Bunnies can feel basic emotions like humans do.
Like joy, anger, fear, and even sadness.
The first 3 have obvious signs.
But what does a rabbit do when they’re sad?
And if you have a gloomy bunny at home…
How can you help relieve their sorrow?
Continue reading to learn:
- 9 reasons why bunnies get lonely.
- 13 proven ways to know if your rabbit’s sad.
- 3 practical tips on how to cheer up a sad bunny.
- And many more…
How to know if your rabbit is sad? 13 ways
#1: They’ll have pinned ears
A rabbit’s ears also say a lot about their mood.
They’ll be close to each other if your bunny’s relaxed. And stand up if they’re alert.
But if your rabbit’s sad or scared, they’ll flatten their ears against their head.
However, look at your bunny’s body as well.
They might only be resting if they’re casually lying down with flattened ears.
So, also consider their body language.
Fun fact: Some animals have similar ways of showing sadness. One study found that sheep also point their ears backward when unhappy. While research shows that pigs do the same when they have negative emotions.
#2: They’ll be in a crouched position
Next, a happy bunny will lie down with their legs stretched out.
But usually, a sad rabbit will have an awkward posture.
They’ll have a tensed body and a hunched back. As if they’re pinning themselves to the ground.
Like they’re trying to hide from everyone.
Plus, they’ll squint their eyes too. And they won’t move much.
Warning: This could also be a sign of pain in rabbits. So watch your bunny closely for other common symptoms of illness, such as:
- Rapid breathing.
- Loud grinding of teeth.
Check out also: Is My Rabbit In Pain? 13 Signs Of Pain In Rabbits
#3: They’ll be sluggish
Rabbits are curious fellows.
Plus, they have a lot of energy too.
Usually, they’re the most active during peak hours – dusk and dawn.
So, a content bunny will be playing and hopping around in those periods.
Meanwhile, a lonely rabbit will be inactive most of the time.
You won’t even see them move too much. Unless they need to pee or poop.
And they’ll have little motivation to play, even if you lure them with their favorite toy.
#4: They’ll hide all-day
Experts say it’s normal for rabbits to hide when they’re spooked.
Doing so helps them feel safe. And it calms them down too.
But they’ll go out once they’re comfortable. Or the thing that makes them anxious is gone.
However, sad rabbits will stay in hiding for most of the day.
And this is an odd behavior, especially if your bunny’s not usually shy.
#5: They’ll avoid any social interaction
If your rabbit’s sad, they may also turn or move away from you when you go near them.
They’ll be quiet and won’t interact with anyone – even you or their close friends.
And like in humans, it’s a clear sign a bunny’s low-spirited.
Most rabbits are friendly.
They live in groups in the wild. So they love having a companion by their side.
That’s why avoiding everyone will be unusual for a happy bunny.
#6: They’ll have no appetite
Check your bunny’s stock of hay too.
According to experts, rabbits eat at least 1 bundle of it daily.
You’ll see them grazing over it at all times as they need to keep their tummies moving.
So, it’ll be alarming if your bunny only eats a small amount of hay for days. As well as any food you offer them.
Also, if your rabbit’s lonely, they may not get excited over their favorite treats.
Warning: A lack of appetite’s also a common sign of other ailments. For example, dental diseases or GI stasis. The latter happens when the intestines and stomach processes slow down. And this can be fatal.
#7: They’ll keep grooming themselves
A healthy, content bunny spends a lot of time cleaning their fur.
They’ll lick themselves. Then rub their paws on parts their tongues can’t reach.
But for a sad rabbit…
Grooming can be a calming habit.
It’s like when some people bite their nails or twist their hair.
Plus, it’s a great way to keep busy.
So unhappy rabbits will keep doing it even if they’re clean enough.
#8: They won’t clean up
In other cases, they might not groom at all.
Since sad rabbits lack the motivation to do anything…
They’ll find cleaning themselves bothersome too.
#9: They won’t twitch their nose
Rabbits wiggle their nose for these main reasons:
- To control their body temperature.
- To regulate the amount of air they inhale.
- To sniff scents around them for information.
Their nose will also twitch fast if something catches their attention.
And they’ll move it slowly if they’re relaxed.
But if a bunny stops wiggling their nose…
It’s a sign they’re lonely or stressed.
If you want to know more, read this article: Why do rabbits wiggle their nose?
#10: They’ll pace a lot
A sad bunny may also wander aimlessly.
