Who can resist snuggling with an adorable, fluffy bunny? I know I can’t. But as much as my rabbits love to be handled, pet, and cuddled, I have also seen many domestic rabbits who hate it. Seeing the disparity, I decided to ask my fellow rabbit-lovers about their bunny cuddling, and I checked out what the experts have to say, too.
So, do rabbits like to be cuddled? Some rabbits love to be cuddled, while some rabbits don’t like it at all. Some will let anyone cuddle them, and some will only let their owners. It has little to do with breed and more to do with personality, age, and how the rabbit has been handled in the past.
That makes a lot of sense, but there is still more to this answer. And a lot more questions. I’ve covered all of this below, so let’s take a look at the details.
Bunny Cuddling 101: Does Your Rabbit Like To Be Cuddled?
Rabbits are great pets that often love to be cuddled, especially if they were snuggled at a young age and handled with care. Yet they have some special requirements when it comes to physical affection. You can’t just run up to a rabbit, snatch it off the ground, and begin snuggling.
Remember that rabbits are prey animals, and as such, they’re naturally skittish and cautious. Their instincts from birth tell them not to be picked up or held. To a rabbit who is not used to being cuddled, that action can be frightening.
That makes cuddling young rabbits difficult. They tend to struggle and even become scared. You know that you’d never harm your bunny, but he may not understand that right away.
Never fear! There are plenty of ways to help your shy rabbit learn to enjoy cuddling.
Do All Rabbits Breeds Like To Be Cuddled?
No, but it doesn’t have to do with the breed of rabbit. All rabbits are prey animals and therefore start life being cautious. No rabbit immediately likes being picked up either. It has very little to do with breed and almost everything to do with individual temperament and personality. You can also train a skittish bunny to calm down and enjoy your affection, no matter the breed.
That said, in my experience, larger breeds are easier to train to cuddle. Everything I’ve learned from other rabbit owners, vets, and animal specialists concurs. It is believed that the larger a rabbit is, the less fearful it is of humans. We are, after all, very large compared to rabbits.
That is not to say that smaller rabbits can’t be trained to enjoy cuddling. You may simply need to change your tactics and be a little more patient with the smaller breeds.
Best Way To Cuddle Your Rabbit
The best way to cuddle your rabbit is to do so in the way he or she prefers. It sounds obvious, but many new rabbit owners get this all wrong. They’re so excited to finally have a pet rabbit that they rush into cuddling before the rabbit is ready. This often ends up in bites, scratches, and lots of stress for you and Bun-Bun.
There is a right way and a wrong way to cuddle a rabbit. Read on, and I’ll show you what to do and what not to do.
You should never rush up to a rabbit, even one that is used to you already. The motion will startle your bunny and put them on high alert for danger. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their instincts.
Approach your rabbit’s cage slowly and with purpose. Make sure your rabbit sees you coming. If they’re sleeping when you enter the room, gently call their name to let them know you’re coming in.
Start by petting your rabbit. Don’t try to pick her up right away, even if she’s used to your touch. Always begin by petting your rabbit gently along the back or side. You don’t want to come from the front as rabbits have a blind spot there. You’ll startle her and ruin any chance of a relaxing cuddle session.
Reach out slowly from the side or above. Yes, your rabbit can see above her! I wrote about that, too, if you’d like to know more about rabbit vision.
Give her gentle strokes or scratches, whichever she prefers. If she seems relaxed and like she’s enjoying the attention, you can move on to the next step.
Offer Your Lap
Most rabbits don’t like to be picked up. It’s scary to be suddenly lifted into the air. For a rabbit, being lifted up feels like a predator taking them away. That’s instinct again, so don’t feel bad. Just change how you approach your bunny so they know you’re not going to hurt them.
Instead of lifting your bunny, offer your lap. Many rabbits will happily jump into your lap if you just call their name. Some like to be given treats in your lap, so you can try that, too.
Once your bunny is in your lap, begin the cuddles!
If your bunny refuses to get into your lap the first few times, it’s okay. She just needs to learn to trust you. It takes patience and kindness.
Did you get all that? Here’s your reward for reading these instructions. This bunny loves her human mama!
What Not To Do
Most rabbits love to be pet on their backs, the tops of their heads, and behind the ears. But most bunnies hate to be touched under the chin, on the tail, around their whiskers, and on their feet. You can try these locations, but pay attention to your rabbit’s body language.
Be respectful of your rabbit’s likes and dislikes! Never force a rabbit to endure petting in an area they obviously don’t like. They’ll learn not to trust you and that your touch is uncomfortable. That’s the opposite of cuddling.
