Republished with permission from the House Rabbit Society. Article Copyright HRS, 2014
Respecting rabbits also means knowing how your rabbit wants to be treated — and doing it. Match your rabbit's personality to the type he or she most closely resembles; then, get to work.
"The Love Bunny"
Also known as the "lagomorph lap dog," he craves and even demands love from everyone he meets. He positions himself in the middle of foot traffic. Two leggeds cannot walk by without stroking his head. He'll hop up on the bed in the middle of the night and nuzzle skin until he is cuddled. He might kiss one hand if the other is doing a great job. He accepts being held during full bunny pets. He is easily hypnotized. When he encounters his mates, he shoves his head under their nose. When meeting a non-hostile rabbit, he'll approach and even lean into her side. He expects her to instantly like him.
- Do: Pet, pet, pet.
- Don't: Scare the Love Bunny while he is napping contentedly.
- Maybe: When he grunts, try pets. If grunts subside as you stroke, he has trained you.
"The Boss" (or "The Diva")
The Boss needs to be dominant over not only her rabbit companions but also her humans. She is highly intelligent, inquisitive, and manipulative. She will do things on her terms and only if there's something in it for her. She does not tolerate being petted or picked up. She loves to be near her people and will get very close if she trusts they won't touch her. Deep down she is really sweet and would never bite her humans during nail clipping or butt baths. You'll find out how much she trusts you when you take her to the vet.
- Do: Talk sweetly to the Boss.
- Don't: Try to touch her.
- Don't: Scold her, as it hurts her pride.
His boldness knows no bounds. When you enter his domain — even to place water, hay, or a cardboard roll — he flies from under his loft to take a nip from an intruding hand and then disappears just as quickly. He races through tunnels and leaps over huts and houses when it's his turn to exercise. But the other side of this advernturer soaks up affectoin as he climbs up your chest and turns around so that he can safely monitor the room when he snuggles under your neck.
- Do: Handle the Type-A carefully since he's excitable and driven.
- Do: Provide stimulation for all his senses and plenty of space to run.
- Don't: Ignore his need for rest time in a soft retreat.
"The Clever Mensa Member"
Every object is a toy to chew on, dig in, or fling about. Exercise pens are meant to be tugged open and rattled ludly to get attention from all beings. New places are fun to explore, be they rooms, stairs, chairs, or tables. She understands what you are asking her to do; when she is in the mood — because of hunger, curiosity, or boredeom — she will agree. If she is domineering, it means stay out of her way. If she is playful, it means explore with me. If she is people-shy, it means tell them what "I" want.
- Do: Learn from the Clever Mensa Member and figure out which bribes work best.
- Do: Barricade her pen using heights, weights, padlocks.
- Don't: Put a toy in her face unless you want it thrown back in yours.
- Sometimes: When you can outsmart her, still let her win.
Her goal in life is to groom or clean rabbits in her care, and she takes this job very seriously. If a rabbit under her care has eye issues, the nurse will make sure the rabbit's eye is kept clean and gunk-free. A rabbit who is unable to groom his rear or ear because of a disability will find that his nurse will keep him clean by taking care of those hard-to-reach places.
- Do: Find her a mate (AKA patient).
- Don't: Stand in the way of her calling.
The follower is a happy-go-lucky bunny. While he doesn't like being picked up, you can pet him on the floor all day long. He always partakes in adventures around the house, but you will never see him in the lead. He tolerates the occasional nip from his partner without retaliation. What he lacks in bravado he makes up for in charm.
- Do: Pamper the Follower with lots of pets.
- Do: Give him his treats where he can finish them before they are stolen.
- Don't: Try to pick him up.