Rabbits take a stand for yourself! In fact, the rabbit is not the silent, quiet creature that it is made out to be. The rabbit has indeed been voicing its feelings all along, but it just takes a well-trained person to be able to decipher what your rabbit is saying. Here are just a few of the things that your rabbit is trying to communicate to you through its body language.
This one is hard to miss, as it will usually be occurring nonstop. Cute, but what does this nose-twitching mean? Truth be told, it may not mean anything and is probably as normal a behaviour as breathing is to rabbits. However, if your rabbit is not feeling well, or resting, this behaviour may cease for a while.
This can be interpreted as the rabbit ‘leap of joy.’ This is one of the most amusing behaviours to observe, as the rabbit will seemingly out of nowhere leap into the air, kicking its back legs out behind it, while simultaneously twisting its body in some contorted manner. This usually is followed by frolicking about the play area in pure delight. A binky is a sign that your pet is very happy and is just enjoying life to the maximum.
The “Death Drop” or Big Flop
Fortunately, this is not as gruesome as it sounds. It is actually, like the binky, an expression from your rabbit that it is feeling comfortable in its environment, and has no worries. Often seeming spur of the moment, the rabbit will be standing there one moment and then just throw itself on the ground, flipping itself onto its side or back. Rabbits will often remain in this location for many minutes, or perhaps even a longer time. The first time your rabbit does this, it may frighten you. True to the name, you may fear your rabbit has died as it looks much like a dog that ‘plays dead.’ It is, however, most likely that your silly bunny is just relaxing.
In contrast to the ‘death drop,’ if you hear your rabbit scream, there is something seriously wrong. There is no mistaking this ear-piercing scream, and most rabbits will only do this on the verge of death, or if they are so terrified that they fear they are going to die. It is the last resort to try and scare the predator away, in a wild scenario.
Rabbit will grunt, some more than others. This could just be for no reason, or perhaps they are trying to get your attention. It is low and quiet, and could also sound almost like a humming noise. More often than not your rabbit is begging for a treat, or perhaps they are a male rabbit exhibiting courtship behaviours with you.
Thumping is on the more mild end of the spectrum to screaming. This is a general alarm call, where a rabbit is not comfortable in a certain situation and hits the ground with their hind legs to warm all others that are around. Some rabbits that are more timid than others will do this more often than the more tame, social rabbits. After a startling situation, the rabbit may perform this behaviour anywhere from a couple of seconds to as long as a couple of hours. If you startled your pet, it is probably best just to leave it alone to let it calm down; alternatively if your pet is extremely tame and bonded to you then comforting it with a gentle pet may also be effective.
Rabbits grind their teeth much for the same reason that people grind their teeth. Firstly, many will grind their teeth if they are feeling pain or perhaps just uncomfortable. Excessive tooth grinding, just like in humans, can lead to excessive wearing down of the teeth and cause problems. More importantly, the actual cause for the pain should be assessed by a veterinarian immediately, and solved so that your rabbit is no longer suffering. With that being said, the grinding of teeth can also be a habitual behaviour in rabbits, or they may do this if they are feeling content. For example, a rabbit being petted by their loving owner may softly grind their teeth, and close their eyes part way in satisfaction.
Each rabbit is an individual with a wonderful personality that they will show to you if provided with a loving, comfortable environment. Every unique rabbit will make different sounds, and to different extents; you could be surprised, the rabbit can make a lot of noise when it wants to!
By Laura Platt – Pets.ca writer