Whenever you see a rabbit, you’d feel so drawn to them.
Though they’re very cute, they’re also very difficult to get close to.
Even the slightest sound and movement can make them run away.
It can be challenging to get close to a wild animal, especially wild rabbits.
So… how can you win over their trust and friendship? Read on to find out:
- What to feed a wild rabbit.
- 13 tips to befriend a wild rabbit.
- Signs of rabbit friendship approval.
- How long it takes to befriend a wild rabbit.
- And much much more…
How to befriend a wild rabbit?
You can befriend a wild rabbit by using the classic method of giving food or treats. Most rabbits are food-driven and love sweets. Feed them small amounts of food but remember to be patient.
How to tame a wild rabbit?
You can tame a wild rabbit by making them familiar with you. Familiarize them with your presence by visiting them often. Don’t engage the rabbit and only hang around them. Once they realize that you’re not there to harm them, they’ll come to you on their own.
13 tips to befriend and tame a wild rabbit
#1: Start by getting familiar with each other
Before you think about befriending them, taming them comes first.
To tame a wild rabbit, you should take it slow. Let them know that you’re around but do not approach them.
Observe the rabbit and let them observe you.
Knowing their own behavior can make it easier for you to get close to them!
As the saying goes, first impressions are very important.
For prey animals like rabbits, they will run very far away if they mistake you for a predator.
So for the first meeting, take it easy and relax with them in their environment.
Here are things that you can do to not alert the wild rabbit by your presence:
- Read a book.
- Text on your phone.
- Lay down and take a nap.
- Use headphones to listen to sounds.
Be silent and maintain a calm atmosphere.
They are sensitive prey animals, so you have to avoid scaring them away.
#2: Wear blue, green, and red colors
Fun fact, did you know that rabbits see the colors blue and green the most?
According to a study, rabbits have limited vision when it comes to colors.
So if you want a wild rabbit to notice you right away, you should wear colors like blue, red, green.
You may call this color therapy to make a rabbit become familiar with you.
Red can be a good first choice because it’s a color they don’t often see in the wild.
This unusual color can attract a wild rabbit to you. But they won’t approach you right away.
Seeing something new, wild bunnies will be cautious.
After all, unusual colors could be signs of traps from their predators.
Don’t wear red all the time and switch between blue, green, and reds.
Blue can give a calming effect for bunnies, wild or not. It’s a soothing color for them.
Meanwhile, green is a color that they’re neutral with. They’re already surrounded by green in the wild.
But that’s exactly why green is a safe color for them.
Note: Rabbits have a different vision from humans. Avoid wearing things that will make you look different in their eyes. For example, wearing a backpack might make it difficult for them to recognize you.
Try dressing as simple as possible whenever you appear in front of them.
#3: Avoid standing up and stretching out your arms or legs.
Rabbits are small creatures that can get scared by a lot of things.
So, avoid making yourself look larger than you already are.
Lie down or sit with your legs close together. Make yourself look as small as possible instead.
Stretched out arms and legs can also be mistaken for aggressiveness.
Predators tend to make themselves look bigger to warn other animals.
It’s like saying, “Come and fight me, I’m ready to take you on!”
That’s why you should avoid stretching your arms out.
Reading tip: 21 Proven Ways To Instantly Calm Down A Scared Bunny
#4: Don’t wear strong perfume
Keep in mind that rabbits have a strong sense of smell and they can be sensitive to it.
According to a study, rabbits rely on their sense of smell 99% of the time.
So… you must be careful with your scent whenever you appear in front of them.
They will rely on your scent to get familiar with you.
Wearing perfume can irritate their sensitive nose and run away from you.
Other than perfume, there are certain scents that will draw them towards you. There are also scents that will drive them away.
Let’s start by knowing what to avoid so you don’t scare them by accident.
Here are examples of scents that rabbits dislike:
- Lemon balm.
- Chili powder.
