Your rabbit does it again. They nudge you.
Ah, if only you knew what it means in bunny language…
Then again, it’s much more interesting when you’re trying to figure them out.
So waste no time and…
Continue reading to learn:
- 8 reasons why rabbits nudge you with their nose.
- Whether nudging is a sign of affection or aggression.
- If your rabbit nudges you with their nose because of the way you smell.
- And a lot more…
Why does my rabbit nudge me?
Your rabbit nudges you because they’re trying to get your attention and tell you that they need something. Or they want to have some treats or petting. But it could also mean that your pet rabbit is asserting dominance and trying to boss you around.
8 reasons why your rabbit nudges you
#1: They want to say ‘Hello.’
When rabbits nudge their nose on their cage, any surface, or your foot, it’s a signal that they want to communicate.
When this behavior is exhibited softly and calmly, it is their way of sending you a friendly greeting.
They are saying “hello” to you, not literally, but you know what I mean.
“Why does my rabbit nudge almost everyone that comes to see them?”
They nudge other humans, especially those they find friendly-looking, for the same reason- they want to greet them.
You see, rabbits are very social and affectionate animals.
They require human interactions. Or else, they will get bored, sad, and worse depressed.
So, when your rabbit is persistently nudging you, don’t ignore them and show them some love.
Treats. Petting. Cuddles.
Over time, they will learn that nudging is a behavior that makes you love them even more.
Did you know? Showing that you care about your rabbit is not at all restricted to giving them treats and cuddles.
Here’s a video you should see if you want to learn other ways to let your pet rabbits know you love them.
Follow this link to watch the video.
#2: It’s a learned behavior
The rabbit learned it from you!
According to animal experts, the use of positive reinforcement is the best way to train our pets to learn a new behavior.
“What is positive reinforcement?”
It is an act of rewarding your pet for demonstrating the desired behavior. In this case, the nudging.
“But I didn’t teach my rabbit to nudge.”
Pet owners often reinforce the behavior without even realizing it.
It’s possible that at some point in the past, your rabbit accidentally or on purpose nudged you at some point in the past. Then you rewarded it by giving them a treat or by petting them.
For your rabbit, that felt really good.
That pattern of giving them attention when they nudge you reinforces the nudging behavior.
So from then on, the nudging becomes their way of telling you that they want something from you.
#3: They’re trying to spread their scent
Maybe they’re not nudging, but rather, they’re chinning.
Many people often misconstrue the two because the gestures kinda look alike.
If you watch the YouTube video linked above, you’ll learn that rabbits spread their scent by chinning.
Yes, rabbits do have scent glands on their chins.
Scent plays a very predominant role in rabbits’ communication methods.
And scent-marking is a common behavior amongst rabbits to mark their territory.
They love all things that smell like them: hence, they’ll scent the things they love.
It’s advised to let your rabbits continue chinning/nudging and spread their scent in the surroundings as it makes them more comfortable with their environment.
“Won’t this make my place smelly?”
No. Not really.
The scent can’t be detected by humans. Only rabbits can smell it.
#4: You’re blocking the way
If only your rabbit can talk, they’ll tell you to “get out of the way!”.
If your rabbit’s nudging you less gently and more persistently, it means they want you out of their field vision.
But don’t worry, it’s just temporary, your pet still loves you.
You may only be blocking the way to where your pet wants to go.
For instance, the rabbit smells freshly cut apple slices.
Once your pet rabbit smells food, they will instantly be drawn to it.
Did you know? A rabbit’s sense of smell is 20 times better than a human’s. This is because they sniff air to look for food and to sense danger or potential threats.
Smells rabbits love:
- Fresh hay.
- Scented herbs.
- Fresh vegetables.
- Sugary fruits (like apples).
- Sweet-smelling flowers (like roses).
Smells rabbits hate:
- Spicy spices.
- Air freshener.
- White vinegar.
- Strong perfume.
- Onions and garlic.
Warming: According to Dr. Ivana Crnec, while apples are a healthy treat for your rabbits, the seed and stems of this fruit have poisonous properties that could harm your rabbit. If you suspect your rabbit ingested an apple seed, see your vet immediately.
#5: They want you to pet or stop petting them
Petting your rabbit feels really good. And it’s also very beneficial for both of you.
Many types of research have shown that it helps reduce stress, anxiety, and lower both of your blood pressures.
But where do rabbits want to be petted?
The House of Rabbit Society, a non-profit rabbit rescue and education organization, has created a bunny petting chart as a guide.
Based on it, the safe areas for petting your rabbits are:
And the unsafe areas are:
Since rabbits are also individuals with different preferences, some areas may or may not be safe for petting, depending on the rabbit, such as their back and under their chin.
