Rabbit Language-Body Language
Rabbit Language-Body Language
If you want to understand your rabbit better you have to learn its body language, for rabbits hardly ever utter sounds, and if they do, the sounds are usually almost inaudible.
Stamping or drumming with the hind feet: This
is an expression of fear, a threatening gesture, or a warning. Wild rabbits drum
the ground loudly with their hind legs at the approach of an enemy, thus warning
their fellows, which then disappear into their burrows with the speed of
Lying flat on the ground with ears folded flat: This posture, in which a rabbit hopes to become invisible, is assumed at the sudden appearance of danger or in response to unexpected, loud noises. But watch out if your rabbit assumes this posture indoors. It may break into panicked flight and run straight into a wall.
Raising up on the haunches: A rabbit not only gets a better view of its surroundings in this posture; it also can sniff out scent sources better, see behind visual obstacles (as in tall grass), and hear better. Rabbits also rise up onto their hind legs to reach tempting food, such as tender young shoots on branches. A rabbit in a cage will rise up or jump up happily when it sees its caretaker approach with food.
Rolling on the ground: This is an expression of well-being.
Relaxed squatting with ears folded back: This is a resting posture. Sometimes rabbits also move their jaws contentedly, as though chewing. Don't disturb your rabbit when it is in this mood.
Lying on the side with one leg outstretched and eyes falling shut: The animal wants to go to sleep. Rabbis often lie down like this when they are exhausted. Sometimes, if they are to hot or have been running hard, they stretch out both hind legs.
Light nudging with the nose: Sometimes this is merely a gesture of greeting, but it can also be a request to be petted.
Brief shaking of the ears: I have observed this behavior mostly in larger breeds with long ears. It means "That's enough!" Rabbits do it after being brushed or shorn of if they have been held to long.
Licking of the hand: This means "Thank you" or "I like you." Sometimes, once they have started licking while being petted, they get carried away and go on to lick the floor after they have withdrawn your hand. Rabbits also express affection toward each other by mutual licking.
Tense body, straight tell, head stretched forward, ears pointing straight ahead: This posture expresses concentration, curiosity, and, at the same time, caution. Rabbits meeting for the first time assume this stance before sniffing each other. Watch out: If the rabbit now folds its ears back, the mood has turned aggressive. Attack and biting may follow.
Rubbing the chin against things: The rabbit is marking the objects with a substance, odorless to humans, which is produced by a scent gland under the tongue and secreted through pores underneath the chin. It is a rabbit's way of marking territory and announcing to its fellows: "This belongs to me."
Ingesting fecal matter: The feces are usually taken directly from the anus. They are special excretions from the cecum-moist, glistering, and kidney-shaped-not round and dry like normal rabbit droppings. These special feces are an important source of vitamin B. Ingesting is totally different from coprophagy, this is, eating of dung, and there is nothing disgusting about it.
Digging and scratching: The rabbit is trying to construct a burrow. This behavior is very pronounced in does that are in heat or pregnant. But sometimes digging simply indicates a desire for physical affection, "Keep on petting me!" My doe Mohole also scratches in her litter box when she detects an unfamiliar smell there of she doesn't approve. Excited bucks also scratch the ground, for instance at the approach of a rival.
Rabbits are very quiet animals, but they are by no means mute. However, you have to listen very closely in order to hear them.
scolding noises uttered in quick succession. A rabbit that mutters like this is
either angry or expressing some warning. A pregnant doe will issue such a
warning if an insistent buck refuses to leave her in peace.
Hissing: Hissing is always aggressive in intent, and a short hiss may precede an attack. The hissing of rabbits has little in common with the hissing in cats.
A short muttering or growing sound: This is mostly heard from a buck shortly after the act of mating.
Soft or loud squeaking: Baby rabbits will sometimes squeak when they are afraid or hungry. I was once awakened at night by such a squeak for help when a doe had deposited a newly born baby rabbit next to my bed. Luckily I was able to return the shivering little creature in time to the warm nest with its siblings.
Loud grinding of the teeth combined with a dull look in the eyes and general apathy: This is always a sign of terrible pain, as when a rabbit has tympanites. It should not be confused with soft teeth-grinding sounds produced when the jaws move as in chewing, which expresses a feeling of comfort and is displayed primary when you scratch a rabbit on the back of the neck. Some rabbits exhibit this behavior more than others.
High-pitched screams: This sound is produced only in a state of mortal terror or under excruciating pain, as when a predator grasps a rabbit and inflicts a killing bite.