What does my rabbit's behaviour mean?

A rabbit's body language can be subtle, so it's not always easy to understand how a rabbit is feeling. Use this guide to help you recognise important body language signals, and if you're concerned about your rabbit's behaviour, speak to your vet.

Understanding your rabbit's feelings

A good place to start is to look at your rabbit's ears. If they're close together, facing upwards and pointing outwards, your rabbit is likely to be relaxed and happy. If they're worried, their ears will be flattened against their back. You can also look at your rabbit's eyes and body posture, as well as their behaviour - for example, a rabbit may be anxious if they're hiding.

Is my rabbit happy?

These rabbits are relaxed and happy, with ears close together, facing slightly backwards and pointing outwards. Their eyes may be partly closed.

  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. The 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.

Is my rabbit worried?

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

  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 dilated.
  2. Rabbits who are worried or anxious may hide.

Is my rabbit angry or very unhappy?

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

  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, and the 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 the body down and weight towards the back, head tilted upwards, mouth open and teeth visible. Ears held back and lowered, tail raised, pupils dilated.

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

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