Rabbits are generally quiet pets, and they are not known for making noises often. However, this does not mean that they are non-vocal and so, you will sometimes hear your pet rabbit making some sounds.
Rabbits make sounds to try and communicate with their owners, and it is believed that they have a unique language with which they do so. There are different types of sounds that rabbits make, with a grunt being the most common one.
Your rabbit – in its indoor rabbit hutch – may grunt for different reasons, but its grunting boils down to one thing; it is trying to communicate something to you. Below are some of the reasons why your rabbit would make this sound.
Reasons your rabbit Makes Grunting Noises
- It is angry about something: Anger is one of the significant reasons why rabbits grunt. If you do not seem to understand what your pet wants after it grunts, it may follow up the grunting with biting or scratching.
- Territoriality: A rabbit that is feeling territorial will grunt if it feels that what it considers its property is being threatened. Things that could make your rabbit exhibit territorial grunting include food, its cage, spots in the garden and so on.
The rabbit uses this sound to warn or scare off whomever or whatever it feels is threatening these things, including you, its owner.
- It feels threatened: Another reason why your rabbit will grunt is if it feels threatened. Rabbits can be timid creatures as they are prey animals, and so, they may get scared easily. Also, if your pet does not want to be carried or handled, it will grunt to let you know this if you try to handle it.
In such instances, you should let the animal be instead of trying to force it to do what you want as it may resort to kicking if it is handled against its will.
What are some other ways in which your rabbits may communicate with you?
As a pet owner, you can usually understand how your pet is feeling when it makes some vocal sounds or by its body language. The same thing applies to anyone that has a pet rabbit.
Rabbits communicate with their owners both with sounds and with body language. Some other sounds apart from grunts that your rabbit may make when it is trying to communicate with you include:
- Whimpering: Whimpering in rabbits has almost the same meaning as grunting. Your rabbit will grunt if it does not want you to handle it. Whining and whimpering in rabbits can be regarded as a sort of protest. Also, if the animal does not like its surroundings, it will whimper or whine to show this fact.
Rabbits that are pregnant, especially, do not like to share space with other rabbits. Therefore, if you put your pregnant doe with another rabbit in a cage, it will whimper loudly to let you know that it is not happy with the situation.
- Tooth clicking: Your rabbit will click its tooth when it is feeling happy, comfortable or content. You will usually notice your pet click its teeth when you are petting or stroking it. When your rabbit is clicking or chattering its teeth in a contented state, it will do so with its eyes half-closed.
- Screaming: If your rabbit screams, you should be seriously concerned. Rabbits only scream when they are in grave danger and if they are terrified. Therefore, they may scream if a predator is chasing them, they are petrified, or they are dying.
A rabbit’s scream is eerie, and it sounds like that of a scared child, so you should be able to easily recognise it and take quick action to find out what is causing your pet’s panic.
- Hissing: Rabbits do not hiss a lot, but when they do so, they do it as a warning sign to other rabbits.
- Honking: honking in rabbits is almost as common as grunting. These animals usually honk when they are excited. Examples of times when a rabbit can become excited are when it is playing and when it is chasing another rabbit around. Also, your pet may become excited and honk when it is time for it to eat.
Your rabbit may also use honking to try to gain your attention as its owner. If you notice that the rabbit produces the sound and then sits at your feet, it wants your attention. A male rabbit will also honk when it wants to mate. The animal will usually do this while circling your feet or another rabbit.
- Tooth grinding: This sound signals that your pet is in severe distress or discomfort. If you notice your rabbit sitting hunched in the corner of its cage while grinding teeth, it is a bad sign.
Tooth grinding, together with a hunched posture in a rabbit, may signal abdominal pain or another painful condition. It is best to take your pet immediately to the veterinarian if you notice it exhibiting these symptoms.
Body Language of Rabbits
Many animals use other means apart from sound to communicate with their owners. Rabbits are not an exception, and so they have body languages with which they will try to tell you how they are feeling.
Your rabbit may do the following things top communicate with you:
- It may nudge you with its nose: Rabbits use nose nudging to either seek attention or to let you know that they don’t want your attention. For instance, your pet will nudge you if it wants to pet it. In the same vein, it will also use its nose to nudge you if it wants you to give it space and leave it alone.
Depending on the circumstances involved, you should be able to tell the difference between what your pet wants and what it doesn’t.
- It starts thumping: Your pet might thump for various reasons, with the most common cause being that it wants to alert you to something. It is, therefore, more common to notice a rabbit that is left free to roam thumping than one that is captive.
This is because a free-roaming rabbit would usually notice more danger in its surroundings than a captive one. The animal might also thump if it is angry and it wants to communicate this to you. Other reasons why your rabbit may thump is if it wants your attention, or it is scared.
- It licks you: Licking is not something that rabbits do to their owners very often. If your rabbit licks you, you should cherish the act – as long as it’s not thirsty and hinting at that. Licking is a rabbit’s way of showing affection and love to its owner.
- It nips you: Your pet may pinch or nip you for different reasons. First, it may do this to show its affection for you, just as it does with licking you. Conversely, the animal may also nip you if it is angry with you.
Depending on the circumstances involved, you should be able to tell why the animal is nipping you. If the pinch is too painful and you do not want the rabbit to keep doing it, you should squeal loudly each time the animal nips you. This way, it will know that it hurts you by pinching and will stop doing it, or it will not nip you so hard.
- It moves its ears: Rabbits use their ears to communicate or notice what is going on around them. You can study your pet’s ears to know how it is feeling. If your rabbit holds one of its ears forward and holds the other one backwards, it is aware of what is going on in its surrounding but is not too interested.
If the animal holds both ears forward, it is interested in whatever is going on, and it is also alerting you about it. If both ears are relaxed, then the animal is at rest.
- It dances: Seeing your rabbit dance can be fun and adorable at the same time. A dancing rabbit will kick up its heels, jump in the air and run around. If you notice your rabbit dancing, it is because it is delighted and content and is trying to let you know this.
- It circles: Circling in rabbits is a sign that it is time to neuter or spay them. If you notice that your pet is circling and honking too, it is probably exhibiting courtship behaviour. Circling in rabbits also has another meaning. Many rabbits will circle their owners as a way of begging for food or attention.
- Mounting: You should also think about spaying or neutering your rabbit if it begins to mount. Mounting in rabbits that are altered is used to display dominance.
- It wags its tail: In the same way as dogs, rabbits can wag their tails too, although not many people are aware of this fact. Unlike in dogs, tail wagging in rabbits is not a sign that they are happy. If you notice your rabbit wagging its tail, it is most likely being stubborn and is not ready to do your bidding.
Final Thoughts on Why Do Rabbits Make Grunting Noises
As a rabbit parent, you should be able to understand and relate with your animal, even though not with words. Communicating with your pet takes time and patience, and learning its language and what it wants is not always easy.
However, it would be best if you devoted time to do this so that each time your pet is unhappy, you can rightly guess what the problem is and solve it. If you understand your rabbit whenever it is trying to communicate something to you, then you will have a great relationship with the animal.