Although you might think of rabbits as being quiet creatures, they can be pretty vocal when they need to get a specific point across. Rabbit vocalization covers a wide range of their moods. The furry critters vocalize when they're feeling giddy, disturbed and everywhere in between, for that matter. They sometimes even produce noises that don't involve their mouths.
If you hear a rabbit make a shrill squeaking sound, there's a good chance that he's feeling happy about something. Maybe he sees the tasty turnip greens in your hand and can't wait to have a bite. While these sounds often denote good feelings, they can sometimes denote frustration and apprehension in bunnies, as well. When rabbits squeak and the sound is a little bit deeper, it often signifies that they feel trapped. Perhaps you're petting your bunny and he wants you to stop so he can get back to playing independently.
Rabbits have innocent looks, but that doesn't mean that they can't get cranky. If a rabbit is feeling fierce for whatever reason, he might respond by growling. When bunnies do this, it often means that they're afraid of something harming them. Be extremely cautious around growling rabbits. The vocalization is sometimes an indication of soon-to-come nipping, scratching and lunging.
If you hear a rabbit softly chattering his teeth, be pleased, because it usually means that the furry cutie is in a content and peaceful state -- possibly because you're stroking his fur. If the teeth chattering is on the noisy side, however, pay close attention. Noisy teeth chattering can point to pain and illness. Take your rabbit to the veterinarian if his teeth chattering is especially excessive or noisy. It differs from the good kind of chattering in that the movement of the teeth is generally much more audible.
When rabbits noisily stamp their back feet, it often means that they're afraid and nervous. If your rabbit does this, it could mean that he heard an unfamiliar sound and now thinks that a predator is coming to him. Stamping of the feet is the rabbit way of letting everyone else know that something bad is coming. This behavior is extremely common in free-roaming rabbits who want to inform their pals of a possible threat. Remember, these lagomorphs are prey animals.
Rabbits produce honking sounds when they're thrilled and joyous about something. They also frequently make these sounds as a way of wooing members of the opposite sex for mating. If a male rabbit honks around a female rabbit, then he's expressing to her that he wants to mate -- stat.
If a rabbit gives off a loud screech, then the poor thing is possibly scared about something. Perhaps he hears a dog loudly barking from next door. Outside of fear, screeching can also signify that something is hurting a rabbit, perhaps an injury. Never brush off these sounds as they often are signs that a rabbit has to visit the vet.
- The Rabbit Handbook; Karen Parker
- Rabbits; Janice Biniok
- Rabbits - The Animal Answer Guide; Susan Lumpkin and John Seidensticker
- Wisconsin Humane Society: Rabbit Communication
- House Rabbit Resource Network: How to Speak Rabbit
- Sacramento House Rabbit Society: Reading Your Rabbit's Behavior
- ASPCA: General Rabbit Care
- House Rabbit Society: How to Tell if Your Rabbit is Sick
- The Complete Beginner's Guide to Raising Small Animals; Carlotta Cooper
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