Why Do Rabbits Flick Their Feet? Decoding Bunny Behavior

One peculiar bunny behavior you might have noticed is their tendency to flick their feet as if they are trying to flick sand or dirt out from their hind legs. Just like people have gestures to express irritation, rabbits use their feet to tell you they’re not exactly thrilled with a situation. I like to say the rabbit is ‘flicking you off’ when they do this, but it’s just a natural behavior that’s not intended as a slight.

If you’ve ever spent time with rabbits, you probably notice this behavior most often after you’ve attempted to snuggle them against their will or after picking them up. Your bunny isn’t trying to be offensive; it’s simply their instinctive way of saying they are not happy with the situation. Pay attention to these signals, as they’re an important part of understanding and respecting your furry friend’s boundaries.

Why do rabbits flick their feet at you?

When your rabbit flicks its feet at you, it’s their way of expressing extreme annoyance in a non-aggressive manner. It’s a sign they might be sending when they’re not happy with an action you’ve taken, especially if it’s something they find intrusive—like picking them up or showering them with too much attention when they’re not in the mood.

Rabbits value their personal space, and when that’s invaded, they might flick their feet to say, “Hey, that’s enough!” I always liken it to the middle finger for fun, saying the rabbit is “flicking you off.”

It’s also worth noting that each rabbit has a unique personality. For example, my bunny Ellie, is more laid-back and affectionate. She’s less likely to flick her feet at me, while my other bunny, Teddy, has a lower threshold for irritation and does the foot flick a lot more frequently.

If your rabbit flicks their feet at you, does that mean they hate you?

When your rabbit flicks their feet at you, it’s understandable to wonder what message they’re trying to send. Nobody wants their bunny to hate them. Rest assured, foot flicks are not a declaration of hatred. A foot flick is typically an expression of momentary displeasure, not a full blown grudge.

You can also see it as a way for your rabbit to communicate their boundaries. They are signaling that they need some space or that they’re asserting their independence. If you have a good relationship with your rabbit, they’re likely to hop back and carry on with their day after showing their annoyance.

That being said, if you experience rabbit foot flicks recently and it seems to be affecting the quality of your relationship. Pay attention to what might have caused it. Were they startled? Did you pick them up unexpectedly? Was your rabbit trying to sleep? Understanding these cues can help you bond more closely with your rabbit. 

A single action does not define your pet’s feelings toward you. They’re simply communicating in one of the few ways they can. So, next time your rabbit flicks their feet at you, take a moment to assess what might be bothering them but don’t worry about a damaged relationship. It’s just one of the quirky ways rabbits let us know how they’re feeling.

When should you expect a rabbit foot flick?

The annoyed foot flick in rabbits is a fairly common behavior that’s easy to miss. Working with rescue rabbits, I’ve noticed there are some common scenarios where it’s likely to happen. So look out for a little flick of your rabbit’s feet as they hop away from you after one of these scenarios:

  • After you pick up your rabbit. This is the most common scenario since most rabbits hate being held. If you lift them up and they’re not feeling it, they might send a foot flick your way once they’re back on solid ground.
  • If you try to cuddle with your rabbit and they don’t like it. Trying to snuggle and your rabbit isn’t into it? They may hit you with a foot flick as a sign to give them space. This can frequently happen during the afternoon, or during moments when your rabbit is trying to sleep.
  • If your rabbit wants more attention and you’re ignoring them. If you’re too caught up in your own stuff and ignoring their requests for attention, your rabbit might give up and flick their feet at you as they hap away.
  • While you’re cleaning their enclosure and moving things out of place. You know how you like your stuff just so? Rabbits do too. While you’re tidying up their enclosure and moving things around, they might flick their feet in protest of the change.
  • If you ever try to chase your rabbit. If you ever try to chase your rabbit, expect a flick. It’s their way of expressing they’re not interested in this game of tag.
  • Basically, any time you do something that could mildly annoy your rabbit. Think of each foot flick as a tiny stamp of “I’m not cool with that.” It’s a clear signal to change your approach and tune into your rabbit’s likes and dislikes.

Tips and Tricks Newsletter

If you are new to caring for rabbits, check out the Bunny Lady bimonthly newsletter. Right after you sign up, you’ll receive a FREE pdf rabbit care guidebook. I put together a guide that goes over all the basics of rabbit care so you have it all in one place. Then you will receive tips and tricks about rabbit care straight to your inbox so that you know you’ll be taking excellent care of your new rabbit.

Recommended Products and Brands

Important: These are Affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and Chewy.com, I may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases.

The two brands that I use when buying food for my rabbit are Oxbow and Small Pet Select. These both have high quality rabbit products and are companies that care about the health of our small animals. If you are purchasing anything from Small Pet Select use the code BUNNYLADY at checkout to get 15% off your first order.

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.

Recent Posts