Understanding your Rabbits Body Language & Behavior

Understanding a rabbits body language

A rabbits body language is not always easy to interpret at times. Every rabbit has their own unique personality and some may be more confident than others in expressing themselves.

All rabbits do things to communicate their feelings, whether they are happy, sad, excited or scared. To understand their behavior you can start by noticing the movements of their ears, if the rabbit is relaxed and happy the ears will be close together, pointing outwards and facing upwards

Similarly, if the rabbit is worried its ears will be flattened against its back. Others indicators of a rabbit’s behavior are their eyes and body posture.

Some of the signals are easy to interpret like binkies, but it’s not always obvious how your pet rabbit might be feeling. Our guide will help you recognize rabbit behavior clearly.

Are they a happy rabbit?

A rabbit having bed cuddles whilst loafed
A comfy Link the bun having a snug whilst loafed in bed!

You can easily tell when your rabbit is feeling content when they’re lying down calmly. You can recognize a happy rabbit by its relaxed body language.

Are they relaxed?

Relaxed Body Language: When the rabbit is lying down or stretching out, it indicates the rabbit is at ease and does not perceive any dangers in their surroundings, but they’re mostly alert even if their eyes are partially closed, their ears will be close together pointing outwards and facing a little backwards to catch any potential dangers.

When the rabbit is happy, they may take many positions like fully extending their bodies by stretching out their back and front legs. They also tuck their legs under their bodies (Loafing) or point out their front legs forward and their back legs sideways (Splooting or laying down).

What are binkies?

Binkies: Rabbits also show their happiness by doing happy hops, you can immediately identify their mood when their jumping playfully into the air and twists mid-air before hitting the ground.

Why is my rabbit circling my feet?

If your rabbit circles your feet/legs it’s typically a mating or sexual behavior which can be easily translated to loving you. This is more common when treats are involved or they’re quite simply happy to see you!

Why is my rabbit is laying down weird?

Rabbit flopped
Link the rabbit fast asleep and flopped

First time owners may be scared when they finally see their rabbit flop, but it’s completely normal and means they’re comfortable! There’s a few different variations of your rabbit getting comfortable such as splooting and loafing.

All of these are completely safe and not considered problematic, if your rabbit is sitting hunched up and in a corner and this seems uncharacteristic you should offer them a pellet or treat to see if they’re currently in pain or need a veterinarian.

Why is my rabbits teeth clicking?

Teeth Clicking which is often mistaken with Teeth Grinding is a sign of enjoyment. The happier variant of teeth grinding also known as “Tooth Clicking” can often be seen as lots of smaller mouth movements usually during a cuddle or scratches.

You’ll become quite familiar with the difference between teeth clicking and teeth grinding whilst spending time with your rabbit. Some are more vocal than others and some even create a purring like sound.

My rabbit nudged me with their nose

When your rabbit nudges you with their nose, there’s a few scenarios that can play out. They’ll likely be asking for pets or scratches but can also be asking you to simply pay attention or get you to move out the way.

Some rabbits find this a game and will often nudge you to move and then chase you, this can be seen the other way around in some cases as some rabbits do like to be playfully chased.

Tail Wagging

Whilst it may not sound right, rabbits can in fact wag their tail and is more often seen in younger rabbits who have a bit of character. A wagging tail is their way of saying they don’t want to do something and you can’t make them!

This is often seen as back-chat and can mimic that of a teenagers behavior. There’s not a lot you can do in this instance other than be a little forceful and keep at what you’re doing.

A relaxed rabbits body language
A relaxed Link! Chillin out

Are they Angry?

Angry rabbits typically use aggressive body language to communicate feelings of unhappiness when they want someone to go away from them.

Rabbit Boxing

Rabbits will change into fight mode as soon as they perceive any threat that they believe they can handle. You will recognize an angry rabbit if it sits up on its back legs and raises its front paws in a boxing position.

Thumping

Rabbits scare away potential threats by using its back legs;they loudly thump on the ground using their legs. Their facial muscles will look tense and their eyes will be dilated, their tail will be raised and ears pointing upwards.

Rabbits might even turn around and scare away the threat by hitting them or simply flicking them with their back legs.

Grunting

A rabbit grunting might be incredibly cute but it’s not something that should be taken lightly, a grunt usually means that your rabbit is angry and likely feels threatened in their territory.

In some cases grunting can be follows up with a nip or lunge, this is most common when you’re trying to feed your rabbit or readjust their living space.

This is because rabbits are creatures of habit and like everything as they leave it. If you’re regularly changing their surroundings this isn’t typically bad as they will adjust.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth Grinding tends to be much louder than Teeth Clicking which is much louder when they’re in pain and will often be accompanied by sitting in an awkward hunched position and more often than not in a corner to avoid feeling vulnerable to pray.

Teeth grinding is a sign that your rabbit is sick or in pain and will likely need veterinarian care immediately. If you’re unsure of your rabbit being in pain, try offering them a treat or some fruit, usually a disgruntled rabbit will turn this down.

“Don’t talk me, I’m angry”

An angry rabbits body language
Are you looking?

Also known as giving the cold shoulder, this one isn’t too bad. When your rabbit turns their back on you but looks over their shoulder it means they’re demanding an apology.

Simply give them some pets or a treat and they should be happy with you! If not, sit down with them and let them come to you!

When they’re ready they will let you know.

My rabbit bit me softly!

A bunny biting you gently is known as nipping, typically a rabbit will nip you to get your attention, get you to move or demand something. It’s not something you should worry about as it’s not a sign of hate.

If you do find that your rabbit nipping you hurts, simply let out a sharp cry of pain and they’ll soon get the message as you will be mimicing their natural defense mechanisms. After a few times, they’ll likely stop doing this to you.

In some cases, a rabbit during a hormonal period will be extremely ‘nippy’ and bite you more often when they want something or you’re in their territory.

If your rabbit has poor vision this can lead to them lunging and biting you as they think you’re food / a predator. If this is the case, try and approach them whilst talking to them and letting them know you’re coming closer.

Rabbit spraying

Rabbit spraying is infurating for anyone who has an indoor rabbit. Both male and female bunnies will spray to mark their territory, we highly suggest spaying or neutering your rabbit if this is the case as there are many reasons to do so and this is one of them!

My rabbit is pooping everywhere?

Rabbit droppings that aren’t in one pile typically mean that the entire area belongs to your rabbit. This usually occurs when your rabbit is shown new environments or has noticed changed in their current area.

If you notice your rabbits droppings in a neat pile that is usually an indicator they like that spot for a potential toilet area or that more litter box training needs to occur.

Can I change my rabbits behavior?

Rabbits by nature are extremely cheeky, it’s part of what makes us love them. However, if they’re chewing furniture, attacking your other pets or simply being naughty there are a few things you can do:

  • Clap your hands and shout no.
  • Stamp your foot like a rabbit would, this lets them know you’re unhappy.

Unfortunately, rabbits can’t exactly be punished, this is because they don’t quite understand discipline. However, simply making your house “bun-proof” and having lots of engaging toys. Enrichment is great for keeping your rabbits behavior in check!