What Is My Rabbit Doing?
Our rabbits cannot speak and tell us that they are in pain or happy or want to be fed. They are quiet creatures. They aren't like dogs in that way; they don't bark when they're scared or wag their tail when they're glad to see you. Instead, they use body language. To someone who is unfamiliar with rabbits, all their body language will seem like an unknown language. You won't understand or know what your rabbit is trying to tell you.
It would be very boring to own a pet rabbit if you didn't like learning about or watching another species. When you first bring your rabbit home you should pay a lot of attention to it - the best way to tell your rabbit is sick is if it's not acting like itself.
When your rabbit jumps and kicks up his legs, what is he doing? What does that mean? Why does my rabbit bump me with his nose? Is my rabbit licking me? Why? Here's the most common things rabbits do and their explanation.
WHAT IT IS: When a rabbit "binkies", it's dancing or jumping for joy. Sometimes after a quick sprint or just out of nowhere, a rabbit will jump high or change direction, even do a complete 180* spin!
WHAT IT MEANS: "I'm happy!" or "I'm excited!"
WHAT IT IS: When a rabbit "flops", they jump and smack themselves down on the ground, or just completely fall over. To an inexperienced rabbit owner, it might look like your rabbit just died. Never fear, it's only going to sleep or taking a nap.
WHAT IT MEANS: "I'm relaxed." or "I'm happy and I feel comfortable here."
WHAT IT IS: When you're scratching your rabbit's favorite petting spot or grooming him, he might lick you. Sometimes, this is also accompanied by its teeth, and you might feel a little "nibble". The rabbit is grooming you, something that its mother did when it was a baby and something it does to others it cares about and is close to.
WHAT IT MEANS: Rabbits groom to show affection. The rabbit is saying, "I love you."
WHAT IT IS: An excited rabbit might circle you and make "buzzing" or "honking" sounds. My house rabbit does this all the time when I stand up and she wants me to sit down and pet her. If this is done around another rabbit, it means the rabbit wants to mate.
WHAT IT MEANS: "Pay attention to me!" or "Let's mate."
WHAT IT IS: When a rabbit grinds its teeth, you might feel its cheeks vibrating or hear the "clicking" noise. A rabbit grinds its teeth (or "purrs"), when it's happy or relaxed. If a rabbit is in pain, it might sit hunched up and grind its teeth slowly, harder and louder then the content purring it does.
WHAT IT MEANS: "Ahh! Keep doing that!" or "I'm hurting!"
WHAT IT IS: A rabbit growls when it's angry or stressed. It might think you're invading its territory or are going to harm it. Aggressive behavior is likely to follow, so make sure to use caution.
WHAT IT MEANS: "Keep out!" or "Go away!"
WHAT IT IS: A high-pitched, loud scream from your rabbit might make your blood curdle. And they say rabbit's don't make any vocal noises. Generally, a rabbit will only scream when its in severe pain or dying. Although there are smart rabbits out there that know what makes their Human pay attention to them. However, it's always a good idea to take your rabbit to the vet if this happens. If you don't, you could have a dead rabbit on your hands in an hour.
WHAT IT MEANS: "I'm dying!", "I'm in pain!", or "Hey, you! Pay attention to me!"
WHAT IT IS: Displeased rabbits might "kick" their feet up at you as they walk away. In the wild, a rabbit does this to kick dirt up at another rabbit. Sometimes followed by a head shake.
WHAT IT MEANS: "I did not like that."
WHAT IT IS: A rabbit has scent glands under its chin, and when it reaches sexual maturity at 5-6 months you may notice that it starts to "chin" objects around its cage and even your finger.
WHAT IT MEANS: Rabbits do this to say "I'm ready to mate." or "This is mine." A doe will be telling other does to back off, and bucks to come and get her. A buck will be telling the other bucks in the area to back off, and the does that he's around.
WHAT IT IS: Rabbits "nudge" other rabbits in the wild with their nose to tell them to get out of their way or as a friendly hello, and they might do the same to you. Rabbits sometimes do this to tell you to keep petting them as well. Sometimes followed up with a nip.
WHAT IT MEANS: "Get out of my way.", "Hello there!" or "Keep petting me!"
WHAT IT IS: A rabbit digging at your pants if you're sitting on the floor playing with it. If the rabbit's nails are trimmed, it could hurt!
WHAT IT MEANS: "Keep petting me! Stop doing whatever you're doing that you think is more important then me!"
WHAT IT IS: A small "bite" with the rabbit's teeth. Ouch!
WHAT IT MEANS: Rabbits nip to get attention, or sometimes as they are grooming you you'll feel their teeth as well. They don't mean to cause you harm, but nips are in the very least annoying. Some rabbits will also nip as an aggressive behavior, if they think you're invading their space. Usually, spaying or neutering the bunny will discourage or eliminate the aggressive behavior. See this blog post on how to correct the nipping, if it's caused by your rabbit wanting more attention.
WHAT IT IS: We all know rabbits do this - they "stomp" their back feet in the wild usually to tell the other bunnies that you're coming and everyone should run away! My house rabbit does it though, when she's about to jump onto my bed or break into a run.
WHAT IT MEANS: "There's danger!" or "I'm about to go really super fast!"