We all want to make our pets happy, but sometimes it’s a challenge to understand their body language. Rabbits are quite different from other household pets, and their behavior is unique too. When rabbits are happy, they are not going to wag their tails like dogs or purr like cats to let us know.
The easiest way to tell if a rabbit is happy is by watching them zoom around the room or do some big twisting jumps (called binkies). You can also learn to watch for more general relaxed body language or listen closely for quiet, happy sounds that rabbits make.
When it comes down to it, a rabbit who is willing to come out into the open and interact with people of their own volition is usually a very happy rabbit. Since rabbits can be quite timid, this simple behavior shows that your rabbit is pretty confident and has a lot of trust in you. And a confident rabbit is a happy rabbit.
Important: This post contains affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and Chewy.com, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
1. Your rabbit does a binky
Anyone who’s had rabbits for a while knows what a binky is, but any first-time bunny people might need a little explanation. You know that twisty jump your rabbit does occasionally (the one that almost looks like they’re having a seizure in the air)? That’s called a binky and it means that your rabbit is very happy.
When a rabbit is very excited and has a lot of energy, they’ll jump for joy by leaping up and twisting in the air. It’s more common among younger rabbits who are more energetic overall, but you’ll see rabbits of all ages binkying around occasionally.
There is also the mini binky that rabbits do when they don’t feel like jumping all the way. This is when your rabbit just twists their head and shoulders while they’re running around. You’ll see their ears shake from side to side as they do this. A mini binky doesn’t mean your rabbit is less happy than when they do a full binky, it just means they’re not quite as energetic at the moment.
2. Your rabbit likes to zoom around the room
Rabbits were born to run, so it makes sense that zooming around is a way for bunnies to show their happiness and exuberance for life. This is when your rabbit starts running in circles around and around the room (usually with a binky or two thrown in there). They’ll be running so fast that they knock over boxes and might even step in their water bowl accidentally.
This is one of the reasons why it’s important to make sure your rabbit has plenty of space to run around. Make sure your rabbit has a big enough enclosure (I recommend using an ex-pen instead of a rabbit cage), and give your rabbit as many hours outside of their enclosure as you can (or let your rabbit free roam your home).
Zooming is another sign of happiness in rabbits that is much more common among young bunnies. Usually, once they reach 2-3 years old they’ll have less of the baby bunny energy so there will be less zooming around, but it will still happen occasionally.
3. Your rabbit makes a honking or buzzing sound
Overall, rabbits are fairly quiet pets. They don’t make loud vocalizations, like a barking dog, or even make loud squeaking sounds like other small rodents. That doesn’t mean rabbits don’t make any noises at all though. In fact, if you listen closely you’ll hear your rabbit make several sounds.
The one we’re focusing on here is when you hear your rabbit make a buzzing sound. I’ve also heard it called oinking and honking. They usually do this when they are dancing around your feet at meal times or when they are expecting a treat. I almost always hear this sound related to the excited anticipation of yummy food.
4. Your rabbit likes to lie down flopped over
Another way to know your rabbit is happy is to look for relaxed body language. One of the easiest ways to spot this is when your rabbit flops over to go to sleep. This means that your rabbit feels completely comfortable and safe in their home.
It’s more difficult for the rabbit to get up and run away when they sleep in this position because their legs are not underneath them. It’s a gigantic compliment from a rabbit if they come and flop down next to you because it means they don’t see you as a threat at all.
If you’ve never had rabbits before, this sleeping position might look a little scary at first. It might look like your rabbit just keeled over and fell onto their side. But eventually, you’ll get used to seeing your rabbit flopped over and understanding that it means your rabbit feels happy and relaxed.
5. Your rabbit grinds their teeth
You may not know this, but when a rabbit gently grinds their teeth together it has a similar meaning to a cat’s purr. When your rabbit feels relaxed and calm, like when they are being petted, they’ll grind their teeth. Sometimes it makes a sound loud enough that you can hear, but a lot of the time it’s barely audible.
It’s hard to notice this behavior when you’re not looking for it, but watch your rabbit’s jaw and whiskers next time you’re petting them. You’ll see the jaw moving a little bit while the whiskers vibrate. You also might be able to feel a vibrating sensation if you’re petting your rabbit’s head.
6. Your rabbit eats with gusto
Almost every rabbit that I’ve met has absolutely loved treats (both in the animal shelter and as pets). Give them some fresh leafy greens, or a delicious raspberry, and your rabbit will go crazy with excitement. Most rabbits will even love munching on their daily pellets or getting a fresh handful of timothy hay. Mealtimes are always happy times of the day when you have a rabbit.
You can even hide little treats around the room for your rabbit to find to keep them excited or sprinkle some dried herb blends (like these ones at Small Pet Select, use code ‘BUNNYLADY’ for a 15% discount) in your rabbit’s hay trough to give them more flavors to forage for.
Food (and the excitement around it) is such a big part of rabbit behavior, that a change in this behavior can be a sign of a serious illness or depression. If your rabbit stops eating completely, it’s important to get your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible. This is a major symptom of rabbit illnesses like GI Stasis (learn more)
7. Your rabbit is curious about their environment
Curious rabbits are happy rabbits. They like to have new places to explore, and new objects that they can sniff and rub their chin on (a way for rabbits to mark their territory). Rabbits love going into tunnels, under blankets, and up on platforms too (like short cat towers).
Rabbits will also like to check out toys that are hanging from the walls, chew on cardboard, flip their food bowls around, and find places where they can dig and play. These are all ways that your rabbit will interact with the environment around them and find ways to play and have fun.
Basically, as long as your rabbit is not just sitting in one place all day, it’s a good sign that they are pretty happy and enjoying life. That being said, it’s pretty normal for rabbits to more-or-less sleep through the afternoon. Rabbits are most active in the morning and in the evening, so don’t expect them to be exploring all day long.
It’s also normal for elderly rabbits to explore less. That doesn’t mean the rabbit is unhappy, it’s just something that happens with age. Of course, if your elderly rabbit is barely hopping around at all, you should probably take them to the vet for a checkup. They may have developed arthritis, and need some pain medication to make them more active again.
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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.
- Hay: Second Cutting Timothy Hay from Small Pet Select
- Pellets: Oxbow Garden Select Food for Rabbits
- Treats: Oxbow Simple Rewards
- Toys: Small Pet Select Natural Toys
- Enclosure/cage: A rabbit exercise pen
- Rabbit carrier: SleepyPod Mobile Pet Bed