Rabbits are generally quiet animals, especially in the wild, where making too much noise might alert would-be predators of their whereabouts.
However, Bunnies do indeed make a number of sounds, and understanding these Rabbit sounds give pet parents a better understanding of their rabbit’s mood.
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Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. Understanding Bunny speak
Maybe not a popular saying in America, but in London, England, men often refer to women constantly chatting as ‘rabbiting’, which comes from the cockney rhyming slang “Rabbit and Pork – Talk”. But, anyone who owns a pet rabbit knows, this isn’t true about our furry little friends.
Rabbits are intelligent sociable animals but prefer to communicate with body language rather than sounds. This is largely due to the need to keep quiet and hidden from their many natural predators.
So what sounds do rabbits make? They do have a few sounds in their repertoire, some happy, some sad. Here is a list of rabbit sounds, and what we believe they mean.
Happy Rabbit Sounds
These are the sounds that all pet owners love to hear – Happy Sounds. They show that your rabbit is happy, healthy, and content.
A quiet, low-pitched clicking sound, and not like a clucking hen. Often heard when your bunny is nibbling on its favorite treat. Certainly a happy sound. Your rabbit is telling you “I’m enjoying my food”
It’s also common that a rabbit will cluck, or chirrup as it’s sometimes known when being petted on its owner’s lap.
Another sound that means your bunny is happy.
When relaxed, outstretched, and being stroked and petted, they’ll make a noise called tooth purring, which is a sign that your pet is chilled and happy, and enjoying the moment.
Not to be confused with a cat purring, which comes from the throat. Rabbits purr by lightly grinding their teeth.
Humming or Buzzing
This is a different kind of happiness. Usually heard in unspayed or neutered male rabbits. It’s a short buzz or hum and is the buck rabbit’s way of telling a female doe rabbit that he likes her
Unhappy Rabbit Sounds
Hopefully, you won’t hear these often. Rabbits have a number of sounds they make when they feel threatened, are in pain, or are generally unhappy with what’s going on.
One of the more famous noises a rabbit makes. Think Thumper in the Bambi films.
In the wild, Rabbits make this thumping sound when they sense danger. Using their back legs to bang the ground, the noise and vibration are to warn the rest of the colony or nest that they should be alert.
Domestic rabbits will still thump, again if they sense danger, or are annoyed.
Here is a lovely video of a pet rabbit thumping. He really doesn’t like the camera! Credit StFrancisRabbit for the video.
Many animals hiss, and it normally means the same thing, leave me alone!
If you have ever heard a rabbit scream, you know it’s not a pleasant sound. Loud, eery, and spine chilling. When rabbits howl, you know it’s serious. It’s usually when they have been caught by a predator, or are close to dying.
It’s a rabbit’s distress call.
I remember when my pet Labrador caught a baby rabbit whilst we were out walking one day. The scream that came out of the rabbit was so loud and chilling that Jake the dog instantly let him go and off he ran, unharmed, to fight another day.
Not a sound you want to hear again.
Not as loud as a scream, but no less unpleasant. Rabbits will squeal when they are handled too rough or are in pain. It’s not uncommon to hear a baby rabbit squeal when picked up and separated from its mother.
Similar to hissing, it’s another way for your rabbit to tell you to leave him alone. And, when your pet is grunting, it’s best you do, as it’s normally followed by a scratch or a bite. Your bunny is having a bad day
So, now you know what sounds rabbits make, and what these noises tell you about the mood of your pet.
If you have any videos of your own rabbit making any of these noises, please do send them over, we’d love to share them on our site.
And lastly, for those of you who didn’t get the “Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit” reference in the intro, check out Chaz and Daves Rabbit, a classic British song about women who love to “rabbit and pork”