Rabbit personality is influenced by age, breed, gender, sex and living conditions. Discovering your rabbit's own unique personality is one of the great joys of rabbit ownership...
Certain factors such as gender, age, breed and living conditions greatly influence a rabbit's personality. Within this, every rabbit has its own unique personality and this is one of the great joys of rabbit ownership, one which often leads to rabbit owners feeling a very close personal bond with their rabbits. The extent to which a rabbit feels secure in its home and how much freedom they are allowed has a huge effect on how much of their personality they will exhibit.
Generally speaking, rabbits who have not been neutered or spayed have one thing, and one thing only, on their minds - sex. It is such a driving force that it practically obliterates more subtle personality traits. More importantly though, it is very stressful for the rabbit and causes a lot of frustration and suffering. Females in particular suffer an 80% risk of uterine cancer by the age of 5 if left unspayed. It is much better for rabbits and their owners if rabbits are de-sexed.
Male and female rabbits are distinctly different from each other, even after de-sexing. Males tend to be more easy going and relaxed while females are usually "the boss" of any household. In the wild, rabbits pair up into couples with the female digging their burrow and the male defending her and the burrow against intruders. This behaviour can still be seen in domestic rabbits, with the female being the territorial homemaker and the male taking a more protective role and standing guard over the female.
Rabbits often go through a "stroppy teenager" phase which can last up to the age of about two years old. They may be less willing to be stroked and handled, more aggressive and withdrawn. In the wild, young rabbits who have not yet paired up tend to live on the outskirts of the warren, effectively sleeping rough in the open. This is the age when they prove themselves and establish their place in the hierarchy.
Breed probably has the biggest influence on a domestic rabbit's personality. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the rabbit the more laid back it will be. Large and giant breeds have a shorter lifespan of around 5 to 6 years while small and dwarf breeds may live for up to 12 years or more. Small breeds tend to be more highly strung, energetic and are more difficult to handle. Please refer to our Breeds section for detailed information on individual rabbit breeds.
Rabbits that live in pairs or groups and that are able to exercise without restriction show the greatest amount of personality. House rabbits in particular, who live so closely with their owners, tend to incorporate the humans and any other pets in the household into their own "warren" hierarchy. Rabbit behaviour is fascinating but so much of it is rarely seen because of the wrong living conditions. A rabbit alone in a hutch is likely to only exhibit the worst kind of behaviour i.e. self-destructive fur pulling and overeating.