While rabbits don’t like getting picked up…
Some of them like to climb and be on high ground.
When a rabbit climbs on you, it can mean a lot of things.
They have a unique way of communicating with us.
You’re in for a surprise, so keep reading to find out:
- Signs of a dominant rabbit.
- 11 reasons why your rabbit climbs on you.
- Tips on what to do if your rabbit climbs on you.
- Whether this behavior should alarm you or not.
- And plenty more…
Why does my rabbit climb on me?
Your rabbit climbs on you to ask for attention or comfort. They can also do this to assert their dominance. In other cases, they will climb on you out of curiosity or they want to take advantage of your height. Climbing can also be a way for them to play.
11 reasons why your rabbit climbs on you
#1: To show dominance
Rabbits will climb on you to show dominance. This is common if they’re already at a mature age.
Most rabbits reach maturity as early as 3 months old. So if your bunny is an adult, you can expect this type of behavior from them.
They do this to get on your level or to show you they’re “above” you.
They want to feel that they can be on top of you to make you submit to them.
In the wild, rabbits will do this to each other.
They try to lay on the other rabbit to hold them down as a way to show their strength.
So your rabbit might be trying to do the same thing.
But climbing is not enough, so what else do rabbits do to establish dominance?
If they climb on you and give you a bite somewhere on your body, they want you to submit to them.
A dominant rabbit will also do other things such as:
- Act territorial.
- Claim territories.
- Lunging towards you.
- Grunting and feet thumping.
- Being aggressive towards other people.
- They always try to push you out of their way.
- Refuses to get picked up but will climb on you.
These 7 signs will tell you that your rabbit needs to get spayed or neutered.
Their hormones are causing them to behave this way.
So if climbing on you is becoming an unpleasant act…
Consider visiting the vet to fix them.
#2: They’re trying to breed
Your rabbit will also climb on you in an attempt to breed. Like reason #1, it happens when they reach maturity.
You can tell if this is the case if your rabbit climbs on your leg.
A lot of rabbits mistake human feet for fellow rabbits. As a result, they try to mount your feet or legs.
If they start trying to hump, it’s a clear sign that they’re trying to mate.
According to a study, rabbits in heat can be aggressive.
So other than climbing on you, they can also bite you.
They do this to “hold on” to the female’s back in the wild. That’s why your rabbit might bite you if they climb on your leg.
The same thing can happen to your arm or other parts of your body that they can mistake for a mate.
If you have no plans of breeding your bunny, it’s best to consider spaying and neutering them.
As a bonus, doing so will help avoid the risk of reproductive cancers for your bunny.
It can help improve their lifespan and correct a lot of problematic behavior.
“Why do rabbits breed so much?”
In case you are wondering, rabbits breed so early and as much as possible as part of their instinct. Being prey animals, they get hunted by a lot of predators.
To keep their species alive…
They mate and reproduce as much as they can.
#3: They want to use your height
Rabbits are smart. In fact, they’re as smart as an average cat or dog, or a 2-year-old kid.
This means that your rabbit can learn how to take advantage of your height.
They’ll climb on you to use you as a stepping stone so they can get to a higher area.
Bunnies enjoy being on the high ground because it helps them see better.
In the wild, bunnies will use their vision as a way to watch out for predators.
Research shows that bunnies have 360-degree vision.
With their amazing eyes, they can see almost everything around them.
But as pets, they want to climb on you for fun. They want to see the whole room.
Though they are prey animals, bunnies can be ambitious.
Because of this, they’ll even use you as a ladder to get to where they want.
In some cases…
They are also known to climb on people’s shoulders and stay there for a bit.
If your rabbit does this, they could be thinking, “If I stay here while my parents walk, I can go outside!”
They know that you can go to other places that are out of their reach. To them, you can act as the key.
That’s why they will climb on you and stay on top of you.
#4: They’re nervous about something
If your rabbit is nervous, they’ll climb on you in an attempt to hide.
This can happen if your rabbit trusts you a lot. They know they can run to you for safety.
When a rabbit does this, it means something is bothering them.
For example, loud noises can make them feel afraid. Since they rely on you, they’ll run to you and climb on you.
