Where Do Bunnies Like to be Petted?

Where Do Bunnies Like to be Petted
Where Do Bunnies Like to be Petted

Many people gravitate to cats and dogs as domestic pets since they bond well with humans and enjoy giving/receiving affection. Some pet owners may not realize that bunnies are also affectionate pets and tame ones enjoy interacting with their humans. Rabbits like to be petted in specific ways and places, so it’s important to be aware of the best way to pet your rabbit.

What Should You Know about Rabbit Handling?

Most rabbits prefer a firm touch but not a heavy one. They don’t always like a “tickling” feeling so you don’t want to use the tips of your fingers. Many rabbits will appreciate a palm down on their backs and a firm smoothing motion with the direction of the fur.

Do Rabbits Like To Be Petted 101

This really depends on the individual bunny. If you acquire your rabbits as babies and socialize them they are very likely to enjoy human contact. Some will prefer it only with their owners and others will enjoy being petted by anyone with a calm demeanor. Adopting an older rabbit is different and you’ll want to go slowly and experiment. The rabbit may have been socialized and after an adjustment period, they will enjoy contact. Even a rabbit who hasn’t been handled much may adapt to it readily if they are treated gently and trained to understand that contact is a positive thing. Rabbits who have been caged all of their lives and haven’t had human contact may never want to be touched any more than is necessary. They can still make good pets and can be given affection with treats and kind words, but their personal space should be respected.

Where Do Bunnies Like To Be Petted? 

Rabbits have personalities and not all will prefer the exact same things, but there are general petting tips you can try first. Most rabbits do best being petted on the cheeks and face. Many also enjoy having their ears stroked. Some rabbits like chin petting and some do not. Fewer rabbits prefer petting on the rear or feet and the belly can be a big issue for some rabbits. If they don’t prefer petting in certain places just respect that.

How To Pet A Rabbit?

Make sure that your rabbit feels secure before you start to pet her. Have her on the floor, on your lap or on a firm surface so she doesn’t feel like she’s going to fall. Start slowly and begin in a spot that seems to be a favorite. For example, if your rabbit seems to really like ear-stroking, start there. If that goes well, try stroking the cheeks and face. Work toward long strokes down her back if she likes that as well. If your bunny tries to get away it’s best just to allow them to safely move away from you. They may not be ready for petting at that time. Offer a favorite treat later and try again. If your rabbit is shy, stick to just one favorite petting spot at first and keep petting sessions short in the beginning.

What Are the Rabbit Rules For Petting?

Keep your movements slow and keep your own energy low.

Let your rabbit guide you. If your rabbit approaches you first, take the opportunity to give him a pet in a favorite area of the body.

Stick to the face, ears, cheeks, and back.

If your rabbit seems uncomfortable when you switch to a different area of the body, avoid that area for that session.

Avoid sensitive areas like the belly, rear or feet unless your rabbit is totally comfortable

What Is The Best Way To Approach Your Rabbit Petting Techniques?

The biggest thing to remember with rabbits is that most of them don’t prefer high energy unless they initiate high energy play. Keep your own movements slow and talk in a softer voice. Use a firm touch and stroke your rabbit in his favorite spots. Most rabbits do seem to like long stroking motions, but some will also enjoy circular rubbing on the cheeks or even the back of the neck. Once you find a level that works, experiment to see what else your bunny enjoys. If your rabbit moves away or signals discomfort, stop the petting session for that time period. Some rabbits do best if they are also given treats during the first petting sessions. Some rabbits will quickly adapt to and even beg for longer petting sessions while others will always want only brief periods of petting.

Do and Don’t

  • Do pet your rabbit if she comes to you and seems to desire touch.
  • Don’t force your rabbit to be petted.
  • Do get your rabbit used to touch. If your rabbit is tame and you need it to adjust to being touched by a veterinarian you can work up to short-term touching on the trouble spots.
  • Don’t touch a rabbit in trouble spots for longer than necessary. Affection-petting is best reserved to areas where the rabbit likes being petted.

Is There A Safe Space Rabbits Like To Be Petted?

Almost every rabbit will allow either the ears or face to be stroked. The head area is usually the safest place to start. If your rabbit doesn’t seem to like this, try along the back but stop before you get to the hindquarters. Some rabbits are moodier than others and will enjoy petting at one time but not another. It’s best to just let them guide you.

How Do You Pick Up A Rabbit?

