We have a wonderful lopped eared bunny named Addie. She hops over to the children and allows everyone to pet her. The only problem we have with her is that she bites us when we pick her up. This is a behavior that seems out of character for her. Why do you think she is doing this?
It is very common for small animals to bite their people when they are being picked up. Owners of dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and turtles call me into their homes to solve this issue. In my experience, I have found that there are a few reasons for this behavior and simple ways to correct it.
Many animals complain of being picked up too fast resulting in nausea or vertigo. When lifting your animal off the ground you should move slowly allowing them to gain perspective of their surroundings. You may also want to approach your animal more slowly. Birds especially do not like a hand moving fast towards them.
Other animals complain of their under arms hurting. When you lift your animal up support them under their belly and their bottom rather than grabbing them on either side of their arms.
One rabbit explained to me that she did not like how her father twirled her. Her father loved to pick her up and dance around the room with her. Though she didn’t mind being held, the twirling made her dizzy.
Some animals have a fear or old memory of falling. Animals feel safer being held closer to your body and supported. Then there is the issue of pain in the body. Some animals do like to be picked up because their body hurts. Perhaps their back, knees or stomach is in pain and the lifting and/or the holding is actually physically painful for them. If this is the case watch your animal and notice weather there is one position or another that you animal feels more comfortable in.
It is important to move slowly and to watch your animal more consciously. It is then that you will see why they do not like to be picked up and begin to experiment on how to make it a more pleasant experience for them.
Laura Stinchfield is a certified dog trainer and pet psychic. E-mail questions for this column or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org,