How Do Rabbits Show Affection?

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Have you ever wondered how do rabbits show affection? Or how does your pet rabbit feels about you? Since rabbits don’t express love in the same ways that humans and other pets do.

From personal experience, I must say rabbits have unique ways of telling you how they feel, and once you learn to understand what your pet is trying to communicate, you will be able to recognize when your rabbit is showing affection.

How do rabbits show affection to humans?

Rabbits are often thought of as shy and independent animals, but they can actually be very affectionate creatures. When rabbits feel comfortable around a person, they will show their affection in many different ways.

Grooming

Rabbits have been known to show affection to humans, and they do it the same way they show affection to other rabbits: by grooming them. Your pet rabbit may lick, nuzzle, or even gently nibble you to show you that he loves you.

Binkying

Binkying is another sign of a rabbit’s love for humans. Binkying is when a rabbit jumps in the air and flips his ears. It’s very cute, and it means your rabbit is excited to see you.

Binkying is often accompanied by another form of rabbit affection, which is running in circles around you. This is also the way that your rabbit begs, so you will probably notice him doing this when he wants a treat.

Relaxing

It may not seem like a very big sign of affection, but flopping down next to you to stretch, relax, or fall asleep is a sign that your rabbit feels safe and comfortable with you. It’s his way of showing affection because it means he considers you his family.

Also, if your rabbit likes you, he will enjoy it when you pet him. He may approach you, give you a little nudge, and then wait expectantly when he wants you to gently rub the fur on his head.

Rabbit show affection to his owner by sitting in her lap

Tooth-clicking

Tooth-clicking is a rabbit’s version of purring and a clear sign of contentment and affection. When your rabbit is happy, he may rub his teeth together to make this soft sound.

It’s a quiet, subtle noise, so you may have to listen closely to hear it. If you hear your pet rabbit making this sound, especially while you’re petting him, it means he’s enjoying your affection.

How to tell if your rabbit doesn’t like you?

Rabbits are quite expressive, so your rabbit will let you know if he doesn’t like you. He’s not trying to hurt your feelings; he’s trying to tell you that you need to change your behavior around him or his environment.

Grunting

Just as tooth-clicking is a sign of happiness in rabbits, there are several other noises rabbits make to indicate when they don’t like something or someone. Grunting is a sign of displeasure or fear, and it means your rabbit doesn’t want to be picked up or touched.

Screaming and whimpering

Screaming and whimpering are both signs of fear in rabbits, and they can also indicate pain or injury. If your rabbit screams or whimpers, particularly when you hold him, check him for wounds, and take him to the vet, even if you don’t see any visible symptoms.

Third inner eyelid

If healthy, a rabbit only shows his inner eyelid, which is in the inner corner of his eye, when he’s very tense and nervous. If you can see your rabbit’s inner eyelid when you’re handling him, it’s a sign that he’s very uncomfortable with you, and you should give him some space.

How to bond with your rabbit?

From personal experience, even if your rabbit doesn’t like you now, that doesn’t mean he can’t change his mind about you. There are several steps you can take to bond with your rabbit and improve his quality of life.

Environment

The first thing you should do is make sure he has a safe, comfortable environment. Give him plenty of space, but make sure he has a safe spot that’s just for him, that other pets or children can’t access.

Accessibility

He shouldn’t be kept in isolation because he needs to be able to see what’s going on and get used to humans, but he also shouldn’t be overwhelmed with too much noise or interaction with people and other pets.

Comfortable temperature

Your rabbit should be kept at a comfortable temperature, so avoid putting his cage in direct sunlight without any shade or in a too hot or cold room. He needs plenty of room to run around and exercise, so an enclosure where he can stretch and play is paramount to his happiness and health. You also need to take care to feed your rabbit a healthy diet.

Space and patience

If your rabbit isn’t comfortable with you yet, let him come to you instead of approaching him. Wait for him to adjust to his environment and humans before trying to play with him. When you want to bond with him, leave his cage door open and let him come to you when he’s ready.

Remember to hold your rabbit firmly enough that you won’t drop him, but don’t squeeze him too tightly. Support his back, hind legs, and bottom.

Alone time

Spend quiet time alone with your rabbit, away from all the distractions of the house. Offer him plenty of treats to show that you want him to be happy.

Don’t scare your rabbit

Also, you should never yell at your rabbit. Rabbits can’t be trained or disciplined like dogs, and it will only make your rabbit afraid of you. Don’t make sudden, jerky movements around your rabbit, and offer him your hand from a low angle rather than moving your hand quickly towards him from above.

How do rabbits show affection to each other?

rabbits show affection to each other

In general, rabbits are very social and they do better together than alone. After years of observation, I can say rabbits show affection to each other in a few different ways.

One way is by grooming each other. This means that they will lick each other’s fur to clean it and make it look nice.

Another way is by cuddling and snuggling together. This makes them feel warm and safe. Sometimes rabbits will also give each other gentle kisses on the nose. They may also rest their heads on each other or sit close together.

Chasing, playful nipping, and mounting are other normal behaviors and not signs that your rabbits aren’t getting along. However, most rabbits aren’t affectionate with each other right away, and they need some time to get to know and trust anyone new in their life.

How to tell if your rabbits don’t like each other?

Rabbit bonding good and bad signs

For the most part, two rabbits can coexist peacefully after an initial bonding period. Fighting is an unusual occurrence, but If your rabbits start growling, hissing, or lunging at each other, it’s usually a sign that your rabbits don’t like each other.

Another sign your rabbits don’t like each others’ presence is if they start to avoid each other and spend less time together.

In most cases, when two rabbits first meet, they will most likely ignore each other until they get used to having company. This isn’t a sign of hatred; you just need to give your rabbits some time to acclimate.

How to help your rabbits to get along?

The most important thing to do when you want two rabbits to get along is to give them space at their initial meeting. Rabbits are very territorial, so if you introduce two rabbits in a small, enclosed space, they will probably fight and get injured.

According to “pdsa” – the vet charity for pets in need, the bonding process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for rabbits to bond. Although on average the bonding process usually takes a few weeks.

Start by putting your rabbits in separate cages and placing the cages side by side. The next step is putting both rabbits in a large, enclosed space (preferably neutral territory, such as a bathroom or a yard pen) and wait for them to approach each other rather than trying to force a meeting.

Bottom line: How Do Rabbits Show Affection?

Rabbits usually enjoy the company of another rabbit, once they get used to their playmate, and they have been known to show affection to humans and other animals.

Your rabbit will groom you, greet you excitedly, relax near you, ask for attention, and click his teeth to show his affection for you. He does many of these same behaviors, especially grooming and cuddling, to other rabbits, as well.

You can make sure your rabbit is happy and healthy by bonding with him through quiet, gentle playtime, giving him an appropriate diet and environment, and being affectionate with him.

Sources

“Bonding bunnies” By the vet charity for pets in need.

https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/rabbits/how-to-help-your-bunnies-bond

About the author

Li-ran B.

Li-ran pretty much grew up in a household that was like a tiny zoo, full of all sorts of animals. However, rabbits and guinea pigs were always his go-to buddies. To this day, that love for these adorable creatures (including Tutti, a sweet and sassy Dutch rabbit) is still going strong.