They do not bark and they do not meow. Rabbits make very few noises, but their body language helps to understand what they want to say and how they feel.
positive Body Language
- ears raised and auricle pointed forward = curious and attentive (less visible in an english lop)
- ears flattened and eyes closed and whole body compressed into a ball and occasionally quiet snoring noises = deeply asleep (with closed eyes = environment is totaly safe, complete trust)
- laying aside with often closed eyes = asleep with a great sense of security in the environment
- sniffing the ground and then dropping and laying his head on the ground = happy and serene
- running back and forth with leaps in the air usually changing direction = playing happily
- make male on the backpaw = explore, one can see better from a higher point
- rubbing the lower chin (chin glands) against objects = mark “all mine”
- licking = family bonding and caring and begging for petting
- teeth grinding while being petted = satisfied
If rabbits shows the need of attention, one should pet them or play.
negative Body Language
- ears directed backwards and body on all 4 paws oblong = startled, possibly in panic as well as thinking about which direction to flee
- ears flattened and big eyes and body on all 4 paws as well as sudden step forward to the disturbing factor, possibly even with the front feet attacking = attacking and fending off as well as threaten not to come closer and to move away. If this is not understandable, as a last warning a pretended bite with the front teeth (not a real bite… not yet)
- ears flattened and big eyes and whole body pressed together in a ball and pressed on the ground = fear
- ears flattened and eyes half-open and whole body pressed into one ball and nose not twitching = dozing (with open eyes = environment is not safe and is observed)
- making male along the leg of a human = seeking safety and attention
- nudging gently with the nose = begging petting and attention
- teeth grinding = dissatisfied, annoyed
- rapid lound breathing = complaining, moaning
- scratch the flor with the front paws (hay / carpet) = annoyed, abreacting
- one knock on the floor with a hindfoot = annoyed and goatish
- knocking on the floor with both hind feet followed by run away = alarm
- short high beeps = high fear, panic, pain
- plugging and running away = no confidence
In the case of warning signals, it is important to find out the reason and to react accordingly or to refrain from doing something. If the disturbing factor is external, it may be helpful to calm the rabbit by petting to make him feel safe again.
Only for like-Minded:
White tail bottom has signal function for fellows.
- excited about advertising
- excited about anxiety (when jumping away the most visible)