If you are already the owner of a rabbit or two, you know how fun and full of personality they can be. But it's hard to know what they are thinking or feeling since rabbits can be hard to read and have many different ways of expressing themselves.
Here's some insight into the language of bunnies:
Fish Flop ("Life is good"): When a rabbit dramatically gets into resting position by suddenly 'flopping' onto their side. If your bunny fish flops, it means that he is relaxed and ready to nap. Fish flops tend to look like a sudden and dramatic death, but there's no need to be concerned.
Binky ("I'm excited about life!"): An energetic movement where a rabbit hops up in the air, kicks out his legs and perhaps a little twist. If your rabbit binkies, it means that he is happy, excited and probably has a lot of energy.
Grunting ("Back off!" or "Leave me alone!"): Sometimes accompanied by a lunge or a thump, your bun is letting you know his disapproval of your actions.
Honking ("Hey, baby"): Often accompanied with circling; it's part of the courting process.
Circling ("Let's get married and have babies"): Simply put, this is courting behavior.
Mounting ("Let's make those babies now" or "I'm in charge here!"): Depending on the situation, this is done for domination or simply because the mounter wants to mate.
Teeth Clicking or Soft Teeth Grinding ("That feels good and makes me happy"): Typically done when being pet in a way that pleases your bunny.
LOUD Teeth Grinding ("I'm in severe pain"): Something is very wrong; time to get bunny to your bunny vet immediately.
Chinning ("MINE"): Kind of like a cat will rub its face on people or objects, this is your bunny's way of 'claiming' things...or you
Back Kicking ("You're dead to me"): Flicking both back legs out as if kicking dirt onto you while hopping away. This is pretty much the equivalent of your bunny giving you the finger. Or kicking dirt at you.
Licking ("I love and trust you" or "You're filthy, let me clean you"): Licking is either done out of affection or for grooming.
Nose-nudging ("Pay attention to me" or "Get out of my way"): May be a request for pets or he wants you to get out of his way.
Pulling out fur ("I must prepare a nest" or "Something is wrong"): Unaltered females do this when they go into heat. They pull fur from their dewlap (the extra fat under their chin, I call it a 'built-in pillow') when they are ready to start nesting for babies. Unaltered females will do this whether they are pregnant or not. To ensure your bunny has a long, healthy life, it is important to get them neutered or spayed. If your bunny is pulling fur out that is not for this purpose, take him to a rabbit-savvy vet in your area.
Nipping ("Pay attention to me NOW" or "Stop that"): This may be used as a warning, a demand for attention or sometimes during grooming.
Spraying ("This is my territory"): Typically done by unaltered rabbits, or sometimes done when in a new environment, especially one with other pets.
Thumping ("The British are coming!" or "Leave me alone"): One solid thump that may happen in intervals. This means that your bunny hears, smells or sees something that he feels is a threat, so he is letting everyone know there is a danger afoot. Or he may thump to show displeasure with you.
Loafing ("I'm just resting, but can take off at a second's notice" or "I'm uncomfortable"):
Ears Back: ("I'm not listening" or "I don't like that"): You should be able to tell if your rabbit is tense or relaxed when his ears are in this position. If he is on the offense and tense with ears back, give your rabbit some space to cool down.
Ears Up ("I'm 100% listening"): Your bunny is alert and in-tune to whatever it is he is listening to.
One ear back, one forward ("I'm may or may not be listening"): Your bunny is pretty much indifferent when his ears are in this position.
Tail wagging ("You can't make me!" or "I'm going to attack!"): Typically signifies defiance and sometimes done right before a spray. This may also mean your rabbit is feeling aggressive or 'frisky'.
Upright tail ("I'm excited!" or "Let's play!"): Your bun is happy/excited and ready to play!
Lowering head ("Groom me"): The dominant rabbit will lower his or her head to another rabbit, demanding to be groomed. Sometimes this is a power struggle of both rabbits lowering their head to the other, wanting to be groomed/loved. This is also a sign of submission.
Playing ("weeeee!"): Rabbits love to play by tossing objects around, chasing one another, or playing hide & seek.
Lunging ("I feel threatened and must defend myself"): This sometimes happens when you are reaching into your bunny's living space, or doing something that makes him feel unsafe. One way to help ease your bunny's fears, is to put your hand on his head and talk gently to him as you do what you need to do in his space. Rabbits typically don't like their stuff moved or cleaned (they like their stuff to smell like them), so if you are cleaning or tidying bunny's living space and it upsets him, you can always put him in a different area while you do the necessary.
Screaming ("I'm in agony" or "I'm terrified that my life is in danger"): This rabbit either needs to be taken to a vet right away (if in pain), or needs soothed with soft talking and a spot that makes him feel safe where he can hide.
Territory droppings ("I must let the world know that this is my space"): When a bun leaves a few turds in a designated spot or all over, this is territory marking and typically stops with neutering/spaying.
If there is a behavior that you would like more information on, please send us a note, and we will add it to this list!