What Does It Mean When Rabbits Grind Their Teeth?

Categorized as Bunny Health Tagged
A rabbits teeth.
"Rabbit Teeth" by phil_websurfer is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Rei

Rabbits grinding their teeth can mean two things depending on how loud the grinding is. When a rabbit grinds their teeth loud with stiff body language, then your rabbit is in pain.

But when the grinding is quiet with a relaxed body language, then it’s a sign of contentment and enjoyment. This behavior of lightly grinding its teeth when a rabbit is happy and content is called purring.

Purring also happens a lot when a rabbit is being petted by its owners.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of what it means when a rabbit grinds their teeth, stick around to find out how to better spot the difference:

Is it a loud grinding?

A stressed and sick rabbit grinding its teeth loudly.
“Eric not well 🙁 – It is over.” by Mark Philpott is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Determining if your rabbit is in pain by listening to loud teeth grinding can be tricky given that you have no baseline on how loud the grinding to be for it to be a sign of pain.

That’s why the best way to determine if your rabbit is in pain is by looking for additional symptoms of a rabbit that’s in pain:

Your rabbit is in a lot of pain.

To know for sure that your rabbit is in pain, look for additional symptoms like:

  • Low energy
  • Aggression towards you, their owner, or another rabbit.
  • Rapid breathing
  • Low appetite
  • High-pitched squeals

What should you do if your rabbit is in a lot of pain?

First, check if there are any open wounds by looking for missing fur. Most of the time a rabbit would develop sore hocks especially if they are in cages with wire flooring.

But if you haven’t seen anything wrong physically, go to a veterinarian because it could be something serious like GI stasis.

If it’s a quiet tooth grinding

A fully relaxed rabbit that's grinding its teeth a little.
“Flopsy the Relaxed Rabbit :)” by Mark Philpott is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

If it quiet teeth grinding or it only happens when you stroke/pet your rabbit, then pat yourself in the back because your rabbit is:

Your rabbit is happy

The signs that your rabbit is happy and content includes:

  • Your bunny is licking you.
  • Your bunny is nudging you.
  • Your bunny is jumping on your lap and letting you pet them.
  • Your bunny has happy ears or ears upward.
  • Your bunny is relaxed when sleeping.
  • Running around in circles around you.
  • Your bunny is playing/running on its own.
  • Your bunny would “Binky”

Summary

Rabbits grinding their teeth can either be good or bad depending on how loud it is. Quiet teeth grinding are called purring, rabbits purr when they are happy and content.

Purring also happens when you stroke/pet your rabbits. This is often accompanied by other body language like happy upward ears, relaxed body, and just generally comfortable around you.

In contrast, loud teeth grinding can be troublesome because it’s a sign that your rabbit is in pain. While it can be hard to determine what exactly is a “loud teeth grinding”, the best way to know if your rabbit is in pain is by looking for additional symptoms.

Rabbits that are in pain would have a totally different body language, they would have low energy, aggression towards you or another rabbit, rapid breathing or shaking, low appetite, and sometimes high-pitched squeals.

If you notice any one of these symptoms even without the loud tooth grinding, call a veterinarian imminently. Your rabbit might be suffering from digestive issues that are fatal to rabbits extremely fast like GI stasis who also have similar symptoms.

You could also start looking for the problem after calling your vet. Look for open wounds or missing fur. Most of the time it’s on their feet or hocks.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 17, 2021) What Does It Mean When Rabbits Grind Their Teeth?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/what-does-it-mean-when-rabbits-grind-their-teeth/.
"What Does It Mean When Rabbits Grind Their Teeth?." Bunny Horde - November 17, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/what-does-it-mean-when-rabbits-grind-their-teeth/

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.
  • Pododermatitis in rabbits – sore hocks
  • Pain in rabbits
  • Gastrointestinal Stasis in Rabbits