Rabbit Body Language: An Illustrated Guide

Get ready to become a bunny poop expert with this comprehensive guide to rabbit droppings! We dive deep into poop clues that reveal important insights into your rabbit’s health and happiness. From what normal poops should look like to warning signs of trouble, consider this your house rabbit Poop 101 class. You’ll learn how diet, hormones, parasites, and so much more manifest in your rabbit’s delicate digestive system. We cover every poop problem scenario from soft stool to blood in urine. Equipped with this poop intel, you’ll be ready to keep your rabbit’s rump in tip-top shape!


Rabbits have excellent hearing, and their long ears allow them to easily detect sounds and movements around them. When a rabbit senses something unfamiliar or potentially dangerous, it will become alert and sit straight up on its haunches with ears perked. Alert body language indicates that the rabbit is focused and paying close attention to its surroundings. This is often the first reaction a rabbit has when it hears an odd noise or detects a new person or animal approaching. An alert rabbit is primed to either relax if it determines there is no real threat, or bolt away if it decides it needs to flee.


A binky is a signature rabbit move that demonstrates pure joy and delight. To binky, a rabbit will suddenly leap up in the air and twist its body in quick, excited hops. Binkying usually happens during playtime or when a happy rabbit is expressing high spirits. Rabbits often binky when they first come out of their enclosure for their daily exercise time. The binky is a full-body expression of bunny bliss and seeing your rabbit binky is a clear sign that your pet is content and energetic. Binking is most common in young rabbits, but older rabbits can binky too on occasion when they are particularly thrilled. If your rabbit starts binkying frequently, you can rest assured that your pet is thriving in your care.


A rabbit boxing motion involves the rabbit rapidly lifting its front paws up and down in alternating thrusts, like a boxer throwing punches. Rabbit boxing can happen for a few different reasons. Un-neutered males may box to show dominance and strength when competing for territory or mates. Rabbits may also lightly box at owners or other rabbits as a request for more petting or attention. However, boxing also sometimes signifies that a rabbit is angry, warning others to back away from its space. Context is important to understand if boxing indicates happiness, breeding behavior, or aggravation. Owners should watch for other body language cues to decipher why their rabbit is boxing in a particular moment.

Butt Twitching

A twitching or quivering rabbit tail is usually a sign of pure excitement and anticipation. Rabbits often twitch their noses when excited, but the fluttering tail indicates an extra level of eager energy. Tail twitching usually coincues with alert body posture and perked ears facing towards the stimulus causing the excitement. A rabbit's fluffy tail may quiver when they spy a favorite treat or toy, when their owner fills their food bowl, or when playtime is about to start. It's similar to a happy dog wagging its tail at high speeds. Rabbit tail wagging doesn't always indicate happiness though. It can also signify irritation or stress if paired with thumping hind feet. Context around the twitching tail will distinguish if it conveys joy or anxiety.


A cautious rabbit will move slowly and deliberately, often stopping to sniff the air and look around. Its body will stay low to the ground and the ears will alternately perk to listen and flatten backward if sensing a potential threat. A cautious rabbit will likely try to stick to the edges of a room or hide behind objects to stay sheltered. You may see the nose and whiskers twitching as it investigates something unfamiliar. Caution translates that the rabbit's natural prey instincts are heightened and it perceives possible danger. Rabbits that suddenly become more cautious may be reacting to a change in environment, new people or animals around, or loud noises putting them on edge. Pay attention to your rabbit's caution signals to identify what environmental factor is triggering their sense of insecurity.


Rabbits chew a lot to keep their ever-growing teeth worn down. So chewing is part of their normal daily activity. However excessive chewing on cage bars or other objects can signify boredom or stress. Rabbits may chew when they are confined without enough mental stimulation or physical exercise. Make sure your rabbit has plenty of appropriate chew toys readily available to channel that chewing urge. Watch for a coinciding rise in chewing along with body language like rapidly thumping feet, wide eyes, and alert posture to determine if heightened chewing stems from anxiety versus typical rabbit behavior. If stress is causing chewing, address what is causing your rabbit unease. Also ensure your rabbit has adequate space and enrichment.

Chin Rubbing

Rabbits have scent glands under their chins, allowing them to mark territory and objects with their own signature smell. In the wild, rabbits communicate by rubbing their chin on plants, rocks, branches, and more. If you notice your rabbit rubbing its chin on you, furniture, cage bars, or other items in your home, it is a form of communication conveying ownership. By transferring its scent, your rabbit is saying "This belongs to me!". Chin rubbing often occurs alongside circling behaviors as well. It's a territorial instinct but also can reflect your rabbit feels comfortable and at home in its environment if it is marking items as its own. Enjoy those bunny kisses on your pants as a sign you belong to your rabbit too!


