When rabbits show that they are comfortable, it can be hard for you to read. This is because the animals mainly use body language and only rarely sounds.
However, if you know the most important signs, you can intervene more quickly in case of problems. Or make sure that your rabbits are doing well.
The most important signs including 10 tips on how to improve the well-being of your rabbits, we tell you in this article.
The sounds of rabbits
Many people still believe that rabbits are mute.
However, this is not true!
True, the spectrum is not too wide and they rarely let the sounds heard. Nevertheless, there are, for example:
- Growl: Growling is used during mating season and can occur in neutered animals as well as towards humans.
- Hissing: This is a warning sign. If you or a conspecific do not heed it, an attack may occur.
- Grunting: Just like hissing, it is a sign of displeasure and discontent.
- Growling: Your short- or long-eared dog can’t get any clearer than this. Keeping your distance and leaving them alone are the best behaviors.
- Screams: shrill and loud screams always indicate a problem. Fighting, pain and fear of death will lead to this.
- Teeth grinding: This is another indication of a serious health problem. You should see a vet immediately if you notice it.
- Teeth grinding: Unlike grinding, quiet and pleasurable teeth grinding expresses well-being. It is comparable to a cat’s purr when petting and cuddling. Likewise, it can sound when your rabbit is nibbling on something particularly tasty.
A comprehensive guide to rabbit body language including pictures can be found here!
Body language that expresses well-being
The range of body language in rabbits is vast. From the ears to the flower, all body parts are used. This makes it comparatively easy to recognize what your animal wants to communicate to you or to other rabbits.
However, misunderstandings can also occur here.
An example: The knocking with the hind legs is normally a sign of fear. The noise is to warn conspecifics and to make them flee. However, it can also occur during joyful excitement, for example, when you introduce fresh food.
The flattening of ears can indicate relaxation and well-being. However, it can also indicate fear if the eyes are opened and the body is pressed close to the ground.
Nudging is always positive.
The same applies to pushing objects and toys around. Poking and pushing away with the head, on the other hand, clearly signals, “Leave me alone!”
Always observe eyes and entire body to get a proper sense of intent.
What can I do to make my rabbit feel comfortable – 10 tips.
In order for your animals to relax and feel comfortable, you need to meet some criteria. You can find out what these are for the rabbit here.
Tip 1: No single keeping
Even though it unfortunately still happens, rabbits should not be kept individually.
With conspecifics they can play, cuddle, groom each other and have company when you can’t spend time with them at the moment.
Even if you spend a lot of time with your pets, you cannot replace communication between conspecifics. So keep at least two rabbits.
Tip 2: Provide enough space and free range
Commercial cages and hutches are usually much too small. This is already true for one animal. With two or more rabbits, the ratio is even worse. However, the long or short ears must have enough space to run at least short distances and to avoid each other. Otherwise, conflicts can arise. This in turn can lead to serious fights.
Possible alternatives are self-built (indoor) pens, very large cages or distribution over several floors. Runs that can be attached directly to the cage are also a possible variant.
Tip 3: Proper feeding
The right supply of nutrients and fiber is crucial for health and thus for well-being. Often rabbits are fed mainly with ready-made grain food and occasionally fruits and vegetables. However, this does not correspond to the natural diet.
Grasses, leaves, herbs and bark are mainly on the menu. An apple, on the other hand, is more like a candy bar for the animals. Nevertheless, fresh food consisting of vegetables and herbs, dandelions, milk thistles and other plants mixed with little fruit is the better choice.
Roughage, such as hay, must be available at all times, as must water.
Grains, dried fruit and vegetable chips, and other high-calorie foods, on the other hand, should only be fed to your rabbits if you have chosen to keep them outside year-round. Because then, even with an insulated hutch for protection from the cold, the animals need an appropriate layer of fat and sufficient energy.
Tip 4: Provide rest
For their well-being, it is also important that the rabbits have enough peace and quiet and can withdraw undisturbed. Sleeping houses and hiding places are therefore an important prerequisite for your animals to be well.
Especially if children live in the house, you should pay more attention to this. Rabbits do not want to be carried around, touched or played with all the time. If this is not respected, they can attack, bite, become shy or show constant aggression.
Tip 5: Coat care
Especially during the coat change various problems can occur.
Irritation of the skin, dandruff and even intestinal blockage due to too much ingested hair are possible. In addition, there is itching and knotting.
So support your animals by brushing them from the beginning and regularly and offer them objects with a rough surface. They can rub against these and remove loose hair themselves. Rubbing also has a pleasant massage effect.
Tip 6: Create variety
For species-appropriate husbandry, your animals need sufficient variety on the menu, in the cage or hutch and in the exercise area.
Bring in fresh branches, redecorate regularly and inform yourself in detail about what your rabbits can eat. Today a little fennel, but tomorrow chicory or dandelion – this way it will not be boring.
Tip 7: Pay attention to health
Regular check-ups of your rabbits can ensure that any existing problems can be detected and treated at an early stage. This increases the chances of healing considerably. In addition, health is of course important for the general well-being.
- Genital area
- Teeth and gums
If discharge, swellings, lumps or redness are noticed here, a clarification by the veterinarian should take place.
Tip: Very few rabbits find it pleasant to be thoroughly examined from nose to flower. Therefore, from the beginning, gently and with patience, accustom your animals to the fact that the inspection does not have to mean stress. This works best with lots of petting and in connection with tasty nibbles.
Tip 8: Provide healthy employment
In the wild, rabbits spend nearly all day foraging for food. As a pet, they don’t have to. On the one hand, this means relief, but on the other hand, it also means boredom and a lack of activity.
Therefore, make your animals work a little for their food – exceptions are sick or old rabbits. For example, you can set up a feeding tree in the free run. All you need is a branch that you stick deep into the ground and that has a few branches.
Fill it with green food, such as vegetables, fruit, herbs or dried vegetable chips. This way, the animals have to stretch and have another way to occupy themselves through the branch itself.
Small obstacle courses with opportunities for climbing and an area for digging also help prevent boredom.
Tip 9: Spend time together
Trusting rabbits like to cuddle often. With each other and also with humans or other pets – as long as they are used to it.
So spend as much time with them as possible.
Petting them, luring them over obstacles or onto your lap with food, simply placing them on the floor in the enclosure, or offering them a nibble from your hand here and there when they run free in the room should be part of the attitude.
Through this your animals link you with positive experiences and gain more trust faster.
That your rabbits run after you, jump on your lap, tug on your pant leg or even lie down next to you on the couch is not guaranteed, but possible and not uncommon.
Tip 10: Learn body language
Learn rabbit body language by simply watching them play or when they interact with each other. Listen for vocalizations and pay attention to overall behavior.
An animal that rolls around with pleasure or sleeps relaxed on its side is obviously comfortable.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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