Rabbits have some strange behaviors that can be difficult to interpret. I suggest that rabbit owners learn what their pet rabbit’s behavior means. Actually, I get asked by people all the time why their rabbit thumps his hind legs. So, why do rabbits thump and what does it mean?
Rabbits in the wild thump to warn other rabbits of danger. Domestic rabbits also thump because they perceive danger-maybe your dog got too close to his cage, or he saw a bird flew overhead. Rabbits also thump out of annoyance. Your rabbit might not like it if you’re cleaning his cage, or that you forgot to give him his favorite treat. Attention-getting is also a reason rabbits thump. Owners can inadvertently teach their rabbits to thump for attention by reacting every time their rabbit thumps.
Why Do Rabbits Thump?
Rabbits aren’t vocal, but they communicate. Instead of using their voice, they use their body to let you know what they want or don’t want. Rabbits thump to send a signal. Thumping can mean different things depending upon the situation.
What Does Thumping Mean?
Danger-Often, a rabbit thumps to show danger-it could be something they see, smell or hear. He’ll stand on his toes, put up his ears up, and thump hard on the floor. The danger for a domestic rabbit could be your dog got too close to his cage or you’re burning a fire in your fireplace. Wild rabbits thump to warn other rabbits that there’s danger. Domestic rabbits also thump to communicate. Thumping can last for a few minutes to a longer time, sometimes up to an hour.
Annoyance-Your rabbit might also thump to say he doesn’t like what you’re doing. Often, this happens when someone or something intrudes in his house, like a child getting too close to his cage or you cleaning out his hutch.
Stress-Thumping for long periods of time means your rabbit is in stress.You should try to remove whatever danger your rabbit perceives to help relieve his stress. An anxious rabbit can die from being too stressed.
Do Rabbits Thump For Attention?
Rabbits thump for attention. Your rabbit might thump in the middle of the night because he wants something from you. He thumps because he’s displeased with you or because of something you did or didn’t do, such as give him his favorite toy or playing with him. Thumping says, “Pet me” or “Play with me.” You can teach your rabbit to thump for attention if you react every time your he thumps. He learns that thumping gets your attention which is what he wanted.
Do Rabbits Thump When They’re Happy?
Your rabbit thumps to communicate his strong emotions like fear, danger or displeasure and even happiness. When a rabbit is happy, he runs around plays. He might stop for a minute to thump and then run around again. Rabbit owners say their pet rabbit sometimes greets them every morning running in circles and thumping. It’s as if their pet is happy to see their owner and shows it with a morning greeting.
Why Do Rabbits Thump At Night?
Some pet rabbits thump in their cage at night because of something scares them or they want attention or they’re just lonely. Rabbits are crepuscular, which means they’re most active between twilight hours of sunrise and sunset. Because of this, they often sleep during the day, but are active from dawn to dusk. If you’re still asleep, your rabbit might want you to get up or to feed him. It’s best to ignore him. But, if it’s unusual for your rabbit to thump, it might be worth checking it out. One rabbit owner tells the story that his rabbit thumped so much that he got up to check on him and found an overheated computer cord!
What Other Strange Behaviors Do Rabbits Make?
- Quivering cheeks-When a rabbit is happy, he will purr. He rubs his teeth together which makes his cheeks quiver.
- Bulging eyes- When a rabbit’s eyes bulge which means he is afraid or in pain.
- Ears laid back-A rabbit lays his ears back when he’s terrified and ready to fight.
- Ears forward-When a rabbit’s ears move forward, he’s curious about what’s going on around him. He might be curious about a person who’d near him.
- Binkies or dancing-Rabbits do this funny dance when he’s happy. He jumps, flings their body around then lands on their rump. It’s fun to watch.
- Flopping-Rabbits throw their body to one side to show contentment. It looks like they’re hurt, but they’re just relaxed and hanging out.
- Sitting still for long periods– This is a bad sign for a rabbit. It means the rabbit is depressed or sick. Healthy, happy rabbits nibble on hay, they’re curious about what’s going on around them.
Strange Thumping Stories
One large pet rabbit in England supposed scared off burglars by thumping. He’s a massive, two-foot rabbit named Toby who continuously thumped one night. His owner heard him thumping, but ignored the behavior. In the morning, the rabbit’s owner woke to find her house ransacked. Things were missing but a large pile of things laid beside the front door. The rabbit owner thinks Toby scared off the robbers with his loud thumping. Another owner says his pet rabbits thump when he smells certain foods like peanut butter, or when the owner rearranges the furniture or whenever a crow crows outside. Hilariously, one rabbit owner also said his poor rabbit thumped when he farted, because it scared him.
Rabbits don’t make noise, but they communicate. When a rabbit thumps it means he perceives danger. Someone walks up to his cage or he sees a bird fly overhead that scares him. Thumping could be because your rabbit wants attention from you. Rabbit owners should be slow to react to their rabbit’s thumping since he’ll learn that thumping gets your attention. If annoyed, your rabbit will thump to let you know he’s not pleased with you. It might upset him you’re not feeding him or he wants another treat.