Circling refers to when rabbits run in circles around an object or person. In the wild, circling kicks up the scent of foliage and objects that rabbits want to mark as their own. Circling around you signals your rabbit is happy and comfortable with you. Rabbits may often circle your feet or legs. Circling while chin-rubbing spreads that bunny scent efficiently while laying claim. Rabbits also circle prospective mates when breeding. Excessive, rapid circling can signify a medical issue, so rule that out if your rabbit is constantly running loops. But in most cases, circling indicates contentment plus your rabbit staking a claim on you or territory.

Cold Shoulder

Giving the "cold shoulder" translates across species, even to rabbits. A rabbit that turns its back to you and refuses to engage is expressing its displeasure. Ignoring your attempts at affection or attention is your rabbit's way of giving you the cold shoulder. This body language is a clear indicator that your rabbit is upset or angry with the situation or your action. Did you wake your rabbit up when it did not want to be disturbed? Forget to promptly feed breakfast? Changed something in your rabbit's environment? The cold shoulder is your cue to reflect on what may have caused offense and how to remedy it. Your rabbit will need some alone time but should warm back up with an apology treat or two.


A confident rabbit exudes calm, relaxed energy. It will hold its body less tensely, often laying down stretched out or flopping over, keeping its chin and belly exposed. Confident rabbits will calmly investigate new environments instead of hiding. Their noses may still twitch but their overall body language says "I've got this" without much wariness or fear. Sitting upright with ears relaxed back also demonstrates confidence versus ears perked alertly for potential threats. A confident rabbit shows trust in its environment and those around it. This confidence develops as rabbits become more securely bonded with owners and accustomed to their home over time.


Rabbits are extremely investigative creatures by nature. You will know when your rabbit's curiosity is piqued because it will approach new objects nose-first to sniff and explore thoroughly. A curious rabbit moves through its environment at a slow, steady pace with ears perked forward intently. It may stretch its neck out further to poke its nose where it wants more information. Curious rabbits engage in lots of whisker twitching and sniffing behaviors. To satisfy your curious rabbit's needs, incorporate new toys, tunnels, boxes, and structures periodically to keep things interesting. Curious rabbits also enjoy having windows to look out and watch activity outdoors.


In the wild, rabbits dig burrows to create nests and hiding spaces. That natural digging instinct remains strong even in domestic rabbits. You may notice your house rabbit digging at carpets, furniture, or bedding especially right before naptime. Provide your rabbit an appropriate digging box filled with paper strips, shreds, or even soil to satisfy this innate need to burrow. Digging when happy and content is normal rabbit behavior but can become excessive due to boredom, anxiety, or lack of better outlets. Make sure your rabbit gets ample exercise time each day. Discourage unwanted carpet digging but provide acceptable digging opportunities.


When a rabbit lays flat on the ground and tenses its body, this demonstrates fear or submission. The flattened pose makes the rabbit less visible and less likely to attract attention from predators. Wild rabbits use this posture to hide from potential threats in the open grass. Flattening may also signify your rabbit is scared of a person, animal, or object that it wants to avoid. Some rabbits will temporarily flatten when picked up and held until they relax and accept cuddling. A chronically scared rabbit may spend more time overall in the flattened pose, signaling its living environment is causing significant stress. Try to identify what triggers the flattening reaction so you can work to build your rabbit's confidence.

Flicking You Off

While rabbits can't actually "flip the bird" at you, their body language can signal a similar sentiment of irritation or dismissal. Rabbits may flick their feet in your direction to shoo you away if you are invading their space when unwanted. They may also flick their ears back in annoyance or thump their powerful hind feet in protest. A head flick after being petted can mean "enough is enough" before bunny hops away. Take the hint and give your rabbit some breathing room when you get the brush off. Your rabbit is communicating clear boundaries so respect when your affections become unwanted pestering.


A rabbit flop demonstrates complete relaxation and comfort with its surroundings. Rabbits will flop over on their sides, leaving their vulnerable stomach and underside exposed. Happy rabbits in a secure environment will flop over leisurely to sunbathe or doze off. This shows your home is a safe haven where your rabbit can fully unwind without worry. A timid, scared rabbit will never flop down in such a powerless position. Flopping often occurs right after playtime when rabbits are worn out. Think of it similarly to a dog rolling over to nap belly up. Frequently witnessing those cozy rabbit flops means you have successfully gained your rabbit's wholehearted trust.

