Q: Help! I have a 3-year-old Rex female rabbit who is not very friendly and seems frightened most of the time. It takes a lot of effort for me to get to hold her. We let her roam free in our home, and she spends most of the time under one of our boys’ beds. We just got a new Flemish Giant girl, and our other rabbit is now extremely aggressive and biting and growling. She even attacked the Flemish. Any help in making our Rex more comfortable and loving would be greatly appreciated.
A: First of all I would suggest getting an exercise pen to contain your Rex rabbit inside your house. It is great when rabbits have the run of a whole house, but if they seem afraid and hide a lot, it is not ideal.
To help your Rex feel safer, make the exercise pen her home, outfitting it with everything she needs. Spend time in the pen with her, talk to her softly and offer some veggies by hand. With time and patience she should learn to trust you. When she is comfortable with you and comes up to you inside the pen, then allow her playtime outside of the pen. Once she seems comfortable and unafraid during this playtime, you can allow her to live in a rabbit-proofed room. If you then want her to have run of the house, do it gradually.
Besides her initial fearfulness, you are now dealing with territorial behavior because you have added another rabbit. Your Rex thinks she has to protect her territory, which happens to be the whole house. Rabbits often want to fight with another rabbit when they first meet, so it can be very dangerous to just let them be in the house together. There is a bonding period you need to go through when introducing rabbits, first to see if they like each other, and second to gradually get them together without fighting. Plus, both rabbits must be spayed or neutered before doing the introduction.