Review: Why Does My Rabbit? [+ two book giveaway!]

Why does my rabbit...? Anne McBrideJust before Christmas (Happy New Year!) Souvenir Press offered to send me a copy of ‘Why does my rabbit…?‘ by Anne McBride to review. In case you haven’t guessed, I said yes and here is my review.

The book is divided into three parts, the first ‘Behaviour Counselling for Rabbits’ discusses behaviour counselling briefly, but more interesting is the information on the history of the domestication of rabbits (who first arrived in Britain with the invading Normans) and the influences on rabbit behaviour – that old and much debated topic – nature verses nurture. McBride also talks about the influence of ‘Management’ – the way an individual rabbit is kept, such as the space it has access to, social companions and diet, and how these can effect rabbit’s behaviour.

I think these are some of the most under appreciated influences on behaviour. Too often people write off a rabbit as being aggressive or grumpy natured when they are just reacting to the environment provided for them. The lovely people that adopt rabbits from rescues and provide wonderful environments are often rewarded with rabbits that flourish in their new surroundings.

Part two asks ‘What is a Rabbit’ and looks at wild rabbit behaviour, which is excellent, because if you want to understand pet behaviour you really need to put it into context. It covers how and where rabbits live and reproduce. It includes quite a bit of detail about rabbits senses and habits and how they are adapted to help them survive:

If feeding close to a place where a predator could be hiding, near a hedgerow or a shed in the garden, for instance, then the rabbit will lift its head often to check that all is well, a lesson Peter Rabbit’s father had not learnt, to his cost. Frequent checking is also necessary if the animal is feeding a long way from its burrow, at a distance of over 35 metres (38 yards). To cover this sort of distance at speed is quite an effort and may mean it gets outrun and caught by a swift-footed foe such as a fox. But when a rabbit is feeding a reasonable distance from its burrow and clear of any cover which could be advantageous to an enemy, it can afford to relax a little, knowing it has time to retreat to its burrow if surprised.

The final part, and the longest, answers the question ‘Why does my rabbit…?’ with an A (Attack me when I bring food to her?) to Z (Zoos) look at common issues, which includes a few non behaviour related tit-bits such as agility, old age and injections.

Some issues are more indepth than others for example, chewing the hutch is covered in just half a page, but there are so many different aspects covered that you’ll gain much more reading the whole thing and seeing how changing ‘management’ to help with one issue will often help with others.

The surprising thing is this book was originally written in 1998 (15 years ago), but you wouldn’t know it reading it. Whilst many other rabbit care books that old are now completely out of date and some so bad they make me cringe, this could have been written yesterday. If I had to find something negative to say, it would only be that we’d perhaps plug neutering slightly more strongly (though it is mentioned several times throughout the book) as a first step in more behaviour problems, e.g. aggression, today, but it’s become a much more routine operation and much easier to find vets familiar with it.

In summary, I would recommend every rabbit owner have a read of this book!

bookgiveawayTwo Book Giveaway!

I love getting free bunny bits and bobs, and I think my lovely readers should get to enjoy the feeling too, so I’m giving away this copy of ‘Why does my rabbit?’ along with a special edition of my own book ‘Understanding Your Rabbit’s Habits‘ which has 10 articles on bunny behaviour problems added to the back in addition to the illustrated guide to bunny behaviour. It’s the perfect package if you’re interested in rabbit behaviour.

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me the naughtiest thing your rabbit does. I’ll pop all your names in a hat and pick a winner on Feb 1st.

One final thing, I’m getting the hang of twitter, so if you’ve got an account please say hello to me @therabbithouse

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24 Responses to “Review: Why Does My Rabbit? [+ two book giveaway!]”

  1. Lisa says:

    Love this post – and if I don’t win I’ll be buying the book anyway!
    The naughtiest thing that Buttons did was to break through a board to get under our kitchen cabinets (they were slightly loose so totally my fault!)… and he went behind the fridge and discovered a “root” that needed pruning (i.e. the energy wire to the fridge). Hence a fridge repair, lots of frozen food having to be thrown out… ooops. But in context I can see why this behaviour wasn’t naughty to him at all…. x

  2. Lindsey says:

    My bunnies all without fail do the same thing with toilet roll tubes if I give them some to play with. They will throw them about and generally have fun, so I go away happy that they are enjoying themselves. When I come back, every single time, they have thrown the tube into their water bowl, lol. They all do this. You can see the amused look on their faces when I come back and have to change their water!