Some rabbits want to be petted for a few minutes, while others don’t want you to stop.
If your rabbit shows any sign of discomfort while petting them, make sure to stop. This is to not stress them out.
When a rabbit licks you and gently nudges you, it means they’re happy. So they want you to continue petting them.
But when the rabbit nudges you with more force and tries to move away, it means they don’t want to be petted at that time.
#6: They are curious about something
“What is that?”
Nudging is the rabbit’s first line of investigation.
Is your rabbit roaming freely and bumping their nose to random objects? That means these objects are new and unfamiliar to them.
And they want to get a grasp on that.
Rabbits are naturally smart and curious about their environment. Since they are prey animals in the wild, their instinct is to always investigate their surroundings.
When rabbits use their nose to nudge on some things like pillows, toys, books, chairs, or even on you- it is because this is their way of exploring and familiarizing themselves with what makes up their environment.
The nudging may also be followed by nipping and smelling to gather more information.
In plain language, this behavior may be translated to finding answers to these questions:
- “Is this object soft or hard?”
- “Is this thing hot or cold?”
- “Is it smooth?”
- “Can I step on it?”
- “Will it move?”
- “Can I move it?”
- “What does it taste like?”
Also, as I said earlier, rabbits’ sense of smell is critical. Bumping their noses onto something means they find its smell interesting. Or sometimes, they just want to figure out how things smell.
Don’t forget to check out: Why does my rabbit climb on me?
#7: They’re claiming their territory
Rabbits tend to be territorial at times. Therefore, it’s highly usual for them to have that urge to defend their territory and push away any rivals.
These are the behavioral cues that your rabbit is trying to assert dominance:
In the wild, rabbits usually live in groups. Like any other social species, they need to establish and maintain social hierarchy.
As a result, they tend to reserve their place for personal use and those close to them only.
“Does my rabbit think I’m a threat?”
Especially when they want to protect the delicious treat that they want to enjoy by themselves. Or when the rabbits think you are denying them access to their favorite strawberry, banana, broccoli, or carrot!
So, when you think the rabbit is nudging you with more force than usual, that means they want you out of their personal space.
“Back off, human!”
Did you know? Researchers reveal that male rabbits are more territorial than females. In addition, a population study shows that male rabbits have larger home ranges than female rabbits. And while male rabbits will defend their territory, female rabbits will share a home range with other rabbits.
#8: It is a sign of a desire to mate
“It’s the mating season!”
For most rabbits living in the wild, nose nudging is a common behavior they do to tell another rabbit they want to mate.
So, if you see two rabbits bonking each other with their noses, you better give those lovebirds some privacy because you know what’s going to happen next.
According to a study, puberty among rabbits occurs around 18 weeks. Although when it comes to rabbits, the reproductive engagement does not rely only on their age but also their size.
The onset of sexual maturity occurs earlier among smaller breeds than larger ones. And when the reproductive life of a rabbit starts, it usually lasts for up to 4 years.
Did you know? Female rabbits are induced ovulators. They don’t ovulate cyclically, but when triggered by an external stimulus instead.
Meaning to say that female rabbits ovulate before mating. And when they do, they become restless, rub their chins, and nudge their noses.
People also ask:
What does it mean when my rabbit pushes me with his nose?
Your rabbit pushes you with their nose because they’re trying to tell you something.
You have to observe the way they do it to understand whether it is an act of affection or aggression.
When your rabbit gently pushes their nose against you, that may mean they are demanding your attention.
They want you to know about their presence. So, when you’re busy with something, and your rabbit comes to seek your attention, give them some.
On the other hand, when a rabbit does push you with his nose forcefully, they’re actually trying to boss you around or trying to assert dominance. So it’s a way of telling you to either move or leave them alone.
Why does my rabbit nudge me then run away?
Your rabbit nudges you and then runs away because they want you to play with them. It’s similar to the game we call “tag.”
Some rabbit owners play this game with their bunnies by giving them a ‘boop’ on their butt. Then, their pet rabbits will nudge them and run away over and over again until they get tired.
When this involves stotting or hopping, then that’s an indication that your rabbit is in a happy mood.
Rabbits are prey animals; hence, they don’t want to be chased. However, when they grow up in a friendly and safe environment, they tend to be playful with their owners and other rabbits.
Why does my rabbit push me with his head?
Your rabbit pushes his head onto you because they’re being affectionate and trying to tell you that he loves you. This gesture often demands your undivided attention and acknowledgment of his existence.
In most cases, rabbits act this way to ask you for some treats or petting. So expect some nudging when you have some of their favorite food in your hand or near you.
Rabbits exhibit this gesture too with other rabbits to show affection.