Pet rabbits participate in many behaviors you may find peculiar. One of these is rubbing their chin against objects or people around your home. You do not know whether this is an attempt to be affectionate, or something you should be concerned about. So, why is your rabbit rubbing their chin on everything?
Rabbits may rub their chin places because they have scent glands located there. This is their way of marking their territory on an object, or person. Rubbing their chin on an area is also known as “chinning.”
I will be discussing why rabbits rub their chin on objects in further detail, as well as some other rabbit behaviors that may confuse you. I will also cover when territory marking becomes an issue.
Why is Your Rabbit Rubbing Their Chin on Everything? Also Known as “Chinning,” Rabbits Rub Their Chin on People and Objects to Mark it as Their Territory. This is to Let Everybody Know Something is Theirs, or They Have Been to a Certain Area.
This action is known as “chinning.”
Rabbits have a scent gland under their chin which they are using while they are rubbing their chin on an area. When they rub their chin, a small amount of their unique scent comes out of the gland and is released onto the area they are rubbing.
Humans are unable to smell this unique scent given off by a rabbit, and it does not leave any visible marks. The scent gland in a rabbit also does not damage fabric, furniture, walls, or anything else a rabbit may choose to rub their chin on.
Other rabbits are able to smell the scent, even though humans cannot. This is why it is used as a tactic for marking territory in rabbits. A rabbit may mark everything they consider themselves the owners of.
Their food bowl, sleeping area, edges of the cage, and owner are not uncommon things for a rabbit to rub their chin on.
What are Some Other Behaviors Besides Chinning Rabbits Do That May be Puzzling? Chinning Can be a Very Confusing Action for Some Pet Owners at First. The Rabbit is Rubbing Their Chin Against Their Owner, So the Owner May Assume it is a Sign of Affectionate. In Reality, it is a Sign of Marking Territory. There are Many Other Actions Rabbits Partake in That Prove to be Puzzling for Pet Owners.
Here are some common puzzling behaviors rabbits partake in…
- Running all around- Rabbits may do this if you changed the layout of the room, or space they are normally in. Rabbits like routine since they are timid and easy to scare, so changing the layout may make them nervous and cause them to run around the room retracing their steps.
- Eating Poop– Rabbits eat a small bit of their poop known as “cecotropes.” This is different from a rabbit’s normal pellet poop. A cecotrope contains vital vitamins and nutrients they may have missed the first time they ate.
- Licking their owner-Often when two rabbits are bonded, they will groom each other. A rabbit may show you their fondness of you by licking you as they would a bonded rabbit. They may also lick you to let you know they want to be pet.
- Nudging-Another tactic to gain attention from owners that rabbits may use is nudging. Rabbits may take their nose and nudge your hand or arm in hopes you will pet them. They may also nudge at you if you are eating something they want.
- Grinding teeth-When a rabbit is
happy and relaxed, they may grind their teeth together gently, and almost in a
rhythm. You may be able to hear this if you are close enough or are petting
- This should not be confused with loud teeth grinding! Loud teeth grinding can be a sign of pain and will most likely be paired with tense body language.
- Thumping: If a rabbit is not happy with something you or someone else did, they may respond with a stamp from their hind foot. They may do this if another rabbit is agitating them, or if you put them back in their cage as they were enjoying themselves in their environment. This action may be followed by hopping away and a back turned to you.
- Jumping:If a rabbit is feeling playful or happy, they may take off running and hop into the air. This jump may be accompanied by a heel click. This is often referred to as a “boink” or binky.
- Tossing things: Rabbits may toss items around their cage as a way to get your attention, for example, an empty food bowl. They may also throw their toys around the cage or play area just as a sign that they want you to play with them.
- Growling or Lunging:A rabbit will usually growl when they feel threatened. If your pet is backed into a corner and feels they have no way to escape, you will likely hear the growl. This may follow with a lunge. Try to avoid putting your rabbit in situations where they feel the need to lunge or growl, as this is stressful for them.
There are plenty of behaviors rabbits partake in that owners are puzzled by. Knowing the meaning of each one is very important to understanding the health and feelings of your pet. Some feelings are positive, and some are not, that is why it is vital to know the meanings and how to handle them.
Chinning is usually harmless, however, there may be times when it can be accompanied by a negative response and understanding these signs are important as well.
Can a Rabbit Marking Territory by Rubbing Their Chin on Everything Cause Problems? As Long as the Space is Being Respected, this is Not Something that Should Cause Problems. If You Own Two Rabbits You Must be Vigilant with Making Sure Each of Their Space is Respected. Failure to do so May Result in Aggression or Fighting.
This type of territory marking is generally harmless, as it leaves no smell or mark behind that is noticeable to humans.
However, if you have more than one rabbit this may become a little bit more complicated. With more than one rabbit present in the home, you must make sure each rabbit has their space to mark. They must have their own food bowl, litter pan, water, and unless closely bonded, their own cage. If they feel they do not have their own space, they may get into fights over territory.
If rabbits are going around your house rubbing their chins on everything, but rubbing their chins on the same items, they are marking the same items as their own. This may cause a dispute which could end up in hostility or a fight, possibly injuring one or both pets.
With each rabbit having their own designated space, they should be more focused on that than other areas of the home.
All of the people and other pets must be respectful of your rabbit’s space as well. Trying to reach in and grab the rabbit out of their cage, or grab items out of their cage while they are in it could be disastrous. You should only clean or take items out of the cage when they are out and preoccupied.
With other pets such as cats and dogs, it is important to keep them out of the rabbit’s space. This is not only important for the safety of the rabbit because the pet might hurt them, or the rabbit may get anxious, but that animal would be invading the rabbit’s territory. This may result in the rabbit lunging or biting the other pet in an attempt to defend their territory.
For the most part, chinning does not become a problem unless the correct environment is not set up and respected. There are other ways in which marking territory can be a major inconvenience, as well as upsetting for pet owners.
Rabbits may choose to mark their territory in other ways which involves spraying urine or leaving behind large amounts of droppings. Both male and female rabbits have been known to perform this action when it comes to marking territory.
Again, this can be combated by ensuring the rabbit has their own space.
When a Rabbit is Rubbing their Chin on Everything in Their Home, it Means They Are Marking Their Territory. This Behavior is Generally Not Something to be Concerned Over, However, if it is Happening Too Excessively in All Areas of Your Home, You May Want to Evaluate the Space You Have Set Up for Them, and How it is Being Respected.
Chinning is a normal activity done by rabbits. It does not usually effect humans unless territory marking turns to spraying urine or leaving droppings all around.
Overall, a rabbit rubbing their chin on things is just a cute activity that should not have any negative effects on you, sit back and enjoy the rubs!