They’ll constantly pace in a small area. And it’s because something’s bothering them.
Or it’s their way to relieve boredom. Which is one of the reasons why most rabbits get sad.
#11: They’ll run in circles
I know I said that some unhappy rabbits might not move at all.
However, others may run laps repeatedly instead.
As if they’re using their nervous energy to run around.
Note: This is common in bored and playful bunnies. But it’s often a sign of affection if they do it around their humans.
Read next: 7 Real Reasons Why Rabbits Run In Circles
#12: They’ll destroy anything
Rabbits’ teeth don’t stop growing.
This makes them prone to painful dental issues, as per vets.
So they keep chewing to wear down their teeth.
But if they chew their cage for hours or suddenly bite people…
They’re likely gloomy and stressed.
#13: They’ll stomp their feet
Lastly, rabbits thump the ground to warn other bunnies of incoming danger.
But they can also do it if they’re sad or upset.
Like this adorable bunny below:
Continue reading: Why does my rabbit thump?
Why do rabbits get sad?
Rabbits get sad due to boredom, lack of exercise, losing a companion, and being alone for hours. They’re smart and energetic. So they need stimulation – both physically and mentally. Plus, they’re social, so they don’t do well alone. But changes in routine or a poor environment can also cause this.
Other possible reasons are:
- Poor diet.
- Not enough food.
- Small living space.
Now, loneliness can be deadly for some rabbits.
So check on your fur baby and try the tips below to lift their mood.
How do you cheer up a sad bunny?
#1: Give them time, and a companion
Rabbits get lonely when their humans pay less attention to them.
As well as if they haven’t spent enough time with their parents.
So whether this is the case for your sad rabbit or not…
Spend at least 1 hour with them daily.
If you can, 3-5 hours a day will be better to cheer them up.
Talk to your rabbit using your sweetest tone. Or simply stay by their side and offer them toys.
But if your bunny lost a beloved companion…
You can get another rabbit to help them escape loneliness or depression.
Experts say having one’s helpful for most bunnies.
However, it’s not easy introducing rabbits to each other.
So it’ll be ideal if the companion has:
- Similar age, size, and breed.
- Opposite gender (better if spayed or neutered).
#2: Keep your bunny fit and entertained
Rabbits are energetic.
Plus, they love investigating the world around them.
So they need to run and hop around freely to be content.
Thus, if they don’t get to do it every day, they’ll become frustrated and lonely.
“How much exercise do rabbits need?”
According to PDSA, at least 3 hours of playing outdoors is enough for bunnies.
And it’s even better if they can do the following activities too:
- Foraging or searching for food.
“But how do you keep rabbits mentally stimulated?”
The things listed above will also help.
However, bunnies can also do puzzles, such as:
These will keep them occupied, even if you’re not around. Which then helps reduce your rabbit’s loneliness.
#3: Improve their living condition
A study shows that rabbits kept in cages have similar issues in behavior.
They also have irregular access to big exercise areas.
And these may have caused their:
- Aggression (25.3%).
- Antisocial behavior (27.1%).
- Resource guarding (22.7%).
So to prevent your rabbit from getting these and worsening their sadness…
Provide them with a larger space.
“How big should their hutch be?”
Based on experts, their living area must be at least: 10 ft x 6 ft x 3 ft (3 m x 2 m x 1 m).
This is only enough for 1-2 rabbits, as per specialists.
So if you have more, multiply the ideal cage’s area by how many bunnies you have.
Also, take note that this is only their shelter.
It doesn’t include their run or exercise pen yet.
But it can be an outdoor hutch or an area where your bunny can hop and move freely.
#BONUS: Nourish your bunny
Sadness can also cause a rabbit to lose their appetite.
So try luring your bunny to eat with their favorite treat.
Or get some leafy greens to motivate them.
However, if they refuse to eat them, look out for the other signs they show.
Then call your vet asap. As having no appetite for days is dangerous for rabbits.
Also, what your rabbit eats affects their mood, so keep these things in mind:
- Ensure their hay’s high quality.
- Always put fresh food and water daily.
- Limit their pellets – only give them 1/8-1/4 cup per 5 lbs (2.25 kg).
Do bunnies get sad when you leave?
Bunnies get sad when you leave. They’re highly social, so they enjoy being with a companion. May it be another rabbit or a human they trust. Thus, when left alone for long periods, they’ll feel lonely. And if it happens often, they may become destructive (e.g., chewing their cage) and get depressed.