Negotiating Territory with Your House Bunny - The Carrot Tribune - October 2019

The Carrot Tribune

In this issue...

  • Basic Bunny Class
  • October Hoppy Hour
  • Bunny Pig of the Month
  • Negotiating Territory with Your House Bunny
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Basic Bunny and Guinea Pig Class

Our next class is Sunday October 13. Join us on our Facebook event page to learn more! 

1:00 to 2:00 - Handling and Husbandry
2:00 to 2:30 - Training

Bring your Rabbit or Guinea Pig. Learn easy handling and care-taking during the first hour, then for the last half hour play training games that are fun for you and your pet! 

$5.00 for an individual
$10.00 for a family
Free to BUNS volunteers

All classes are in the Humane Society Education Building, at 5399 Overpass Rd, Goleta, (to the east  of the Animal Shelter)

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October Hoppy Hour

This month's is Sunday October 27 from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM. So bring your fuzzy friend and give them an opportunity to socialize with other rabbits and guinea pigs! Socialization is a very important part of overall rabbit and guinea pig welfare, and a Hoppy Hour is the perfect opportunity to let your fuzzy one play with others. 

We'll be at the Humane Society Lawn, at 5399 Overpass Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93111. Admission is $10 per rabbit or guinea pig. All animals must be healthy and rabbits must have been spayed or neutered at least 30 days in advance.

Please join us for an afternoon of fun!

Our registration/waiver form is available online! Print it out before you come to save time at Hoppy Hour and Pignic registration! (If you've filled one out before, note that we've consolidated the Rabbit and Guinea Pig forms) You can download fill out out a form before coming:

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Alfalfa is the Bunny of the Month

Alfalfa is a self-assured piggy boy, and what a handsome fellow he is! He is a busy guy, but not too busy to accept attention and compliments (and of course, treats!). Alfalfa would love to find his forever family, and knows he'd be a great addition to a loving home.

Want to know who the Guinea Pig of the Month for September is? Visit to find out!

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Negotiating Territory with Your House Bunny

By Lee Barber

Bunnies are wonderful house pets. However, bunnies are territorial creatures and living with them entails negotiating territory. This process of negotiating can be lengthy, but once achieved means that your bunny can freely roam your home while respecting your space and belongings.

As silly as it may sound, I think it helps to actually consider bunnies as having a concept of personal property and it is important to respect it. You bunny needs a space of his own. This does not have to be a large space. I recommend establishing your bunny’s territory with a folding exercise pen. Everything within that pen belongs to your bunny. Let your bunny rearrange his toys, food bowl, and hay box however he likes. If you notice your bunny peeing in a particular spot outside the hay box, move the hay box to that spot or even add a second hay box. Otherwise, let him do what he wants in that space and relocate him when it is time to clean his pen, so he does not see your intrusion.

Now that your bunny has his own territory established, you can let your bunny explore other parts of home under supervision. It is important that during this supervised exploration your bunny is able to return his pen on his own both for his sense of safety and of course for when he needs to pee.

While exploring, your bunny will try to claim new territory and when he does you must counteract his territorial behaviors. Bunnies claim territory by leaving their scent. When your bunny leaves droppings, quickly pick them up and put them in his hay box. When he pees, pick him up, place him in his hay box and close the pen; then clean the pee spot with white vinegar to remove the smell. You will also notice your bunny rubbing his chin on various things, this is another territorial behavior, and you will need to wipe down all those surfaces. Your bunny will also shed, leaving his scent, so its important to regularly vacuum your home.

Besides cleaning, there are a couple of other ways to address territorial behavior. During exploration time, if your bunny returns to his pen, reward him with a treat or pets; and when he returns to his pen to pee in his hay box, give him an extra good treat! You can also let him know other spaces belong to you by leaving out clothing that carries your scent—shoes, socks, sweaters, hats—and let him smell and examine these things.

As your bunny gains a reinforced understanding of what space belongs to you, you can extend these exploration times, reduce supervision, and eventually remove the pen or leave it open. It takes time and consistency, but a free range house bunny is truly a joy to live with!