Gentle Nudge

Rabbits have sensitive whiskers all over their muzzles allowing them to navigate surroundings even in pitch darkness. As a result, rabbits commonly nudge objects or people with their extremely whiskery noses. In fact, rabbits use their whiskers almost like fingers to grasp and manipulate items. A gentle rabbit nose nudge on your hand or leg is your rabbit's way of gaining your attention and affection. It may be asking for food, pets, or playtime. When rabbits nudge each other gently, it signifies grooming or romantic interest. Nudging is typically cautious and delicate, so as not to startle. Respond to those sweet nudges by showering your rabbit with the attention requested.


Social rabbits will naturally groom other rabbits they bond with, as well as their human caretakers. Gentle nibbles or light teeth grazing of your hair, clothes or fingers is a grooming behavior. Licking or using teeth to tidy your clothes or hair demonstrates your rabbit cares for you and sees you as one of the group! Grooming a mate stimulates social closeness for rabbits. Let your rabbit groom you without nibbling skin to reinforce your social bond. Your scent calms your rabbit when grooming occurs. Grooming can sometimes escalate to true biting though, so divert the teeth away if nibbles get too rough. With proper redirection, grooming gestures nurture the rabbit-human relationship.

Hard Nudge

Rabbits use their strong body weight to shove objects away forcefully at times. Unlike a gentle investigative nudge, a hard rabbit nudge aims to get something or someone forcefully out of the bunny's way. Your rabbit may plant its forehead against you and vigorously shove if you block access to where it urgently wants to go. Whether it's giving your foot an impatient nudge when the food bowl is empty or forcefully nudging a baby gate that contains it, hard nudges signal your rabbit is displeased with an obstruction. While not aggressive, expect resistance if you disrupt your rabbit through unwanted handling when a hard nudge says it's time you steer clear of bunny business.

Hunched Position

A hunched, tense body posture often indicates stress or discomfort in rabbits. Hunching makes a rabbit's body tight and smaller. Ears will also pull back against the body instead of resting upright when content. Rabbits may hunch over when frightened by environmental stimuli like loud noises. Discomfort from illness or injury can also cause a hunched posture. Look for tight hunching paired with lack of movement and positioning that relieves pressure on the problem area. Hunching from fear often coincides with wide eyes and elevated breathing as well. Eliminate any disruptive environmental stressors and call your vet if you observe intense hunching or partial paralysis to address the underlying issue promptly.


A happy, content rabbit will lick people and rabbit friends during grooming. Light licking distributes scent and strengthens social bonds. It also keeps their mate's coat sleek and tidy. Rabbits sometimes lick surfaces like hardwood floors or window panes, which may signal nutritional deficiencies (consult your vet). Excessive, repetitive licking at the same spot could mean pain as well. But the most common reason rabbits lick their people is to show affection! Enjoy those bunny kisses as a sign your rabbit finds you special. Just discourage licking inside ears or mouths as rabbit saliva can spread diseases to humans.


Catching your rabbit loafing puts a smile on any bunny parent's face. Rabbits loaf by tucking their legs fully under their body, forming the classic "bread loaf" shape. At rest, rabbits melt into the loaf shape. A relaxed flop with legs tucked demonstrates your rabbit feels perfectly content in your presence. Loafing requires comfort and stability to relax their muscles and become so vulnerable. A scared or uncertain rabbit would never let down its guard enough to loaf. Loafing while sleeping next to you or when you enter a room conveys your rabbit associates you with safety. Enjoy the bunny bliss!


When your rabbit lowers its head down, pins back its ears, and quickly nips or darts in your direction, this aggressive body language conveys a clear message to back away now. Lunging is not an affectionate behavior but rather a forceful warning to cease whatever is angering your rabbit immediately. What triggers rabbit lunging? Rabbits may lunge due to fear if cornered or forced into unwanted handling. Pain can cause a rabbit to reactively lunge when touched near an injured or sore area. Intact rabbits are also prone to hormonal, territorial lunging. Whatever the root cause, lunging signals a serious problem exists requiring intervention. Respect your rabbit's space until the issue can be properly addressed.


In rabbit society, the dominant rabbit will mount another rabbit to showcase hierarchy and claim breeding rights. An un-neutered male rabbit may mount other rabbits, people, pillows and more. Mounting demonstrates sexual maturity and hormones driving your rabbit toward reproduction. Spaying or neutering your rabbit is advisable to reduce problematic mounting behaviors. If an adult rabbit continues mounting after surgery, that typically signals the behavior became a learned habit. Distract and redirect your fixed rabbit when mounting occurs. While mounting looks comedic to us, it has a serious hormonal purpose, so avoid encouraging it to continue.


