Rabbits love to leap using their strong legs.
It can be fascinating to watch them jump over each other.
But at the same time, you’d wonder if it’s only for play or if they are fighting.
When rabbits do the leapfrog, it can mean a few different things.
Read to discover:
- Signs of a playful rabbit.
- How to tell if rabbits are fighting.
- Whether you should be concerned or not.
- 9 reasons why rabbits jump over each other.
- And a lot more tips…
Why do rabbits jump over each other?
Rabbits jump over each other to play. This is a sign that they feel happy and safe. They will also do it to assert dominance when fighting. In some cases, rabbits also do it as a form of mating ritual. It’s a type of courtship behavior to invite the other rabbit to mate.
9 reasons why rabbits jump over each other (playing leapfrog)
#1: It’s a mating ritual
When rabbits jump over each other, it looks like innocent play at first glance.
But it’s actually a mating ritual. It’s part of their “courtship dance” to see if the other rabbit feels interested.
According to a study, this ritual is also known as “cavorting“.
It shows that the male dashes over the female to entice her. The female dodges by leaping into the air.
The higher her leaps get, the more it shows that she’s interested.
More signs of courting are when they:
- Keep sniffing each other’s bum.
- Following each other everywhere.
- Running and chasing each other in circles.
So if you own two rabbits of the opposite sex, there is a high chance that this is the case.
Note: Even if they are of the same gender, the same thing can still happen.
“When do rabbits start breeding?“
Rabbits begin to mate as early as 3 months old. Dwarf bunnies can start around 2. Meanwhile, giant breeds need to be at least 6 months old.
But despite their ability to breed so early, it’s not a good idea to let them.
It’s risky for young bunnies to become pregnant. They can make a lot of mistakes.
Not only is it a threat to their health, but it can also endanger the babies.
Curious? You might be interested in:
“19 Reasons Why Rabbits Eat Their Own Babies”
“Why do rabbits breed so young?“
You might feel that 3 months old is too young to start mating. Indeed, they do still look and act like babies at that age.
So why do they enter parenthood so fast? In case you are curious, it’s because they are prey animals. Being at the bottom of the food chain, their numbers are always at risk.
To keep their species alive, rabbits need to breed as much as they can.
In fact, at some point in time… rabbits even started to mate with their parents, siblings, or child.
Research reveals that this inbreeding is a desperate act of survival.
While it’s common for animals to do this, it’s often done for the sake of keeping their breed going.
After all, inbreeding often results in a lot of health issues. It causes genetic disorders that can be bad for their kind.
#2: They’re boxing a.k.a fighting
Another reason rabbits do the leapfrog is to fight, not to play.
This is common in mature rabbits, but young ones can do the same. It’s also more observed in male rabbits than females. They will charge against each other and dodge by leaping.
It can be hard to tell the difference between mating, playing, and fighting.
So here’s how you can recognize whether they are fighting or not.
Signs that rabbits are boxing:
- Stiff or tense muscles.
- Attempting to bite each other.
- Putting their front legs forward.
- Clawing to push the other one back.
- Staring at each other and waiting to attack.
These 5 actions will tell you that they’re not playing at all.
“Why do my rabbits fight a lot?“
If your rabbits fight a lot, it can be their hormones at work. Once a bunny reaches maturity, they’ll be fighting for many things.
Here are things that they will fight over for:
- To defend a territory.
- To protect their resources such as food.
- To see who can win over the doe (female rabbit).
Sometimes, they’ll also fight to show dominance. More on that below.
In other cases, fights can start with mere annoyance. If one rabbit feels offended by the other, a fight will break out right away.
But not to worry, they often make up with each other in a few minutes.
“What to do if your rabbit keeps fighting”
If your rabbit keeps fighting, most of the time you can let them.
It’s in their nature to be a bit aggressive with each other.
But if the fight is getting worse to the point that they’re hurting each other too much…
- Break out the fight.
- Consider spaying and neutering.
- Take them to the vet to check for illnesses.
To break out the fight, you only need to separate the two bunnies.
Avoid letting them interact with each other for a while. You can place a fence to act as a barrier to keep them apart.
At the same time, they can still see, smell, and interact with each other through the fence.
But since a wall is blocking them, they can’t fight again. They’ll learn to “live” with it and make up with each other.
Once they make peace, you can let them be together again.
Taking them to the vet to check their health will also help. Sick bunnies tend to be aggressive.
So if they feel better, it’ll lower the chance of them fighting.
#3: To assert dominance
Following reason #2, we have an issue of dominance.
In nature, rabbits have a ranking. This hierarchy is decided by who is the “strongest” in their group.
They need this to decide their “leader”.
To show their strength, rabbits will fight, as claimed by a study. Whoever leaps better and dashes faster, tends to be the winner.
