Rabbits are some of the cutest animals that you can have as pets. They are very quiet creatures that have evolved to be extremely observant of their surroundings, so if you can’t see them, you probably wouldn’t notice a rabbit sitting between your feet. Rabbits usually don’t use sound to communicate with each other, with the exception of grunting or thumping every once in a while. Thumping is a curious rabbit behavior that is usually not well understood by people.
Why is my rabbit stomping his feet?
Different animals communicate in different ways. Humans use speech and combined with body language to communicate with each other, while other animals can use chemicals to transmit message. Rabbits mostly use their body language to communicate with other rabbits.
But why do rabbits thump? There are several reasons why rabbits exhibit this behavior. Many times thumping is caused by fear. When rabbits are scared a common defensive reaction is to alert neighboring rabbits of the threat, which they do by stomping the ground with their hind legs. This produces a powerful sound that calls the attention of other rabbits in the vicinity and warns them to be ready to run away from the danger.
A bunny that is scared may exhibit certain forms of submissive body language, such as lowering their ears and remaining very quiet and stiff. Usually these rabbits can stay in this manner for long periods of time while they keep thumping hard to alert everybody that is nearby, that they need to watch out.
More proactive rabbits may stand on their hind legs like a prairie dog to get a better view of potential threats in the area while keeping their ears wide open, so that they can catch strange noises. This vigilance will be interrupted every once in a while to do a thump. This attention to danger – along with their well known capacity to breed – is what has made the rabbits one of the most successful animals of their species, with rabbits being found in every continent of the world.
Why do rabbits thump?
For a rabbit owner, most of the time it is very difficult to pick out the signals that triggered this reaction in their bunny. Sometimes it is easy to know if the rabbit was scared by the appearance of an unknown cat or dog – both predator animals – that are unfamiliar to the bunny. Being prey animals in their natural environment, rabbits are extremely alert to any possible threat to their safety, and a big dog or cat can make a rabbit understandably nervous if he doesn’t know them.
Sometimes these defensive behaviors can be set off by less obvious threats like a home appliance, a blender, or a refrigerator that produces noises to which the animal may not be use to. With their keen sense of hearing, sound is often the culprit. Notice in the video below the background noise as the bunny is thumping.
Even just simple objects like a piece of furniture in your living room are enough to make your bunny nervous. Other things that may trigger your bunny to thump are smoke from a cigarette, the sound of a car driving by, or even a shadow that he sees while he is hopping around.
Once this behavior has started a rabbit may keep thumping for hours until he feels the threat has gone. This can have serious consequences for the animal’s health, since so much kicking the ground can injure the rabbit’s legs. Rabbits can become very stressed, so its important that you comfort your pet as soon as possible if he is feeling scared.
Bunny owners have observed that many times their pets thump and grunt when they want to get something from their owner, whether it is petting or food, these fun loving creatures aren’t playing. Behind their innocent baby faces and big doe eyes, rabbits can be very domineering creatures and don’t feel the least ashamed of insisting until they get what they want. Rabbits may thump if they want more food, or if they want to be touched. Depending on the rabbit they often LOVE being pet, and they’ll even demand to be pet by their owners so much that they can start thumping until you go back to stroking them.
Other times they may thump to show you that they aren’t happy with how you treat them. Maybe you put them back in their house when they still want to keep playing outside until late, or maybe he doesn’t like to be picked up from the floor. Thumping is also very common at night.
Remember to keep in mind the signals that your bunny is giving you when he is thumping. There is no need for a domestic rabbit to be afraid, and if you can help him relax when he is feeling nervous he will enjoy a happier and longer life.