- Crushed red peppers.
Wild rabbits don’t like these scents because of various reasons. The top reason being that they remember the scent of food that didn’t taste well for them.
Other than disliking the food, they know some of those plants can make them sick too.
It doesn’t always scare them but these odors can annoy them.
Now, here are scents that wild rabbits love:
- Sweet foods.
Bunnies have a sweet tooth. They can get attracted to whatever they find sweet.
As the list shows, they are food-driven and always think with their tummies.
Wild rabbits are often in search of sweet treats.
So, try to visit them when you’re smelling fresh and sugary!
#5: Give them treats from a distance
Remember, patience is the key to taming a wild rabbit. It’s one step at a time.
Take action by giving them treats. Put it on the ground and leave it there.
It must be little bites of snacks for them to chew on.
Note: They are wild animals, so don’t give them too much food. Small cuts of food are good enough for a small rabbit.
As mentioned earlier, rabbits are food-driven. They love a variety of food and aren’t picky eaters.
You won’t have a hard time finding a suitable treat for them.
Here are some foods that you can offer to a wild rabbit:
- Dandelion greens.
- Tomatoes not including the leaves.
Wild rabbits love vegetables, herbs, and fruits as you can tell from this list!
Bananas are one of the popular, top favorites of many bunnies.
Keep in mind that the food on this list are the common safe choices.
Avoid giving them food that you’re not sure about.
And as a friendly reminder, a rabbit’s diet is very sensitive so do NOT overfeed them.
Warning: It’s not recommended to feed fruits and vegetables to bunnies less than 12 to 20 weeks old. Inappropriate feeding can endanger their lives. Let the mother rabbit handle a baby rabbit’s feeding.
#6: Create a trail of food and lead them to you
After giving them enough time to get to know your presence, it’s time to take the next step.
Now, you can try getting close to them.
To do so, you can start by leaving a trail of food that they can follow.
Remember, they are very food motivated.
At this stage, you already know the food that they can’t refuse.
Use that as your “bait” to lure them towards you.
Don’t move from your spot.
Sit down and hold out your hand, letting them see that you have more food with you.
This is best done with no other people around, so try to do this when you’re alone.
At first, you may notice that there will be moments of hesitations for the rabbit.
It’s a typical reaction for rabbits to still have doubts.
Try not to get too excited as this can make them think you’re a predator.
If the rabbit comes to you for the food in your hand, hand feed it to them.
But do not touch them right away. Instead, raise your hand in slow-motion and let them see your movements.
If the rabbit stays still and continues to eat, it’s a good sign that they’re relaxed.
#7: Study the signs that a rabbit likes you
At this point, you need to know the signs that the rabbit is becoming tame. Wild rabbits can be harder to read, but this list will help you out.
- Gentle nibbling.
- Circling your feet.
- Sitting next to you.
- Eating around you.
- Rolling around you.
- They do the “binky” around you.
- Grooming themselves near you.
- Their muscles are at ease and not stiff.
- They close their eyes when you touch them.
As a prey animal, a wild rabbit will always avoid letting their guard down.
Nudging you with their head or nose is a sign that they’re curious about you.
Sometimes, they might nibble on you or even lick you.
Further reading: 17 Ways To Tell Your Rabbit Likes You (Check Out #7)
For visual references, you can check out this video!
“Do wild rabbits bite you?”
Rabbits will rarely bite but they might nibble on you too hard.
They also do it in self-defense and will immediately run away after the bite.
A wild rabbit might bite you when they’re shocked. An aggressive rabbit will bite you if they think they can dominate you.
But that’s not what happens in wild encounters.
Rabbits in the wild would know that they can’t dominate a human. So if they bite you, it’s because they got scared.
If you get bitten, it’s not always alarming.
Most rabbits do not have rabies or infectious diseases since they are healthy eaters.
So, don’t worry about getting bitten. Pet them when you get the chance.