This can happen too if you adopt a new bunny. The two rabbits will compete with each other.
The fight will go on until one of them submits.
In this case, you will need to watch them in case the fight turns bad. Rabbits have sharp claws and teeth that can lead to bleeding wounds.
To know if rabbits are being dominant, there are hints.
Here are 7 signs of a dominant rabbit:
- Biting each other.
- Staring at each other.
- Laying on top of the other rabbit.
- Thumping their feet on the ground.
- Waiting for the other to groom them.
- Pushing the other rabbit with a headbutt.
When a rabbit lays on top of the other bunny, it’s their way to “hold” them down.
It usually happens after the bunnies do the leapfrog. The dominant one rushes to the other rabbit and puts their body weight on them.
If this happens, there’s often an act of resistance. The other bunny will try to be free from the hold.
But if they can’t break free, it means they lose and they need to submit.
This cycle can go on as long as they remain aggressive. Consider spaying and neutering to prevent this behavior.
Check out also: 23 Reasons Why Rabbits Thump Their Feet (At Night) + 7 Tips
#4: To stay active
In some cases, rabbits will play this game only for the sake of staying fit.
These animals are active by nature. They’re always on the move.
By staying healthy, they can outrun predators. But as pets, they don’t have to worry about such things.
Though, it won’t stop them from wanting to move around.
They’ll jump over each other as if practicing how to get away from a predator.
Rabbits can also eat a lot. This means that they will gain a lot of weight if they don’t exercise.
Being overweight is bad for their health.
For example, it can lead to cecal dysbiosis if they can’t eat their cecotropes. It happens if their weight prevents them from reaching their bum.
Based on a study, jumping from high places is one way for rabbits to work out. It keeps their muscles strong.
If they become weak, there’s a risk of breaking their bones with only a small leap. They can also end up paralyzed.
This is why it’s crucial to let your bunnies move around and play the leapfrog.
#5: They’re bored
Sometimes, rabbits jump over each other for no reason other than boredom.
They feel like they have nothing to do, so why not leap around until they get a new idea? These animals love to have fun and adventure.
While it seems like it makes no sense to jump over each other out of boredom…
To rabbits, it can be one of their ways to pass the time. They’re not playing. Not fighting. Not mating.
They only want to look for something fun to do.
A bored rabbit will also do other things such as:
- Excessive digging.
- Try to climb on you.
- Bite you or the other rabbits.
- Follow you around everywhere.
- Stare at you or others then space out.
- Picking things up and throwing them in the air.
- Jumping on and off high places such as the bed or couch.
These 7 examples will show you that your rabbit feels bored.
Note: Too much boredom is unhealthy for your rabbit. Make sure they have something to entertain themselves with.
#6: Out of excitement
Rabbits can also feel excited. When this happens, they might dash around and jump over each other by accident.
“Oops, I didn’t mean to bump into you!”
It can happen because of a few reasons. For example, your rabbit missed you.
When you came home, they felt so excited, they started playing the leapfrog.
Other than excitement, shock can also be another factor.
For example, a loud banging sound caught them off guard. Out of fear, they’ll rush out of the place but they bump into the other rabbit.
As a result, it will look like they’re playing the leapfrog. But it was only an accidental scenario.
#7: To express joy
They will also do it to show their happiness. Since they aren’t as vocal as other pets like cats or dogs, they express joy through actions.
For example, giving them their favorite treat can make them happy.
The rush of serotonin will activate their playful mode. This is a good sign that your rabbits are having fun together.
It’s also a way for them to get your attention. “Hey, look at us! We’re playing. You should join us.”
By showing off their game, they hope you will join the thrill and give them some attention.
They’ll tease each other out of bliss as well.
They’ll think, “Oh our mom/dad is here. I’m so hyped up!” and proceed to chase off the other bunny that will leap into the air.
#8: They feel safe
Playing the leapfrog or jumping over each other is also a sign of comfort.
Your rabbits feel secure in your home or their enclosure.
If they feel threatened, they won’t be in the mood to play at all. They’ll be on alert in fear that danger will pop up around the corner.
So if your rabbits are always jumping over each other, it’s a great sign that tells you they feel safe.
It’s also a way for them to show you that they trust you.
#9: They’re playing
Playing is the most common reason why rabbits will jump over each other.
Bunnies of all ages will do this to play but it can happen more with young buns.
Whether they are pets or wild animals, this is one of their main ways to play together.
To know if a rabbit is being playful, you can pay attention to their body language.
A playful bunny will:
- Do the “binky”.
- Flop to the side.
- Run around then stop to dig.
- Nip you or the other rabbit to tease.
- Sit or lay down in a relaxed position.
These 5 signs will tell you that your rabbits are having a good time!
As long as no one is getting hurt, you can let your rabbits keep doing this activity.
See how bunnies do the binky here: