A rabbit that is constantly trying to escape its cage, jump out of your arms when you’re holding it, or run away whenever you let it out is not only frustrating and disappointing for you, it’s somewhat miserable for the rabbit as well. These behaviors may indicate that your rabbit is unhappy or uncomfortable with something in its surroundings.
So, why does my rabbit always try to escape? Your rabbit may be unused to being handled. It may lack trust for you or people in general. It may also be frightened, stressed, frustrated, bored, or lonely.
In this article, we’ll look at the foundational reasons a rabbit may continuously seek escape. We’ll follow each issue with a plan to help you work through the problem and strengthen the bond between you and your bunny, making your relationship much more satisfying for both of you.
Why Your Rabbit Tries to Escape its Cage
Some rabbits are especially discontent with their cages. They may chew and rattle the bars. Some even go as far as bending the cage bars by pressing their faces through them, which puts them in danger of getting stuck. If not addressed, this behavior can become habitual.
It is Bored or Stressed
One reason your rabbit may constantly try to escape its cage is that it’s bored. Rabbits are intelligent, busy animals that need things to do and think about. A stereotypic behavior like bar chewing can also be linked to stress.
Your rabbit may be stressed by other pets hanging around the cage, a cage mate it doesn’t always get along with, or a recent change of environment among other things.
You can deter your rabbit from trying to escape its cage by providing it with plenty of enrichment inside. Toys, tunnels, and boxes or huts for hiding are all essential for making your rabbit’s cage feel like home.
Make sure there is nothing near the cage that could be stressing your bunny. Getting your bunny out and interacting with it regularly will also keep it from being as bored when it has to stay in.
It Wants to Explore
Rabbits are super curious and love to explore, which could be another reason your rabbit wants to escape its cage. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! You may notice this behavior at times of day when your rabbit would be most active—morning and evening—or after your rabbit has discovered a new part of the house.
Basically, your bunny feels it is being restricted from its own territory, which can be very frustrating for it.
If possible, allow your bunny to free range in a larger area of your house or in a safe outdoor run. If it has to be in its cage at least part of the time, try to let it out during its most active periods so it can get rid of energy.
Then by the time it has to go back to its cage, it will be tired and ready for a nap. You can also try coaxing your rabbit back into its cage by offering treats there. This way your rabbit feels like going into the cage was its own idea and associates the area with good things.
It Wants to Get to Another Rabbit
If you keep another rabbit but don’t allow the two together, one rabbit may constantly try to escape its cage because it wants to get closer to the other rabbit. If the other rabbit is nearby, the attempts to escape may be accompanied by grunting or honking sounds.
The first step to dealing with this issue is getting your bunnies spayed and/or neutered. Then you can start the process of introducing them to one another. Start gradually and always monitor their interactions at first so you can break up any scuffles.
Rabbits are social animals that love company. Many will not be satisfied until they are able to interact with any other rabbits in the house.
Why Your Rabbit Tries to Escape Your Arms
A rabbit that tries to leap out of your arms is hard to hold onto and may even injure itself. Rabbits have fragile skeletal structures that can be wrenched or broken by trying to lunge out of your arms, but a rabbit that is uncomfortable or frightened will try to do so anyway.
It Feels Insecure
One of the main reasons a rabbit may try to jump out of your arms is that it feels insecure. This is especially true of a rabbit who struggles while being picked up or put down. Make sure you’re holding your rabbit firmly but gently and supporting its body with one hand under its hind quarters. It also helps to cover your rabbit’s eyes as you lift or lower it.
It is Frightened
As a prey animal, a rabbit’s first instinct when frightened is to run. If you are holding your bunny and something frightens it, it may panic and try to escape your arms. Holding your bunny securely and gently is one of the first ways to keep it from being frightened. Also make sure it is not startled by the sudden approach of a dog or another person.
If your bunny is unused to being handled, it may just take a while for it to be comfortable with being held. Try sitting on the floor with your bunny in your lap, cradling it against you while you stroke it gently. You can also use treats to get your rabbit used to sitting in your lap and being handled.
It Wants to Run Around
Rabbits can be a bit like young children this way. A bunny that wants to get down and run around will kick and struggle relentlessly. The best remedy for this is simply to give your bunny its way. Let it down to run around.
Don’t hold your bunny when it doesn’t want to be held unless it is absolutely necessary. You don’t want your bunny to associate being held with frustration. If you must continue holding it, try to make it a pleasant experience by gently petting your rabbit or offering it a treat.
Why Your Rabbit Tries to Escape by Running Away
What about a rabbit that always runs from you? The most common reasons for a rabbit to run away are that it wants to explore, it is bored or unsatisfied with its current situation, or it needs to bond with you and become tamer.
It is Expanding its Territory
Your rabbit’s curiosity will lead it on an everlasting quest to expand its territory and explore new areas. It may constantly wander away, try to dig under fences, or avoid being caught not because it wants to leave for good but simply because it wants to see more of the wide, wonderful world.
You can decrease your rabbit’s attempts to explore beyond its boundaries by expanding those boundaries as much as possible. A rabbit will be less likely to try to escape from an area that is already fairly large and interesting.
If your rabbit’s only chance to explore is when you are around to supervise, make sure it’s getting enough of this time. A rabbit that doesn’t get enough chances to explore may run away when you try to catch it because it doesn’t want its time out to end.
It Is Unsatisfied With Current Situation
A rabbit that hates its cage or is bored or lonely may also try to run away when it gets a chance. Make sure your rabbit is getting plenty of interaction and enrichment in its home environment. Providing lots of toys and foraging opportunities can also keep your rabbit from becoming bored and going off in search of a more interesting setting.
It Needs to Know You Better
Finally, your rabbit may try to escape from you simply because it doesn’t know you well enough. You can easily remedy this problem by spending more time with your bunny and letting it figure out that you’re a fun, interesting person. Don’t pick it up unless you have to. Instead, offer treats and gently pet it.
If your rabbit is very shy, try sitting or lying on the floor and waiting for your rabbit to come to you. This makes you look less intimidating and eventually your rabbit is almost certain to get curious and come over. Offer a treat and slowly move your hand to pet it.
All of these reasons your rabbit tries to escape can be summed up in three main categories. First, they are unsatisfied—bored, lonely, or in need of more space. Second, they are frightened or insecure.
Third, they don’t know you well enough to be bonded to you. The first step to addressing any of these three issues (besides spaying or neutering) is spending more time with your bunny, which should be enjoyable for both of you.