Bunnies are cute, so most people prefer to keep them as pets. The fact that they can be trained makes them even more likable. But before you get one as a pet, you’re wondering, can a rabbit bite your finger off?’
Yes, rabbits can bite your finger, although it rarely happens. They have a bite force similar to that of a domestic cat (70 Newtons). This is much lower than a dog’s bite force which ranges between 147 and 926 Newtons depending on the breed.
In the normal food chain, rabbits are prey animals, not predators like cats and dogs. As such, they are timid and tend to run and hide when scared or threatened. So even if they bite you, it’ll be a minor wound. However, a rabbit in the habit of biting needs correction.
Below are some reasons why rabbits bite humans.
Why Rabbits Bite Fingers?
Serious injuries from rabbit bites are rare, but this doesn’t mean they never happen. Below are some reasons why most rabbit bites happen.
Rabbits are prey, so their reaction to threats is running, freezing, or hiding. But they’ll thump, squeal, and breathe heavily when they cannot run and hide. So while showing fear from time to time is expected, it’s not healthy for your bunny to be in a stressful environment.
Bunnies don’t like to be held. Because of their timid nature, they prefer calm and quiet people. They’d instead approach you than be chased and have a place they can retreat to when things get overwhelming. Without this, they might feel cornered and retaliate with aggression.
Kids tend to overwhelm rabbits with attention wanting to hold them and play with them, putting them at risk of being bitten. So, before you get your domestic child rabbits, train them on how to handle rabbits properly instead of winging them and hoping for the best.
Mistake Your Finger for Food
Kids always go through short and quick training on feeding animals like horses and even giraffes at the zoo. In this training, kids are taught how to approach wild animals and hold a treat in their hands, ensuring they are flat so that the wild animals don’t mistakenly bite it thinking it’s food too.
Since bunnies are often in enclosures and kids shove treats through the holes, bunnies think anything pushed through the holes is food. And because of poor lighting or just habit, a rabbit will bite first and determine later if it’s food.
Illness or Hormones
Occasionally, rabbits nip or bite when they are sick or in pain. If you notice a change in your rabbit’s behavior (it’s biting instead of nipping), take them to the vet for a checkup.
If you leave your rabbits intact, they can become aggressive and territorial. This is because hormones impact their adrenal gland (the same organ producing adrenaline). It’s especially true for male rabbits that nip when mounting.
On the other hand, female rabbits can be cute and cuddly when in heat. Although adorable, leaving them intact increases their risk of uterine cancer. All this is to say that spaying pet rabbits are best.
For Play and Communication
Rabbits don’t have limited vocal communication. Some of the communication noises they make include:
- Blowing air through their teeth to make a zzz sound when scared or stressed
- Squealing; is a bad sign.
Aside from these and a few other noises, rabbits normally don’t vocalize. Instead, they nip for communication. Some reasons bunnies nip includes when they;
- Want attention
- Are annoyed
- Want to play
What to Do if a Rabbit Bites You?
Below are some things you should do when a pet or wild rabbit bites you.
Although rabbit bites hurt, it’s essential to stay calm. When you panic, you risk making things worse. For instance, if your bunny has some disease from a parasite or bacteria, panicking only speeds up the spread of bacterial and fungal infections. Instead, take slow and deep breaths to remain calm and clear your head.
If you’re lying or seated on the ground, have someone help you. For now, focus on treating your rabbit bite wound and not the rabbit.
Stop the Bleeding
Next, do some first-aid on your treatment. For example, if the baby rabbit bites are bleeding non-stop, take steps to stop them. This is super important if there’s a risk of rabies infection. Yes, rabbits can carry rabies too.
It was proven that rabbits were used to develop the very first anti-rabies vaccine. This proves that rabbits are prone to getting rabies infections.
If your rabbit has rabies, you and your pet need help. The same study outlines signs your bunny has rabies:
- Head tilting
- Head tremors
- Ear infection
- Weak front limbs
- Joints making a cracking sound
- Excessive wheezing
Note: if you think your rabbit has rabies, the first order of business is getting properly treated, not determining how they contracted it. Go to the vet and the doctor for your rabbit and yourself, respectively. But if you don’t think they have rabies, proceed to the step below.
Clean Your Wound
Once you’ve managed to stop the bleeding, clean the wound. How much time you take cleaning depends on the depth of your injury.
Wash your wound with some soap to kill bacteria. Use some ointment to treat the injury as well. If you decide to use betadine, use a small amount. Too much betadine is harsh on your skin.
After cleaning the wound, pat it dry and wrap a bandaid over it to prevent parasites and bacteria from accessing it.
Keep Your Wound Clean
In addition to cleaning your wound, you should ensure it remains clean. Failure to which you risk contracting an infection. If your injury is taking time to heal, change the bandaids. Letting a bandaid gets soaked in blood and cover the wound for too long might slow the healing process.
A small rabbit bite should only take 3-7 days to heal unless it’s a deep wound.
If your wound is severe, take some time off to relax and rest. If there’s an infection, this is even more reason to rest. If taking some time off work isn’t possible, try slowing down and allowing your body to channel energy to healing.
Take Some Antibiotics
If you’ve gone to the hospital or seen a vet and they determined the bite gave you Pasturella, you should take some antibiotics to deal with the bacteria.
Pasturella is common in bunnies and can be a severe threat if left untreated. In rabbits, the disease attacks the lungs resulting in strained breathing. Although it’s rare in humans, it weakens the immune system. Some symptoms of Pasteurella include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Joint infection
In severe cases, you can develop lung problems and pneumonia. Treating the disease requires amoxicillin taken according to the doctor’s prescription. In addition, you can give your rabbit enrofloxacin to treat the infection.
However, if the condition and symptoms are severe, visit the vet immediately.
