Rabbit Communication

Rabbits are very communicative with each other, and with humans too. They don’t use a spoken language like we do, but rabbits do use a lot of body language, as well as actions such as thumping or stamping their feet on the ground. You can learn to understand what the signs of a happy rabbit are, know when your rabbit is unhappy, find out why rabbits shake their heads or stamp their feet, or understand what a rabbit twitching its nose means.

Rabbit Society

The starting point of understanding rabbit communication is understanding the way that rabbits see the world, both in the wild and as pet rabbits.

Rabbit society is naturally very structured. In the wild, several rabbits live together with a distinct hierarchy. The rabbits look after each other, finding food together and warning each other of danger by stamping their feet. This also applies to pet rabbits, where you become part of the rabbit’s society and hierarchy.

The place a rabbit has in the society is partly determined by which rabbits they groom and which rabbits groom them. The number one rabbit will expect to be groomed by the others, but may not do any grooming of the other rabbits him or herself. Rabbits’ understanding of hierarchy is different to humans – the rabbit at the top of the grooming hierarchy is (usually) happy to do what it’s told by you as long as it keeps its place in the grooming order of importance.

Communication & Body Language

Rabbits obviously don’t use a spoken language like we do, but they do use body language (we do this too, so it’s not too difficult to understand).

A lot of rabbit communication is done with body positions, as well as head, ear and body movements. Lop rabbits don’t move their ears as much as rabbits that have ears that stick up, but all rabbits use some kind of signals to communicate.

Understanding Your Rabbit

The following pages describe several different things that rabbits generally do to communicate particular moods or interests, such as being happy, playful, angry, distressed and nosey (as all rabbits are).

Rabbits are all very individual personalities, and you will only get to understand your rabbit by spending lots of time with them. The next few pages will give you a good starting point to understanding the signs of a happy or unhappy rabbit, as well as other ways that rabbits communicate.

3 Responses to Rabbit Communication

  1. brenda says:

    hi i have a male dwarf lop about 4months old and i am getting another baby one tomorrow,i have just read a lot of peoples questions on asking you is it ok to keep two rabbits together and my question is if i get a female is it ok to get the male desexed only and leave the female or if i get another male do i still need to desex them if they get along ok many thanks brenda.

    • Richard Lord says:

      Hi Brenda
      I would recommend having both rabbits neutered, as female rabbits can be more territorial and aggressive than male rabbits. If just one is neutered, the rabbits won’t be able to breed, but it may still increase the risk of them fighting or one of the rabbits being aggressive towards the other.
      Richard

      • Tam says:

        my vet suggested herbal “rescue remedy” to chill out rabbits,
        one or two drops in bottle,it worked, my 2 boys and 1 girl, now get on after2 weeks of monitoring and drops

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