Do Rabbits Hold Grudges?

Do Rabbits Hold Grudges?

Yes, rabbits do hold grudges. Rabbits are intelligent and emotionally sensitive animals, and they have good memories and can remember negative experiences or situations where they feel threatened or mistreated.

If a rabbit feels fear, pain, or discomfort due to the actions or behaviors of their owner, it may develop a grudge against that owner. This grudge can manifest as avoidance, aggression, or other signs of unhappiness.

Can Rabbits Hold Grudges?

Yes, rabbits can hold grudges. Despite their cute and cuddly appearance, these pets are not quick to forgive and forget. When a rabbit feels mistreated, threatened, or even just slightly upset, they can carry their grievances for a surprisingly long period.

These grudges are not just a fleeting mood but rather a deeply ingrained response to perceived wrongs. Understanding the reasons behind your rabbit’s grudge-holding and knowing how to mend the relationship is essential for you as a bunny owner. So, if you’ve ever wondered whether rabbits can hold grudges, the answer is a resounding yes.

Why Do Rabbits Hold Grudges?

1. Stressful/frightening experiences

Rabbits are prey animals, and they can easily become stressed or frightened by situations they perceive as threats. Sudden loud noises, exposure to unfamiliar environments, or handling that feels unsafe or uncomfortable can all cause a rabbit to feel stressed or upset.

2. Changes in their environment

Rabbits are creatures of habit and can become upset when their environment is altered. This can include rearranging their living space, introducing new objects or smells, or disrupting their established routines. Rabbits prefer stability and can react negatively to sudden changes.

3. Fear and Pain

Improper handling that causes fear or physical pain can lead to rabbits holding grudges. Rabbits have delicate bones and can be easily injured if not handled gently. Traumatic experiences like being grabbed unexpectedly or dropped can create a strong association between the negative experience and the owner.

4. Lack of Respect for Boundaries

Rabbits are naturally prey animals and need spaces where they can feel safe and retreat. When owners invade their safe spaces or force interactions when the rabbit wants to be left alone, it can lead to resentment over time. This perceived intrusion on their territory can cause rabbits to become defensive or avoidant.

5. Territorial Disputes

Rabbits are highly territorial animals and can take time to adjust to new rabbits or other pets in the home. Frequent battles over space and resources can lead to stress, and the rabbit may associate this stress with the owner for not intervening or providing proper accommodations.

6. Punishment

Rabbits do not understand discipline in the same way dogs or cats do. Any form of punishment, whether physical or verbal, can make rabbits see their owner as unpredictable and dangerous. This leads to distrust and potential grudges.

7. Neglect

Rabbits are social animals that require daily interaction and exercise. Being isolated in a cage for long periods without stimulation or companionship can lead to depression and distance between the rabbit and its owner. Lack of bonding time can contribute to grudges forming.

How Long Do Rabbits Hold Grudges?

The duration a rabbit can hold a grudge can vary and depends on several factors, including the individual rabbit’s temperament and the specific situation that led to the upset.

Grudges in rabbits can persist for anywhere from a few weeks to potentially years depending on the severity of the cause.

For minor incidents, a rabbit’s grudge may last only a few minutes to a few hours. During this time, they may exhibit behaviors like avoidance, flicking their feet, or refusing interaction.

However, if a rabbit experiences repeated or prolonged stressful situations, its negative feelings may persist for longer. This can occur if they are consistently subjected to actions that they find frightening or uncomfortable. In such cases, a rabbit may hold a grudge for several hours or even days.

Signs Your Rabbit Is Holding A Grudge Against You

1. Avoidance

One of the most common signs that a rabbit is upset with you is avoidance. Suppose your usually sociable bunny suddenly retreats to hidden corners of its habitat or perches up high to stay away from you. In that case, it’s a clear indication that they are not happy with your recent interactions. They won’t voluntarily approach or interact, preferring to keep their distance.

2. Aggression

Aggressive behavior in rabbits is a definite red flag. If your once-docile bunny starts grunting, lunging, kicking, or even biting you, it’s a sure sign of distrust and unhappiness. This aggression can be directed at you or other pets in the household, and it’s essential to address it promptly.

3. Lack of Grooming

Grooming is a social bonding behavior for rabbits. If your rabbit suddenly stops grooming you or your clothing and avoids petting altogether, it’s a clear signal that they are not in the mood for affection. This lack of grooming is a subtle but effective way for them to express their displeasure.

4. Lack of Treats

Rabbits are usually treat-motivated. So, if your rabbit refuses their favorite goodies when offered by you, it’s a strong indication that they are holding a grudge. Interestingly, they may still accept treats from other family members, which will make it clear that their issue is specifically with you.

5. Urinating/Spraying

Perhaps the most frustrating behavior sign of a grudge-holding rabbit is urinating or spraying in inappropriate places. Finding puddles in corners of their enclosure or even on your bed can be a rabbit’s way of expressing anger and protest. This territorial behavior reflects their unhappiness with recent events.

How To Apologize To Your Rabbit

1. Offer a treat

Treats are often a positive way to reinforce positive behavior and show your rabbit that you are sorry. Offer their favorite treat as a peace offering. Place it near them or in their food bowl, allowing them to approach it at their own pace.

2. Provide gentle petting

If your rabbit is receptive to being touched, offer them gentle and soothing strokes. Approach them calmly and allow them to come to you if they feel comfortable. Avoid picking them up, as this can escalate their distress.

3. Spend quality time together

Engage in activities that your rabbit enjoys, such as interactive play or allowing them to explore a safe and enriched environment. This can help rebuild your bond and demonstrate your commitment to their well-being.

4. Respect their boundaries

If your rabbit seems uninterested in interaction or is displaying avoidance behaviors, give them space and time to process their emotions. Respect their boundaries and allow them to approach you when they feel ready.

5. Make environmental adjustments

If changes in their environment caused the upset, try to restore familiar elements or provide additional comfort. Ensure their living space is clean, safe, and enriched with toys, hiding spots, and appropriate bedding.

6. Be consistent and patient

Rebuilding trust takes time, so consistently demonstrate your love and care for your rabbit through positive interactions, a routine feeding schedule, and a peaceful environment. Patience and understanding are key during this process.

Remember that each rabbit is unique, and it may take time for them to fully accept your apology. Observe their body language and responses to gauge their comfort level and adjust your approach accordingly.


Although there is scientific research on various aspects of rabbit behavior, including memory, emotions, and responses to stimuli, there is a lack of specific studies on grudge-holding in rabbits.

While rabbits have a good memory and can associate specific actions or events with positive or negative outcomes, the concept of holding grudges in the human sense has not been extensively studied or scientifically established in rabbits.

Rabbits’ behavior is primarily driven by instinct, immediate experiences, and their inherent social and hierarchical nature. Although they can exhibit behaviors that indicate displeasure or avoidance in response to perceived threats or discomfort, these reactions are more likely immediate responses rather than long-lasting grudges.

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