Rabbits

Rabbit Body Languages and Behaviors  

Rabbit body language
Written by Editorial

Nipping, mounting, licking, sniffing, lunging, circling, binkying, chinning, among many others are some of the ways by rabbits communicate with other rabbits, pets or handlers. Here is a summary of the common rabbit body languages.

Rabbits talk or speak via mostly their body languages and they may use a few vocal cues to send messages to other bunnies, pets or handlers.

Common rabbit body language and behaviors

Some of the common body languages which might indicate happiness, pain, irritation, love, disapproval, sadness, anger, alertness, affectionate among other things include the following. 

Rabbit body language
Rabbit body language

Rabbit nip

A rabbit nip is a mild bite that serves as a warning to invading their territory, handling them wrongly, an expression of fear, or if they are seeking your attention.

Nips may also be a normal part of playing as well as a courtship behavior during mounting.

Rabbit mounting

Mounting or humping is a body language that may indicate dominance where the dominant bunny mounts the submissive one or a sign of love and affection.

It can be interpreted to mean ‘I am the top rabbit or the one in charge’ or ‘I love you’

Rabbit standing on hind legs

A bunny standing on the hind legs is a body language that may be used to pass several messages or things such as checking to see if it is safe or being curious and wanting to see around.

Additionally, it can also mean wanting food or the hutch door to be opened.

Rabbit licking

If your bunny licks you or other pets, it is a sign of affectionate. He or she is trying to tell you ‘I love you’ and she or he trusts you.

Sometimes the licking can be accompanied by nibbling, and nuzzling and they all indicate love, trust or affection.

Rabbit pulling out fur or barbering

If you notice your bunny pulling off its hair, it may indicate several things including the fact that she is about to kindle, having a false pregnancy, skin infections, infestations by parasites such as mites and fleas as well as trichophagia where this pet may pull fur off itself or from another rabbit for several reasons.

Rabbit sniffing

A bunny sniffing could mean several things such as this pet is exploring the environment or investigating its territory. Also, it could mean this pet is mildly agitated if he or she sniffs loudly. It could also be she or he is just greeting you.

Rabbit Lunging

Lunging is a common rabbit body language intended to show disapproval that it may be triggered by various things including dominance.

However, it can also happen if your bunny is so frightened or this pet is simply trying to forcefully reach its food if you are feeding it by hand.

During lunging, rabbit snarling may also be noticed especially if he or she intended to bite or attack you.

Rabbit circling

A rabbit circling around another one or on your feet may mean several things. It could be a courtship behavior, begging for what you may be having, trying to get your attention, show dominance or even asking for your attention.

Consider the context when it happens and look at other cues that this pet may be having.

Rabbit kicking

Kicking is a body language your furry critter may use to let you know either he or she is happy and contented if it happens while running in a large rabbit run or this pet is frightened and scared if the kicking happens as you try to pick him or her.

Rabbit Binky

Also referred to as a jump of joy or jubilation, a bunny binky occurs when your bunny leaps into the air and makes twists and throws kicks while still in the air.

As already hinted, this is a common bunny dance used to show extreme excitement and happiness. Your pet is extremely excited.

Bunny 500

Rabbits are very fast animals and sometimes, they may run fast in their playpen or inside your house as if something or someone is chasing them. This is bunny 500 and it indicated extreme joy, happiness, and contentment.

These pets are trying to tell you, ‘hey, I am so happy with my life’, ‘I am excited’ and other happy and contentment messages.

Bunny flop

Rabbit flops refer to the rolling to the side. This keeling movement is often meant to mean that your furry friend is happy, relaxed or contented with his or her life.

Rabbit hiding

If you see your bunny hiding, it is trying to pass some messages to you which include he or she so afraid or frightened, he wants to be alone or he is stressed and unwell. Providing a secure hiding place is very important.

Rabbit nose twitching or wiggling 

Nose twitching is a normal behavior in rabbits that helps them detect scents better. However, if it is too fast it might indicate something new just entered his or her space, he is stressed, anticipating for something or trying to cool himself off such as in the case of a heat stroke.

On the other hand, slow or no nose twitching may indicate that your bunny is relaxed, and it trusts you and feels assured.

Finally, wiggling could be part of the process of sniffing and it will try to let you know that your furry friend is probably interested in what he or she is sniffing.

Rabbit spraying urine

Urine spraying behavior is noted among unneutered bunnies, especially the male ones and it involves unusual urination – it sprays urine of vertical wall – to mark territories. The urine has a stronger scent and female rabbits spray urine too. 

It can also be a sign of love (during courtship) if bucks spray to a doe or dominance if it happens to lower-ranking bunnies. Neutering and spaying can reduce this tendency.

During spraying, you will notice your furry friend twitching his or her tail i.e., tail twitching is a sign that a rabbit is spraying urine and it happens while he or she is urinating at an awkward angle.

Rabbit chinning

Chinning involves the pet rubbing its chin on various items including the handler and it is a means of territory marking. This behavior is commonly noted in buck than does. Females can also use it to advertise their receptivity.