Get an Anti-tetanus Shot
the human body needs tetanus shots last for ten years. So, if it’s been more than a decade since your last shot, you should get one. I can hear you thinking, isn’t tetanus for when a piece of rusty metal cuts me? Well, yes. Also, bunnies don’t usually carry tetanus so that you won’t get it from your bunny.
However, the open wound can let in bacteria causing tetanus to turn a not-so-serious situation into an emergency. If, for whatever reason, you cannot get to a hospital, drink penicillin to kill the bacteria. You can also pop some muscle relaxers if you need to control spasms caused by the rabbit biting.
Don’t Touch Your Bunny With Your Wound
If your wound isn’t too serious and you can delay the first aid for later, make sure you don’t touch your bunny. Even if the bite isn’t serious, you can quickly get infections if parasites or bacteria are on your rabbit’s skin. The same applies if you have other pets as well.
Doing this helps you lessen the risk of fungal and bacterial infections. Taking a step back also gives your bunny time to relax and come out from what caused them to bite.
Avoid Using the Bit Finger
Aside from being cautious not to touch your pet rabbit, it would be best if you didn’t use the wounded finger for anything. This is especially important if you haven’t wrapped the wound in a bandaid.
Touching surfaces with open wounds increase the risk of infection. You never know the kind of bacteria lying around waiting for an opportunity to wreak havoc. If your job involves handling different things with your hand, try disinfecting the objects or surfaces before handling them.
Get Constant Treatment
As your wound is healing, be committed to completing your dose of antibiotics and other medications. Following through with your treatment guarantees a speedy recovery. On the flip side, the situation can worsen. One day your healing may be going great, and the next, the wound worsens.
After all this, you should learn how to avoid getting bit again. To do this, understand the cause of the bite. As mentioned, some reasons your rabbit bit you include:
- They were stressed
- They were shocked
- They were trying to dominate you
- They were annoyed
- They thought you were holding food
Train Your Bunnies to Stop Biting
In addition to learning why your rabbit bit you, you can train them to stop. If biting you has become a common problem, help your rabbit get out of it. An excellent way to train your bunnies is through positive training. Many rabbits don’t respond well to shouting and yelling.
Hitting your bunny will only make them misbehave more. Even if they bite you, never yell at them or hurt them. Instead, tell them ‘Stop’ or ‘No’ with a clear tone they can remember. Reinforce this by showering them with praise and giving them treats when they act right. Rabbits love treats so that this trick will work perfectly.
Rabbit Diseases That Can Pass to Humans
Yes, rabbit bites spread diseases. So far, we’ve alluded to several diseases that your pet rabbit can pass to you. These diseases don’t have to be through a bite; even insects can transmit them. As we take a deeper look, remember that these transmissions are rare.
Bacteria are in plenty. Luckily, most of these infections are prevented by cleaning rabbit bite wounds. However, as mentioned above, if your injury is infected, visit a doctor for treatment.
Pasteurella is a bacteria that causes mastitis in animals. It passes to humans through dog bites. It’s not usually serious, but for people with a weak immune system, it can be a cause for concern.
Bacteria cause tetanus, but it rarely happens in humans since most have had a tetanus shot. But if your bunny bites you and you cannot remember when you had your last shot, you should get a booster shot.
Also known as deer fly fever. It’s nasty but rare. If you suspect your bunny has it, get medical help immediately. Treatment involves taking antibiotics.
Rabbit Diseases That Don’t Pass to Humans
Below are unpleasant conditions that may affect your pet rabbit but cannot be passed to you.
It’s a result of protozoa messing with the rabbit’s intestinal tract.
It’s caused by myxoma, a virus that causes disease in hares and rabbits. While it may not hurt you, you should get your rabbit vaccinated.
It results from a protozoal parasite and is often passed from cats to pregnant women through their litter trays. So far, cats are the only animals that can pass this parasite when alive.
As a rabbit owner, you should know rabbit toys aren’t like dog or cat toys. Most are made from natural materials like grass, coconut fiber, straw, and wood.
- Brown paper bags – old brown paper bags are a good idea for rabbits to have fun. In the same way, toddlers love wrapping paper more than their gifts; rabbits love brown paper bags.
- Hanging chew toys – hanging chew toys are a delight for rabbits. They are available in a range of shapes too.
- Coconut fiber balls – these provide amusement and roughage to your bunny. They are better than having your bunny eat wallpaper.
- Empty paper-towel rolls – empty toilet paper rolls are a good way for rabbits to have fun.
- Grass hideaway – Rabbits don’t love exposure. Grass hideaways make them feel secure and safe while giving them something to scratch and nibble at.
- Grinding claw pad – rabbit teeth are ever-growing. The only way you can keep this phenomenon from being expensive at the vet is to scratch and gnaw their nails and teeth to a good length. Grinding claw pads give rabbits a surface to ease their boredom and meet their gnawing needs.
- Interactive treat game – unfortunately, teaching your rabbit poker isn’t an option. However, playing a treat game can amuse yourself and your rabbit.
- Natural wood toy pack – natural wood toy packs are good amusements for rabbits. However, like it is with toddlers, you shouldn’t put them all at once. Instead, give them two or one, then rotate so your rabbit remains intrigued and away from cords around the house.
- Newspaper – if you have some old newspaper lying around, your bunny will enjoy nibbling, scratching, and ripping it.
- Tent – holes your bunny can hide in are always welcome. A soft tent is a comfortable place for your bunny to rest.
- Toy tree – toy trees are ideal for rabbits to boop and nibble their toys. The fiber is also good to chew on.
Although pet and wild rabbits can bite your finger and cause serious harm, it’s unlikely. However, you should watch out for any odd behavior if your bunny is injured or sick. Also, be on the lookout for boredom and ensure your bunny is safe and occupied when active.