Rabbit Language: How to Tell What Your Rabbit is Trying To Say

Rabbits are one of the most popular animals to have as pets. But they can be very difficult to understand sometimes, which is why there’s a certain condition called “the silent killer.” We’ll talk about that later.

Rabbits don’t make any noise when you pet them regularly. To many people, this might seem like it would be a good thing because then your rabbit won’t be making noises all the time and bothering you or whatever. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!

The big question you must be wondering is, what is your rabbit trying to tell you?

There are a ton of ways rabbits communicate to other rabbits and humans too. They can use a combination of body language as well as sound to get their point across. Getting to know your rabbit is the first step in understanding what it’s trying to tell you. Rabbits grunt and growl when they’re upset. They purr when they are happy. They honk when they’re excited. Communicating with rabbits can become a very complex job, what you must do is stay focused and listen.

Table of the rabbit language

Sound or ActMeaning
GrowlingThreatened, frightened
HonkingCourting, needing attention
PurringHappy, loving
HissingScared, irritated
ThumpingAggression, hostile
ScreamingScared, in pain
OinkingHappy, excited
SqueakingVaries, communicating, watch body language
Sleeping soundsDreaming, good or bad
WheezingPossible respiratory infection, monitor closely
SneezingPossible respiratory infection, monitor closely
HiccupsStress, discomfort
Teeth grindingPain, discomfort
Tooth clickingCommunication with other rabbits, annoyed
Ear standingInterested, curious
CirclingDominance, mating
MountingDominance, mating
Quick table about the meaning behind each sound or action your rabbit makes


When your rabbit growls, it means that it’s feeling threatened. If you notice your rabbit growling, make sure that it’s not in a corner or backed into the wall because they might be frightened and worried about their ability to get away from whatever is bothering them.

Growling may also mean that it just wants to be left alone or that it’s feeling territorial and may lash out if you get too close.

If your rabbit is growling at something, stay very still so as not to make the situation worse!

In this situation, it’s important not to attempt to pick it up because this could scare it even more and make the situation worse. Your rabbit can even try to bite you.


Honking is more contributed to courtship. While courting, your rabbit can circle its potential mate and honk to get their attention. If your rabbit is honking another, it’s courting them and this can be a sign that they want to mate with the other animal or person.

That’s right. Your rabbit can also try to honk you as well.

Unlike courtship honking, honking a human being is more like a call for attention.

Your rabbit is trying to tell you something. This could be anything so it’s important to make sure to call all of your attention to your rabbit. Make sure to look at its body language and see if it’s simply hungry, thirsty, or wants to go out.

Your rabbit could also be trying to tell you they’re feeling threatened and need something like an extra cardboard box or a new toy. It might even want company. If your rabbit is in the process of getting used to another animal, there will probably be more honking as well.


Purring is a sign of a very content rabbit so whatever you’re doing, keep it up. Your rabbit is in such a loving state at this moment and oftentimes, you’ll find it very cute.

Purring is one of the most common behaviors in almost any mammal so it’s not surprising that your rabbit does too.

It usually happens when they’re feeling relaxed and safe so if you notice your bunny making this noise, don’t be alarmed. It just means they’re doing well and are in a good mood!

Purring is often mistaken for “breathing” but this isn’t exactly the case, sorry to say! Your rabbit might be breathing and purring at the same time so don’t worry about that too much.

The one exception would be if your pet has respiratory distress which will might sound like purring. So I recommend that you get it checked out if you notice that this behavior is just a little too much.

Purring might look like your rabbit’s happy, but they can have many meanings so be sure to read on as there are plenty more behaviors!


When you hear your rabbit hissing, this is often a warning to stay away. They might be scared or irritated, and this is just a way of telling you that they don’t want to interact with anything right now.

This behavior should not be taken personally! Rabbits will hiss at people in general so it’s important to know what their intentions are when they do this before responding.

My recommendation to you when you are confronted with a hissing rabbit is to either wait for them to calm down or find something else more interesting.

Funny enough, on the flip side.

If your rabbit is hissing at you, they might be wanting attention and are trying to tell you with their body language that it’s time for a petting session!


