Etherbun is a Yahoo group devoted to the health, care and behavior of domestic, companion rabbits. Just about every day there are discussions that bring up facts and opinions that are interesting and informative. In today’s digest we found a question about a weird ritual that one bunny performs before taking a nap.
I’ve had five bunnies over the last, hmm, 25 years, but my two brothers are by far the weirdest buns yet. They keep me on my toes!
My one bun tosses himself on his side, wiggles in delight, then he licks his front paws before he starts rolling his head on his neck to point his chin up in the air. His movement is slow and methodical. He’ll perform this ritual up to ten times before he offers us his “smiley” face and shuts his eyes for a nap.
Any idea on what he’s doing? I guess it’s his expression of happiness but I have never seen a bun perform such a stunt. Then again he also runs around his cage three times before he goes in for his bedtime snack.
Here was the equally interesting reply (with the names removed for privacy):
I think “bunny behavior” and “weird” go hand in hand (or paw in paw). I have yet to observe a bunny that acts “normally” (whatever that means) and I often find myself saying “those are very odd creatures indeed.” [One rabbit] used to hop directly in front of the tv table, throw himself up in the air and land on his side with an “oomf.” That was his version of a bunny flop, and once my friends got used to it, they delighted in the humor of it all. You should have seen their faces the first time they witnessed a binky!
One thing that I think is guaranteed – when a prey animal positions him/herself in a vulnerable position (such as flopping on their sides), it indicates they do not feel threatened by their environment, or they’d choose a position which more readily lends itself to flight (legs tucked underneath, etc). Therefore, they are happy and content, and comfortable with their surroundings (including people who may be there).
Bunnies tend to hide their illnesses (not wanting to be the weak link that gets the entire warren visited by predators), but they don’t hide pleasure.
Bunnies are definitely weird. If yours is weird, it’s a typical bunny. :)
For rabbit owners who want to understand more about what their bunnies are “saying” to them through body language, we highly recommend reading “The Language of Lagomorphs.” It not only provides illustrated examples of some of the things rabbits say, but it also gives some tips on how humans can talk back to their rabbits in ways that will best be understood.
Binky photo courtesy of JPockele.