How Do Rabbits Show Affection To Humans? Here’s How.

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How Do Rabbits Show Affection To Humans
How Do Rabbits Show Affection To Humans

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Rei

Rabbits are one of the most affectionate pets to have once they trust you. But it’s not that easy for a rabbit to trust its owners because they are prey animals and we humans are at the top of the food chain.

So it’s only natural that rabbits are scared of us. This behavior is the most common complains rabbit owners have regarding their pet.

They often wonder why after all this time they have their rabbit, it’s still not affectionate and still scared of them.

In this article, I will discuss the following ways your rabbit might be showing you affections and how to respond to them. I would also discuss how you can earn your rabbit’s trust and love.

So without further ado, let’s get started:

Are rabbits affectionate?

Every rabbits have different personalities. Some are more affectionate than others while others are snobbish. Unlike dogs, where the majority of them likes to please their masters, rabbits would rather spend the majority of their time on their own usually eating.

Your rabbit gets excited when your near.

Your rabbit gets excited when your near.

Does your rabbit suddenly get excited whenever they see you walking near them? If so, then you are in luck, your rabbit loves you.

It’s very rare for a prey animal to trust other animals. Especially us, the very top of the animal food chain. So when your rabbit is always excited when your walking past their territory(aka home), it’s a sure-fire way to tell that you earned your rabbit’s trust and affection.

My two rabbits, Freya and Tyr, would do this behavior every time I come home and visit them. But that isn’t always the case, I remembered when I first got them, they are the most snobbish rabbits I EVER have.

But with time and patience, I slowly earned their trust(with the help of treats of course).

Here’s the step by step guide on how I earned my rabbits trust:

  1. Give them time to get familiar with your place. Let them smell, wonder, and do whatever they want at first.
  2. Limit the time you pick them up because rabbits don’t like being picked up.
  3. No loud noises or sudden movements when your rabbit is new.
  4. Lure them with treats. I suggest hay-based treats if they are young.
  5. Give them small amounts of treats with your hands. Repeat them every day for a few weeks or until they come to you at will.
  6. It’s important that you don’t rush your rabbit during the bonding period. Rushing your rabbit would just prolong the process and would likely scare your rabbit even more.

Tip

Hay-based treats are better especially when your rabbit is young. Dried fruit treats are not good for young rabbits, they could cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal stasis.

Your rabbit licks you.

My two rabbits do this a lot especially when they want to get my attention. They would usually lick my feet whenever I’m sitting and doing my work.

In my case, I think it means is that they want some treats or they are hungry. I would usually give them some treats or play with them for a while whenever they do this behavior.

In addition, rabbits licking you could also mean that they are trying to groom you. Rabbits in social settings groom other rabbits to show affection.

So it’s safe to say that whenever your rabbit licks/groom you, they see you as part of their social circle and trust you a lot.

Your rabbit would come to you on their own.

Your rabbit would come to you on their own.

Rabbits who come to you on their own shows that they trust you. Think about it. Why would a prey animal whose only defense is to run away at any potential danger intentionally come close to us — the biggest predator in the animal world.

Rabbits only do this behavior when they are 100% sure that you’re not a threat to them.

However, it doesn’t mean that your rabbit would not be scared of you anymore. In fact, I think rabbits are always on guard whether they trust you or not.

For instance, my two rabbits, Tyr and Freya, who I have had for many years now are still getting spooked when I moved suddenly or make any loud noises.

I believe that rabbits doesn’t lose this instinct of running away whenever they get spooked even after many years of us being together.

But despite any of that, I believe rabbits still love you even though they often get scared. It’s just their instinct kicking in.

Your rabbit follows you.

Your rabbit follows you.

Rabbits following you or circling you means that your rabbits are excited to see you. It also means that they want to play or cuddle with you.

For me personally, I don’t like this behavior on my rabbits because I’m worried that I might accidentally step on them or trip and injure them.

Be very careful that you don’t tolerate this behavior so that you wouldn’t accidentally step on your rabbit and injure them. This is especially important for rabbit owners that let their rabbit run around the house freely.

Your rabbit would boop you with their nose.

Your rabbit follows you.

Rabbits would often do this behavior when they are trying to get your attention and wants to play. My two rabbits would boop my feet whenever they want to play or cuddle.

Rabbits also might also boop you to smell you. Rabbits explore the world around them by smelling and nudging everything.

It can also mean they are trying to investigate that it is really you, their owner because rabbits recognize stuff and people thru smell.

You would know that your rabbits love and trust you when they smell or boop you followed by getting excited or jumping on you after they confirmed that it really is you.

Your rabbit lays flat when you pet them.

Why does your rabbit run away from you when you try to pet him?

Rabbits that are laying flat when you pet them shows that they submit to you and that they trust you. Rabbits only submit to other rabbits that are dominant or rabbit that they trust.

So it’s safe to say that whenever your rabbit lays flat when you’re petting them that they also love and trust you.

Another reason why your rabbit lays flat when you pet them, is they enjoy what your doing. This usually happens during cuddling session or when your petting your rabbits.

Summary

Every rabbit is different in how they show affections. But here are the most common ways they show affections to their owners:

When your rabbit gets excited when you are near them it shows that they trust you and they want to play.

When your rabbit grooms or licks you, it shows that they love you because they only do this behavior to other rabbits to show affection.

When your rabbit comes close to you on their own, it shows that they trust and love you because rabbits are prey animals and would only do this behavior to animals that they don’t see as a threat.

When your rabbit follows you around, it usually means that they want something from you. Rabbit usually follows their owners when they want food or cuddles.

When your rabbit boops you with their nose it’s usually a sign that they want to play or to get your attention.

When your rabbit lays flat when you pet them it’s a sign that they submit to you and that they trust you.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 15, 2021) How Do Rabbits Show Affection To Humans? Here’s How.. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/how-do-rabbits-show-affection-to-humans/.
"How Do Rabbits Show Affection To Humans? Here’s How.." Bunny Horde - November 15, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/how-do-rabbits-show-affection-to-humans/

Sources and Further reading

  • Buseth, Marit Emilie., and Richard A. Saunders. Rabbit Behaviour, Health, and Care. CABI, 2014.
  • Patry, Karen, et al. The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding, and Kindling. Storey Publishing, 2014.