Rabbits communicate in unique ways.
One thing they tend to do is headbutt you.
Most people will misunderstand what their rabbit is trying to say.
Worry no more. You can decode their language by reading this article.
Here’s what you will learn:
- 11 reasons why rabbits headbutt you.
- What to do when a rabbit keeps nudging you.
- Whether you should tolerate this behavior or not.
- And many more…
Why does my rabbit headbutt me?
Your rabbit headbutts you to ask you to pet them. They will also do this if they want you to move out of your spot or they want to greet you. In some cases, it can also be a sign of curiosity or territorial behavior. Adult rabbits will also headbutt you as a sign of courtship behavior.
11 reasons why your rabbit headbutts you
#1: They’re courting you
Rabbits will headbutt you or nudge you as a way to court you.
This means that your rabbit wants to mate. It can happen when they’re an adult and are not spayed or neutered.
They do this as a signal for the other bunny that they want to breed. It can also be a way to say, “Move so I can mount you.”
Don’t take it out on your bunny, they can’t help their hormones.
In the wild, if they bump noses or heads with each other, there’s a chance that those bunnies want to mate.
As prey animals, breeding as early as possible is one of their survival instincts.
Because of this, most rabbits reach adulthood as early as 3 months old.
But for dwarf rabbits, they may only need at least 2 months. Meanwhile, giant rabbit breeds can take up to 6 months old.
If you’re not sure whether your bunny wants to court you or not…
Here are 3 signs of rabbit courtship behavior according to a study:
- They try to mount you.
- They circle your feet a lot.
- Excessive sniffing of your legs or arms.
If your bunny does one or more of the following, you can be sure they’re in heat.
If this happens, don’t hesitate to consult the vet for spaying or neutering.
That is the only way you can stop this behavior.
#2: They’re being territorial
Territorial behavior is not new for bunnies, it’s common for them based on research.
As mentioned in #1, they grow up fast.
This means that when their hormones are out of control, they can act territorial too.
Your bunny will headbutt you as if to say, “You’re in my space. Leave.”
If the headbutt feels intense, it’s a clear sign that they want you to go away.
This is common for recently adopted bunnies. Though, it can still happen to bunnies you already have for a long time.
The headbutts don’t always have to mean that they want you to leave.
Sometimes, they do it to say, “Remember, I’m the boss here!”
You will know if this is the case when they nudge you and hop away. They’ll watch what you do for a bit.
If they don’t like what’s going on, they will come to headbutt you again.
Here are 5 more signs of a territorial bunny:
- Peeing everywhere.
- Biting when you enter their space.
- Rubbing their chin to leave their scent.
- Scattered fecal poops a.k.a territorial poops.
Even though they are prey animals, they can still be quite bossy. But don’t worry, there’s a solution to this concern.
Find out below.
You might also like: 7 Reasons Why Your Rabbit Poops On You + 7 Tips To Stop It
#3: To show their dominance
Still related to #1 and #2, rabbits tend to show dominance because of their hormones.
By headbutting you, they are showing you their power. They want to tell you, “I’m your boss.”
Now before you get upset at their bossiness…
Remember that this is part of their nature.
In the wild, bunnies, especially males, are often competing with each other. A study states that they do this to improve their rankings.
They are social animals. That’s why they live together and why they have rankings.
To stay on top, bunnies have to show off.
They do it in other ways too, such as:
- Climbing on you.
- They try to claim what’s yours.
- Staring at you with stiff and erect ears.
These 5 signs of a dominant bunny are a call for the vet.
If you want to stop this behavior, spaying and neutering will help.
Curious about how bunnies fight?
Here’s a video of bunnies fighting for dominance. You can see how they headbutt each other at some point.
But other than these hormonal issues, bunnies have other reasons to nudge you. Keep on reading to find out.
#4: They’re upset
When bunnies are mad at you, they do it in discreet ways.
You almost won’t notice it unless they’re very angry. Headbutting is one of their silent ways to express that they’re upset.
Here are other signs that your bunny is upset:
- Tail wagging.
- They turn their back on you.
- Thumping their feet on the ground.
- Staring at you as if questioning you.
It can happen due to many things. After all, there are plenty of things that can offend your bunny.
Here are examples of things that can make them upset:
- Being ignored.
- Catching them off guard.
Depending on your bunny’s personality, they can be mad at you for different things.
But even if you are not the cause of the issue, they can still take it out on you by headbutting you.
In some cases, they will headbutt you to say, “I’m upset. Leave me alone.”
If this happens a lot, you should help your bunny relax.
Something is bothering them and they need you to make them feel calm and safe.
Avoid things that can stress them out, make sure they’re entertained, and give them enough food.
Try not to ignore them. If they come to you, give them a quick head-pat or a scratch.
These are enough to show them that you are paying attention to them even if you are busy.
But why would a bunny headbutt you out of boredom? More explanation on that below.
Check out this article: Why does my rabbit thump?
#5: They want to play
Headbutting doesn’t always mean a bad thing. In some cases, it can be an invitation to play for bunnies.
This is common in baby bunnies. But of course, rabbits of all ages can still do it.
They will run up to you and headbutt or nudge you as if to say, “Come on, let’s go and play!”
Then they will run away as if they want you to chase them.
Here are 5 more signs of a playful bunny – they’ll:
- Dig for fun.
- Do the binky.
- Keep running back and forth.
- Stop running then they stare at you.
