Weird Doe Behaviour

by Michelle Morrice

Aggressive Rabbit Behaviour

Aggressive Rabbit Behaviour

My doe 'Poppy' has been behaving strangely and out of her usual character.

She had 2 kits last week (8 days old) and all is going well there.

She remained sweet and approachable until today.

When I went to drop her some greens into her cage (indoors), she went for me. Actually charged to bite me. Then I dropped the greens in and she charged at those, I went to repeat giving her some talking soothingly and again she went for me.

It's so not like her, she's 6 months old, and this was her first kittling. She's been so tolerant of me around them, she actually doesn't bat an eyelid if I check them.

So what's with this aggression?

I've let her out for a run around and she's calm and placid again.

Go figure?

What could have caused her outburst of biting?


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Aug 21, 2015
Quite a Diva Now You Know
by: Kerry

Hi Michelle,

Arhhh your baby is all grown up with babies of her own. The dynamics will change now...

Don't worry, though, this is quite normal behaviour for her age and situation (6 months old with kits).

Here are some reasons for aggressive behaviour in rabbits with a few steps you can take that may help:

It's important to check first that she's not suffering with pain or injury especially if there have been any complications during or after giving birth.

She may have developed an illness or disease as her immune system will be very low after all her energy and nutrients have been directed towards her kits.

As rabbits are prey animals they hide their illness (weakness) with counteracting behaviour. This would cause bursts of aggression as stress, fear and survival instincts take over.

Get her checked by a vet to make sure her health is tip top.

Check out the Rabbit Behaviour Check Chart as this is an excellent place to help you recognise any sickness, injury, pain or suffering she may be experiencing.

This special dedicated page will help you spot these signs of stress, with behaviour descriptions, causes and additional solutions.

The most likely cause is 'hormones', as sexual maturity brings on territorial behaviour. As this kicks in rabbits become very protective of their space.

She allowed you to tend to her kits but she will warn you when you suddenly encroach on her space.

Get her spayed. Aggression is almost always sorted out by neutering and you should see a difference after a few weeks.

Some rabbits are very clever at adapting to their environment. Does are particularly clever, they have to be to ensure the survival of their babies.

Poppy may have learned that by being aggressive you will give her her food quickly, and, she may even get 'extra' while you attempt to pacify or calm her.

Giving her extra strokes, attention and more food after a bout of aggression is not a good idea. It only takes a few times and she will know to keep being aggressive because she knows she will get extra treats or stroking.

Avoid instinct-lead stress triggers, such as grabbing, reaching in the cage/house towards them and chasing (to catch them) for example.

Instead encourage them to hop out of the area you want to clean, put food in, change water etc.

Stick to a routine when feeding and exercising and let them know what is expected of them.

And most importantly don't reward bad behaviour and encourage the good :-)

Aggression can be genetic, however extremely rare (less than 99%). Most aggression is behavioural or situational.

Don't breed from her again. Get her neutered.

Boredom, lack of exercise, stimulation, play, diet, environment etc are all situational factors of possible aggression.

Always make sure rabbits are in a bonded pair.

Rabbits need the equivalent of 'two football pitches' of exercise every day. They need to be able to stretch, run and jump - high!

They need to be able to forage, play games and have fun so make sure they have plenty of places they can go to to dig, scratch, reach and nuzzle for food.

Also try to rotate and change their toys as often as you can afford.

Give them lots of head strokes and attention. Make sure their home is clean at all times


Their diet is the best it can be with lots of hay, greens and fresh water.

See for more on this.


I really hope something there will help Michelle.

I'm sure other people reading this will get some benefit too if they have had a similar situation.

Thanks for sharing.

Kerry Greener :-)
Just rabbits Limited

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