A few days before delivering babies, pregnant female rabbits begin building nests by gathering bedding and fur to line a burrow. Wild rabbits also build nests seasonally to create warm, concealed rest areas. Even if your rabbit cannot actually get pregnant or give birth, the instinct to build nests remains strong. Your spayed female may still collect scraps of paper towels or fabric strips around time she would be due to kindle if unfixed. Providing nest boxes and materials gives her an outlet for this deep-seated drive. Nesting provides comfort and security to rabbits while resting. Encourage the nesting urge by providing nesting box options.


Nipping is common among rabbits as a form of communication, but contexts vary. Love nibbles during grooming express affection. A nip can also signal a request to be petted or fed. However, rabbits may bite due to fear. Quick warning nips say "back away!" to pushy humans or animals. If health issues or injuries make a rabbit irritable, handling may get nips too. Pain-induced nipping often targets the body parts causing discomfort, like sore limbs or feet. Rabbits also nip in a "boxing" display of dominance. Analyze if nibbles seem socially motivated or aim to make contact stop. Redirect inappropriate biting into positive behaviors like chewing a toy.


When rabbits raise up on their hind legs and stretch up tall, this is called "periscoping". Like a submarine rising to take a peek through its periscope, rabbits stand upright to get a better view of their surroundings and check for potential threats. Rabbits are prey animals, so periscoping allows them scope out the scene while still ready to bolt if needed. You may notice periscoping when something catches your rabbit's attention, such as an odd sound or a bird landing nearby. Periscoping is a cautious behavior but smart, allowing rabbits to satisfy curiosity while remaining on alert. Provide sturdy objects for your rabbit to periscope safely and easily view the action.


Frightened rabbits demonstrate clearly recognizable body language. A scared rabbit will freeze with eyes wide and nostrils flaring, poised to flee. Its ears flatten down against the neck instead of upright and rotated toward perceived danger. Low hunched posture makes the body appear smaller. Rabbits may also thump their hind feet as an alarm signal to others when afraid.

Scattered Poops

Rabbits naturally pass numerous small fecal pellets as they graze and digest their food continuously. However, scattering higher volumes of slightly loose poops signals your rabbit is marking territory. This communicates either excitement about exploring new space or stress about perceived intruders. Happy scattering by a content rabbit roaming their playground is normal. But excessive scattering paired with aggressiveness like charging or grunting may indicate your rabbit is guarding its space from humans or other pets. Try respecting your rabbit's boundaries until this hormonal behavior can be curbed through spay/neuter, more exercise, or environment adjustments.

Shaking Ears

Ear shaking is a rapid flick that rabbits do to snap themselves out of a doze or send a message. Your rabbit may shake its ears when partially wakened to get fully alert. Ear shaking can also communicate irritation, as if giving the bunny version of an eye roll. Excessive ear shaking while being handled may signal your rabbit finds petting unpleasant and wants it to cease. Like twitching to dislodge an bothersome fly, rabbits shake their ears to snap out of relaxed states or demonstrate annoyance they want to end. Pay attention to what precedes ear shaking to determine if it signifies rising alertness or a request for unwelcome stimuli to stop.


A rabbit's sense of smell is excellent, making sniffing key to how they interpret environments. Sniffing new objects, foods, people, or rabbits gives crucial information on whether they are safe versus dangerous. You will see a curious rabbit sniffing energetically with nostrils fluttering and ears erect. Rapid sniffing while cautiously approaching signals your rabbit is intrigued but still analyzing if engaging is a smart choice. Stress sniffing manifests as quick, shallow breaths through the nose paired with tension. Providing new engaging scents satisfies rabbits' drive to sniff. Just avoid overwhelming rabbits sensitive noses with strong perfumes or cleaners that seem noxious.


Happy, content rabbits demonstrate trust by relaxing into a sprawled position. Sprawling involves stretching out full length on their stomach or sides without curling up. Legs often extend out behind the back. While still able to spring up quickly if needed, sprawling puts rabbits temporarily in a more vulnerable pose. A rabbit constantly remaining balled up tightly gives away discomfort and concern with its environment. Frequently witnessing those cozy sprawls as your rabbit naps shows it feels safe in your presence. Sprawling often follows energetic play as rabbits relish the chance to fully unwind during rest periods.


Along with scattering droppings, unfixed rabbits may mark territory by spraying urine. Both males and females spray, with males tending to spray more frequently. Spraying results in noticeable urine accumulation on vertical surfaces like walls, unlike typical rabbit puddles on horizontal floors. Like poop scattering, spraying sends a scent message that "this space is claimed!". Intact rabbits spray more around sexual maturity and may target owners and objects with their strongest scent, like beds or clothing. While natural, spraying is undesirable at home. Getting your rabbit neutered or spayed reduces hormonal spraying in most cases.