Rabbits have sensitive ears and noses, they can get surprised even by the tiniest sound.
To know if your rabbit feels afraid…
Here are signs of a nervous bunny:
- Stiff body.
- Folded ears.
- Shaking in fear.
- Rapid breathing.
- Rapid nose twitching.
If this happens a lot, something is always bothering your bunny.
Warning: Too much fear is bad for your bunny. It can lead to a fear-related heart attack. It can also stress them out to the point of making them sick.
To prevent this, know the common things that can scare them away.
Here are a few examples of things to avoid for your bunny:
- The scent of predators.
- Picking them up too fast.
- Sneaking up behind them.
- Yelling or talking in a loud voice.
- Keeping them in small, tight spaces.
This research states that many rabbits show a great level of fear when you pick them up from the ground.
If you think something’s wrong with your bunny, it’s best to consult a vet.
Further reading: What do rabbits do when they are scared?
#5: They want to groom you
Grooming is a way for rabbits to show affection.
So if your rabbit can’t reach you, they’ll climb on you to get on your level.
If they climb on you and proceed to lick you or give you a gentle nip on your skin…
It’s a sign that they’re trying to groom you.
When your bunny does this, it means that they want to care for you.
To them, grooming is a sign of trust and bonds.
Most rabbits climb on you to reach your hair. This is because your hair is the closest to what they can recognize as a fellow rabbit.
Your hair feels the same as their fur, that’s why they want to reach your head and try to groom you around there.
To return the gratitude, brush their hair after they groom you.
Rabbits like to groom each other, so grooming them back can please your bunny a lot.
Check out also: 15 Surprising Reasons Why Your Rabbit (Always) Licks You
#6: They’re playing
Climbing is a fun activity for some bunnies.
This means that your rabbit will climb on you to play or ask you to play with them.
It’s more common in young bunnies. Though, bunnies of all ages can also behave the same way.
They will climb up on you, nibble on you, then hop away.
If they’re full of energy and doing their binky before and after climbing on you, it’s a clear sign that they want to play.
They feel so hyper that they want to jump on high places.
Fun fact: Did you know that rabbits can climb trees? They use their strong back and legs to look for food.
Most rabbits won’t do it for fun alone, but young bunnies can do it to play.
Your rabbit could be doing the same thing when they climb up on you.
As long as they’re not hurting themselves whenever they climb, it’s safe to let them be.
#7: They’re curious
With their strong senses, it’s natural for rabbits to be curious.
They like to inspect everything around them. Of course, this includes you.
Your bunny wants to know everything about you. So, they’ll climb on you out of curiosity.
This can happen more often for recently adopted bunnies or baby bunnies.
It’s a good sign that will tell you they’re interested in you.
Even if your rabbit isn’t a new pet, they can still do it.
For example, you’re wearing a watch or a bracelet. This can attract your bunny, wondering if they can chew on it.
“What’s that around your hand? Is that a toy? Can I eat it? Let me see!”
If they can’t reach you, they’ll try to climb on you until they can get close to what you’re wearing.
You will know a rabbit is curious if they’re trying to sniff you more than usual.
They can also try to dig on your clothes because of their curiosity.
In some cases, they’ll also stare at you as if trying to ask you something. They will do this if they can’t reach you.
#8: They can smell something on you
Related to #7, rabbits can also be curious when they can smell something on you.
Rabbits have over 100 million scent cells.
Compared to humans with only 5 to 6 million scent cells… their noses are more sensitive.
What smells light to you can smell intense for them.
So, if they smell something on you, they’ll try to climb on you to get closer.
For example, if you’re using a new brand of perfume, it can attract their curiosity.
Your scent can also get mixed up by others. If you touch another animal, they will pick up on this too.
They’ll climb up on you and sniff you, wondering, “Who are you? You don’t smell like my parents.”
At the same time, sweet scents can also make them curious. They can mistake these for treats.
Even the slightest changes in your scent can confuse them.
Remember, their eyes don’t work the same way as ours. That’s why they rely on their sense of smell most of the time, as claimed by a study.
