbit to do something she doesn’t feel comfortable doing yet because you could be scaring her off.
Take baby steps with your rabbit and, eventually, it will be worth the wait.
- Try cuddling them. If your rabbit decides to take that step and she climbs on your lap or mirrors your previous action by crouching down beside you, then take a moment to pet her and slowly try to cuddle.
She might stay for a few minutes, but as long as you have that, then it is enough because she’s decided to trust you, so expect your cuddling sessions to become more frequent.
And those are the steps to cuddling with your rabbit. Nothing more than taking it slow and building trust with them.
What you shouldn’t do when trying to build trust with your rabbit
Here’s a list of things you should never do to a rabbit:
- Squeezing your rabbit. You can squeeze your stuffed animals, but never do that to your rabbit. You’re only going to scare or cause injury to them.
- Making them stay longer than they want to. Rabbits are active and social animals. Yes, they need to bond with you, but you shouldn’t force them to do it. If your rabbit has cuddled with you for a while and wants to take a break, then let her go.
Making a rabbit stay longer than she wants to doesn’t build trust. If anything, it makes her feel as though you don’t respect her personal space.
- Carrying your rabbit. Most rabbits hate being held, so this isn’t the right way to get your rabbit to trust you. You don’t have to carry them because they could leap right out of your arms and that could injure them.
- Touching their neck, hind legs, and stomach. Wouldn’t you be creeped out if someone tried to touch your neck? The same goes for your rabbit. Don’t use grooming as an excuse to make your rabbit feel uncomfortable.
Another thing is placing them on their back to touch their stomach and cuddling with them. Trancing, also called tonic immobility, is when a rabbit plays dead, and studies have shown that trancing causes stress to your rabbit.
Wildlife rabbits go into trance mode when captured by predators, and that gives the predator a pause, thus enabling a bunny to escape.
What causes a rabbit to pretend it’s dead? Shock, fear, so avoid stressing and touching parts that are sensitive to your rabbit.
- Standing over your rabbit is also never a way of getting it right. They will avoid you if possible because you’re simply scaring them out.
How do you know if your rabbit doesn’t like you?
Your rabbit can’t hate you unless you’re doing things she detests. There are a lot of things, but these are some of them:
- You’re a loud person. Not just with your voice and the way you talk to your rabbit, but with your way of doing things around the house. Rabbits have sensitive ears, so if she is sleeping, it’s better not to noisily wake her up.
So, to make your rabbit like you more, be careful with the noise. It’s inevitable, but there’s always a way around it.
- Another thing is thinking she hates you. You might think she glares at you or doesn’t want to bond with you. With the glaring, it could be her third eyelid staring at you, and a rabbit wanting to bond with you takes time.
One step at a time, and you won’t have to worry about whether she hates you.
- You keep moving her things from their position. Rabbits love leaving things as they are, so if you keep moving her stuff, she won’t like that.
How do you tell if a rabbit likes you?
- She flops around you. This means she’s happy and comfortable.
- She licks your hand. Licking is an affectionate way of saying, “I love you.”
- Your rabbit dances around the room.
- She clicks her teeth. This sounds like a cat’s purr but she enjoys grooming and what you do.
- She follows you around for sweet treats or tries to bond with you.
- She nudges her nose against yours or tries to climb on your lap for cuddling sessions.
How do I get my rabbit to like being held?
You can try it with sweet treats and by taking things slowly. Remember, you don’t have to force your rabbit to like being held. It’s a process, and if you’re patient enough, she might eventually like being held, or not. It all depends on her personality.
Not every rabbit will cuddle with you, and while that’s a little disappointing, you could get yours to spend time with you without cuddling.
As long as you know they can’t reject sweet treats, stroke them, and give them a little bit of attention, then you have the right resources to make this work for you.
Being patient, caring for and building trust with them is all it takes to make your bunny affectionate towards you.