House Rabbit Behavior: Understanding your Bunny

Some of the reasons why house rabbits are sometimes considered to be delicate domestic animals are because of their ability to adapt and stick to certain behavioral patterns. Hence, if you’ve taken the time to understand your bunny, then you should be able to tell its tendencies and how these relate to its mood and wellbeing- per time. This article examines the regular house rabbit behaviors, as well as the best ways to treat them well.

Now firstly, did you know that your pet rabbit always communicates and expects that you understand what it wants or need? Well, just as we’re largely able to know when a person is happy, angry, sad, etcetera, so also do rabbits have their own ways of expressing themselves. Over time, experienced rabbit owners and animal care experts have observed and mentioned rabbit behaviors and what they signify, as well as how your attitudinal dispositions to them, affects what behavior they put up at any time. Additionally, understanding your bunny goes a long way in helping you determine the peculiar behaviors of your individual rabbit- asides the general character traits that any rabbit would display. Finding and matching a number of closely related behaviors in your rabbit could reasonably help you know what its specific behavioral disposition is- for instance, its temperament. This means that you can always look out for ‘indicator behaviors’- as a way of knowing if you’ve got a largely aggressive animal or not, or as a way of determining how good or bad the rabbit is fairing, as well as what it thinks of you and other rabbits that it has to cope and relate with.

If you’re a rabbit farmer or you’re just keeping a pet rabbit, understanding your bunny and its many behaviors would save you the stress of irregular guesses, which could cost you your money and investments- if the animals die, or could cost you the closeness and trust that you expect from the pet animal. In view of these, the reasons why you essentially need to take your rabbit behaviors serious, cannot be overemphasized.

Behaviors in rabbits and what they tell you

If you’ve not particularly thought about rabbits and how interesting they can be, then you definitely would- after studying their behaviors and response to different situations. As relatively small as they are, house rabbits virtually have a body response for everything they want to express. Asides the fact that rabbits can scream- which is rather a rare feat, they can only signal and communicate using quite definite body behaviors. Now, although some level of intuition on the part of the rabbit owner would still come to play, these character behaviors in a rabbit are significantly detailed, and they are the very things that you’re required to look out for.

Basically, rabbit behaviors are classified according to mood and temperament traits. Thus, every house rabbit would display behaviors that can be grouped into any of the following five character or mood categories: anger, contentment and happiness, dominance, fear, pain.

We would now consider the distinct and major behaviors in rabbits, under each of the recognized categories. In the lists, you would also learn about some of the ways to respond appropriately to such behaviors.

Character traits that depict anger in house rabbits

There are a reasonable number of behaviors in your rabbit, that would necessarily imply that the animal is angry or irritated. Every rabbit may show any of these traits at one point or the other, however, the aim is to make sure they don’t exhibit those behaviors for most of the time.

Biting actions

Rabbits may resort to biting and may go on to bite you if they feel irritated by the way you’re treating them at a particular time. So, if you discover that your rabbit pet continually nibs at your hands or feet, then it could be trying to tell you that it would prefer that you stop whatever you’re doing to it. Sometimes, this may be a first anger response, while at other times it may occur after a series of previous anger outbursts. There are a number of situations where this can occur, such as when you’re administering medications, or if you’re trying to restrict its movement- by caging, amongst others. However, biting is not limited to you the owner, as rabbits may bite at anything just to show their anger. For instance, a continuous biting on the cage wires may signify just that.

On another hand, rabbits may bite themselves too, if they’re more than one in a room or housing structure. A rabbit that always bites aggressively at the others, should probably be separated. This could mean that the animal is naturally more aggressive as compared to the others.

Calculated and uncalculated kicks

Another way a rabbit would show that it’s angry is if it kicks- either against you or against another animal (may not necessarily be a rabbit like itself). Most times, if rabbits are not comfortable with you carrying them, the easiest way to show displeasure is usually through a number of kicks.

However, the kicks may not always come in contact with you or the antagonizing animal, but once the kicking gesture is shown, then the intent remains the same.

As a rabbit keeper, you must take proactive measures to ensure that the rabbit does not get injured during its kicks. Once you notice a series of continuous kicking, you may try to remove the cause of it. Hence, this also means that if they kick while you’re carrying them, then you may just need to put them down.

Incessant digging

Incessant digging may be considered a rather subtle trait that depicts anger in a rabbit. This is true, considering the fact that rabbits naturally love to dig anything.

However, it becomes something else, if they unusually begin to burrow unnecessarily, and incessantly. When this happens, it may be that they require more space, or they need a change of environment.

Character traits that depict contentment and happiness in rabbits

When your rabbit displays any of the following behaviors, it means the animal is reasonably happy.

