Your rabbit licking your feet is an act of endearment. It means it really likes you and has accepted you as a part of its life.
Licking is a natural behaviour of rabbit. It is a grooming behaviour. It is a way for rabbits to groom each other. Rabbits are particular about their hygiene. They often find amusing ways to maintain their hygiene. However, their need for licking themselves or their owners cannot be restricted to grooming or to show affection. It is also a way of engaging with themselves, if they are in a group or their owners.
Here are a couple of reasons rabbits lick:
To Groom Themselves
Rabbits are habitual animals. Once they get used to an activity, they keep it up. Grooming for them is both habitual and instinctual. It is a way for them to maintain their hygiene. This behaviour might be more constant in domesticated rabbits who are used to being groomed daily by their owners.
They’ll groom themselves several times a day to maintain the grooming done earlier. As a given, rabbits are averse to baths. They fear water and will panic if placed in water, so an alternative for them is cleaning their furs with wet clothes. Once cleaned, they can maintain it themselves.
Even wild rabbits go as far as seeking members of their kind to help them groom in areas their paws can’t get to. They may lick your feet, as their owner to check for dirt or smell, to show its time for your own grooming.
To Assert Dominance
The rabbit clan believe in the principle of hierarchy. To show dominance over other rabbits, the rabbits mounts them to get them to submit. Once they’ve successfully subdued the other rabbits, the emerging leader licks the eyes of its conquests to show ownership and dominance. It is common among rabbits that live in warrens, kind of like a community.
These rabbits can go as far as fighting the other rabbits for superiority. Once they overpower the others, they resolve their dispute by licking their eyes. That way they can be part of the family and the other rabbits respect this rite of passage.
Even domesticated rabbits can express dominance over the others, and the submissive rabbits will go as far as laying their heads on the ground, for their eyes and ears to be licked by their superior. If your domesticated rabbit is licking your feet, it can also be seen as domination.
To Express Affection
When rabbits are fond of themselves or their owners, they may lick their face or feet, or any other part of their body to show affection and love. Sometimes, if your rabbit wants you to give it your attention, it might lick your feet or face to get it.
To Socially Interact
Rabbits communicate with all parts of their body. Your rabbit might lick its lips to show satisfaction from a delicious meal. They can lick your feet to check for dirt or to show that it has an unpleasant odour. They can lick the fur of one another to show submission and for grooming.
Sometimes, when your rabbit is bored, it might mindlessly lick its body or objects close to it. This can become obsessive and destructive for the rabbit as ingesting too much fur will not only make them sick but it can kill them. Excessive licking of their fur can also cause it to fall out or even cause irritation on their skin.
Excessive licking can indicate a sign of an illness in the rabbit. It can indicate a flesh wound, irritation, infection or even the existence of parasites on their skin. If you observe this, check for bumps, cuts, pains, lice or discolouration on the favoured region. Immediate veterinary care is advised.
Showing A Bond
Rabbits of the same clan lick themselves out of trust for one another. If a rabbit allows you to lick its body or it licks yours, it means it trusts you and considers you, family. This means a lot to the rabbit as they are naturally territorial.
Knowing The Taste Of Objects
Rabbits can be seen licking the bars of their cages or furniture around the house or even the body of their owners out of curiosity. They may just want to know the taste of it.
Indicating Pregnancy Maturity
When normal licking turns to pulling, especially for a pregnant rabbit, she is nearing for kindling date. Does pull out their furs to make a nest for their expectant litter. It is a maternal instinct for them.
Showing Mating Interest
If your rabbit is regularly licking your feet or hand or any other part of your body, it may be a sign that it wants to mate. If this occurs before they have been sprayed or neutered, it might be time to get them altered to reduce the behaviour.
So, if you’re a pet owner and you notice your rabbit licking your feet or licking itself occasionally, it’s nothing to be worried about. It is as natural as digging or thumping or even humping.