  3. I had a house rabbit in college whom I spoiled by letting her have the space of my room to roam while I was in class. On really busy weeks when I wasn’t giving her as much attention as usual I would come home to a wet comforter on my bed from said bunny really telling me how she felt about that situation! If by chance I will please pick another winner for your book since I already bought it!!

  4. Mackenzie says:

    My bun is normally very well-behaved, but for some reason seems to think that the dish that catches the drip from his water bottle is a great place to pee! Other than that spot he always uses his litter box otherwise (which is right next to it…)

  5. The naughtest thing Bramble, our house bunny has ever done was to bite through the Christmas Tree lights! Luckily they were not on at the time. I warned my boyfriend not to let him into the room were the tree was, as I had read all sorts of things about bunnies biting through the lights. He insisted on letting him in, and before he even got into the room himself, Bramble had run past him and bitten through the lights. Not really Bramble’s fault, and I was so glad they were off!! Bramble has also nibbled some of our pine furniture since becoming a house bunny, due to health reasons….I think I could forgive him pretty much anything though!

  6. DLC says:

    Chewed vacuum cords! I can’t leave the vacuum sitting out! Had to replace 2 cords! and my first bun dug into bed box springs to create a hideout mom couldnt get to!
    I’ve been lucky to have limited naughty behavior because I provide alot of toys, beds, tunnels, etc. all of which get chewed and aok. Learned to protect carpet in corners, protect cables, wrap fine furniture legs, & now have a mattress cover sealing box springs, etc. Most frustrating naughty issues are behaviors associated with bonding.

  7. Rabbitude says:

    She knows when we wanna lure her into the cage. sHe KnOwS………

  8. zoe says:

    Dexter is usually very good, but when he wants my attention he steals anything on the coffe table he can reach so i run and scream (but we both know we are playing and having a good time)
    When he is mad at me he gives me the evil eye and “fights” and bite his plush toy. Sometimes i think he wold do it to me.
    I always say it’s like having some kind of teenager!

    Anyway, we love each other a lot.

  9. DIana Moll says:

    peeing on my bed after we’ve had a nice petting session

  10. Mei says:

    Nice book review! Sounds like a good read. It’ll definitely bring some insight into why my rabbits do odd things.

    One of the naughtiest things my rabbits do involve terrorising the cats. Nibbles, my black and white dutch will chase after our two cats and attempt to groom them. Whenever Summer sees a cat, he would initiate charge mode, which involves pointing his ‘helicopter’ ears forward like a bull and dashing straight at one of our cats and performing an emergency brake just before he crashes into them. He would then grunt loudly, as if to say, ‘oi, cat, watch it!’
    Since their actions go against cat etiquette (slow movements, with a polite nose touch at a safe, polite cat distance), my two cats now run whenever they see the bunnies.

  11. Angela says:

    Mister Theo is naughty when he doesn’t do his deeds in the “potty box.” He sometimes likes to trick you into stepping on his poo (luckily not both poo and peepee). He will wait until you are doing something that requires going back and forth in the room and then he strikes, sits backs, and watches and waits for something to hit one of his “log like” land mines. I truly thinks he enjoys when my sock has mush on it! Normally, he does not trick (as I keep a good eye out for his tricks), but every now and then, I step right into his trap. I can picture him chuckling thinking, “I got her good this time, can’t wait to strike again!!” He is definitely not like any other rabbit I met, but he sure is my best friend poo and all and even his tricks make me laugh!

  12. george says:

    My bunnies are lots of fun but my female bunny is very naughty to her boyfriend, she is the more dominant one and takes great pleasure in humping him regualy which he seems to not mind, however when he wants to hump her she seems to always have the same response, as a ex-breeding bunny she has rather chubby ankles and drops these to the floor whenever he gets near her, thi shas been gong on for years now and we feel very sorry for him as he has never had his wicked way with her and is constantly getting off her to go round and see why he cant manage it, biting her back end to see if he can get it off the floor. There is def something she learnt as a breeding bunny!!

  13. allison says:

    My bunny Fluff Muffin knows where he is not allowed and tries his HARDEST to go to those places. He loved to chew on the bottom edge of my couch until he learned that he wasn’t supposed to (as soon as I would say “NO!” he’d run back to his pen). Well, the couch was still getting chewed up, but I could never catch him doing it. With a bit of spy work, it turned out he would run and chew chew chew as soon as I left the room, and upon hearing me come back he would race back to his pen as if nothing had happened!

