Why Do Rabbit’s Nose Twitch? Fast And Slow Nose Wiggle Explained.

Categorized as Bunny Health Tagged
A closed up look on a rabbits nose.

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Rei

To know the reason why a rabbit’s nose twitches, first we have to determine if it’s a fast-twitch or a slow-twitch because they have different reasons. If it’s a fast nose wiggle, it means that your rabbit is alert and is checking for predators. It could also mean that your rabbit is trying to regulate their body temperature by faster nose twitching.

In contrast, a slow nose wiggle means that your rabbit is relaxed around you or their environment. Rabbit owners would often see the slow nose wiggle when their rabbit is sleeping in a relaxed position or when they’re being petted.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of why rabbits twitch their nose, stick around to find out the in-depth explanation as to why:

Fast nose twitching

A closed up look of a grey rabbits nose.
“Rabbit nose” by Hillybillie is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Rabbits twitch their nose to have a better sense of smell. Due to the fact that rabbits are prey animals who have to be vigilant to the threats of the jungle at all times, they evolved a sense of smell that can detect a predator before they even see them.

Your rabbit is checking for predators.

Rabbits would start twitching their nose extremely fast or up to 120 times per minute if they get a whip of a predator’s scent. This allows the rabbits to expose more of those 100 million scent receptors giving them a wider range of sense of smell to provide them with enough information to decide whether to keep on eating or RUN.

Sadly, even though pet rabbits are not in any danger, they still carry this instinct and would often get scared, even to us, their owners.

Your rabbit wiggles their nose to regulate their bodies temperature.

According to this study Thermoregulation in rabbits, when rabbits are exposed to either higher or lower temperatures, they use different mechanisms to regulate their core body temperature.

And one of those mechanisms that rabbits use to regulate their body temperature is respiration, which dissipates the heat thru the rabbit’s nasal mucosa.

Your rabbit is curious.

Rabbits also twitch their nose faster when they smelled something new to them. This means that your rabbit is curious about what that new smell is and they want to make sure that it’s not a new kind of predator or something.

But most of the time, this faster nose twitching due to curiosity is just because of new food that they smelled.

Slow nose twitching

A rabbit that's relaxed around her owner so its nose is only slowly twitchin.
“cupcake b&w” by antaean is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ever notice that your rabbit’s nose stopped or slows down when your close to them or when you’re petting them?

If so, give yourself a pat on the back because it means that:

Your rabbit is relaxed around you.

A rabbit’s nose would only slow down the nose twitching when they perceive no danger and would like to rest and relax. This would often happen when you’re petting them or they are sleeping in a safe environment.

Your rabbit would even stop twitching their nose entirely if they’re so relaxed sleeping they look like this:

A sleeping rabbit in a relaxed position without nose twitching.
“Flopsy the Relaxed Rabbit :)” by Mark Philpott is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Your rabbit wiggles its nose to breathe easily.

Another reason why your rabbit is twitching their nose slowly is to breathe easily. They often do this when they are resting after a bout of intense running/exercise.

This slow wiggling of their nose helps them get more air so that they won’t have to rely on panting, which a lot of animals often do when they’re tired.

Summary

Rabbits would either wiggle their nose fast or slow. Fast nose twitching means that your rabbit is alert, curious, and it’s using its nose harder to have a wider range of smell looking for predators/danger.

Rapid nose twitching could also mean that your rabbit is trying to regulate their body temperature.

For slow nose twitching, it means that your rabbit is relaxed around you and doesn’t see you as a danger. It also means that they are comfortable enough in their environment to let go of trying to sense predators/dangers around them.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 14, 2021) Why Do Rabbit’s Nose Twitch? Fast And Slow Nose Wiggle Explained.. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/rabbit-nose-twitch/.
"Why Do Rabbit’s Nose Twitch? Fast And Slow Nose Wiggle Explained.." Bunny Horde - November 14, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/rabbit-nose-twitch/

Sources and further reading

  • Buseth, Marit Emilie., and Richard A. Saunders. Rabbit Behaviour, Health, and Care. CABI, 2014.
  • Lebas, F. The Rabbit: Husbandry, Health, and Production. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1997.
  • Patry, Karen, et al. The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding, and Kindling. Storey Publishing, 2014.
  • European Rabbit
  • Bunnies twitch their noses for information
  • Thermoregulation in rabbits