Give the rabbit some time to relax before engaging them again. You need to let their fear fade away before trying to get close to them.
You might also want to know: Fact Check: Can A Rabbit Bite Your Finger Off? 15 Vital Tips
#8: Pay attention to their body language
Knowing their body language is important to tell if they’re relaxed or not.
You can take tips from the list above this section, signs that a rabbit likes you.
If a wild rabbit circles your feet, it’s a positive body language. Circling your feet is also known as their “happy dance”.
By circling your feet, they’re trying to say something like, “I’m happy to see you!”
If the rabbit sits next to you, they definitely feel safe with you. They want to get closer to you.
Meanwhile, if they eat around you, it’s a bigger sign that they feel calm with you.
They are more vulnerable to attacks while they are eating.
So if they can eat around you, they’re starting to trust you.
You can tell if a rabbit trusts you if they are playful around you.
Rolling around on their backs is playful behavior. But you won’t always see this behavior right away.
Additionally, rabbits do the “binky”.
“So what is the “Binky?”
The binky is that high-energy run that they do.
Rabbits will zoom back and forth then jump between those runs. They will kick their tiny little feet in the air.
It’s their way of expressing that they’re overjoyed or very excited! This is a great sign that the wild rabbit is very happy to see you.
Other than doing the binky…
Grooming is also something they only do if they feel safe in their surroundings.
Like eating, they are vulnerable whenever they’re distracted while grooming themselves.
Try to pay close attention to their body. If their body seems stiff, then it means they are on guard.
But if their muscles seem relaxed it means they feel safe. You can tell easier by looking at their ears.
Note: A tense bunny will have their ears perked up straight and they sometimes freeze on the spot. Their breathing is also faster than usual if they feel threatened.
Finally, closing their eyes is a great sign that they feel safe around you.
Animals in the wild always need to keep their eyes wide open.
So the only time they would close their eyes for a few seconds or longer is when they feel relaxed.
For example, if they close their eyes while you are petting them, that’s a sign of acceptance.
#9: Use a soft tone of voice
If you manage to get the rabbit close to you, you can get tempted to talk to them.
Talking to a wild rabbit can catch them off guard, so use a soft tone of voice.
Be gentle and sweet like you’re talking to a baby.
Remember, rabbits have a very strong sense of hearing. You need to use a low voice to avoid startling them.
Unlike other animals… there’s actually no specific sound to draw a rabbit to you.
So… talk to the rabbit about anything that comes to your mind.
It’s important to let them remember your voice if you plan to keep visiting the wild rabbit’s home.
#10: Give them pets
If you confirm that the rabbit has accepted you, reach your hand out to them for a pet.
Remember, don’t make sudden movements. Let them see where your hand is and make sure your hands are warm and dry.
Most rabbits love being pet on their foreheads.
Pay attention to their breathing while you pet them. If their breathing is starting to turn rapid, stop petting them.
Chances are it’s the first time they got touched by a human, so let them take it easy.
Warning: If the rabbit stops moving as if they’re frozen, they might be too shocked. Check if their breathing is stable and back away for a bit. Let them relax and recover from the shock. They are prone to heart attacks so being extra careful is important.
#11: Know the right spots to touch
If you’re finally able to touch them, don’t mess up by touching them where they hate it.
Other than their foreheads, rabbits like being pet behind their ears too.
Some bunnies might like getting rubs around their cheeks.
You’re lucky if a wild rabbit will immediately let you touch those places.
But most rabbits don’t like when you touch their feet, legs, tail and their belly.
Predators often aim for those spots so avoid touching them around that area.
In the worst cases, a rabbit might kick you if you touch their stomach.
Their stomach is one of their most vulnerable spots after all.
“How do I know if the wild rabbit enjoys petting?”
You can determine if the rabbit likes being pet based on their body language.
Sometimes, they get too nervous and freeze on the spot.
