We often get asked about the different personalities of rabbits and although there are some general personality traits for the different breeds of rabbits, every single bunny has a unique character (just like humans). This is sometimes rather hard to explain to people that have never had a rabbit or are first time bunny owners.
All rabbits do certain things to communicate what they are feeling and while everybunny is unique, certain behaviour means the same thing for most rabbits.
Rabbits have scent glands under their chins. They will often rub their chins on something which is a normal way for a rabbit to claim ownership of whatever he/she is chinning.
This happens when a rabbit rapidly thumps both hind legs. We often mistakenly think that they only thump one foot, when in actually fact they use both. Their thumps are extremely quick and a sign of fear, anger or a warning of danger. Clients of ours were saved on two occasions by their bunny Misty. Misty woke his hoomins up by thumping when a home invasion was taking place & almost certainly saved their lives. Misty has now been awarded sheriff status and is now known as Misty the Sheriff.
A rabbits tongue is just about the cutest thing that I have ever seen. When they lick you, it's to show affection and love. They are also perpetually licking and grooming themselves (much like a cat). Rabbits however cannot cough up fur ball like a cat, so make sure that you help your bunny by removing excess fur when they are moulting.
Delightful to watch but can be a bit disconcerting the first time you see this. They leap in the air and twist their bodies to show that they are happy or excited. This is perfectly natural bunny behaviour and we should all strive to have happy, binkying bunnies.
Rabbits can bite and this is generally done to either show dominance or because they are scared. Please don't confuse biting with an innocent nip to get your attention. They are prone to bite someone or something that they don't like or if they feel threatened. Rabbits can bite each other if they are fighting or if you introduce a new rabbit into the mix. Not all bunnies love other bunnies, introducing a new bunny must be done slowly. They might also bite to establish who's the boss or out of sexual frustration. Sterilization can solve behavioural issues however aggression is also carried through the genetics. Be careful who you get your rabbit from, if possible meet your new bunny's parents. Please don't support backyard breeders and rather find someone that has dedicated their lives to rabbits and understands the complex genetics involved.
Rabbits dig, this is instinctual behaviour and perfectly normal (their wild distant cousins dig burrows). A rabbit will often dig at their hoomins feet or hands to get attention. Digging can be destructive, especially when they are digging up your carpets or furniture. Make sure your bunny has lots of toys that enable this natural bunny behaviour. We have a lot of products available on our online store that help to enrich your rabbits life.
Nose Bonking or Nudging
This is a rabbits way of exploring and investigating new things. It's also a way of showing affection or to demand attention.
This is when your rabbit runs around at a very high speed as if something is chasing it. This behaviour indicates happiness and excitement and is great fun to watch. However be careful with young rabbits as they can suffer from sensory overload. We always advise not to give your new bunny too much space initially. Rather let him/her bond with you first and gradually give them more space. We have had to deal with countless injuries and a few deaths over the years due to zooming.
This can be a bit nerve wracking the first time you witness it, don't panic as it's a sign of contentment. Usually a rabbit will flop down onto his/her side from a sitting position. Their eyes will generally be closed and their legs absolutely still, this is because your bunny is very relaxed and content.
Rabbits have very powerful hind legs and can deliver quite a nasty kick. Kicking is a sign of displeasure. Your rabbit either wants to be put down if you are carrying it or is showing displeasure at something you are doing. Rabbits after all end up being our bosses.