Therefore, it could be a means of saying ‘I own this’ or ‘I am feeling hot’ among other messages

Territorial droppings

Sometimes, your furry friend may scatter territorial droppings to mark his or her territory. They often have a stronger scent.

Rabbit nudge or nose bumping or bonking

If a rabbit nudges or nuzzles you (gently push you with its nose), it is a sign that he or she loves you, wants your attention, trying to ask you to give him the way (being bossy).

Also, it could be that your bunny is just curious and being investigative and this will be followed by sniffing or nibbling.

These critters also be greeting each other by nose bumping, nudging or bonking. Therefore, it could mean a ‘hello’, ‘get out of my way’, ‘hey I am here, pay attention to me’, or ‘ I love you’, among other things.

Bunny Butt

It happens when these animals turn away, pout and show their backside (expose their back end). The showing of the backside may be a behavior noted if these pets are not receiving attention or response.

This may be noted after you stay away for a long time such as on vacation or a long workday. They are telling you they are not happy about how things are, and they need more attention.

Rabbit shaking head

Head shaking can be due to various reasons such as having ear mites, accumulated earwax, a sign of ear infection, suffering from a vestibular or head tilt disease as well as having an abscess.

During binkying, your bunny will shake his or her head as well as when he is performing half-binkies which are all signs of contentment. 

The head shaking is often side to side and it might involve shaking of the ears too. Sometimes, he or she may shake her head up and down or do what is called bunny head bobbing and this can be due to any of the reasons we have mentioned.

Rabbit rapid eye movement sleep (REM)

This is often followed by a short state of being awake. It happens when his “eyelids twitch, his ears twitch, and his whiskers vibrate. His teeth click. He starts to fall to one side, then rights himself, then relaxes again” [1]

REM sleep may indicate that your bunny is relaxed, comfortable and happy or he is about to slip off to dreamland.

Rabbit tail up

Usually, only the tail tip can be seen but during a tail up, it goes higher. A tail up may mean so many things and this body language will depend on the context as well as other cues including vocal ones. For instance, it is part of what happens during lunging. This can be accompanied by growling.

On the other hand, tail up may mean he or she is excited about something such as the treatment you are about to give him/her or a new toy.

Tail wagging

Sometimes, these pets may wag their tail. It is often a sign of defiance. He or she is trying to say ‘no, I do not want you to carry me’ or ‘I am not going to my cage’ and so on. Most bunnies will often assume you won’t notice them wagging their tail.

Rabbit tail flicking

Normally, these pets will flick their tail when they are about to attack you. You need to watch out if you see this pet flicking its tail.

Tensed body, ears laid back and tail upright

It is a warning that you sign for you to ‘watch out’. Your bunny is prepared to bite or lunge anytime. It is a common posture that this critter may get into when he or she is about to be aggressive

Standing in four, nose and ears forward and tail up

This is a sign that your furry friend is curious or trying to investigate something he or she may have sensed, seen or heard.

Rabbit happy feet

This occurs when this pet is lying down with his or her hind legs stretched fully backward behind his or her body. The message he or she is passing is ‘I am relaxed, but I can move suddenly at a moment’s notice’.

Rabbit begging

These animals do often beg for food, love, affection, attention, among other things. They beg by pushing their nose through their wire cage, run in circles if you are holding its favorite treat, stand up with their rear legs, or stretch to try to reach whatever you have.

Bunny rug

This position is characterized by this animal “lying with belly on the floor, rear legs stretched out behind and front legs stretched out in front” [2] as well as the chin resting on the surface and their ears will be at rest. The messages this pet is trying to pass include ‘I am relaxed and comfortable’ or I may need to take a nap’.

It is a sign that your furry friend trusts you so much as well as the environment. Normally, these animals are always alert unless they feel secure.

Bunny loaf or meatloaf position

This posture resembles a brooding hen and it may be referred as to bunny hen. It occurs when your furry critter “tucks his legs under himself, usually with a drooping head, relaxed ears, with eyes half-open” [3]. The ears may be at rest or half up.

It often indicates that this pet is sleepy and comfortable. This happens in a safe environment and it is a sign that he or she trusts you.

Sometimes, this pet may stretch his or her legs behind and how much he does this shows how much he or she is relaxed.

However, if it happens while the tail is up, he may be angry about something you may have done such as taking his or her toys, clipping his nails, and so on.

Rabbit ignoring

If you notice this behavior, it implies that your bunny trusts you. As a prey animal, these pets are often very alert and ready to flee in case of any danger. The ignoring may be accompanied with grooming, eating, and it happens if your bunny feels safe or is in a safe environment.

Rabbit Ear body language

Rabbit ears positioning, and movement can be used to express various information from relaxed to being attentive to being angry to being alert. They may be upright, forward, backward, on the sides and so on.

Conclusion

For you to be able to act according, you need to be able to correctly interpret or decode the various body languages that your bunnies may use. This needs considering other concurrent rabbit body languages or vocal cues as well as the circumstances or context under which it happened.

Leave a Comment