People might misunderstand and keep petting them instead.
So here are small signs that a rabbit is enjoying your petting.
- Their muscles relax.
- They grind their teeth.
- Their breathing is normal.
- They expose their belly to you.
- Nudging your hand for more pets.
You can tell that a rabbit is enjoying it if their body relaxes too much.
They can look like marshmallows melting to the floor.
If their body is almost like sinking to the ground then they’re loving it.
At the same time, rabbits grind their teeth and it’s the same as purring.
You can hear that small sound if you listen close enough.
Pay attention to their breathing as well. If their breathing is not rapid, it’s a sign of calmness.
Another thing rabbits do is they flop over to their side or to the ground, exposing their bellies.
Remember, their belly is one of their most vulnerable spots.
So if they expose their belly to you then they trust you well enough. Don’t touch their belly though, pet them on their forehead instead.
You can also try petting them on their side but avoid their lower back near their butt.
Check if they want more by stopping and leaving your hand close to their face.
If they bump your hand by nudging you, they’re asking for more petting.
Sometimes, they might also stay still and look at you with a confused face.
Wondering… “Hey, why did you stop? Give me more”
If you reach this stage with a wild rabbit, it’s safe to say that you’re already friends with them.
#12: Don’t pick them up
This tip is very important. A lot of people who have no experience with rabbits might pick a rabbit up.
NEVER pick them up. Wild rabbits might panic if you hold them.
Even domestic rabbits don’t like getting picked up unless they’re very used to it.
If you pick up a wild rabbit, they might think you’re a predator.
What’s worse is you might give them a fright-related heart attack!
But if there are rare cases where you might have to…
You also need to know how to pick them up the right way.
Many people end up injuring rabbits because they don’t know how to pick a rabbit up.
The first thing you should know is you shouldn’t pick them up by their ears.
A rabbit’s ears are very sensitive. Even the slightest stress you cause to their ears can leave serious damages.
The next thing you should know is you must hold them tight.
Even if a rabbit is calm with you, they might still panic once you pick them up.
Make sure to keep them steady by holding them tight enough not to suffocate them.
Put your hand on their back to support it. A rabbit’s back is also sensitive like their ears.
Carry them as they are, don’t make them stand up or lay on their back.
Avoid pulling their legs if you’re going to lift them up.
Instead, scoop them from underneath their belly and carry them that way.
Warning: While walking with a rabbit in your arms, don’t run. Being unable to move in the arms of a human might increase their heart rate. This could end bad and cause them to have a heart attack.
#13: Don’t force them to stay
Finally, you became friends with a wild rabbit after taming them.
But what now…?
If you want to keep hanging out with the rabbit, let them decide what to do.
Rabbits are social animals and there’s a great chance they are with other rabbits.
They won’t stick around too long even if you want them to.
Rabbits have to go back to their nest to avoid predators from spotting them.
So if a wild rabbit wants to go, then you let them go.
Forcing them to stay is only going to ruin your friendship with them.
A wild animal must stay in the wild for their own good.
If you’re lucky, then you’ll run into them again next time.
“Is it okay to tame a wild rabbit to be your pet?”
If your sole purpose of taming a rabbit is to make them into your pets, it can be a bad idea.
Wild animals aren’t meant to be pets.
In fact, taming one is already a risky decision.
For example, what if the rabbit you befriended runs into a bad human?
The rabbit can be an easy victim because it learned to trust humans.
Before you befriend and tame a wild animal…
You must consider what could happen afterwards.
A wild rabbit can also get sick from human contact alone.
Even if you aren’t sick, you might be carrying some bacteria on your shoes or your food.
If you plan to capture the wild rabbit and keep them in captivity, it can also end up dying.
Wild animals like rabbits may not do well in captivity even if you take care of them.
They can get lonely, stressed, and depressed. It can be all three at once too.
Instead, try to consider adopting a domesticated rabbit for everyone’s safety.