Understand rabbit behavior and body language
Rabbits are relatively quiet and don’t make a lot of noise. But they have a versatile, complex body language. It allows rabbit owners to assess situations correctly and promises optimal handling of the fluffy lodgers – at least if their gestures are understood correctly.
Prick-eared rabbits in particular have a clear body language. – shutterstock / Africa Studio
You might be surprised: rabbits also have body language. As the owner of these little, cuddly, long-eared creatures, it definitely makes sense to understand one or the other rabbit gesture.
Body language shows your rabbit’s state of mind
When your bunny is napping in a relaxed manner or with his eyes half-closed in a comfortable position, it is obvious that he is feeling safe and secure. Your rabbit is well disposed towards you. Maybe he’ll lie down on his side or stretch out all his limbs for a comfortable nap. However, there are a few other postures in rabbits that indicate different emotional states.
- ● To sit up and beg is a method to get a better overview. Rabbits then often hold their nose up in the air and sniff. You may also be familiar with this posture when you are about to feed your rabbits or it is time for a treat.
- ● jumping and rolling – These are mostly positive gestures from your rabbit. Exuberant rolling around of the animals reflects their well-being. Leaping forward can express happiness in your rabbit. In nature, however, rabbits do this to get ahead faster when escaping.
- ● licking and poking: Timid licking is an absolute sign of trust: Your patience and care have apparently paid off. A nose nudge is a friendly gesture from your little furry friend – maybe he wants a pet? However, if the nudge turns into a stronger head banging away, then it no longer wants to be touched. You should always respect this.
- ● digging and scraping show that the fur noses are not quite comfortable with a situation: wild rabbits quickly build hiding places like this. Animals that have just moved into a new home may scratch because they are still unsure. But the behavior can also be observed in hot-tempered rabbits and bucks, as well as in higher-ranking rabbits who want to undermine the scent of the other animals. Scratching is an innate reflex that is used more often and that you, as a rabbit owner, have certainly experienced.
- ● If your Rabbit frozen is wide-eyed and breathing very quickly, then it was very frightened. If it had had the chance, it would have fled to a shelter as quickly as possible.
- ● Drumming with the hind legs can both express fear and represent a warning sign. In nature, this is how we warn each other in dangerous situations.
- ● At Rubbing chin fragrances are released. Your rabbit marks its territory. But don’t worry: We bipeds don’t notice this smell.
The “ear language” of rabbits
The position of the ears also plays a role in body language. In rabbits with floppy ears like the pygmy ram, however, this means of communication is missing, which is why their body language is also more difficult and can only be interpreted with the points mentioned above. Rabbits with prick ears reveal a lot more with their ears.
- ● hear noises – If both ears are in different positions, for example one ear is pointing to the left and the other to the right, then the rabbit is a little unsettled. There may be multiple noises coming from different directions and your Hoppler is not quite sure where to listen. He weighs whether there is a danger in the immediate vicinity. If an interesting noise comes from the front, it often gets the full attention and both ears are turned in the respective direction. The rabbit is then usually curious.
- ● show wellbeing – Ears that are set close together, very erect or even that the tips of their ears cross each other speak for the well-being of your rabbits.
- ● Pull in your head and flatten your ears: Your rabbit is scared and flattens itself out. The animals also display this posture when they submit to a higher-ranking conspecific.
- ● Tapping and pinching ears in combination is a not so good sign and should be taken as a warning. If the rabbit raises its buttocks, holds up its tail (called a flower) and then opens its snout, you better get your hand out of the cage as soon as possible. The rabbit is in defense mode and ready to attack. However, this behavior usually only takes place in emergency situations of the animals.
You might also be interested in these topics on Einfachtierisch.de:
Rabbits: diet and food for the mummelnoses
Build your own outdoor rabbit enclosure: tips and tricks
Keeping rabbits species-appropriate: This is how the animals feel comfortable