Never grab a rabbit suddenly, and don’t shake a rabbit once you have them in your hands or your lap. It’s also best not to lift a bunny up to your face, even though it’s so tempting to give Bun-Bun a little kiss. This could end in scratches for you and fear for your rabbit.
And lastly, never chase a scared rabbit. If she struggles and tries to get away from you, let her go. If you chase her, all those prey animal instincts will kick in and you’ll terrify her! Let her get away and calm down before you try to approach again.
Can You Tell If Rabbits Want To Be Cuddled?
You can definitely tell when a rabbit wants to be cuddled. This happens mostly in older rabbits who have spent their entire lives with people. They know that cuddles feel good and sometimes come with treats. That makes them more likely to seek cuddles from you.
When a bunny wants to be cuddled, they will often climb right into your lap. For free-roaming bunnies, they may even jump up onto the furniture to get your attention.
A rabbit that wants to be cuddled might lean into your hand, a lot like a cat might. They may also lean against your body or flop down across your legs and stare at you.
This is all important body language that tells you how much your rabbit loves your attention. Go ahead and cuddle that rabbit!
Rabbit Body Language: What Does It Tell
Rabbits don’t speak human language, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say. You can learn a lot about your rabbit if you learn to speak their language. That’s the language of their body.
Have you ever heard of a bunny binky? It’s probably the most adorable thing on the planet. A happy rabbit jumps into the air and kicks his legs, often twisting to one side. The bunny binky is his way of letting you know how great life is.
But some bunny language is a bit more subtle than the binky.
A rabbit’s ears can tell you how they’re feeling. When her ears are held tightly against her spine, she’s telling you that’s she’s scared or upset. Those same ears can tell you she’s relaxed just by laying softly against her back.
There is more that a rabbit’s ears can tell you. Erect ears and wide, bright eyes mean that your rabbit is alert and paying close attention. But sometimes the eyes are super wide, which indicates fear.
How To Make Your Rabbit Comfortable At
Rabbits need quiet time, low lights, and a comfortable place to rest. That’s just the basics though. To make a rabbit feel completely at ease, you need to provide some other things.
In the wild, rabbits sleep in burrows. That instinct is still strong in domestic rabbits. Provide your bunny with several types of beds and hiding boxes that mimic a burrow. These can be soft on the bottom but rigid on top, or they can be soft all around. See which style your rabbit likes best.
You should also provide plenty of soft bedding and resting areas outside of the regular bed. This gives Bun-Bun a place to play, chew, and lounge in comfort. Some rabbits love blankets and others prefer straw mats. There’s also a variety of pet beds suitable for rabbits. See which ones your rabbit likes.
Bored bunnies are sad bunnies, so be sure to give your rabbit plenty of stimulation. Rabbits like all kinds of toys. One of my rabbits even likes to play fetch with a little yarn ball!
All rabbits like different things, so it may take a while to find your bunny’s favorite toys. Be patient and try lots of styles. Some favorites include balls, soft toys to carry around, and chewing blocks.
Most of all, bunnies like to play with their humans. Even without toys, your bunny would love to spend time with you.
Can You Cuddle A Rabbit With Babies?
This depends on the rabbit and her existing relationship with you. Many rabbit moms do not want you to come near her babies. Some will become aggressive and try to chase you away.
However, I’ve seen plenty of nursing rabbits who want to show their babies off. They will gladly let you snuggle them and even pet the babies.
Be sure to move slowly, quietly, and with care when approaching a mother and her kits. If she seems receptive to you, it’s okay to slowly reach out and pet Mom. If she seems upset, don’t force it.
Is Brushing Your Rabbit Necessary?
For long-haired breeds, brushing is a necessity. If you neglect to brush a long-haired rabbit, it can cause painful mats that will need to be cut out. If you leave mats for too long, they can even prevent your bunny from moving, sleeping, or eating properly!
Besides, rabbits love to be brushed. Using a soft cat brush, or one made specifically for bunnies, you can use grooming time as bonding time. Bunny gets a nice massage, and you get to spend close, intimate time with your fluffy friend. Everyone wins.
Shorter-haired breeds may not require brushing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. As with the long-haired varieties, short-haired rabbits can get a love of affection and bonding during brushing time.
Do rabbits Like To Be Picked Up?
Almost no rabbit likes to be picked up. There may be the rare bunny in the world that enjoys it, but most rabbits really hate it.
As prey animals, they’re wired to feel safe on the ground. When they can touch the ground, it means they can run. But when you pick them up, they’re trapped. Many rabbits will panic when you lift them up, especially if you don’t do it properly.
If you try to pick up your rabbit and she starts to flail, kneel down quickly and set her on the ground. Otherwise, she could scratch you while she tries to get away. And she could fall from a great height which can cause her harm.
