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Rabbit body language: what is your bunny trying to tell you?

rabbit in hutch surrounded by sawdust

Rabbits have a complex language.

They communicate with each other and with us by using a wide variety of body positions, nibbles, nudges and postures.

Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits do not make proper noises to get our attention.  By learning the body language of your bunny, you can figure out what they are up to – most of the time!

Petplan looks at how you can build an understanding of ‘rabbit talk’ by interpreting their hops, kicks and movements…

Ears – rabbit radars

Rabbits’ ears are used for tuning in to what’s happening around them. Their ears are both expressive and inquisitive.

If your bunny’s ears are up and/or twitching, they are alert and listening for sounds. If one ear is up and the other down, your bunny is still trying to listen to sounds, but just doesn’t feel what’s going on needs their full attention.

When your bunny is relaxing, they will rest their ears against their back to indicate pleasure. The ears will be touching in this situation. If the ears are not touching each other, this can indicate a sign of fright. If fright is the case, the flattened ears will be paired with wide eyes, thumping and teeth showing.

If they appear scared, take time to comfort and reassure them.

It’s all in the eyes

Your bunny will close their eyes when they are either resting or being petted in just the right spot. This indicates happiness.

If wide eyes are accompanied by spiked up fur and noises, this means fear. If your bunny has wide-eyes that are paired with sniffing and straight-up ears, it means excitement.

Your bunny will indicate emotion by allowing their inner eyelids to partially protrude and become visible when they are uncomfortable.

Nose chatter

A rabbit’s nose is like a social thermometer, indicating how interested they are in what’s being observed. Faster wiggling means your bunny is more attentive or agitated.

Rabbits may rub noses with each other, or even rub their noses on you. This is a definite sign of affection and trust.

Sniffing is a sign of investigating. If your bunny enjoys sniffing you, it is likely because you have touched another animal or have their scent on you and therefore, your rabbit is naturally inquisitive.

Nose bumping or nudging can mean “out of my way,” or “Hey, give me attention!”

Follow their Feet

Rabbits thump to get attention, display fear, to express displeasure, or as a warning to others that they have seen or heard something.

Kicking and scratching is a sign of aggression. However, foot-flicking and kicking feet back and out while hopping means that your bunny is excited.

Running fast and hopping shows that your bunny is in a playful and happy mood.

House rabbits usually have smaller spaces to play, however, when they have a larger area, they will run fast and hop around.

Does your bunny display any unusual body language? Let us know in the comment section below…

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