If you’ve never been around a pet rabbit, you might be surprised to know that they have big personalities! Like any animal, rabbits have their own ways of communicating with other rabbits and with the world around them. Learning rabbit body language and behavior is a great way to better understand how they are communicating and can lead to wonderful interactions between you and a pet rabbit! So let’s learn what the rabbit says!


One of the easiest ways to see what a rabbit is feeling is what their ears look like. Rabbits can swivel their ears 270º so they’re able to listen to sounds from any direction. While lop rabbits (those with floppy ears) have less control over their ears but are still able to communicate how they feel with their ears. When a rabbit is relaxed or even sleeping, their ears are often at a 45º angle or resting fully on their back. If they’re curious, a rabbit’s ears will cup towards what they are exploring while their nose twitches and they move slowly closer. Combined with an upright posture, ears that are rigid and pointed to the front indicate alertness; when this happens, it’s usually because the rabbit may have heard something threatening and is trying to figure out if there is danger. If a rabbit is nervous or feeling aggressive, their ears are typically folded and pointed back over their shoulders. This will also be accompanied by tense muscles and a rabbit either trying to make themselves look bigger and trying to attack or making themselves look smaller but ready to run if need be.

If a rabbit is shaking their ears, they might be trying to say a couple of different things and context will be important to figuring out exactly what they are trying to say. First, it could be that they want to be left alone. If they’re exploring around and you reach toward them, they could shake their ears and hop away as a way to say “leave me alone!”. Second, if it’s accompanied with a shaking of their head and shoulders, they could be happy and excited but don’t want to do a full binky. Thirdly, if a rabbit is shaking their ears a few times in a row, their ears might be itchy and it could indicate a serious problem, like ear mites or an infection.

Binkying, Hopping, and Dancing

A rabbit binkying is similar to a person jumping in the air and clicking their heels together. The heel clicking doesn’t actually happen but rabbits do leap into the air and will twist their bodies! Binkying is a normal, happy behavior for rabbits and they do it when particularly happy or excited. Some rabbits have also been known to do butt twitches when given treats or food because they are particularly happy.

Digging and Chewing

Digging and chewing are normal and instinctual behaviors for rabbits, as rabbits in the wild dig burrows for nesting and their teeth are constantly growing. While pet rabbits no longer need to dig for safety, the instinct is still there and pet rabbits will often dig for fun! Pet rabbits will also dig on their person’s feet or hands to get their attention. Rabbits will also chew on anything, including wires, clothing, furniture, books, and more. While this behavior is incredibly frustrating, particularly if you haven’t bunny proofed your home, it is a totally natural one, as rabbits have to chew for their own health. Rabbits have teeth that never stop growing in their lifetime and without proper care, like chewing, they can get overgrown and cause a whole lot of issues. Rabbit-proofing your home and having a range of chew toys/snacks can really help protect more valuable items while allowing your rabbit to do their natural behavior.

Nips and Bites

Being bitten by any animal is never fun, especially if the animal has teeth like a rabbit. The good news is that rabbits don’t typically bite but if you are bitten by a pet rabbit, it may be an accident or a reaction to being surprised. Pet rabbits will sometimes nip at you, which is much gentler than a bite, to get your attention.

Flopping and Loafing

Flopping over on their sides is a totally normal rabbit behavior and it means a pet rabbit is content and relaxed. This will typically happen when a bunny is a bit tired and wants to take a nap. When it does happen, it means that the rabbit feels safe and comfortable, making it a great behavior to see! Similarly, loafing is when a rabbit is relaxed but bundled up like a little loaf and has their front legs tucked in.

Thumping, Stomping, and Kicking.

Rabbits have powerful hind legs and can deliver a surprisingly strong kick if they want to. Rabbits will usually kick you (or in your direction) when feeling displeased. Similarly, a rabbit will thump or stomp when they feel frightened, mad or annoyed, or sense danger. If a rabbit thumps when you are petting or brushing it, it could be feeling overwhelmed or annoyed and it wants you to stop.


Rabbits make lots of noises – some are happy noises while others express fear. One of the most terrifying noises is a shrill scream; a rabbit will typically only scream if they are hurt or dying and if you hear a pet rabbit scream, you should get them medical attention immediately. Hopefully, you will never hear your rabbit scream! While rabbits don’t generally make a lot of noises, there are a few others that they do make to communicate. One is grunting, which, unsurprisingly, means they feel angry or grumpy. They also make teeth-grinding noises; a soft grinding typically means they are feeling happy and content while a loud grinding may indicate they are not feeling well. Another noise is growling, which, unsurprisingly, means they are feeling stressed or threatened.

There are so many other rabbit behaviors that can’t be covered in a single post but hopefully, this is a good starting point for those interested in learning more about rabbits! Pet bunnies are incredibly wonderful and complex animals that often have a lot to say! Learning to understand what rabbits are saying is a great way to strengthen your bond. If you have been thinking about getting a pet rabbit (or two!), consider adopting one from a local rescue or humane society. There are organizations dedicated to finding homes for rabbits and plenty of humane societies that have rabbits in their care needing forever homes.

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