Thumping is often associated with aggression. It’s when your rabbit is stomping it’s hind legs.

A thumping rabbit will most likely be telling you that they are not happy with the current situation and want to fight!

If this happens, it’s best to leave them alone so you can avoid any fights from happening. I recommend using a toy as an alternative for playtime in these situations.

The good news is that eventually, this feeling goes away quite quickly as long as you make it feel safe. Sometimes as soon as the owner leaves, which can be a relief for both parties.

The bad news is that if you stay near them and they feel threatened by this, it might escalate into something more serious! It’s best not to try and pet them while they’re still feeling so hostile about everything!


This occurrence is likely connected to your rabbit’s stress levels. Rabbits who feel overwhelmed and overstimulated will scream to express their displeasure with the situation. What we know from this is that your rabbit needs you to help them calm down, either by changing what’s going on around them or giving them time alone for a break.

To prevent future occurrences of screaming: give your bunny plenty of comfort and let it know that it’s safe. A warm and comfortable hold or a tasty treat might be just the distraction they need to feel better.

To more effectively communicate with your rabbit, you need to understand what their situation is and how they’re feeling about it. This will allow you to work together on solutions and prevent future problems from happening!

A screaming rabbit tells you that it’s either extremely afraid or in great pain. This can be from loud sounds, unfamiliar people, or objects in its environment.

If you’ve ever heard a rabbit scream and it’s not right next to you, this is because they use their voice as an alarm system. They’re telling all other rabbits that there is danger nearby!

It’s best not to take this situation lightly. Move fast and attend to its needs as soon as you can.


Oinking rabbits are usually content and happy. They’re making these sounds to communicate with other rabbits, inform them of their whereabouts, or warn them about danger!

When your rabbit is oinking, it’s because it is happy. Most of the time, it is just saying hello!

A content and happy rabbit would be making these sounds to communicate with other rabbits as well as humans alike. They’re letting them and you know where they are. When your rabbit oinks, it’s because he’s happy. Anytime you hear this sound coming from him, chances are it’s playfully greeting you and the other rabbits as well!

The oink is a very distinctive sound that can almost always be identified. If your rabbit’s in the mood to play, they’ll usually start with an excited “woof” or two before moving on to their signature noise. Humans need to know about this type of communication.


Squeaking is a little difficult to assess. If you witness two rabbits squeaking, it is often a sign of territorial disputes. This could be male or female rabbits trying to claim their territory and mark the boundaries with another rabbit in an assertive manner.

If you hear squeaking from one lone rabbit, it can mean that they are feeling anxious about something or perhaps have just arrived at your home after being away for some time.

Squeaking can also be a sign of content as well. Watch your bunny’s body language whether it be squeaking to you or squeaking to another bunny. If they are relaxed in the situation and seem content, then it can be a sign of happiness.

Squeaking is an expression that means different things depending on context so remember to always watch your bunny’s body language as well for more clues.

Sleep sounds

Like humans, a rabbit can also talk while it’s asleep. When they’re in REM sleep, their breathing is very shallow and soft as well as fast. If the rabbit snores loudly during this time, it’s a sign that you need to wake them up because they are probably having nightmares.

When rabbits have vivid dreams, some of them tend to squeal. This is the only time you’ll hear a rabbit scream like humans do when they’re afraid of something.

If your pet has trouble falling asleep, it might be because their room temperature is too hot or cold for them to feel comfortable in. You can get this problem fixed by adding some more bedding and changing out the fabric in its cage.


When your rabbit is wheezing, this could be a sign of a respiratory infection. If your rabbit wheezes for a considerable period, you should take him to the vet right away for treatment because this is an emergency and not something that can be treated on its own without medical attention.


If your pet has been sneezing recently, it could also be a sign of an upper respiratory infection. If the sneezing persists for a long time, you should take your bunny to see his vet as soon as possible because this is also a medical emergency that needs immediate treatment.

Watch out for any discharge or heavy mucus build-up from the nose, because this can also be a sign of something more serious.