Rabbit binkying

If you discover that your rabbit is always jumping slightly into the air, and twisting their bodies before they touch the ground again, then it means they’re happy. It’s a really great joy for them when they do a binky, and it just could be a bad sign if your house rabbit has never done that.

However, know that different rabbits react and perform binkies differently, so you may not be too bothered if one rabbit performs more binkies than another- on the overall.

When you see a rabbit perform a binky, you’ll almost certainly notice how happy it is; at that time, it looks cheerful, the happiest.

Rabbit begging

When a rabbit begs, it raises its frontal limbs in a posture that makes it stand a little uptight towards you. Asides the fact that this action shows happiness, it also shows trust and approval of the rabbit- for you.

Usually, when the rabbit begs, you may offer it some pieces of veggies, and it would beg even the more.

Flopping in rabbits

When your bunny flops, then you can be sure that the animal has reached a peak of contentment. So when next you see it fall to the ground and roll from its back position to the sides, then it means the animal is pretty having a good time.

Now, the flop position may sometimes make the rabbit look as if it was lying dead on its side, so be careful to check well, before you start mourning the death of your bunny.

Bunny 500 race

Excitement can cause your rabbit to run all around the house as if it has been chased by something strange. Rabbits know how to show it- when they’re happy and contented, and for them, this is just a good way to show it.

Again, this is one of the ways by which they play, so if your bunny is just sitting down all day, then you may need to look for a way to gets it excited. This may be, by offering it some really special meal or petting it intently. Usually, bunnies only play when they’re happy and contented.

Character traits that depict dominance and territorialism in rabbits

Even the rabbits love to have their own space to their selves, so they may show signs that tell the intruder to stay away or not to come close. Some of the most important ones are:

Chasing away another rabbit

In a bid to tell the other rabbits that space has been taken, rabbits may engage themselves in chase and counter resistance activities. While the one chases away the other rabbit, the other also tries to take the space too.

This may go on for a while, until the more persistent or stronger bunny, finally has the upper hand. Although rabbits may also chase themselves at other times, a dominance chase would always show some more aggressiveness and firmness.

Chinning around

When a rabbit marks off areas with their chin, they’re trying to leave their own peculiar scents behind, so as to warn any intruding bunny that space is taken.

This is achieved by the special scent chemicals produced by the scent glands at the chin of the rabbit.

Character traits that depict fear in rabbits

If you observe any of the following behavior in your bunny, then the rabbit is probably afraid or scared of something:

Panting softly or heavily

When next a visitor holds up your bunny, observe closely to see if the animal has an unusual pant. If this is the case, then it is likely that the rabbit is scared, and feels very concerned about what could happen next.

This panting may cease almost immediately or a little longer after the visitor puts it down. However, at other instances when you notice the rabbit panting as such, try to carefully figure out what has necessitated the trend.


When rabbits move in quick agitated steps, it means they’re in some form of panic and trying to make sure they keep themselves safe. This may also show them has been pretty restless, trying to look for the safest place to hide.

Character traits that depict pain


The sets of behaviors under this category are one of the most important to pay attention to. Rabbit would show the following behaviors when they’re in pain:

Pressing their stomachs to the ground

Now, this is a good way to know when your bunny has got stomach upsets– probably when you introduce a new component to its food. When the animal is having such pains, he stays still on a spot, and may also grunt, as well.

Tooth grinding

Rabbits may sometimes grind their teeth when they’re in some severe pain. So when you see your bunny grind its teeth intensely and loudly, then it just may be time to go see the veterinarian.

Other signs that you may use to confirm when something is wrong, is if the rabbit grinds its teeth- while sitting on the same position for a longer period of time.

Related Questions

Now, as pertains to understanding your bunny and its behaviors, we discovered that people may have the following question:

Can my bunny show the same behavior, when it feels differently?

Yes, there are a number of behavioral traits, that the rabbit could exhibit for more than a single mood. For instance, they would perform all of the diggings and chew, when they are either contented and happy, as well as when they’re angry. This is why you need to carefully look at how they carry out these behaviors, and also by using other accompanying determining factors.

Is there wrong with my bunny, if it isn’t showing so many behavioral responses like another bunny?

Most likely, the answer would be a no. It is most normal for bunnies to act and behave differently, and thus, you shouldn’t always come to conclusions based on some conclusions you’ve made. For instance, while some more jovial playful bunnies would do the bunny 500 race almost every five hours, another may only do it once in a day. This does not, however, mean that the least engaging one is necessarily unhappy.

Studies have shown that although rabbits may still behave peculiarly different, their fundamental general behaviors would always tally for every time.

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