Most people expect rabbits to be very quiet at home.
Yes, they are. But not at all times. Rabbits will surprise you with their sudden sounds.
Thumping is one of the ways rabbits communicate with each other.
One thump can mean a lot of different things.
Read to find out:
- 23 reasons why rabbits thump their feet.
- Whether you should tolerate this behavior or not.
- 7 tips on what to do if your rabbit keeps thumping.
- When to consider spaying or neutering your rabbit.
- And more interesting facts…
Why does my rabbit thump?
Your rabbit thumps to warn you about danger. They feel threatened or they feel afraid about something. Rabbits do this out of fear that there is a predator around. In some cases, they do it to show they’re mad. They can also learn to do it for attention.
23 reasons why rabbits thump (their feet)
#1: Unfamiliar objects
Rabbits will thump when they are unfamiliar with something.
This is common in recently adopted buns. But it can also happen if you rearrange something in the house.
The new look can make your bunny feel lost. They will question it, wondering, “Am I still at home? It looks different.”
Out of confusion, they will feel anxious.
They don’t have the same vision as we do. This means that their eyes don’t work the same way as ours.
A giant box can appear as an enemy or predator to them.
This can make them feel like they’re in danger.
At the same time, the unfamiliar scent can also drive them curious.
All these mixed thoughts can make a rabbit thump their feet at night.
#2: To protect their territory
Rabbits are territorial. They will fight to protect their spot.
In the wild, it’s common for rabbits to fight other rabbits that don’t belong to their group.
This is because they live together in colonies. So if you own more than 1 rabbit, they might fight for the sake of their territory.
Once a bunny matures… their territorial instinct becomes worse.
But if your rabbit is alone, they could feel alarmed by other animals.
If you own other pets, your rabbit can also compete with them. But what if there are no other animals at all?
Well, since rabbits have strong senses…
They can hear a predator from a mile away.
More on this as you read on.
You might also like: Why does my rabbit pee on me? & What Does Rabbit Spray Look Like? (Color + What It Means)
#3: Out of boredom
In some cases, rabbits will thump their feet on the ground for no reason other than boredom.
They don’t feel afraid. They’re not angry. They’re not in pain either. They’re just bored. Though it sounds weird, it’s a common thing that rabbits do.
But why thump out of all things they could do?
It’s because thumping is also a way for them to express unhappiness.
Boredom can make them feel frustrated. After all, rabbits are active animals. If nothing is keeping them occupied…
They can even get sick due to stress or depression.
Bunnies need to stay entertained as much as possible. You’ll learn more about this tip later on.
“How do I know if my rabbit is bored?“
There are a few ways to tell if a bunny feels bored. Here are 5 signs of boredom in rabbits:
- Digging too much.
- Follow you everywhere.
- Staring and spacing out.
- Picking up their toys and throwing them around.
Depending on their personality, they may do one or more of these signs.
“Why can’t my rabbit sleep at night?“
If you’re curious why they’d be so bored in the middle of the night…
It’s because rabbits are crepuscular animals, as supported by research. It means that they are most active at dusk or dawn.
They’ll be awake early in the morning until late in the evening.
Rabbits can see better at night, claimed by a study.
Have trouble making your bunny sleep at night?
#4: Alerted by a noise
Rabbits have a powerful sense of hearing.
They have a hearing range of 360 up to 42,000 hertz as per a study. Compared to humans with only 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz, their ears are far more sensitive.
So even if you can’t hear any sound, your rabbit can definitely hear it.
The slightest noise can put them on alert.
If your rabbit keeps thumping, it means that there’s a constant noise that bothers them. A good example would be the sound of electronics.
While the sound of the television is normal for you…
To your rabbit, it’s an unusual sound. Another example is the sound of running water. In the wild, most rabbits live in grassy fields.
It’s rare for them to hear the constant sound of running water.
But don’t worry. Most of the time, rabbits will stop thumping once they realize it’s safe.
They only need to get used to the noise first.
In case they don’t stop, there are many ways to help them relax. Keep reading to find out.
#5: Sudden movements
Other than noise, sudden movements can also put your rabbit on alert.
Even when it’s nighttime, rabbits can still react to movements.
This is why you’d see your rabbit sleeping with their eyes open. It’s for their protection. It will help them see if a predator is nearby.
At the same time, it can confuse their enemies too.
Seeing the rabbit’s open eyes…
Their predators might hesitate to pounce on them. After all, it takes more energy to catch a rabbit when they’re awake.
So if you enter your rabbit’s room, it’s best to be careful. Try not to move or walk too fast.
It might make them think that you’re a predator. If this happens, they’ll start thumping their feet.
#6: To warn an enemy
If you own other pets aside from your bunny…
Rabbits might kick the ground if they feel threatened or invaded by them.
As mentioned in reason #2, rabbits can be territorial. But in some cases, they can be extreme.
In this scenario, they don’t like to be close to anyone else at all.
Rabbits enjoy having their own space. So, aside from their whole territory…
You have to respect their personal space too. This means that they can be grumpy if they feel you’re being too close.
This is also why some rabbits would bite you out of nowhere.
For example, cats like to rub against someone they’re fond of. If they do this to a shy rabbit, they will thump on the ground as a warning.
Another example is when dogs sniff them out of curiosity.
The same can also happen if there’s a new bunny in the house.
