If you learn to read well your rabbit’s body language you have a great chance to build quality relationships based on mutual affection and understanding with your bunny.
Body language is the primary mode of a rabbit’s expression and communication. Besides body language rabbits make some vocalization and can even learn to understand some human’s speak and phrases.
I wanted to discover how happy, sad, stressed, the angry, scared, or satisfied rabbit looks like. That is why I did research to gather as much information as possible to decode most of the rabbit’s behavior patterns.
Rabbit’s Vocal Language
Although the vocal expression is not the main way to show their mood, feelings, wishes, fears, rabbits make some vocalization.
A typical sign that your bunny is irritated and that is saying ”back off”. A bunny that is grunting may also be frightened as he feels some threat. Rabbit can also express disapproval by grunting
Is a very soft sound. Although similar to grunting, its meaning is totally opposite and represents a happy rabbit
Also means happy rabbit but both honking and oinking are sounds that follow circling which is not vocal but body language. Three of them indicates that your rabbit needs spaying or neutering as they are hormonal behaviors
Can be mistaken for aggressive behavior. I am not saying that snorting the rabbit is not aggressive but this behavior can also mean that your bunny is trying to attract your attention or he strongly dislikes something. In certain cases can be a sign of upper respiratory infection.
If you hear your bunny squeaking it means that he is distressed or in some sort of pain.
Tooth purring or Tooth clicking
Means that your bunny simply loves the way you pet him or whatever you are doing, he enjoys it. Same as cats are purring when they are satisfied.
This is something totally opposite to satisfaction. This means that your bunny is having severe pain or he is distressed or feeling great discomfort.
I hope you will never experience this sound as it is horrible. His meaning is even more dreadful – your bunny is going to die or suffer from excruciating pain or fear.
Rabbit’s Body Language
The Loaf position
Your bunny is lying down, legs are tucked under the body but ears and eyes remain alert. Your pet looks like a loaf of bread 🙂 This means that your rabbit is relaxed and prepared for napping.
The Flop position
Rabbit’s legs are stretched aside or wide open. This is a sign of total relaxation and happiness.
Linked to flop position. It could look scary at first but it is a sign of happiness and relaxation. Your bunny is running around and suddenly fall over. It appears to have an attack but he is not. He just goes to the flop position.
This is quite a normal rabbit’s activity, same as you are taking shower. Rabbits groom themselves several times a day and that is why they are rather clean animals that don’t stink.
If your rabbit starts grooming you, that is a sign of great respect and affection. Don’t be surprised if your bunny grooms you and then stop expecting that you groom him now.
It is a reflex, like blinking in humans. Means interest, curiosity. Very fast nose twitching could indicate that your bunny has a lot of physical activity or can show anxiety.
Rabbits will stop twitching when they completely fall asleep. Don’t be surprised if you notice that your bunny sleeps with his eyes wide open, it can happen sometimes.
Begging for food
This position is similar to the position that dogs make in the same situation. The rabbit will stand on his hind legs and ”asking” for some treat touching you with his front legs.
Most probably he will look so cute at that moment and you will give him some treat. Just be careful not to exaggerate as an obese rabbit is not a healthy rabbit.
The Periscope position
Similar to the position when your bunny is begging for food. He will stand on his hind legs and watching better his surroundings. This indicates curiosity and wishes to get to his surroundings better.
Typical instinctual habit. Rabbits like to dig and if you don’t provide the place and material they could dig your carpet or blanket …
Could be annoying for you but very interesting for your bunny. This is the way the rabbits put the things how they like.
If your rabbit holds its ears up and facing forward it means he is listing something.
If your bunny nudges you it means he wants you to pet him, he is seeking attention. It can also mean ‘‘get out of my way’‘ but in a bad way, it just means that your rabbit is doing something else and doesn’t want to hang out with you right now.
Rabbits like to run, zoomies are like very fast running around. It means that your bunny is happy.
Very, very happy rabbit! He is jumping over with all 4 paws in the air and then makes a mid-twist before back down.
If your bunny nips you, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like you nor that he is aggressive. It can simply mean ”move over”.
Could be the sign that your rabbit is scared. Try to locate the source of his fear.
Sick or scared rabbit
Will be hunched over and his ears will be lying flat.
Your rabbit is marking territory. You should think about spaying or neutering procedure. After your rabbit being fixed most of the territorial behavior patterns will vanish or significantly reduce
Also, behavior that indicates marking territory. Another sign that your rabbit is ready for spying or neutering. Both males and females spray the urine in order to mark their area.
Circling – hormonal behavior
This means that your rabbit is ready for spaying /neutering. It can also be a sign of a happy rabbit.
Mounting – or humping.
One rabbit positions over the back or head of another fellow bunny. Although it can be the position for mating, it also means ”I am in charge” or ” I am a dominant rabbit”.
Rabbits are social creatures, live in groups so hierarchy needs to be established.
Chinning – marking the rabbit’s possessions.
Could be an object or you. The bunny rubs his chin against his possession and transmit his scent from the scent gland located there.
Flicking back legs
Although this action may seem like a part of ”binky ” if you notice some extra flick to the back feet, your rabbit doesn’t like something that you do. For example, you may notice this after nail clipping. In the wild, your bunny would use this movement for kicking dirt on something he doesn’t like.
Rabbits may thump when they feel danger and want to inform other fellow bunnies. They can thump because they are scared. Thumping is also the way the rabbits express the protest. Try to detect the source of fear. Pet and comfort your bunny at that moment to calm him down.
Believe it or not, your bunny may use his rabbit to send you a message. Wagging his tail means – ‘‘No, I don’t want to go back to my cage” or ” You cannot force me, you are not my boss”. It is the way that rabbits express disapproval.
Your rabbit is dreaming
If you notice on your bunny – eyelids and ears twitch,whiskers vibrate and teeth that are clicking, most probably your bunny is having a beautiful dream.
If you notice that your bunny is pushing or tossing the objects around, even larger and heavier ones such as the litter box, he is not misbehaving, he is just playing. Rabbits like to play a lot and need to have entertainments to avoid being bored and depressed.
”Don’t touch my stuff ”
Note that rabbits are big fans of habits and if you rearrange the things they have in their cage, expect to see your rabbits rebel.
As you can see reading the messages your bunny is sending you is not always easy nor the meaning is obvious.
I hope we have decoded the majority of behavioral patterns and that this will help you understand your pet better. If communication runs smoothly your relationship will be more quality and you will enjoy more each other’s company.
Some signs can indicate trouble or illness. It is always good to know what is your bunny trying to say, especially if this is the case.