Rabbit Body Language – Do You Know the Signs?

| January 19, 2024

Adopting a rabbit means making space in your heart and home for a new best fur friend (BFF). Like any other pet, rabbits use body language as their language of choice. Interpreting their signals will help you to understand what they like, and what makes them uncomfortable, so that you can grow your bond as you respect their boundaries.  Here’s the common signals your rabbit might give you and tips on how to improve your communication. 

Understanding Basic Rabbit Postures

Relaxed and Content: When a rabbit is lying down with their legs tucked under their body and ears relaxed, they are indicating a state of contentment. If the rabbit flops onto their side or back, this shows a high level of trust and relaxation. 

Alert and Curious: An alert rabbit will stand on all fours, with ears perked up and eyes wide open. This posture suggests that the rabbit is curious or cautious about their surroundings. 

Scared or Nervous: A scared rabbit might press their body close to the ground, with ears flattened against their back. This position indicates fear or nervousness, and they might be looking for an escape route. 

Interpreting Ear and Eye Movements

Ear Movements: Rabbits use their ears to express emotions and intentions. Ears facing forward usually indicate interest, while ears that are pulled back can signify fear or reactivity. 

Eye Movements: Wide open eyes can mean alertness or fear, while half-closed eyes generally show relaxation. If a rabbit slowly blinks at you, it can be a sign of trust and affection. 

Identifying Movement and Behaviour

 Binkying: When a rabbit jumps into the air and twists their body, this is known as binkying. It’s the ultimate sign of happiness and excitement. 

Thumping: A rabbit will thump their hind leg as a warning of danger or to express displeasure. It’s a sign to pay attention to their environment or their current situation. 

Nudging or Nipping: Rabbits may gently nudge or nip at humans as a way of seeking attention or asking to be fed. However, consistent nipping may also indicate stress or a need for more space. 

Tips for Improving Communication

  • Spend time observing your rabbit in different situations to understand their various body language signals. 
  • Approach rabbits calmly and gently to avoid startling them. 
  • Provide a safe and comfortable environment for them to express their natural behaviours. 

Following these guidelines will bring you closer to understanding your rabbit’s unique personality. Just like other pets, rabbits are wonderful companions, yet they have their own set of needs and behaviours that vary with each individual. With consistent patience and a deep level of empathy, your rabbit will become your new best friend. 

Ready to bring a rabbit into your home and heart? Click here to see rabbits available for adoption at Toronto Humane Society.