Suddenly Running Away

Prey animals like rabbits will bolt without warning when they believe a threat is imminent. If your rabbit is relaxed and content one moment then abruptly flees the area the next, something triggered its primal instinct to escape danger as fast as possible. Loud noises like books dropping or doors slamming can send a rabbit dashing for cover. Running away from seemingly innocuous stimuli often indicates a lack of proper socialization. Help timid rabbits gain confidence by acclimating them slowly to sights and sounds they will encounter in your home. With time, your rabbit will learn what is harmless versus worrisome.

Teeth Grinding/Purring

Happy rabbits communicate contentment by softly grinding their teeth together to produce a purring sound. This pleasant teeth grinding signifies your rabbit is relaxed and enjoying your attention. Your rabbit may grind its teeth and purr when being petted lightly or while lazily snacking. Grinding and purring often occurs before resting as rabbits settle into a comfy space. Be sure to differentiate relaxed grinding from teeth chattering due to pain. Pleasant grinding has a steady, lulling rhythm compared to the rapid shaking of discomforted chattering. Enjoy those purrs as confirmation your rabbit is as calm and cozy as can be!

Teeth Loudly Chattering

While relaxed teeth grinding sounds like a soft purr, rabbits also loudly chatter their teeth together rapidly as a sign of pain. High-pitched chattering paired with tension indicates your rabbit is hurting. Be attentive for chattering when touching sensitive areas on your rabbit's body during handling or grooming. Also listen for chattering alongside changes in appetite and activity levels, as dental issues like malocclusion commonly cause discomfort. Loud tooth chattering communicates obvious distress, so have your veterinarian promptly check your rabbit to determine causes and provide pain relief. Never ignore intense teeth chattering.


Rabbits have individual personality quirks, but intact rabbits frequently demonstrate territorial behaviors. Territorial rabbits display possessiveness over their enclosure, toys, food bowls, litterboxes, and resting spots. Your rabbit may grunt, nip, or shove family members away from their area. Territorial urine spraying and aggressive poop scattering also mark space as "owned". While neutering helps curb territorial issues, even fixed rabbits can be possessive over favorite places and items! Respect your bossy bunny's signals, but still be consistent about reinforcing important rules like safely handling rabbits when mandatory.


Some athletic rabbit breeds like Dutch Rabbits entertain themselves by tossing objects into the air repeatedly using their teeth and paws. This bunny "juggling" stimulates active minds. Throwing toys allows rabbits a fun solo game to pass time in their enclosure when you are away at work. Provide safe throwable objects to enrich independent playtime like plastic balls or keys. Supervise throw time at first to ensure your rabbit does not ingest pieces. While mimicking prey catching and killing motions, this playful throwing using designated toys is non-aggressive fun versus angry tossing due to true upset.


Rabbits thump their strong hind legs against the ground as an attention-grabbing alarm signal. Thumping conveys "danger!" to alert fellow rabbits of potential threats. Your rabbit may thump to express displeasure with cage cleaning, nail trims, or being separated from bonded mates. Thumping often arises alongside territorial behaviors like lunging or spraying. Try identifying and eliminating the irritant triggering thumping. Sometimes simply sitting quietly with an upset rabbit patiently soothes thumping. Remember thumping indicates your rabbit is deeply upset, so never punish or exacerbate the situation. With care, you can guide your rabbit toward calm.


Though it shares similarities with humans, rabbit yawning does not necessarily indicate sleepiness or boredom. Long yawns accompanied by tooth purring signal contentment. Yawning can also help rabbits relax when anxious, just like people take deep breaths to calm down. Stressed rabbits yawn while withdrawing from unwanted activity or handling. If you notice frequent yawning paired with signs of tension like flattened ears, your rabbit may feel overwhelmed by environmental stressors or interaction. Respect yawning as a request to reduce stimulation. Monitor if yawning lessens as you work to make your home more soothing.


Rabbit zoomies manifest as intense bursts of frantic sprinting, jumping, twisting, and kicking up in the air. During zoomies, rabbits passionately tear madly around as if possessed by sheer glee. Zooming most often arises during playtime when rabbits have pent-up energy to expend. Your rabbit may excitedly zoom if anticipating an upcoming fun event too, like mealtime or playdate with a bonded buddy. While zooming appears manic, it simply indicates exhilarated joy and vigor. Outdoor enclosure time enables healthy zooming release. Indoors, spend time playing with your rabbit actively to satisfy zoomie urges in safer directed manners.


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