Move slowly and speak softly to your rabbit as you approach to pick her up. If the rabbit isn’t fully tamed, you need to use special caution since rabbits can bite hard and have strong legs and sharp claws. They are naturally protective of themselves. If your rabbit is frightened or isn’t used to being picked up it may be best to start from ground level when possible. If you can, lower your body to meet them before you try to pick them up. If they are in a cage and nervous, keep your torso near them as you go to pick them up so you can keep them feeling secure against your body. No matter what you see on cartoons or television you should never pick up a rabbit by the ears. It is painful to the rabbit and can injure them badly. The scruff of the neck is used by mother rabbits when necessary but this only applies to very young rabbits and only when necessary. Ordinarily, you should not pick up any rabbit by the scruff and if the rabbit is weaned, it is too old for that. Instead, slip your hands under the rabbit body and then cradle the rabbit in your arms. Hold the rabbit close to your body if possible. With nervous rabbits, it can help to carry them in a towel. If you need to carry a frightened rabbit it may help to cover the eyes but not obstruct the nose so the rabbit can breathe easily.

Can You Pet A Rabbit That Is Angry?

If your rabbit is angry, your reaction will depend on the situation. If the rabbit is in a safe space and is upset about a trigger of some kind, the rabbit needs time to calm down before petting should begin. Figure out what is triggering him. Is there a loud sound nearby like a dog barking?  Are you moving too quickly?  Anything that is upsetting to the rabbit should be stopped first. Give the bunny some time to calm down. If the rabbit is angry and is not a safe space and you need to touch him in order to get him to safety you will need to use some bunny whispering techniques!  Figure out what soothes your bunny. Keep your movements slow and the room quiet. Start with some gentle touching in a safe spot, like stroking the ears or smoothing the fur on the face or back. Once you can get your rabbit to safety you can let him calm down before you resume a petting session.

How Important is Reading Rabbits Body Language?

Reading body language is critical if you want to develop a close and trusting rabbit relationship. Many rabbits will learn to ask to be petted once they get used to the whole idea. Some will come toward you and lower their heads. Some will nudge you. A few rabbits will even move right underneath your hand and try to make you pet them!  On the other hand, they also show what they don’t want. If a rabbit tenses up during a petting session, slow down or stop entirely to see what is happening. When a rabbit moves away from you it is doing so purposefully, so don’t force anything if you can help it. If you need to catch him and move him to a safe spot, use a gentle and appropriate technique to pick him up and move him and then leave him alone for a while.

Is Rubbing Or Scratching The Same As Petting?

Some rabbits enjoy one form of touching but not another. Some rabbits prefer different things at different times. They are creatures with unique personalities. Stroking is the most common form of petting that works well with rabbits, but you can also pet your rabbit in other ways if the rabbit likes that activity. Try scratching under the chin or at the base of the ears. Rubbing the cheeks in small circles is very comforting to some rabbits. Many rabbits like to be petted with the palm at first, but as they get to know you they may love to be scratched or rubbed with one or two fingers. All of these activities are great forms of petting and affection as long as your rabbit likes them.

Do you Have To Bond With Your Rabbit Before You Start Petting?

Rabbits are creatures of habit, so they will enjoy petting the most once you have bonded with them. Petting can be a part of the bonding process, however. The key is to let your rabbit teach you how to bond with it. If you haven’t bonded with your new rabbit yet and the rabbit has been socialized in general, use short petting sessions to help you get to know your rabbit. The sessions can become longer after bonding as long as your rabbit enjoys being petted.

How To Create a Comfortable Space?

With a rabbit who is adapting to a new environment, you can create a comfortable space by setting up an area that feels safe to the rabbit. Most bunnies like quiet spaces without a ton of distractions. Rabbits usually like small spaces at first and they want to feel secure, so you want to avoid slick areas. If the floor or cage it has a slick surface you can use a towel to help your bunny feel comfortable. When you hold your rabbit cradle it close to your body and sit down if possible so he doesn’t feel like he will fall.

Do Rabbits Need More Play Room?

Some people house their rabbits in the same area they play in and others keep them in a smaller space just for sleeping. If your rabbit has plenty of time to be active, they don’t need a lot of space just for sleeping, but they do need a good amount of play space. A rabbit is built for hopping, full-on jumping and running. They are happiest if they can do all of this. A space of about 32 sq. Ft. Is recommended, so something with a minimum of 8’x4’ is ideal. Rabbits enjoy climbing and hopping onto other objects.

The best playroom should be at least high enough for the rabbit to stand on its rear feet. If the space is high enough for the rabbit to hop up on to objects it is even better. The best possible play space will have enough room for you to spend time with your rabbit and doing petting sessions in their area of safety. This could be your entire living room or it could be a set part of your house. If you have other pets or small children it may be more ideal to use a separate space, but the important thing is to evaluate the needs of your individual bunny and set up for that.