How To Pick Up Your Bunny?
Even though most rabbits hate to be picked up, there will come a time where you must do it anyway. For those times, be sure you know the proper procedure for picking up a rabbit.
Approach From The Side Or Top
As with cuddling, you want to approach a bunny from the side or top when you must pick him up. Let him know you’re coming. Never sneak up on or surprise a rabbit.
Touch Their Back
Once your rabbit knows you’re there, you can touch her back. Give her a nice, long, loving stroke or two. This lets her know you’re not there to hurt her. If she seems relaxed, you can start to lift her in the following way.
Support Her Tummy
You begin lifting a rabbit by sliding one hand under her belly. Your hand should be just behind her front legs and in front of her back legs. For smaller bunnies, you’ll probably fill up that whole area. For larger rabbits, just do your best to support as much of his tummy as possible.
Support Her Bottom
You’ll be scooping your bunny up, so you need to support her bottom with your other hand. This keeps you in control while still leaving your rabbit feeling secure. Try to have your body very close before you start so you won’t need to move her far before she’s against your body.
Scoop And Lift
This part should happen fairly quickly so your rabbit doesn’t have time to react or get nervous. However, you don’t want to go so fast that she is startled. With your hands in place, scoop and lift your rabbit and bring her right against your body. Use both hands to hold her snuggly against you.
Use A Towel
Some bunnies hate being held so much that it doesn’t matter how careful you are. For those nervous buns, you can use a towel or small blanket. If you wrap your bunny up before you lift, it helps them feel more secure and it prevents them from kicking and trying to scramble out of your arms. Be sure to give lots of loving head rubs.
How to Get Your Bunny to Feel Safe?
If you’ve provided a safe and comfortable home environment, it’s much easier to make a rabbit feel safe while being held and cuddled. A comfy bunny is a secure bunny, so be ready to show your rabbit that you are a safe person.
Never sneak up on or scare your rabbit. Some rabbits like to play hide and seek, but until your bunny is comfortable with you, I would not try this.
Always respect your rabbit’s likes and dislikes. If he hates his tail touched, don’t touch it. If he loves a tummy rub, do that as often as he wants. By respecting his boundaries, you show him that you’re a safe person and he can trust you.
Allow your bunny to be in control. Not all the time, of course, but often enough that they feel safe. If she wants to run and hide, let her. If she wants to cuddle, let her. If she’s asking to go back into her cage, put her back. All of this builds trust.
Should Children Be Allowed To Cuddle Rabbits?
Like most of my readers, I’ve seen many pictures of small children cuddling rabbits. At first glance, and if you don’t know any better, it looks adorable. However, look closely at the rabbit’s body language. Almost every picture I see shows a scared rabbit and an oblivious child.
This is not to say that no child should ever be allowed to handle rabbits. There are lots of responsible and respectful children out there. But it does show that most young kids and many older ones don’t understand bunny body language.
Children should always be supervised when handling rabbits. They should stay seated, and the bunny should be placed in their lap. For the kid’s safety and the rabbits, do not allow the child to lift the rabbit for any reason.
Will Cuddling Help You Bond With Your Rabbit?
Cuddling, stroking, petting, and handling will all help you bond with your rabbit. With every successful contact, your rabbit will learn to trust you even more. Every time you pet her, she sees you as safe. Every time you respect her likes and dislikes, she bonds a little closer.
Your goal should never be to force a rabbit to bond with you. That’s not something you can make happen. Bonding comes with time, trust, kindness, and love. If you keep showing your rabbit patience and love, the bond will begin to grow.
This happens with grooming, feeding, petting, and cuddling. Bonding happens with playtime, nap time, and even cleaning the cage. Every positive interaction with your bunny will deepen your bond and make your next cuddle session even more enjoyable.
It’s not hard to show a rabbit that you are a trustworthy person, which means it’s not hard to teach them to cuddle. You simply need to understand how a rabbit thinks and communicates.
Are bunnies affectionate? Yes! Bunnies are affectionate and cuddly companion animals, but it takes a little bit of patience. Since they are naturally skittish creatures, you need to slowly build trust over time. By being gentle, kind, and patient, your bunny will soon grow to love and trust you. Take the time to learn how to read bunny body language and you’ll be able to tell how your rabbit is feeling and what they need from you
Can rabbits miss you? Yes, rabbits can miss you. They are living beings who enjoy the company of others—in fact, they are happier when they’re not alone. If they have bonded with a human, they will miss that human if they’re not around. This is proven by how excited bunnies get when their humans walk into the room. Free roaming rabbits may also search the house looking for their humans.