What Does My Rabbit’s Behavior Mean?

Do you ever wonder what your bunny is thinking or find yourself puzzled by their strange behaviors? When it comes to forming a close-knit, trusting bond with your pet, it helps if you can identify their moods and emotions. From the subtle changes in your rabbit's body language to the spontaneous, squeaky outbursts, Andy is here to help you understand what your fuzzy friend is trying to tell you. 

Bunny Body Language 

You can learn a lot about a bunny's emotional state by paying attention to how they carry themselves. A rabbit's stance, the position of their ears, and all their silly quirks and behaviors can provide great insight for those who know what to look for.  

rabbit binkying

Jumping for Joy: What is Rabbit Binkying?

Don't be fooled by their gentle appearances — many bunnies possess bold personalities and like to express their enthusiasm for life in dramatic displays of excitement. A binky is when a gleeful bunny takes a sudden leap into the air and twists their body around before landing back on the floor. Depending on the rabbit, a binky may or may not occur after a short burst of running or be accompanied by squeaky sounds of joy. A quick sprint around the room, sometimes referred to as The Bunny 500, is also a sign of a happy bunny and quite the spectacle. These eruptions of energy are pretty adorable to witness, so next time you feed your pet their favorite treat or bring home a new toy, keep an eye out for one of these entertaining performances. 

rabbit flopping on side

Bunny Flopping & Other Tranquil Behaviors

Rabbits need their rest and relaxation, just like the rest of us. After a long day of playtime, exploration, and snack foraging, your bunny is probably ready for some downtime. Bunny flops, which you may have gathered from the name, are when a rabbit falls to its side in a somewhat comical fit of satisfaction and sleepiness. This behavior is a positive indication that your pet trusts you and is comfortable letting its guard down when you're around. Bunnies also use tactics such as licking, gentle nudging, and even circling a person's feet to show affection and emote a sense of peace or happiness. 

curious rabbit

Curiosity & Caution Go Hand in Hand

Bunnies are sensitive beings with many self-preservation instincts. Because rabbits evolved as prey, they explore unfamiliar environments with great caution and are highly alert when encountering new people. If you see your bunny leaning their large ears forward, standing on their hind legs, or staring intently, they are likely scanning the area for signs of danger. Curious bunnies may also use their noses to sniff, bonk, or nudge new things, allowing them to investigate the person or object further. Respecting your pet's boundaries and allowing them uninterrupted time to explore lessens the chance of anxiety and aggression and builds their trust in you. 

rabbit chinning ball

Marking Their Territory: Rabbit Chinning, Spraying, & Droppings  

Rabbits, especially when not spayed or neutered, are among the long list of critters who like to mark their territory. Bunnies have a unique way of marking called chinning, which is the act of rubbing the scent glands beneath their chins along objects or areas they want to claim and protect from others. Unlike urine marking or spraying, this scent is undetectable to humans and relatively harmless. In addition to chin rubbing, though less common, rabbits will mark their territory by spraying or leaving scattered droppings throughout their enclosure. Scattered waste is seen mainly in rabbits adjusting to new environments and usually doesn't last more than a few weeks. However, if the problem persists, your bunny may need some litter box training! 

rabbit standing alertSigns Your Rabbit Needs Space  

The world can be scary, especially for timid animals like bunnies who are already nervous by nature. Unfortunately, it doesn't take much for rabbits to get overwhelmed, so it's essential to be aware of stress signals in your pet's body language and protect them from harm when possible. Fear and anger manifest in many ways, but a few telltale signs your rabbit feels threatened include foot-stomping, nipping, and tense, rigid postures. For example, when a rabbit stands on its hind legs and makes a swatting motion with its front feet, it assumes the "boxing" position, which signifies someone, or something is troubling them. If you notice these behaviors, try identifying the problem and allow your rabbit some space to calm down. 

Rabbit Noises & Sounds  

Not only do bunnies communicate through body language, but they also emit various sounds to let you know what they're thinking. From angry growls, cheerful rabbit clucking, teeth grinding, and more, here's how to differentiate between your bunny's chatter. 

rabbit clucking, noises and sounds

Grunting & Growling 

When a rabbit utters a deep, guttural noise, like a grunt or growl, it usually means something is wrong. For instance, if someone gets in your bunny's way or a cagemate steals their treat, your bunny may let out a few grunts to express frustration or stress. A growl, however, is a more prolonged, intense noise and is often accompanied by aggressive physical behaviors. So if you hear your bunny growling, it's important to address the problem right away and figure out the cause of your bunny's concern.  

rabbit teeth

Teeth Grinding 

Next time your bunny cuddles up for some head scratches, listen closely. Rabbits sometimes make a soft humming noise, like a cat's purr, when they are happy by softly rubbing their teeth together. Loud teeth grinding, however, means quite the opposite. When a bunny roughly grinds its teeth together or makes a chattering sound, it likely means your pet is in pain and should see a vet, especially if their posture is tense and hunched over. 

rabbit yelling

Squeals & Screams  

If you ever hear your rabbit let out a loud shriek or high-pitched scream, check on them immediately. Rabbits generally only make these piercing sounds when in extreme pain, so call your vet right away and stay by your bunny's side. 

rabbit with carrot

Rabbit Clucking & Honking 

You've probably heard your bunny make adorable exclamations while munching on their favorite treats or playing with their favorite toys. These little noises are often referred to as honking or clucking and simply mean your bunny is delighted and that you’re doing something right! 

Bunnies are special animals with distinct personalities and boundaries. The sooner you learn your rabbit's body language and quirks to spot changes in their mood, the easier it is to connect with your pet. By paying attention to your bunny's noises, considering their body language, and using context clues, you'll surely be able to give your bunny the care and attention they deserve.