What does it take to truly win a rabbit’s heart? Rabbits have a reputation for being aloof, but make no mistake – these sensitive creatures crave connection and affection as much as any pet. They simply require patience to build trust with their discerning natures. The good news? Rabbits give clear signals when you’ve found the key to their heart. Watch for these 7 signs that show your rabbit loves and trusts you completely: excited binkies upon your arrival, full-body flops by your side, nibbles of grooming, foot circling for attention, contented purrs during petting, snuggly lap-sitting, and gentle nibbles saying “You’re mine.” Read on to learn how to nurture these signs of true bonding, and build a lasting relationship with your beloved bunny.
They groom you
One of the most endearing ways rabbits show affection is through grooming. In the wild, rabbits groom each other to strengthen social bonds and establish trust. If your bunny gently nibbles or licks your skin, clothes, or hair, they are showing you that you’re part of their inner circle.
Rabbit grooming serves both a social and practical purpose. Through grooming, rabbits remove loose fur and keep their human’s skin and clothing clean. But more importantly, it’s a soothing ritual that releases feel-good endorphins in both the groomer and the groomee.
When a rabbit grooms you, it’s a sign of true friendship. Rabbits only groom other rabbits they feel completely comfortable with. By nibbling you gently, your rabbit is saying “I trust you completely, and I want to take care of you.” It’s one of the most precious gifts a rabbit can give.
To encourage grooming, make sure your hands and clothes are free of irritating chemicals like perfumes or lotions. Sit patiently while your bunny grooms you, and resist the urge to cut the session short. Grooming is a relaxing, stress-reducing activity for rabbits, so let them set the pace. Offer praise and pets to show your appreciation for their special brand of rabbit love.
They circle your feet
In the wild, circling behavior in rabbits is part of their mating ritual. But for domestic rabbits, circling their human’s feet is a courtship display designed to capture your attention and affection.
When rabbits run tight circles around your feet, they are claiming you as an important part of their territory. Foot circling is most common in unneutered male rabbits, who are letting you know they consider you a mate. But even fixed rabbits and those of both sexes will run circles to proclaim their attachment.
Rabbits also circle to request food and treats or to get you to follow them somewhere. If your rabbit circles and then heads toward their empty food dish, the message is clear. But most times, foot circling is a straightforward request for affection.
When your rabbit starts orbiting your feet, respond by kneeling down to their level. Offer a treat or two, or pick them up for a cuddle. Foot circling is your bunny’s version of “pay attention to me!” so be sure to shower them with love.
They constantly want to be pet
Rabbits love to be stroked and cuddled – if they didn't, they wouldn't make very good pets! However, some bunnies take their demanding for affection to the next level. If your rabbit solicits pets first thing in the morning, after you return from work, and every spare minute in between, congrats – you have a super affectionate rabbit on your hands.
Rabbits ask to be pet in some subtle and not-so-subtle ways. They may gently nip at your clothes, crawl into your lap unprompted, or stand directly in your path until you stroke their head. Persistent rabbits may even wake you up in the middle of the night for a petting session. This can be disruptive, but it’s also a huge sign of trust. Your rabbit feels so secure with you that they want your attention around the clock.
Make sure to spend at least a couple dedicated hours per day petting, brushing, and interacting with your cuddle-crazed companion. Switch up where you pet them – cheeks, head, chin, back, and hindquarters are all prime bunny real estate. Schedule regular nail trims and grooming to keep their coat soft and skin healthy under all that petting. Your hands may get tired, but your rabbit will never tire of your loving touch.
They lay next to you
In the wild, rabbits are prey animals who rely on flight as their main defense. As a result, they feel most secure in confined spaces where they’re protected on all sides. If your rabbit freely chooses to flop down and relax beside you, it shows they consider you a trusted part of their safe space.
Rabbits display two kinds of stretching out behaviors when they’re completely comfortable. The first is a lazy sprawl, known as a “bunny puddle.” In this position, the rabbit splays their limbs out haphazardly while lying on their belly. A bunny who has melted into a puddle beside you is a relaxed and happy rabbit indeed.
An even bigger display of trust is full-on bunny flopping. In a flop, a rabbit throws themselves down on their side, often with legs fully extended. They may even roll onto their back, paws up in total vulnerability. This move says “I feel 100% safe here.” By flopping near you, your rabbit reveals that they consider you their friend and protector.
Make the most of these snuggly moments by slowly petting your rabbit while they relax. Avoid making loud noises or sudden movements that could startle them out of their bunny bliss. Let these quiet bonding sessions strengthen your relationship.
They binky when they see you
Few sights make rabbit owners happier than seeing their bunny binky. These joyful, eye-catching leaps are your rabbit’s way of shouting “I’m so happy!” Knowing your presence alone can spark this gleeful reaction in your rabbit is very fulfilling.
