Hey There, BunnyGang!
Are you wondering if your rabbit loves you? Rabbits can be shy, cautious creatures, so it’s not always easy to tell where their affections may lie. But fear not. We’re here to help you spot some good signs that your bunny loves and trusts you. Some of these signs may be subtle, some overt, but all are clear indicators of the way they feel in your presence.
As is the case for many prey animals, safety is the paramount concern for most rabbits. It needs to be. In the wild, rabbits have relatively few defenses against predators, which means that they’ve evolved to look before they leap. The world is dangerous to those most soft and susceptible, so nature has given them a strong dose of scrutiny and caution to help keep them safe. Hiding and fleeing are the default behaviors for a rabbit in the face of any possible threat, so overriding that instinct will mean reassuring your rabbit thoroughly enough and frequently enough to neutralize any fear of surprises or unknowns in their environments.
If you’re able to consistently make your rabbit feel safe and comfortable at home, they’re going to hold you in their highest esteem; as their protector. This distinguished honor indicates love on its own, but for more signs you can see, here’s our list of 10 ways your rabbit might show their love for you:
Rabbits often nuzzle or gently nudge their humans with their noses. This action indicates trust and affection, as rabbits are social animals that establish bonds through physical contact.
Licking and Grooming
When a rabbit licks or grooms you, they’re displaying affection, concern for your hygiene and well-being, and that they consider you to be part of their social group. Even having a rabbit grooming themselves in your presence should be considered a distinction of honor and a statement of trust. Grooming is a significant aspect of rabbit interactions, and reciprocating this gesture by gently stroking their fur can strengthen the bond. After you’ve built a good grooming routine with your rabbit, they’ll also recognize that process as you showing your love and concern for them in the same way.
Marking You as Their Property
Similar to licking and nuzzling, but with more of a territorial emphasis, a rabbit will mark things, people, or other animals as a way of claiming them. Using a scent gland located under their chins, rabbits will mark their territory to communicate to other animals “This thing is mine! Nobody else take it!”
Purring and Grinding Teeth
Like cats, rabbits often purr when they're content. They can also exhibit a behavior known as tooth purring or tooth grinding. This occurs when a rabbit grinds their teeth rhythmically, often accompanied by closed eyes. This action indicates a relaxed and affectionate state. And don’t worry about your rabbit’s teeth. As bunnies’ teeth grow so quickly, grinding can actually be a good way for them to help keep them filed down!
Remember how we said some signs will be more obvious than others? Well when a rabbit lies down with their body stretched out, it's a pretty clear sign of comfort and relaxation. This vulnerable posture indicates that the rabbit feels at ease in your presence and implicitly trusts that you won’t try to eat it. Like all known animals, the most reassuring feeling for a rabbit is - the confidence that they’re not about to be eaten.
Lying Next to You
Rabbits that choose to rest or nap beside their human are showcasing a strong level of trust and affection. It's a way of seeking companionship and showing that they enjoy your company.
Leaning and Snuggling
Rabbits might lean against you or snuggle into your lap, indicating their desire for closeness. This physical contact is a demonstration of their attachment and comfort around you. They could have curled up on a fruit cushion somewhere or on your laptop, but instead they chose your lap. You should feel very loved.
Lifting Their Heads for Petting
When a rabbit nudges their head under your hand or lifts their head for pets, they're actively seeking your touch and attention. It's a way of saying they appreciate your affection and want more of it. To ask for a hug from someone, in any language is a clear statement that you value their affection.
Binkying is an expression of pure joy. Similar to to popcorning in guinea pigs, or the butt waggle some dogs get, this particular display of happiness is unique to rabbits, and happens when they can’t physically contain the joy they feel inside. A ‘binky’ involves leaping into the air, twisting, and sometimes even kicking out their legs. When a rabbit binkies around you, they're expressing happiness and excitement in your presence. This little fluff ball is practically erupting with happiness and you’re invited to the party. What could be better?
Following You Around
Like a younger sibling might follow their big brother or big sister, or cheering fans might follow a celebrity, your rabbit following you from room to room is a clear statement that:
1. They think you’re cool.
2. They like your taste in music, activities, conversation, etc.
3. It just feels good being around you.
These behaviors all showcase your rabbit’s attachment to you and their enjoyment of your company. If you recognize any of these signs, it’s fully time for you to accept the compliments of their affection, and respond in kind. Rabbits get to decide whom they let into their inner circles. In fact, it’s imperative for their survival to be discerning. When a rabbit indicates that they’ve chosen you as a VIP and trustworthy member of their household, allow this validation of your character to really soak in. You’re clearly great.
And if your rabbit hasn’t let you past their wall of trust issues just yet, don’t despair! There are plenty of ways for you to show your rabbit that they’re safe with you (and that you’re cool and have good taste in music).
First, provide a clean and comfortable living space for your bunny. If they’re enclosed, this means making sure they have enough space to comfortably move around, constant access to clean water, cozy places to sit, and private hiding spaces to be alone and unobserved. A secure environment directly leads to less stress for your bunny.
Regular Handling & Daily Interaction
This step can take some time, but as your rabbit becomes comfortable with physical contact, pet them as often as they like. Sit near them. Speak calmly and warmly to them. Enjoy each other’s company and spend quality time.
And for some mixed messages…
Don’t always touch them!
This is a great tip for people trying to help their rabbits get more comfortable in their presence. It’s important for your rabbit to feel like they have their own space when they want it, and don’t always have to be touched, picked up, or bothered.
For a special way to build trust and comfort with your rabbit, try gently and quietly existing in their space or direct proximity, without looking at them or touching them at all.
Don’t reach for them. Nothing. If they come up to you, allow them to explore, nudge, or nuzzle you as they please, but don’t reciprocate. This may be difficult at first, but when making a rabbit feel safe, it’s important for them to know that you don’t need anything from them, that physical contact is not demanded, and that they have bodily autonomy. After you establish this trust with them, they may never question it again, or you may need to periodically remind them that their safety in your presence is unconditional, and whatever affection they’re in the mood for, is just fine by you.
A Healthy Diet
We all feel our best when we’re eating well. Rabbits are even more sensitive to this than many, so always make sure your rabbit has the right amount of the foods they need to stay healthy, happy, and full of energy for binkies.
Toys and Enrichment
Toys and enriching activities are great ways to encourage comfort and play, and reduce stress in your bunnies. Rabbits are curious and fun-loving animals, who often find lots of joy from hideys, tunnels, cardboard boxes, puzzle feeders, and other things to explore. Keeping their world interesting and engaging will help them (and you) stay feeling youthful and excited.
We talk about this one a lot, because frequent and consistent is so important for your bunny’s physical and emotional well-being. A clean bunny is a happy bunny, and bunnies who are also frequently screened for illnesses, injuries, parasites, and proper nutrition BEFORE issues arise - are even happier.
Remember that every rabbit is unique. It may take some time for your pet to fully come out of their shells and bond with you, and that’s okay. Your patience, understanding, and consistency will all lead toward building an unbreakably strong bond with you and your buddy.
We hope these tips help you to build trust and comfort with your pets, and that spotting your bunny displaying some of these signs of affection will help you to see how your bunny loves and cherishes you just as much as you do with them.
Happy Cuddling, BunnyGang!