One way to tell if your bunny is sneezing or wheezing is by listening closely for a whistling sound when they breathe out. This noise will often indicate that their airways are being irritated and inflamed– which could mean an infection has developed.


Hiccups are sometimes frequent to us as humans, but rabbits can also get them! They may seem like a small problem, but they cause major discomfort and stress for the bunny. If your rabbit is hiccuping then you should try to find out what caused it to fix the problem.

Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding is a sign of pain and discomfort. Many times the rabbit will grind their teeth while they sleep and this can be a sign of anxiety or stress. If your bunny is grinding his/her teeth, then take them to the vet to see what solutions they might have for your rabbit.

Most of the time, a simple fix like a new chew toy or a different type of hay will do the trick to relieve stress and anxiety in your bunny.

Tooth clicking

Sometimes you’ll hear a strange noise that can only be described as a “click”, and it’s probably coming from the rabbit’s mouth. This is called tooth clicking, which is a way for rabbits to communicate with each other. Rabbits will also click their teeth when they are annoyed or want something to be left alone, suggesting that they use it as a means of discipline for their kits (baby bunnies).


Rabbit with all ears open listening curiously
Rabbit with all ears open listening curiously

The ears of a rabbit work similar to a radar. Whatever direction it’s opening points to is the direction it’s looking at.

Each ear is in charge of a different area of their vision, which means if one ear points to something and the other doesn’t then they are hearing that sound coming from two different things or directions.

If you see your rabbit with both ears forward, It’s likely a sign that shows you that your rabbit has locked into something that interests it. This is mostly a defensive mechanism allowing rabbits to prepare or avoid danger in the wild.

If your rabbit happens to drop both ears down and back, it’s telling you that it’s comfortable with the situation and it feels safe.

If your rabbit has only one ear that’s drawing in noise, it’s probably something the rabbit thinks might be of interest but it’s not sure. They might be a little unsure about what to do next because this can lead to possible danger for them so their body goes into defensive mode just in case. This usually ends up progressing to both ears being on high alert if the issue isn’t resolved.


Circling is a method used by rabbits to court other rabbits. Courting rituals are generally quite short. The female usually gives off a hormone scent called a pheromone which attracts their male counterparts to begin this courtship behavior.

Both males and females begin to interact with each other, smelling each other and touching each other.

On rabbit is usually in charge of the situation. In some cases, you might even see the male chasing after the female rabbits in a playful manner.

You might even witness the male rabbit running circles around the female who is staying perfectly still in the middle with its ears back in a calm and submissive manner.


Mounting is by far one of the most obvious displays you’ll see from your rabbits. If you see one mounting another, it can mean different things depending on context and body language. It could be an act of dominance if the rabbit doing the mount is larger than their partner or a sign of sexual arousal for both partners as well.

When you see a rabbit mounting another rabbit, it can also mean this is a breeding attempt.

Rabbits are quiet and soft-spoken creatures

It is very rare to hear loud sounds from your rabbit, but when they do get mad their screams are pretty loud. This may be because rabbits have a soft voice and don’t need to shout for you to hear them or that screaming is reserved solely as a means of defense against predators.

You’re probably thinking at this point that you’ve never heard your rabbit make many or a few of these noises. The truth is, it’s highly likely that you didn’t hear it when it was happening. Rabbits are quiet and soft-spoken creatures, so they don’t make noise unless you’re close to them or something has irritated their sensitive hearing.

For example, if your rabbit is trying to tell you that it needs water by thumping its hind leg on the ground then chances are it’s too far away for you to hear this.

My final thoughts

Rabbits use their vocalizations to communicate with each other and with humans too; this means that if your bunny has stopped talking to you, there could be something wrong!

The noise that a rabbit makes is often the first indication of what it is feeling. If your bunny has been making a lot of high-pitched noises lately, they might be happy to see you. If they are making more low-pitched sounds, then they might be in pain or frightened.

Sometimes, rabbits will make different sounds when trying to tell you something. For example, if your rabbit starts honking at you and hopping up and down like crazy while looking at something on the ground, it probably wants you to follow its gaze so that you can catch whatever object just scared it!

Related interesting articles:

Author: John