Understanding a rabbit's body language and common postures is helpful in building a relationship with your rabbit...
If you live closely with a rabbit for any length of time, you will
notice certain postures that they adopt on a regular basis. Some of
these can mean several things; for example, sitting up on the hind legs
could mean "I am looking around for danger" or "I want some food" or
"open that door for me". Furthermore, every rabbit is different and may
therefore communicate slightly differently.
Sitting like a ball with legs tucked in or front toes just showing, ears at rest or half up and eyes half closed - the "loaf"
Your rabbit is sleeping or dozing. Rabbits can sleep with their eyes
open but some rabbits may twitch their eyelids and droop their heads
Your rabbit is relaxing, doing nothing in particular. It may have just filled its tummy with food and be happily digesting it
Rolling on back or side with legs in the air and eyes sometimes closed - the "bunnyflop"
Your rabbit is extremely relaxed and happy. It may have just finished a
good meal, be enjoying a patch of sunshine or is relaxing after a good
Sitting up with weight on bottom, forelegs stretched, ears up and looking alert - the "classic" rabbit pose
Your rabbit is looking around to see what's going on, usually thinking
about what to do next and is often a prelude to grooming. It may be
rocking slightly due to its weight being balanced on its four feet close
Standing with weight on all four feet, nose and ears stretched forward and tail protruding behind.
Your rabbit is curious about something and wants to investigate
Sitting with weight on bottom, washing face with front feet,
pulling ears down to lick them, twisting around to groom back and sides
No prizes for this one - your rabbit is grooming itself
Leaning back with its nose buried in its bottom, then sitting upright again and chewing
Your rabbit is taking soft cecal droppings from its bottom and eating them - this is perfectly normal
Standing frozen with weight equally on all four legs in a braced stance, ears straight up and eyes wide open
Your rabbit has heard something and is waiting to see if it is dangerous. May be followed by....
Thumping back leg hard on ground and dashing away to hide
Your rabbit has identified danger in the vicinity and is scared
Sitting up on hind legs with ears up and nose pointed up
Wild rabbits do this just to get a better view and have a look around
for possible danger. Domestic rabbits are more likely to be requesting
food that you are holding or trying to get your attention
Laying head flat on ground
Your rabbit is showing submission to you or another rabbit and may be requesting petting or grooming
Shaking ears followed by scratching inside them with a hind foot
Your rabbit may have hair in its ears after a grooming session and be
trying to get rid of it. If frequent, could indicate ear mites.
Shaking ears followed by a little hop or jump
Your rabbit is inviting you to play or is excited about something, for example if you are about to feed it
Nudging your hand, leg or foot forcefully
one - if you are stroking your rabbit, it may be asking you to stop.
But, if you have just stopped stroking it, it may be asking you to
continue. If you are just minding your own business and your rabbit
nudges you lightly, it is probably trying to get your attention or is
Digging or biting at your feet
Your rabbit may be trying to get your attention or be asking you to move your feet out of its way
Turning its back on you or moving away, flicking hind feet out behind it
Your rabbit is annoyed with you for doing something it disapproves of,
such as cleaning out its litter tray or clipping its nails
Footnotes and further reading:
Welcome to our page! We do our best to provide to-be and current bunny owners up-to-date info on the best care for their house rabbits. When we adopted our first bunny in 2005, there was almost nothing on the internet to tell us how to care for him. Just in the past few years, information has exploded online, and now it can be confusing! We try to simplify it by posting weekly articles on current issues, daily care, concerns, proper feeding, and other info so you can enjoy your house-bun! If you are just finding us, feel free to look through the older posts also. Please email us if you have any questions! Happy bunnies make happy hearts!