Rabbits binky when they experience sudden excitement, pleasure, or comfort. In the wild, rabbits reserve binkies for positive events like finding food or evading a predator. So when your rabbit binkies upon seeing you, it's a ringing endorsement.
Your rabbit likely associates you with highlights of their day like mealtimes, playtime, petting, and treats. Even if you just went to take out the trash, when you come back inside, it causes an eruption of bunny bliss. Their delight is contagious – you may even find yourself binking along with your fuzzy friend.
While binkies often happen spontaneously, you can increase them by sticking to a fun but predictable routine each day. The more your rabbit associates you with good things, the more they’ll flash their signature binky dance. Capture these uninhibited celebrations on video so you can watch your happy hops over and over.
They sit on your lap
A rabbit sitting calmly in your lap is a sign of total comfort and contentment. In this vulnerable position, your rabbit is fully dependent on you for security. By hopping into your lap of their own free will, your rabbit signals deep trust in you.
An on-lap bunny may stay for just a few minutes or remain for hours, idly dozing or gazing around. As long as you don’t make any surprising movements, your rabbit feels sheltered and safe here. Make the most of this special time by focusing all your attention on your rabbit. Talk or sing to them softly, stroke their head, and offer treats. The more positive lap experiences your rabbit has, the more they’ll seek you out as their very own security blanket.
Not all rabbits are inclined to sit in laps, so count yourself lucky if you have a cuddly lap bunny. Be sure to only provide inviting laps that are soft and stable. Keep your legs folded or crossed so your rabbit feels supported on all sides. By providing a dependable lap, you become one in your rabbit’s eyes.
They purr when you pet them
Of all the sounds rabbits make, nothing conveys happiness quite like a purr. Rabbit purrs begin softly, then rapidly increase to a volume you can feel vibrating under your hand. Rabbits purr when they are completely relaxed and enjoying a good petting. This blissful sound lets you know your touch is welcome and wanted.
Rabbits most often purr when having their cheeks, forehead, or base of their ears rubbed. Try out different strokes to see where your rabbit purrs loudest, then focus your attention there. Maintain a slow, steady rhythm – no need to rush an exquisite moment.
You can encourage more purring by massaging areas of stored tension like the shoulders, neck, hindquarters, and dewlap. Always ask before touching these sensitive regions, however, since not all rabbits enjoy having them handled. With time and trust, your soothing pets will turn your rabbit to jelly.
Recording your rabbit's divine purring ensures you can replay this sweet symphony anytime. When you’re having a rough day, few things beat putting on a purr soundtrack and imagining your rabbit’s pure contentment. Each rumbling purr says “my human makes me so happy” – words no bunny owner can get enough of.
Gaining a Rabbit's Trust
Building a bond of trust with your rabbit is incredibly rewarding, but also takes time and effort. Here are some tips for gaining your rabbit's confidence and affection:
Get Down to Their Level
Rabbits are most comfortable interacting with beings closer to their size. Sit or lie on the floor when spending time with your bunny. Allow them to approach you, rather than reaching down to pick them up.
Let Them Set the Pace
Avoid overhandling or overwhelming your rabbit, especially at first. Let them initiate contact, and go at their preferred speed for petting, holding, and playtime. Build up slow and steady.
Offer Tasty Treats
Positive reinforcement goes a long way with rabbits. Hand feed them small amounts of fresh veggies and herbs to associate you with yummy snacks. Once they equate you with good things, they’ll eagerly seek your company.
Groom Your Rabbit
Gently brush and pet your rabbit frequently. This allows them to experience enjoyable touch on a regular basis. Frequent grooming sessions build comfort through routine.
Use a calm, soothing tone when interacting with your rabbit, even just chatting or singing quietly near them. This gets them accustomed to your voice in a positive context.
Provide a Secure Home
Ensure your rabbit has places to hide like boxes, tunnels, and enclosures. The more safe spaces they have to retreat to, the more likely they are to explore confidently.
Honor Their Signals
If your rabbit indicates they need space by retreating or nipping, back off immediately. This shows them you respect their boundaries.
Add Hideaways and Platforms
Elevated surfaces and enclosed spaces make many rabbits feel more secure. Fill their living space with different levels, ramps, boxes, and tunnels.
Build a Bond Over Time
Some rabbits warm up faster than others. Be patient through ups and downs, and don’t take steps back personally. With regular TLC, your rabbit will learn to trust you.
Handle with Care
When picking up your rabbit, provide proper head and hindquarter support. Never dangle or squeeze them. Handling with care prevents fear.
Overall, focus on letting your rabbit call the shots in terms of handling and interaction. Avoid pressure or control. By being patient and responsive, you prove yourself a safe and loving presence in your rabbit's life. In time, your consideration will be repaid with your rabbit's confidence and affection. With daily care and respect, the bond between you will only strengthen.