- Give you a gentle nip to “tease” you.
Bunnies love to play chase. In the wild, they play this game with each other.
You can think of it as their way of “practicing” how to escape a predator. But instead of making it scary, they try to make it fun.
So as domestic pets, a bunny will want to play chase as their wild ancestors do.
It’s also a good way for them to stay active and fit. Not only does it keep their legs healthy, but it also entertains them a lot.
#6: They’re curious
Curiosity is a part of a rabbit’s nature. They are natural detectives. Always trying to investigate what’s going on around them.
The reason behind this is because of their senses. Rabbits have a strong sense of smell and hearing.
They also have a 360-degrees field of vision, as shown by a study.
When you can see, feel, and hear everything around you so well…
You would be curious too.
So here’s an example. If your rabbit can smell something on you, they will nudge or headbutt you.
It’s because they think you’re blocking their path.
“Move, I’m trying to find something”
They’re not trying to be mean to you, they are only curious about something.
This can happen if you have food on you too, or when you wear a new perfume.
Sweet scents will attract your bunny. If they can’t find the scent, they might think you’re sitting on it.
As a result, they’ll headbutt you again.
Most of the time, they are light nudges and not aggressive headbutts.
These two things are often confused.
If you’re not sure which is which, you can check if your bunny is curious about something or not.
Here are signs of a curious bunny:
- Excessive sniffing.
- Trying to climb on you.
- Staring at you out of confusion.
- Standing up on their back legs to sniff the air or focus their hearing.
This is harmless behavior so you can let your bunny mind their detective business.
#7: They’re bored
Bored rabbits can have weird habits. This means that they might headbutt you out of nowhere, for no reason other than boredom.
It’s like they want to bump you to ask for ideas. “I’m so bored. Help me out.”
You will know that this is the case if the headbutts or nudges are very light.
If you want to be sure that your bunny feels bored, there are more ways to find out.
Here are 3 signs of a bored bunny:
- Excessive sniffing.
- Digging, biting, and climbing on you.
- Staring at you for long periods a.k.a spacing out.
Your bunny will do these to look for something that will entertain them.
And for your bunny, they know you can give them some answers.
That’s why they’ll headbutt you out of boredom.
Headbutting also has other simple meanings which you’ll discover as you scroll on.
You may also wonder: 17 Weird Reasons Why Rabbits Dig In Their Cage + 13 Tips
#8: To greet you
One simple meaning of a rabbit headbutt is a greeting.
They do this to say “Hello!”, and it can happen a lot when you just entered the room and it’s their first time to see you today.
At this point, it’s not even a headbutt, they’re only giving you a little boop with their nose. A soft nudge to show you that they acknowledge your presence.
Rabbits do this because most of them don’t like it when you ignore them.
So, they will not ignore you because they know how it feels.
Take it as a sign that your bunny doesn’t want you to feel upset. They’re showing you that they always pay attention to you.
#9: They trust you
A rabbit will headbutt you to show you that they trust you.
As the opposite of bunnies fighting, bunnies will also do it to show trust.
So how does that work when headbutting looks aggressive?
Well, in human terms you can think of it as a “fist bump”.
But since they don’t have hands like ours, they use their heads. A headbutt to show trust between their bonded friends.
In some cases, they also press their heads against each other for warmth and comfort.
If your bunny stays still while headbutting you…
This is what they’re trying to do.
They are prey animals, so they will not get close to you if they think you’re a threat.
But since they trust you a lot, they will headbutt you to show it.
Other bunnies lick to show affection, some bunnies nudge you. They can have different ways of expressing their trust in you.
Reading recommendation: 17 Ways To Tell Your Rabbit Likes You (Check Out #7)
#10: They want you to keep petting them
Most rabbits love touching. They can be clingy and will demand a lot of attention.
Headbutting is one of their ways to ask for it.
A common example would be when you pet your bunny. If you stop petting them, they will headbutt you.
They’re pushing your hand over their head as if to say, “Why did you stop? I want more. Please keep petting me.”
This can happen a lot if your bunny feels very close to you. They consider you as one of their closest bonds and they love you a lot.
#11: They want you to move out of their way
The most common reason why rabbits headbutt you or other people is that they want you to move.
Though it’s already stated in #6, it still needs a separate explanation.
Because other than curiosity…
Bunnies will want you to move for another simple reason.
It’s normal for bunnies to nudge you or headbutt you as a way to ask you to move.
Bunnies in the wild tend to bump on each other’s butts to tell the other bunny to move out of the way.
For example, they want to climb on your bed.
If you are on the floor with them, they’ll headbutt you so they can jump with nothing to block them.
In some cases, they also want to look for a place to hide.
They could be nervous about something, or they’re only doing it for fun. They’ll headbutt you again if they think the wall behind you is hiding a good spot for them.
Rabbits do this because they always try to see everything.
If there’s nothing to block their sight…
They can have an advantage. This way, no one can sneak up behind them.
Should you let your rabbit headbutt you?
You should let your rabbit headbutt you if they’re not showing signs of aggression. It’s okay as long as your bunny is not hurting you.
But as explained earlier, bunnies that are not spayed or neutered can be problematic.
If they are being aggressive, territorial or they act like they’re in heat…
Then you need to help your bunny stop that habit. Take them to the vet. If you have no plans of breeding them, it’s best to spay or neuter them.
Tip: It will help prevent cancer in bunnies and improve their lifespan.