why does my bunny make grunting noises

Rabbits noises including grunting, honking, growling, sighing, clucking, teeth purring, thumping, sneezing, squealing, screaming
Rabbits primarily communicate non-verbally using body language, but they do make a surprising number of noises. Probably the most common rabbit noise, this is usually made by unneutered males as a sign of wanting to mate and is often accompanied by circling another rabbit or your feet. P In spayed females and neutered males it is a sign of excitement or eagerness, for example if you are about to feed them or if they are chasing each other. P Some rabbits may honk as a way of getting your attention i. e. they will sit at your feet and grunt at you. Another common sound, this is usually made when you are stroking your rabbit and he/she is very happy. P You may see the jaws or the whiskers move as they grind their teeth together lightly. P It is not to be confused with louder tooth grinding which is usually a sign of pain and the rabbit will be sitting hunched up looking unhappy. Rabbits stamp a hind foot on the ground to warn other rabbits of danger, the vibration in the ground can be felt by other rabbits for quite a distance.


P House rabbits may also thump to express disapproval of something, for example the vacuum cleaner. This is usually heard in unspayed female rabbits as they defend their cage or other territory and may be accompanied by a lunge with the front feet. Rabbits may sneeze when confronted with a strong scent they dislike, as an expression of disgust. P Sometimes, of course, it is just because they have dust up their nose! P If the sneezing is frequent and accompanied by a runny nose or eyes, consult a vet. A very quiet sound and easy to miss, this is sometimes heard in rabbits who are not particularly enjoying something but are resigned to it, for example if you are brushing their fur. Usually associated with a female rabbit while feeding her young, this sound may also be heard in de-sexed rabbits who may cluck or 'chirrup' to show their appreciation of something, often food. Rabbits may squeal when they are fighting or if they are being handled very roughly and it is hurting them.


An unmistakeable and truly horrible sound, rabbits scream at a high pitch when in great danger, for example when caught by a predator. P They have also been known to scream when they are dying in a painful way, for example if they are infected with VHD. Unlike dogs or cats, which make obvious efforts to speak to us by barking or meowing, rabbits are generally quiet creatures. So how can we decode rabbit language to better understand what they re feeling? The first thing to be aware of is that if rabbits do make any very loud noises, it s usually because of great distress or fear so a loud squeal isn t something you ll want to hear. Rabbits generally express themselves by means of a variety of gestures and movements, such as thumping, kicking and jumping, but they do also have a repertoire of sounds that play a part in their communication with other rabbits. Ros Lamb of the Rabbit Welfare Association says: Some sounds say a lot. It s important that we spend time with our rabbits and learn to understand what they are telling us.


We need to listen carefully and to remember that their body language is also important. Here are some rabbit noises you might hear, and their possible meanings: A hiccup-like sound, sometimes heard when bunny is dozing, means he s contented. Your rabbit is angry, feels threatened and is showing disapproval. Your rabbit may, for example, be saying Leave me alone if he doesn t want to be handled, or if he wants to protect his territory such as his cage or food from a human hand or another rabbit. It would be a good idea to leave your rabbit alone to calm down! Another distinctive sound made by a rabbit who s annoyed. If, for instance, your rabbit is exercising and you try to pick him up, honking is a way of saying, Let me carry on hopping about! Your rabbit is probably unhappy or cross. Loud grinding of the teeth indicates that your rabbit is in pain or stressed, so you should consult your vet. An altogether different, softer sound than grinding, this is an expression of contentment, perhaps heard while your bunny is being petted or stroked, or when he s completely relaxed.


This indicates great alarm or extreme pain. It sounds exactly like a small child s scream. Some rabbits will never scream, but many will do so at least once in a lifetime. If your rabbit screams, offer immediate comfort and stay close for a few hours. Check for any dangers or injuries that may have provoked the outburst. If your rabbit still seems frightened a few hours after the scream or shows any signs of pain immediately following it, seek a vet s advice. Don t delay if you think your pet is ill or in pain. If your rabbit wheezes continually, he may have breathing problems and you should visit your vet. If your rabbit is resting, perhaps on your knee, and gives a big, wheezy sigh, then he s just expressing contentment. This may indicate curiosity or annoyance, but sometimes it s an attention-seeking sound. The context in which your rabbit makes this noise should help you to tell the difference.

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