#9: They want to ask for food
Rabbits can also be food-driven. Their desire for food can make them do surprising things such as climbing up on you.
Don’t get fooled by their small bodies. Some of them can have a big appetite.
Even if you feed them enough, some rabbits will want to eat as much as they can get.
Anything that stimulates their nose, they’ll want to have a taste of it.
Of course, as long as it’s not meat. Bunnies are herbivores. But some of them can eat human snacks such as:
- Corn flakes.
- Fresh barley.
- Rice krispies.
- Shredded wheat.
- Whole-grain crackers.
Some rabbits will also eat cheerios, but too much can be bad for their health.
It’s not advisable to feed them human food. But some rabbits can find it hard to stop wanting them because of the scent.
So for example, if they see you walk in the room with a bowl of cereal…
They will run and climb up on you to ask for food. They expect that you will share some with them.
Note: Don’t let your bunny get used to this. It can turn into a bad habit. It can also be bad for their health and diet.
For example, while eating breakfast, your bunny might do the same thing. They think you will feed them again.
Bunnies can develop habits fast because they are animals with a sense of pattern.
Watch what they eat so they don’t become overweight too.
You might also like: 13 Weird Reasons Why Your Rabbit Follows You (Everywhere)
#10: They’re asking for comfort
Rabbits are affectionate animals. Sometimes, they only want your comfort.
They want you to cuddle them or touch them. Many rabbits enjoy this gesture.
If you own bonded rabbits…
You’ll notice how they’re always close to each other. They rely on each other for comfort.
Your bunny will expect the same from you too.
This is because they trust you. They find you reliable enough to give them the comfort that they want.
It can happen more often if your bunny feels stressed.
A stressed bunny often wants to be alone. But not if they know they have you.
They’ll climb up on your lap as if to say, “I’m not feeling well. Can you please hold me until I feel better?”
At the same time, rabbits can also do the same thing if you feel down.
While they don’t understand our language…
Bunnies can recognize your facial expressions or tone of voice. If you look and sound sad, they can learn what it means.
They will come up to you in an attempt to comfort you.
Rabbits in the wild do this to their partners too. They can also do it to keep each other warm.
In a way, you can think of it as part of their instincts.
To learn how you can help your bunny stay calm, you can follow this link:
#11: They want your attention
Other than wanting your comfort…
Rabbits will also climb on you for attention. This is common in rabbits who feel lonely.
For example, if you’re always away or out of the house, they’ll get excited to see you.
Out of excitement, they’ll jump and climb on you to get your attention.
“You’re home! I’ve been waiting for you. Please spend time with me”.
You can tell if this is the case when they also try to bite you to make you pay attention.
Sometimes, they’ll also run around you before climbing to make you notice them.
Other than loneliness, rabbits can also do it out of boredom.
If they don’t feel like playing with their toys or exploring the house…
They’ll choose to go to you instead.
If they climb on you and stay there, staring into space, it’s a sign that they’re bored.
“Oh, don’t mind me. I’m going to stay here to pass time.”
When they’re bored, they’ll want attention too. This is why your rabbit will keep coming back to you to make you notice them.
Warning: Too much loneliness and boredom can be bad for your bunny. It can lead to stress and even depression. This can make them sick which can turn into a life-threatening concern.
To keep your bunny happy, consider getting them a companion.
You can also try to spend more time with them as much as you can. This way, they won’t have to climb on you anymore for attention.
Should you let your rabbit climb on you?
You should let your rabbit climb on you if it doesn’t hurt you or them. As long as it’s a harmless act, it’s okay to let it be. Most bunnies do it out of affection.
The only time you shouldn’t let them do it is if they also bite you hard enough. This can be a sign of asserting dominance.
It can turn into a bad habit. This is also why it’s important to spay or neuter them.
If they’re also climbing too high in risky places, you need to stop them.
It can be bad if they get used to the “thrill” of jumping from high places.
It can lead to accidents. They can break their bones or even die from a bad fall.
Supervise your bunny whenever they’re climbing high places.
But if they’re climbing on you, try to stay still so they don’t fall off too.
If they fall on their backs, it can lead to a spinal injury.