  14. Sally says:

    My late Bunny Foo-Foo chewed a hole in the carpet of my first apartment. I lost my deposit. After that I would cover the exposed carpet with old carpet scraps that I’d throw away when it was time to move, or look for places with no carpet at all.

    Or there was the time she knocked the W off my keyboard. Actually, she knocked off several keys when she ran across my laptop keyboard. The W was the only one that wouldn’t snap back on. Dad went to a local Mac store and told them what happened. The salesman thought the story was so funny that he gave my Dad a new W free of charge.

  15. Debbie Bailey says:

    Hello, I had to think very hard about this one, my house bunny Frodo tends to be very good, though on occasion he does get up to mischeif. He loves to try and get places he is not supposed to go, this involves digging and nawing which ever he deems is needed, he is so funny when he does this though, he looks at me first, then puts his nose upto the place, chins it (as though to say, I am just looking and claiming my space) looks at me again, then has a sly dig :o). The only other time I can remember is when we were budgy sitting (yes, budgy sitting for my mother in law) and the budgy (Fizzy) decided he wanted to become friends, he sat on top of Frodo’s cage which is an open topped run , and said “I love you I do, Frodo good boy” then proceeded to fly down onto Frodo’s floor, Frodo didn’y really like that and bounced on Fizzy :0 don’t worry both animals where fine, though Fizzy did loose a few feathers ;o) Friend or Foe, a suppose it depends on bunny etticate, now we let them out at different times when Fizzy comes to visit, and Frodo does stomp his dissaproval when Fizzy snuggles with me. I have to make sure he gets his cuddles too :o)

  16. Roos says:

    My lovely bun Troy is really a good rabbit, until that fatal moment you don’t close the bedroom door. He loves to ” make” my bed, which in his case means making holes in the duvet- and pillowcovers. Making the bed also includes digging holes, for which he in the end apologises by licking your entire hands.

    When I go to bed, I always offer some raisins and a slice of apple, and tell him: ” go to bed” on which he jumps in his cage, and happily munches away. Bribery gets you everywhere 😉

  17. Jaimie says:

    My bunny, Jam, recently discovered shoes and I’ve been finding her chewing on them. I’ve tried leaving her other things to chew on where the shoes are kept, but she still prefers the shoes. So now I just hide them in a closet when I remember to.

    Love your blog!

  18. Katie says:

    My bunny hates me cleaning his litter tray out and everyday he waits until I have taken it out and quick as a flash he jumps in his cage and poops in the spot where his litter tray sits, I swear it’s his way of protesting and he saves it up for then!

  19. Chris says:

    My rabbit likes to put his treat ball in his water bowl; he does this nearly every day. I don’t mind so much but then he can’t drink out of his bowl and it makes the food go all mushy and has to be thrown away. I now have two water bowls for him so if he does it when I’m not around he still has water to drink.

  20. Emma says:

    We’ve recently bought a house bunny and at 15 week he’s discovered he’s getting big enough to hop the fence when left uncovered…since he has had a few mischievous days roaming free in the room when we’ve been out. I was greatly amused just this week when my partner left the room and I went to the en-suite of where Chester our rabbit is housed, I had literally just closed the door when I heard a clatter. On opening the door again I had a very sheepish looking rabbit sat on the bed outside of his run knowing he’d been busted in his escape process!

  21. Sophie says:

    My rabbit is constantly spilling his food and water dishes when he gets excited. The best is when he spills his food dish into his water and it gets all soggy and gross. It doesn’t seem to matter how heavy the dishes are, he always manages to throw them around. Other than that he is very polite and never chews my stuff

  22. Lisa says:

    I read this book pretty shortly after I got Biff (I was a rabbit ignoramus at the time) and it helped IMMENSELY in understanding the rabbit psyche. Of all of the rabbit books and websites I’ve read I think this was the one that helped the most.

    I need to buy your new book!

  23. Debbie Bailey says:

    Hi Tamsin and Scamp,
    Just wanted to say Thanks very much for the books, they have been read cover to cover already by myself and family members too. We were so pleased to have won (we’re not normally so lucky). Hope you got my e-mail with the pictures we sent 🙂 thank you once again….Bunnies rule ok!
    from Frodo and his bunny Mum x

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