Understanding your pet rabbit can be a tricky thing, and if you’ve just gotten him or her from the store and you’re still purchasing accessories (such as a new rabbit brush, for example), you might want to go through our top picks first. Rabbits are a little more difficult to interact with because they aren’t as communicative as dogs or even as cats.
While they are capable of feeling a wide array of emotions from fear, jealousy, anger, love, insecurity, as well as irritability, understanding what’s going on in your pet’s head and heart may take quite a bit of time. Sometimes, it can even take months or even years.
It would be particularly helpful if you were to know the rabbit’s history because it can help you understand how you can treat him or her. It will also assist you in interpreting the signals that the animal is trying to transmit through body language. Without further ado, let’s move on to several pieces of advice that might help you in this sense.
Let’s all take a step back and realize for a second that rabbits weren’t initially made to live in captivity. In fact, none of the animals that we now call our friends were originally designed to spend time in a place other than the great outdoors. So, a domestic rabbit’s psychology isn’t all that different when compared to that of a wild rabbit.
The point here is that the rabbit spends a lot of time trying to hide from natural predators ranging from hawks to foxes, so in the wild, the animal has to be on the run almost all day. As such, the rabbit has developed sensitive eyesight as well as sensitive hearing to interpret any warnings in nature that danger might be coming.
Rabbits only feel safe when they are in the company of their family or mate, and you have to make your own pet bunny feel so comfortable in your presence that he or she almost considers you a member of the family. Another good thing to help a rabbit unwind and feel at ease is to give him a burrow. Nowadays you can find them for sale (they’re basically hiding places).
As we said in the beginning of the post, rabbits are capable of feeling a variety of emotions even though they might not necessarily give off this in real life. They can feel love (when two rabbits groom each other or sleep with one another), content (when they roll on their side or backs), or they can even bite, in which case they are clearly angry.
If your rabbit is experiencing fear, you’ll notice that he’s breathing fast, has a racing heart, and his eyes are bulging. Mind you, this eye-bulging sign can be found in other species when they feel threatened and do not know how to react.
Rabbits can also be bossy, irritated, or depressed. It’s quite important to understand that, unlike some other small animals that really have nothing against living by themselves all of their lives (think hamsters), rabbits are quite sociable. That is why you will notice that, if you had a pair of bunnies and one of them died, the other one will suffer a lot, will be depressed, will lack appetite, or express character that’s completely out of his or her behavior.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the rabbit won’t necessarily show any of these emotions toward you – instead, he or she will focus on showing them to a companion.
The key to having a happy and healthy bunny
In all honesty, the secret to a happy rabbit consists of mixing the perfect living conditions (like plenty of space to run around in, good food, clean water, fresh veggies and snacks and the right ventilation in a hutch or cage) with the joy that a companion can bring. Somewhere on the site you’ll find another article where we discussed introducing two rabbits to one another, so you might want to read that one, too.
The point here is that same-sex pairs don’t really get along, especially if it’s two males we’re talking about. Opposite sex pairs get along very well, but you need to make sure that the two are neutered and spayed, respectively. If you do not, you will have to take care of bunny babies in no time.
Reading important signals
While some of the emotions that we have talked about are beautiful to notice, there are some signs that you always have to be on the lookout for and let’s face it, they can be quite terrifying. If your rabbit starts grinding his or her teeth, for example, it’s safe to say that the animal is feeling either stressed or experiencing discomfort or pain.
Other rabbits can exhibit an upright tail, laid back ears, or a tense body, in which case they’re sending out a vibe of ‘watch out’ and being quite offensive. They’re getting ready to lunge at you or other rabbits and they might bite.
Uneasiness or fright are expressed by the third inner eyelid being showed in the corner of an eye. As much as we hate writing this, you have to know that if your rabbit starts screaming, it is a sign of excruciating pain or mortal terror.
If you hear your rabbit doing this, try to calm him down as quickly as possible or make sure that there’s no predator around (if you keep his hutch out in the garden in the summer). If that’s not the problem, maybe take your pet rabbit to the vet as quickly as possible. You might be able to save his life.