If you are a first time rabbit owner, you may be surprised by the different noises rabbits make. After all, rabbits are thought to be quiet animals that don’t vocalize much and are fairly calm. However, excited rabbits are known to frequently make a sound called “honking” to show their strong feelings about a situation, usually positive ones.
Why is my rabbit honking? Unneutered males and unspayed females may honk to show that they want to mate, while other rabbits will honk to show excitement or happiness.
What Does Honking Sound Like?
“Honking” is another word for the grunting noises rabbits sometimes make. Honking may sound different than you expect and may even be mistaken for wheezing or displeased noises. Honking from a rabbit doesn’t necessarily sound like the honking you’d think of, for example from a goose; instead they are more like small grunts. A rabbit will usually honk as it is breathing, creating a series of small grunts or hunks in a row. Rabbits rarely honk only once and instead will continually honk while they are happy or focused on what’s going on to make them honk. Honking is different than the huffing noise rabbits may make when they are upset.
Why Do Rabbits Honk?
Most rabbits honk, and they do so as a way to communicate with humans and other rabbits. Males, known as bucks, that have not been neutered will honk as a way to indicate that they want to mate and will also circle the object of their affections to show their desire. Females, or does, may sometimes honk more quietly as part of the mating process. Spayed does and neutered bucks will honk to show their excitement or happiness about what is going on. Some rabbits are particularly vocal and may honk for no reason! Unless your rabbit is refusing to eat or seems to be in pain, honking frequently isn’t a bad sign and your rabbit is probably okay. Rabbits usually do not honk when they are upset or hurt.
What Does Honking Mean?
Honking usually means that your rabbit is excited in some way. Your rabbit is trying to communicate to you that it is having a good time and wants to continue. For example, your rabbit may honk while it is playing with you or another rabbit, or may honk while it is eating its favorite treats such as fruits or vegetables. Rabbits may even honk while being petted or cuddled if they particularly enjoy it.
If your rabbit is not spayed or neutered, honking is usually a sign that your rabbit is trying to mate. If your rabbit is honking at you, it has probably confused you for an available mate and is trying to get your attention. This happens primarily with bucks but is known to happen sometimes with does. Rabbits may honk during the mating process, so if you keep an unneutered buck with an unspayed doe, expect to hear those noises at some point!
Is It Normal for Rabbits to Honk?
Yes, it is completely normal for rabbits to honk. It’s also normal for a rabbit to not honk! Honking is individual to the rabbit just like speech mannerisms are to humans. If your rabbit honks all the time, even when nothing is really going on, this is usually normal as long as your rabbit isn’t showing other symptoms that may indicate sickness or injury. On the other hand, if your rabbit never honks but uses other forms of communication and also doesn’t show any signs of sickness or injury, this is normal too. It’s very normal for rabbits to honk when they are happy. Your rabbit will have its own personality that may involve honking at its reflection, honking at nothing, or not honking at all.
How Do I Know Why My Rabbit is Honking?
Think about anything you’re doing at the time that may prompt your rabbit to honk. For example, if you are petting your rabbit or playing with it, your rabbit may enjoy the time that you’re spending together. If you’re feeding your rabbit treats or other favorite foods, it may honk because of the food. If your rabbit is playing with another rabbit or sees its reflection, it may be trying to communicate with the other rabbit (rabbits don’t have the ability to recognize their own reflections, so they think the reflection is another rabbit). If you’re not doing anything, your rabbit may just be honking for the fun of it. You’ll have to use context clues to decide why your rabbit is honking in each specific situation.
What Do I Do if My Rabbit is Honking?
Usually, you want to keep doing whatever you are doing! After all, whatever is going on is making your rabbit excited and happy. However, in some situations, you can’t or don’t want to do that. For example, if you are feeding your rabbit, you still have to limit what and how much you feed it regardless of how happy your rabbit is. If your rabbit is honking due to mating instincts, it’s best to ignore your rabbit to discourage it. The only permanent solution is to get your rabbit spayed or neutered, as the breeding season lasts most of the year, from February to September, so your rabbit isn’t likely to calm down any time soon.
How Do I Stop My Rabbit from Honking?
In most situations, you don’t need or want your rabbit to stop honking. It’s a natural noise that is a part of a happy rabbit life, and scolding a rabbit for honking or making other noises is just going to create a negative relationship between you and the rabbit. If you are bothered by the honking, just leave the room as it’s fairly quiet and won’t carry very far. Honking doesn’t hurt your rabbit in any way, so there’s no health reason to stop it from honking when it’s happy. Even if your rabbit is honking all the time, there’s no real way or reason to stop it from honking.
Will Spaying or Neutering My Rabbit Stop It from Honking?
Spaying or neutering your rabbit is the only permanent way to stop honking due to mating instincts. It will take about a month after your rabbit has been spayed or neutered for its hormones to settle down completely, but at that time you should see the mating-related honking stop. However, if your rabbit is older and has been allowed to repeat this behavior for a long time, it may continue behaving this way even after being fixed. It’s important to spay and neuter your rabbit early to avoid these situations. Spaying and neutering won’t stop rabbits from their normal honking due to excitement or happiness.
Why is my rabbit wheezing? Wheezing is usually a sign of respiratory infection in rabbits. If your rabbit is wheezing, the respiratory infection has progressed to a fairly advanced stage and you should see a vet as soon as possible.
Do rabbits scream? Rabbits may scream when they are very scared or startled such as by a predator encounter or a perceived predator encounter. This means that even your dog or cat can cause your rabbit to scream if they are too aggressive.
How do rabbits communicate? Rabbits communicate with a combination of body language and a few sounds such as honking or squealing. They may also bite or kick in order to get a more serious point across.