How do Rabbits Communicate

Rabbits Communicate among themselves and to human beings. It takes quite a lot of studies and experience to understand how rabbits communicate. Personally, after series of research into the lives of these little lovelies, I’ve come to realize that different rabbits may have different languages, however with patient observation; you can get to learn your own rabbit’s dialect and personality. Apart from watching rabbits develop, learning to read and understand their language is one of the joys you’ll get from sharing a house with your rabbit. Learning how they communicate is not really as complex as it sounds – in fact, Marylou Zarbock, a vet doctor with Bodily Vet hospital suggests that it is quite easy to fall in love with learning how they communicate with your little bunny. There’s certainly a number of fascinating ways that rabbits communicate among themselves and in this article, I will be sharing some of the amazing things that I’ve learned regarding how a rabbit communicates, but first;

How really do rabbits communicate?

Rabbits communicate through a body language that’s quite complex, but understandable. More specifically, rabbits communicate a lot of information through body language (using positioning and movement) and also using some vocalizations. Every experienced owner can learn the rabbit’s body movement and how to read them well.

Which are the different forms of communication a Rabbit uses

To be honest, I personally find the process of learning the language of my rabbits to be fun. If you can pay focused attention, there’s certainly a lot of fascinating things about rabbits and how they communicate. You will be attracted to the whole process, even if you’re not a fan. Here, I’ll talk about some the entire process involved in rabbit communication, as well as some of the most important signs to look out for. Let’s start by looking at some of the basic signals to watch out for.


A rabbit will normally thump or stomp its hind leg to alert other rabbits of potential dangers, or as a sign to show that they are annoyed. When rabbits thump their legs, it can be surprisingly loud. Interpretation: I’m nervous and scared” or “I’m not happy with you.”

Teeth Grinding

There are two different ways rabbits grind their teeth to communicate. When the grinding is gentle and relaxed, it communicates that they are contented. On the other hand, the teeth grinding can go really loud to show pain or discomfort and at such times, you’ll notice your rabbit tensed or hunched up.

Interpretation: soft teeth grinding – “This is cool”

Chin Rubbing

You will most likely witness moments when your rabbit rubs its chin on people or objects around. The chin of rabbits is characterized by scent glands that are used for scent marking territories and objects. Note that the scents detected by these scent glands cannot be detected by humans, meaning that the scent is exclusively for rabbit communication.

Interpretation: “This is mine.”


If you’ve paid close attention to your rabbit, then you would have noticed that it sometimes perform a unique and acrobatic jump, normally by kicking the legs or twisting the body. This mode of communication is used by rabbits to communicate their happiness.

Interpretation: “I’m very happy because life is great!”


When one of those little lovelies begins to lick you, it shows that it likes you and has fully accepted you. It is the rabbit’s own way of showing affection. Interpretation: “I really like you.”

Circling Your Feet

Often, you would notice your rabbit following you around or circling your feet. When they circle your feet, they are simply trying to get your attention. In some cases, however, it may likely be a sign that the rabbit is sexually matured, hence it is trying to court you. In this case, the circling would normally be accompanied by soft honking. Interpretation: when they do this, they are usually trying to tell you “I’m in love with you.” Other times, however, they may simply be trying to say “I’m here, can we play?”

Flat Rabbit

Rabbits sometimes use this to communicate – flattening themselves on their belly with their head held down and their ears very flat. At such times, they are trying to communicate to you that they are frightened and trying to blend into their surroundings. This will mostly happen when they are taken to an entirely new location that they are not familiar with or when they sense the presence of danger. (Please note that lying flat may also be a way of communicating that they are relaxed, although in this case, the relaxed rabbit would have a different body language that includes relaxed muscles and expression.)

Interpretation: “I am frightened!”


When a rabbit gets very relaxed, it can express its relaxation by suddenly flopping onto its side and laying still. I’ve seen owners become scared that this might mean something serious has happened to the rabbit, but no! It is just a sign to show utter relaxation and shouldn’t cause any alarm, except accompanied by other symptoms.

Interpretation: “Oh, I’m just here being relaxed.”


When a rabbit suddenly begins to move towards you with its head held up, it’s tail up, and ears held back, it is a clear sign that the rabbit is trying to communicate a threat to you.

Interpretation: “Back off! I don’t like that!”


Apart from rabbit movements and body languages, rabbits also have some vocalizations that they communicate through. If you’ve not monitored your rabbits well, these vocalizations can sometimes come as a surprise to you. Here are some of them and their interpretations:

  •    Soft Squeal or Whimper: A way to show mild displeasure or annoyance.
  •    Grunting, Snorting, Growling, and Hissing: All these are sounds that rabbits use to communicate different stages of stress, anger, or feeling threatened. They may follow any of these with a lunge or bite.
  •    Soft Honking or Oinking: Rabbits use this sound to indicate sexual interest. Any time you rabbit honks while circling you, they are trying to tell you that it’s time for neutering.
  •    Screaming: This is another way rabbits use to show extreme pain or fear. Experts from Glaven Vet suggest that you take actions if your rabbit screams unnecessarily. “If they scream, try to reassure them and if they are screaming for no obvious reasons, attempt taking them to a vet.”

Having understood the most probably communication skills your rabbit will employ, it is also important to talk a bit about making your rabbit more comfortable in your home.

How to Make Your Rabbit Comfortable at Home

Rabbits are beautiful creatures; you would want them to be absolutely comfortable in your home at all times. There are a number of steps that you can adapt to make them get easily comfortable around your home. The more comfortable they are, the more open and communicative they will become. Some of them include:

  •    Creating a Comfortable Space

If your rabbit does not feel safe and comfortable in your home, then they are most probably going to be resistant to your affection. Helping your rabbit adjust can start from creating a place that’s quiet and comfortable so that he will feel safe and not intimidated by other pets around. You can also get a separate room for your rabbit cage if it makes them feel safe from the commotion. You must not however that placing them in such location may slow down their ability to interact with people.

  •    Give Them Enough Room to Play

Rabbits value their play and exercise time a lot. If your rabbit’s crate is too small for them to jump around in, it may cause discomfort for the rabbit. Play areas should be safe and clean. Remove any object or electrical cords that may be dangerous to the rabbit’s health.

  •    Feed Your Rabbit With Proper Diet

Feeding your rabbit properly will definitely make them like you even better. Try to feed them with the things they’ll love most. Read blogs and books about rabbit food to get an idea about safe and healthy food choices for your little bunny.

Lastly, give your rabbit toys to play with. There are toys specifically made for rabbits in the market. Grab some for your rabbits to make them feel loved and more at home.

Other Related Questions

To help make you properly understand the topic in view, here are answers to a few related questions.

Do Rabbits Know Their Names?

Yes, rabbits learn their names with time and they can respond to quite a number of other words.  Most rabbits do not really like being picked up from the ground since they are ground dwellers by their own very nature.

Do Rabbits Have Feelings?

Yes, rabbits are capable of expressing a number of emotions, including anger, love, fear, jealousy, grief, insecurity and irritability. It may take a few months of careful observation to understand everything going on in a rabbits head. Particularly, you need to have a real passion for your rabbit to be able to understand how they feel and communicate.

There you have it, the basic communication skills of your little lovelies; Understanding these skills would certainly help you bond better with them. Some communication styles are however unique to different rabbits, so you still need to carefully observe your rabbit to learn a thing or two about it.

Comments are closed.