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Understanding rabbit behaviour

Rabbits body language can be subtle, meaning that it's not always obvious how they're feeling. Use this guide to help you recognise important body language signals.

If you're concerned about your rabbit's behaviour speak to your vet first who may then refer you to an animal behaviourist.

View the rabbit behaviour infographic.

A happy rabbit

These rabbits are relaxed and happy.

Rabbits 1-3 show ears close together, facing slightly backwards and pointing outwards. Eyes may be partailly closed.

Graphic of rabbit lying down and relaxed with legs tucked in © RSPCAGraphic of rabbit lying down relaxed with legs out to the side © RSPCAGraphic of rabbit lying down spawled out and relaxed © RSPCAGraphic of rabbit jumping in the air happily © RSPCA

  1. Rabbit is lying down, with a relaxed body posture and legs tucked under the body.
  2. Rabbit is lying down, with front paws pointing forward and rear legs stuck out sideways. Body is relaxed and extended.
  3. Rabbit is lying down with a fully extended, relaxed body. Back legs are stretched out behind the body and the front paws are pointing forward.
  4. Rabbit jumps into the air with all four paws off the ground and twists in mid-air before landing.

A worried rabbit

These rabbits are telling you that they are uncomfortable and don't want you near them.

Graphic of rabbit crouched and tense © RSPCAGraphic of rabbit hiding © RSPCA

  1. Rabbit is in a crouched position, muscles are tense, head held flat to the ground, ears wide apart and flattened against the back, pupils dialated.
  2. Rabbits who are worried or anxious may hide.

An angry or very unhappy rabbit

These rabbits are not happy and want you to stay away or go away.

Graphic of rabbit jumping away kicking back legs out © RSPCAGraphic of rabbit sitting on back legs in a boxing stance © RSPCAGraphic of rabbit thumping back legs on the ground © RSPCAGraphic of rabbit standing tense showing teeth angrily © RSPCA

  1. Rabbit turns and moves away flicking the back feet. Ears may be held against the back.
  2. Rabbit is sitting up on back legs with front paws raised displaying boxing behaviour. Ears pointed upwards and facing outwards, rabbit may be growling.
  3. Rabbit is standing tense, with back legs thumping on the ground. Tail raised, ears pointing upwards and slightly turned outwards, facial muscles are tense and pupils dilated.
  4. Rabbit is standing tense with body down and weight towards the back, head tilted upwards, mouth open and teeth visible. Ears held back and lowered, tail raised, pupils dilated.
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