Even though rabbits can’t talk, it doesn’t mean we can’t tell how they are feeling. Many people will say it’s easier to tell if a dog is happy, but there are just as many ways you can tell if your rabbit is happy too. So if you are wondering if your bunnies are loving the life you give them, check out these signs listed below.
They love their food
A happy rabbit wants to eat & will look forward to their food. There is nothing better than seeing them munch their way through their favourite vegetables. Look closely & it’s almost like they are smiling while they are eating. Another way to tell is when they get hold of their favourite food or treat and run off with it in different directions. It’s like they can’t contain their excitement & want to find that special spot to sit and enjoy it. If your rabbit is not interested in any food, then something could be wrong with their health. Have a vet check them, especially if they have stopped eating altogether.
They love playtime
The more natural behaviours your rabbit displays like exploring, chewing, digging, jumping and climbing, the happier they will be. The best way to see this is to create a safe play area with lots of rabbit safe toys for them to chew or throw about. Create different levels for them to enjoy jumping on and provide tunnels for them to to run through or hide in. Add some dig boxes full of soil or child friendly sand too.
They have lots of energy
Regardless of what age your rabbit is, a happy, healthy rabbit should have lots of energy. Many older rabbits can have just as much energy as a young rabbit. Rabbits are most active early morning and early evening time.
They love spending time with you
This is a great sign to show your rabbit is happy & that they are relaxed with you. Not all rabbits will run up to you or like to be fussed, but that doesn’t mean they are not happy, they are just more independent & probably less confident. As long as they are not acting stressed or getting spooked every time you go near them, then they are happy. With rabbits that like to be fussed, head rubs are a favourite and you may feel them grating their teeth very softly whilst stroking them. This is a great sign that they are very happy as it is the equivalent to a cat purring. Please note, if you hear your rabbit grating their teeth loudly and they are acting different to normal, this is a clear indication that they are in pain & you should take them to the vet.
They tell you they love you
Bunnies show affection by grooming, so if you have a rabbit that will lick your hand or face, they are showing you that they love and care for you.
Their body language is relaxed
Rabbits do a “Happy’ flop or as some call it the ’Dead bunny’ flop. If you see your rabbit do this, it means they are very happy & relaxed. From standing they flop on to one side quite quickly and lay still for a few seconds or minutes. A happy relaxed rabbit will also perform what looks like various yoga stretches, along with a big yawn.
They like their home
If a rabbit is happy with their home & they have enough space & toys to get enough mental and physical stimulation, then there will be no or very little destructive damage. Chewing is a natural behaviour in rabbits & there will always be some signs of chewing around their home, but if you are seeing extensive amounts of chewing to their home, especially near the door area, or if your rabbit is constantly biting at the wire of their home/pen, then this could be a sign of stress or boredom. So ask yourself the following questions… Does your rabbit have enough space? Does your rabbit have enough toys to keep their mind active? Are you exercising them for long enough each day? Could they be lonely? If they are not neutered/spayed, then this can be the problem too, because of their hormones. Having them neutered/spayed will calm them down.
They have a routine
Rabbits love routine and if you observe them closely & spend time with them, then you should will really get to know what their daily routine is. By respecting their routine and allowing them to follow it each day, you will see how happy your bunny is. If you have to interrupt their routine with vet visits or with something noisy going on in the house or garden, then you will notice how this effects your rabbits mood. Sometimes they can show their disapproval by ignoring you – what we call the ‘Bunny Shun’.
They get excited
They get most excited about food or playtime but rabbits can also show their excitement at any time, for any reason & it’s great to see. The most obvious display of excitement they show is when they Binky. You will see them jumping and twisting in the air, running at great speed and generally looking like they have lost control of their little behinds and don’t know which way to go next. It’s a really lovely thing to see & it shows they are very happy. Rabbits also do mini versions of binkies. This is where they will do one little jump or you will see them twitch their head when hopping. A very quick show of happiness.
They take lots of naps during the day
Bunnies sleep up to 8 hours a day like us, but this is done by taking naps through the day & night, they don’t sleep for 8 hours in one go! So if your rabbit has a quiet, snug, safe place they like to go to for a nap, you know they are happy. If you don’t see your rabbit ever taking a nap, then ask yourself why. Do they feel safe enough? Is it quiet enough for them? Do they like their bedroom area? Please note: Rabbits do sometimes sleep with their eyes open, so they may be taking a nap, without you realising it.
They have a friend
If your have bonded rabbits you will see many signs of happiness. For example cleaning/grooming each other, snuggling up together and doing things like eating & sleeping at the same time. It’s lovely to see bonded rabbits together and we would always recommend getting more than one rabbit if you can, as they are sociable animals and hate to be alone. If you are unable to have more than one rabbit, then do consider having your rabbit live indoors with you as a house rabbit, instead of living by themselves outside. This way they will get to enjoy much more of your company and they will be so much happier being part of the family and home, rather than alone.
They are healthy
A happy rabbit is a healthy rabbit & should show many (if not all) of the above signs of happiness. Spend time with your rabbits so you get to know exactly what is ‘normal’ behaviour & when you notice any difference in behaviour, you will know that something is wrong. We would like to add that many rabbits that have some health issues like head tilt or if they are disabled, can still be very happy.
Please note: Don’t worry if you your rabbit doesn’t show all of the above signs, as every rabbit is unique and will act differently depending on their personality. As long as they show some of the above signs, then you know they are showing signs of being happy.