Anyone who lives with a house rabbit knows that they are only silent on first glance. Rabbits actually have a wide range of expressions and methods of communicating. It’s easy and rewarding to learn the language of lagomorphs. Just sit back and let them teach you!
Today we look at that most wonderful of bunny states: pure joy. How do you know when you’re rabbit is happy?
A happy, relaxed rabbit will often lay on its stomach with the forepaws and hind legs stretched out. From above they look like they are flying like Superman, or they are flat as can be. Sometimes rabbits lay with their legs extended out but more to the side, as opposed to the loaf position where all limbs are tucked under the body. These extended feet indicate a happy rabbit. For a prey animal that must be constantly on guard against danger, happy feet are a great indication that the rabbit feels comfortable and safe in their environment.
Witnessing a binky is one of the greatest joys of living with a rabbit. It looks like dancing or leaping in the air, often with body gyrations and kicks and flips. Sometimes rabbits get a running start before a binky; some just leap into the air from a sitting position (the latter, I believe, is called a ‘boink’). Other rabbits begin and end a binky with an impressive run of zig-zags and switchbacks, or repeated laps, called the Bunny 500. The binky indicates pure happiness and joy, and it’s contagious. Other bunnies may join in, and you’ll surely be moved to smile or laugh.
The flop is another way of expressing contentment and happiness. The rabbit goes quickly from a sitting or standing position to lying on its side, like a tree falling in the forest. The eyes roll back and the rabbit looks lifeless. This is different from a rabbit gradually lying down to nap. The motion is quick. New bunny people are often alarmed when they see this because the rabbit indeed looks ill or dead. As long as they continue to breathe, never fear. This is actually a sign of bunny bliss. It usually doesn’t last long, so Do Not Disturb!
In addition to the binky and the flop, rabbits enjoy a variety of ways to play. They push or toss objects around, bunch up towels, or shred and tear cardboard or paper. Some play hide and seek or chase games. They may race madly around the house or jump on and off of the couch. All this is very important to the wellness of the bunny psyche. It provides exercise, mental stimulation, and fun. Get down on the floor and get in the game! Get happy!
These are just some of the signs of happiness that we have observed. How does your rabbit show their joy? Have you captured a binky in a photograph? Send in your evidence, please!