Bunnies as prey animals would seem to be very quite, shy and fearful. Do they do anything to mark or defend their territory?

The best answer will include references, be focused on house rabbits, include some of the detail on their wild counter parts, and address cross species (e.g., cat and dog) competition.

  • I have a cat and a rabbit who co-exist extremely well. They're great friends and love to cuddle and groom eachother. My rabbit is definitely the dominant personality in my household.
    – Shelbz
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 18:16

2 Answers 2


Rabbits mark their territory using scent gland located under chin. Male rabbits, or bucks in particular, will often rub their chin on anything they consider theirs. This is referred to as chinning. Rabbits will do this to define territory boundaries. In addition, rabbits will spray their territory. Bucks and Does are both capable of spraying; however, bucks do so more frequently. This behavior is often subdued by altering the animal. Another method rabbits use to identify territory are territorial droppings. These dropping are often scattered within territorial boundaries.

Rabbits, being a prey anima,l will generally not fight larger animals who enter their territory. Some pet rabbits, especially Does, will become territorial if kept in a cage environment. Generally, the rabbit will warn intruders with grunts and thumps. Thumps are used to warn other rabbits of nearby danger. Sometimes, rabbits will cower, charge, scratch and or bite when felt threatened. If these behavioral traits are noticeable, it is wise to approach your rabbit from the side rather than the top, since this can be considered threatening. Altering the animal can cut down on territorial aggression caused by hormones. Additionally, making each encounter with the rabbit enjoyable by petting or hand-feeding can calm uneasy feelings toward the handler.

References can be provided. However, I have 10 years experience raising and breeding Netherland Dwarves, which is a particularly territorial rabbit breed.


Pet Rabbits are often referred to as house rabbits. They are from the general Domestic rabbit stock that trace their origins to the European rabbit or common rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) native to southwestern Europe (Spain and Portugal) and northwest Africa (Morocco and Algeria). In the wild these rabbits live in underground warrens, in small groups. Territoriality and aggression contribute greatly to the rabbits maturation process and help ensure survival of the population. Wild Rabbits use droppings (ofter referred to as pills) to mark the territory of the group warren. This natural habit is part of what leads to the ease of litter box training, but also leads to the need for more than a single litter box when a bunny has a larger area, like all or part of a house (bunny proof areas only please).

Aggression in bunnies comes in two basic forms. One is behavior with humans; the other is dominance interaction with other bunnies. It can be physically initiated by teeth or nails, audible warning in the from of thumps or growls are also possible. Interactions with other bunnies is covered under the general term of "bonding", and should be addressed in a different question/answer. The introduction of multiple rabbits for long term coexistence should not be undertaken lightly.

Aggressive behavior of bunny towards a human can have many sources, all are behavioral and can be modified, the forms usually taken are nipping, lunging & growling. With growling being moderately rare. Each bunny is a special case, there are many online resources (i.e. House Rabbit Society) and there are many local organizations (i.e. Rabbit Wranglers that can offer assistance in identifying the cause and correcting the behavior.

Cats and Rabbits while they might not do well in the wild, do extremely well in a home. The experience of the group of volunteers I work with, tends toward a single cat and a single bunny being possibly one of the easiest friendships to make (same or different species).

Dogs and Rabbits again home is different then the wild. This interaction is very dependent on the personality of the two animals, and generalizations would impractical. Due to the potential size difference, the interaction is mostly dependent on the dog.

In general house rabbits are often the dominate creature in a multiple species household. In the end rabbits are very demanding of attention and any animal or human who will provide grooming on demand need not worry about bunny aggression.


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