What's he trying to tell you?
Proper rabbit care is more than a proper rabbit cage. By learning about rabbit behavior, you'll read what your bunny needs, and even have a little chat about it. We rattled the cages of our favorite experts, and here's what we learned.
Happiness is a binky
Bolting at full speed, jumping, flipping, kicking up their furry feet, and twisting like a hula dancer at double speed: what's going on? Is there hootch in the hutch?
According to veterinarian Leanne McLeod, DVM, you just witnessed a "binky," and it's as funny as it sounds. The binky is a rabbit happy dance, an unbridled expression of utter joy, like you used to do when you were 6. It's your rabbit's way of saying, "Life is great!" Open the indoor rabbit cage door and enjoy the show.
A more subtle gesture: the rabbit drops his head and twitches it to one side, like a fast version of what you do when looking at something really confusing, like seeing your first binky. Try this: do the same move and watch your rabbit return the gesture, to say "You're happy? I'm happy for you!" This works best if you have long hair or floppy ears.
Disney had it right: rabbits thump their hind legs to warn of danger. Sometimes one leg, sometimes both, sometimes it's surprisingly loud. Other rabbits sense the ground vibrating and get the message. Thumping may also mean, "You're bugging me. Knock it off."
A rabbit picked up for the first time by a human thinks he's your dinner. Squealing is an expression of terror. Rabbits also grunt, for the same reasons humans do: when they're working hard, concentrating, or getting ready to pounce.
Take a bow
When your rabbit lays his chin low to the ground and folds his ears back, he's submitting to you. He may also be saying, "Scratch my head like that again, please!"
Aye, the rub
Rabbits rub their chins on an object to mark it with their scent. "That's mine." That's why they rub the borders of their rabbit hutches. Consider it a big compliment if they rub on you, or if they give you a little lick.
Is that a purr?
No, but it sounds the same, and it means your rabbit is content as a kitten. He makes the noise by rubbing his teeth together. Take note if the grinding sounds loud - that may mean your rabbit is in pain. Check his eyes: if they're clear and relaxed, he's feeling fine.
Males mount other rabbits. It's legendary. But they also mount other males, stuffed animals, cushions, or your leg. It's a dominance gesture, which usually settles down once the boss has been decided. Have him neutered, deciding dominance once and for all. If your rabbit constantly circles your feet, it might mean "Let's play," or it might mean foreplay.
The bunny flop
All of a sudden he keels over on his side and lays limp. It looks scary, but you can relax. It is an expression of utter contentment, "Aaahhhhh!"