Rabbits are a wonderful pet to own. Just like with dogs and cats, bonding is an important part of caring for rabbits. However, the way rabbits show affection to humans is different than how humans show affection for one another.
If you own or are thinking of owning a rabbit you may be wondering how do rabbits show affection to humans?
Do Rabbits Show Affection to Humans?
Rabbits show affection to humans by nuzzling, licking, binkying, being close, and gentle nibbling. They are very social animals and require frequent interaction with their owners to avoid becoming bored, lonely, or depressed.
Ways Rabbits Show Affection to Humans
How do rabbits show affection to humans? Many of the ways that rabbits show affection are instinctive. They use the same behaviors when bonding with their rabbit peers in the wild.
In a domesticated setting, rabbits still crave attention and a close bond with their human family. Here are some of the signs of affection that your rabbit may display:
- Close contact
- Relaxing in your lap
- Licking and nibbling
- Running around your feet
You’ll find more details on each of these ways rabbits show affection to humans below:
The first sign of affection is when a rabbit becomes comfortable with human interaction and close contact.
Rabbits are “prey” animals and are naturally frightened of humans or larger animals that they think could cause them harm. As they become accustomed to their new home and bond with their owners, rabbits will allow you to approach them more.
Your rabbit may also start approaching you after they start to feel comfortable and develop a stronger bond with you. When taken out of their cage or habitat, your rabbit may follow you around the room. Gradually, many rabbits enjoy being held and handled.
Relaxing in Your Lap
You often see pictures on the internet of someone holding a bunny in their lap. Not all rabbits enjoy this position immediately. However, once a certain level of trust is built between you and your pet, you may find your rabbit naturally hops in your lap for some affection when you are playing or engaging with them..
Along with relaxing in your lap, bunnies show affection by relaxing near your feet. They often stretch out, roll around, and flop over onto their sides.
After a rabbit becomes comfortable with close contact, it may start showing specific signs of affection, such as nuzzling.
Nuzzling or digging into your lap often indicates that your rabbit wants attention. They typically want to be pet and held or given a treat.
Licking and Nibbling
Rabbits, cats, dogs, monkeys, and many other species groom family and members of their social group or pack. If your rabbit starts to lick you, it considers you part of its family.
Along with licking, your rabbit may try to gently nibble you. This is another sign of affection associated with grooming.
When rabbits groom each other, they often need to use their teeth to remove gnarls and matted hair. While you do not have fur to untangle, your rabbit may still give your skin a gentle nibble.
A harder nibble or a bite may be a sign that your rabbit needs something else. For example, a rabbit may bite its owner if it is in pain or feels threatened.
Rabbits perform a “binky” when they are happy or excited. When binkying, a rabbit jumps in the air and twists its head to wag its ears.
If your rabbit starts binkying when you walk into the room, they are excited to see you. This is a huge sign of affection.
If you listen carefully, you may hear a tooth-clicking sound coming from your rabbit. It is considered the equivalent of a cat’s meow. This soft sound means that your rabbit is content.
You are more likely to hear tooth-clicking when petting your bunny or letting them sit in your lap.
Running Around Your Feet
Running around your feet is another sign that you have a close bond with your rabbit. As with cats, rabbits often perform this action when they want something.
A rabbit may run around your feet when they want food or attention. However, it also shows that they are comfortable with you.
Ways to Show Affection Back to Your Rabbit
Domesticated rabbits require human interaction, as they are very sociable. Some of the ways to show affection back to your rabbit include:
- Pet the cheeks and forehead
- Stroke your rabbit’s back
- Give your rabbit small treats
Rabbits tend to enjoy having their cheeks and forehead rubbed. As you gently pet your rabbit, it may close its eyes and lean into your hands, indicating that it is happy.
When your rabbit sits in your lap, stroke its back. If your rabbit gets scared, wait until it becomes more comfortable before trying again.
Giving your rabbit small treats is a common way to show affection, especially early on. Even before you develop a close bond, your rabbit should feel comfortable accepting treats.
Rabbits show affection in a variety of ways, but they first need to grow comfortable with you. It may take weeks or months to develop a close bond it really all depends on your rabbit as some rabbits get comfortable quicker than other.
In time, your rabbit may nuzzle, lick, or even nibble you. Some rabbits even enjoy being held after trusting you. This give and take of affection will help you and your rabbit have a loving relationship for many years to come.