Bunny Binkies: What is that Weird Twist and Jump?


HOW TO GET YOUR BUNNY TO BINKY MORE OFTEN

So you recently brought a new pet rabbit home, and you noticed they started doing these weird twisty jumps all over the living room. If you’re a new rabbit caretaker, this behavior might startle you. You might think your rabbit is showing fear or even having seizures while they hop around. Good news! Those weird twisty jumps are nothing to worry about, and are actually a sign of a happy rabbit.

When a rabbit does a weird twist and jump in the air, it’s called a binky. Rabbits do this when they have so much happy energy that they just can’t contain it. If you have a rabbit who is binkying all over your home, then you know you’re doing something right because you have a happy bunny.

But what if your rabbit doesn’t binky very much? Does that mean you’re doing something wrong and your rabbit is never happy? Lets go over the details of binkying rabbits, including what causes them to binky and even how to get your rabbit to binky more often. We’ll also look at other ways that rabbits express their happiness, so that you’ll know you have a happy rabbit in your home, even if they don’t binky very often.

What is a binky? 

A binky is what we call that crazy jump and twist that rabbits do. Some binkies will look like big beautiful leaps while the rabbit kicks their feet out. The rabbit might twist so much in the air that they completely turn around. Other rabbits binky with smaller twitches when they are zooming and wandering around.

However your rabbit shows it, a binky is always an expression of joy. Your rabbit is just too happy to stand still in one place. That’s also why binkies are also often accompanied by high speed dashing and zooming around the room.

When a rabbit is feeling just a little bit less energetic they may instead do a mini binky (or sometimes I call it a happy). This is when just the rabbit’s head and sometimes shoulders do a little twist, but their whole body does not come off the ground. Mini binkies are more common in older rabbits and bunnies that are a little more laid back. It still means that your rabbit is very happy and excited. They just don’t feel like going for the full binky.

Do wild rabbits binky? 

Wild rabbits across many different species (including cottontails, European rabbits, etc.) have, in fact, been observed binkying. They may not binky as frequently as house rabbits, since they likely don’t feel safe and carefree the way our pets do.

With wild rabbits it’s also common to see a behavior that, at first glance, may look like a binky, but is actually a defensive aggressive behavior. When a rabbit jumps straight up, this is a defensive behavior to make themself a little bigger. They may also lash out with their claws, or try to thump at an approaching invader with their strong hind legs. This type of behavior can be directed at other animals or other unfamiliar rabbits. 

I am reminded of a video that was going around a number years ago with a rabbit and a deer. Many viewers thought the rabbit was binkying and playing with the deer, but the body language is actually different. You can see the rabbit is jumping straight up and occasionally tries to swipe at the deer in the video. The rabbit’s behavior is trying to get the deer to go away because the rabbit is either afraid or territorial.

This type of aggressive jump is also seen with domestic rabbits occasionally. Most often it happens when they are being approached by another animal, such as a dog in the household, or when they are being introduced to another rabbit.

Why do rabbits binky?

We don’t really know why rabbits binky. The closest guess that we have is that this fun behavior may give a rabbit practice in evading predators, but that’s not really known. All we know is that it’s a normal instinct in rabbits. It’s like an inexplicable expression of joy, much like dancing is for humans.

There are other animals that have similar behavior to binkying in rabbits. Guinea pigs and chinchillas have, what is called, popcorn jumps. The will randomly pop up and down, sometimes adding in a little twist to express their happiness.

When do rabbits binky?

There are a number of factors that can influence when a pet rabbit binkies. Everything from your rabbit’s personality, lifestyle, and overall health will have an effect on how often they binky. While not every condition needs to be met perfectly for a bunny to be happy enough to binky, these factors can all have an effect on when your rabbit chooses to binky.

  • Energy levels. Rabbits will be more active and energetic during certain times of day, usually in the morning and evening. They’ll be more likely to binky during these more energetic times.
  • Personality of rabbits. Some rabbits are just more laid back than others, making them less likely to binky frequently.
  • Young vs old rabbits. Older rabbits will binky much less often then younger rabbits. As rabbits age, they will usually perform more mini binkies than full binkies. Elderly rabbits may not even do mini binkies very often, not because they aren’t happy, instead because they become less energetic with age.
  • Health of the rabbit. If a rabbit feels sick, they won’t want to binky around at all. Sometimes a bunny who is less energetic than usual is giving you an early sign that they are sick and need to be brought to the vet.
  • Mental health of the rabbit. Rabbits who are bored, upset, or depressed are unlikely to want to binky very often. It’s important to keep your rabbit curious and mentally stimulated to keep them happy.
  • Environmental conditions. If a rabbit doesn’t have enough space, they are unlikely to binky around. Similarly, a slippery floor can make it difficult for rabbit feet to get a grip, making them less likely to binky.

How to make your rabbit binky

There is no surefire way to make your rabbit binky more often. An elderly rabbit, for example, is unlikely to start suddenly zooming and binkying around the room no matter how happy they are. But there are some steps you can take to make your rabbit more likely to be happy and energetic in their daily life, making them more likely to binky.

  • Give them space. If you give your rabbit lots of space and time to exercise, they’ll be much more likely to binky around. This means making sure their enclosure is big enough for them, but also giving them as much time as possible out in a wider exercise area.
  • Give them toys. Rabbits have a natural instinct to dig, chew and forage. Giving them toys that meet these needs helps with your rabbit’s mental enrichment, which will keep them happy and energetic.
  • Give them attention. Rabbits are social animals and they need a lot of attention to stay happy. Make sure to sit with your rabbit and interact with them on a daily basis to help them avoid depression.
  • Give them a friend. If you can’t spend a lot of time with your rabbit, then you can find another bunny to bond with them. Just be careful when you bond the two bunnies, and make sure to introduce them in a neutral territory.
  • Give them time. If you recently brought your rabbit home, then they may need some time to get used to their surroundings. Even if they are timid now, they’ll eventually learn to come out of their shell to binky and zoom all over the place.
  • Give them treats. Rabbits love treats! They can really make a rabbit’s day and cause them to get extremely excited, dancing around your feet. Just make sure to keep the treats to a minimum, so you don’t upset your rabbit’s digestion.
Happy rabbit behaviors
A happy bunny is more likely to be energetic, zooming and binkying around the room. They are also more likely to feel safe and flop over when they sleep.

Other ways that rabbits express happiness

If your rabbit doesn’t binky very often, that doesn’t mean they’re not happy. There are plenty of other ways your rabbit is telling you how happy they are with their body language. Watch your rabbit to see which of these other behaviors they regularly express.

  • Zooming: When rabbits zoom super fast in circles around the room, it means they are happy and full of energy. While more common in younger rabbits, older rabbits will also take a lap or two around the room occasionally.
  • Flops: When a rabbit flops down on their side to rest, it means they are very comfortable and content in their environment. It’s a sign that your rabbit feels safe.
  • Sprawling: Likewise, when rabbits sprawl out on the ground, taking their feet out from under them, it generally means that they are feeling pretty comfortable and content.
  • Purring: This is when the rabbit gently grinds their teeth together, making a soft vibration in their head. Sometimes it even makes an audible sound. This is called a purr because, although the mechanism is different, it means the same thing as a cat’s purr. Your rabbit is calm and content.
  • Tossing toys: A playful rabbit will be happy to toss around toys and chew on them. They are having fun with the different textures and flavors of toys they have.

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Amy Pratt

Amy Pratt is a lifelong rabbit owner who has been specializing with rabbits at the Humane Rescue Alliance. She helps to socialize the rabbits and educate volunteers on the care and behavior of these small mammals.

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