How to understand your rabbit
Even though rabbits can’t talk, it doesn’t mean we can’t tell how they are feeling.
Rabbits are smarter than we think. They might get angry if they believe their owner hasn’t behaved well, they demand signs of affection, they know how to get attention and how to get what they want.
Mega Interesting offers you a list of typical behaviours that will help you understand your rabbit better.
Some notes on rabbit behaviour
When a rabbit feels pain, it will literally scream - it’ll be high pitched and powerful. If this situation occurs, do not delay in reacting. Check for signs of external injuries and take them to the vets as soon as possible.
If your rabbit is unresponsive, goes off their food or isn’t drinking - this is a sign that something is wrong. It could be just a rough day for the rabbit, but if signs persist, this is another occasion that a trip to the vets is the best option.
Panting or rapid breathing, tense facial muscles, both ears positioned back against the head and bulging eyes are signs that the rabbit is scared.
It is very important to know when a rabbit can be touched and when it is not recommended. If the animal approaches you and lowers the ears, you’re good to go ahead. If it turns its back or moves directly away from you, it’s most likely better to wait for another time.
Also, don’t panic if you see your rabbit leaping to the air and spinning on their legs like they’ve gone mad - this is simply a sign that they are very happy!
If your rabbit approaches you and lowers its ears, it means that its giving you permission to touch them. If you find as you approach that they turn their back on you, or completely hop off, it’s letting you know it's not the time for stroking them.
It’s not always obvious if your rabbit is feeling scared, but clear distress signs include: ears lying back against their head but not touching, crouching down or hiding, restlessness, squealing, grunting and heavy breathing.
Thumbing their feet on the floor can also be another sign of fear.
Don't underestimate your rabbit because it is smarter than you might think. Like a human being, rabbits get angry on occasions, sometimes want to be left alone and others - they crave attention.
Rabbits mark their territory just like the dogs or cats do. They do this by rubbing their chin on the particular object or space that they believe is theirs. They might rub their chin up against their owner too.
Territory markings don’t smell or stain, unless this action is performed by an non-neutered male - they mark their territory with urine.
If your rabbit screams - this means they fear for their life or are in excruciating pain. Search its body for signs of external injuries and it’s highly advisable to take them to the vets to be checked over.
If your rabbit is angry it'll show you by beating the ground with it's back legs, or it'll try to bite or ram into you. Another sign of anger is a growling sound, similar to a pig's grunt.
When the rabbit kicks the ground with its hind leg, it is a signal to warn its peers that danger is coming.
If you see a rabbit bite the bars of their hutch or push the door with its nose (likely if it’s a house rabbit), they are asking you to let them go outside.
Regardless of age, a happy, healthy rabbit should have lots of energy. Rabbits are usually most active during the early morning and evening.
When rabbits roll on their back or side with their legs in the air and eyes sometimes closed - this is a sign of elation, and it’s called the "bunnyflop".
Have you seen your rabbit running around the house, jumping and spinning on its paws? This is another sign that it’s very happy.
If your rabbit lifts its tail, they’re demonstrating that they’re very happy (or going to the toilet).ry excited.
Your rabbit is letting you know they are relaxed if they lie on their belly with their legs stretched out. Another sign of relaxation is when it crouches by hiding its legs under its body and gently drops its ears back.
If your rabbit is lying down, with a relaxed body posture and legs tucked under the body - this is another sign that they feel content.
A rabbit that is quieter than usual, noticeably eating and drinking less and is distant or antisocial, is a clear sign that they are not well. We’d suggest taking them to the vets for a check up.
Did you know? Rabbits get offended - much like humans. They demonstrate this feeling by turning its back on you, hopping away, then will turn back around to make sure you are looking at them.
Your rabbit wants to tell you that it feels comfortable when it grinds its teeth gently.
A female will show that it is on heat by circling around you feet multiple times and will try and y to mount everything it finds within its reach.
Psychological pregnancy occurs in non-neutered females.If this is happening, you will see your rabbit building a nest with straw and hairs from its belly, which is torn off so that the breasts are easily distinguished.