They thump their hind legs as if to say, “Back off!“.
You might also want to know: 17 Reasons Why Your Rabbit (Suddenly) Bites You + 11 Tips
#7: To warm up before jumping
Some rabbits also do this as a way of warming up.
This is common if your rabbit wakes up at night and is stretching their legs.
They will thump their legs to get ready for a jump.
You might notice this when your rabbit thumps right before hopping on the bed, sofa, or even on your lap.
It can be a habit for some, but not all will do it.
#8: Hormonal imbalance
Many issues begin with a rabbit’s maturity. As soon as they reach at least 3 months old, they start to change.
Sometimes, rabbits will thump their feet due to their desire to mate.
They’re in heat. They’re looking for a partner.
The sound of their stomping can attract a mate. It’s another form of signal for rabbits.
So if you own two or more rabbits, they can act this way.
Even if your bunny is alone, they might still do this to express the need for a mate.
Other behavioral problems will also occur in this stage.
A rabbit with imbalanced hormones will also:
- Act territorial.
- Become aggressive.
- Try to be dominant.
This will keep happening as long as your rabbit is not spayed or neutered.
#9: Making changes to their schedule
Most rabbits enjoy a fixed routine. They are creatures of habit. This means that a rabbit can learn and follow a pattern.
But if you make changes to their stable lifestyle…
They can feel confused or even mad about it.
If this happens, they will use their hind legs to make a sound by thumping.
They do it as if to say, “Isn’t it time for my treats? What’s going on?”
Almost like they demand an explanation for the changes in their schedule.
Avoid changing things too fast if you own a bunny. They can be in a bad mood especially if they are the strict type if you do change their routines.
#10: To alert the predators
In some cases, rabbits thump to warn their enemies.
Despite being prey animals, rabbits can be braver than you think.
In the wild, bunnies try to be as silent as they can be.
But if they thump so loud, it can give away their position to the predator. A predator would think, “Oh, the sound is coming from that direction.”
But before they rush in, they’ll also realize that rabbits did this on purpose.
They will think, “Wait a minute. They know I’m here. They’ve alerted their friends. This is going to be difficult.”
This shows that it’s a way for rabbits to say, “Challenge accepted. Catch me if you can, I’m ready for you.”
They are letting their enemies know that they’re prepared.
Knowing this, predators will think twice before chasing after a rabbit. If the rabbits know they are coming, it can be harder for them to catch their meal.
With this, rabbits can make their predators leave.
But what’s this gotta do with pet bunnies? Even as pets, they can’t get rid of their instincts. So if you own other animals aside from your rabbit, they may do this as well.
If your rabbit is alone, other things can also make them behave this way.
For example, if your rabbit can see the window…
Even a bird passing by can cause them to make a “warning”.
If there are also mice passing by the building, your rabbit can also see them as enemies.
#11: They smell something
Other than their impressive ears, rabbits also have powerful noses.
They have over 100 million scent cells. This is why their nose is sensitive.
So if your rabbit can smell something at night…
They might thump their feet as a reaction. This is common if the scent is also unusual. Anything your rabbit is unfamiliar with, they’ll be cautious around it.
For example, if you used a different air freshener…
Your rabbit might not recognize it. They’ll think they’re in a new place, or that there’s a new threat in the house.
The scent can make them feel unsafe.
At the same time, they might also smell a predator from a mile away. So if your rabbit stays in an open space, they can smell the air outside.
To prevent this, you can try keeping the windows shut.
You can also install a proper ventilation system.
Doing this can help purify the air and get rid of any bad odors.
There may be an unwanted smell coming into the house. It will end up bothering your bunny at night.
#12: They’re sick or in pain
Some rabbits will also thump their feet when they feel sick. It’s as if they’re saying, “Go away, I’m in pain.”
When they’re sick, they tend to isolate themselves. This is because they prefer to be alone in case they have a contagious disease.
It’s part of their instinct to protect their family as much as they can.
Though they try their best to hide their pain…
They may still thump without realizing it gives away their condition. If you’re not sure whether your bunny is sick or not, there are plenty of ways to check.
Here are 9 signs of a sick bunny:
- Appetite loss.
- Limp or stiff body.
- Crying or grunting.
- Wanting to be alone.
- Abnormal breathing.
- Changes in their poop.
- Change in personality.
- Having runny eyes/nose.
If your rabbit does or has one or more of these signs, take them to the vet ASAP.
You might find this helpful: 21 Effective Tips To Treat A Sick Rabbit At Home (How-To)
#13: They’re annoyed
Some rabbits have short patience. They can get annoyed a lot.
If this happens, they may thump whenever they feel irritated. This is a way for them to say, “Stop it. This is annoying!”
It’s common in older rabbits who might be feeling grumpy with their age. Though it can still happen to any rabbit.
For example, a spoiled baby rabbit can thump out of annoyance.
They’ll thump as if to say, “Why did you stop petting me? Give me more.”
Many things can annoy a bunny. Here are 9 examples:
- Getting wet.
- Being picked up.
- Blocking their path.
- Not getting their treats.
- Catching them off guard.
- They can smell a bad odor.
- Touching them on the wrong spots.
These factors can make them feel irritated. If this happens a lot, it can lead to stress.
#14: They feel lonely
Loneliness is unhealthy for rabbits. Too much of it can even lead to depression.
If your rabbit feels alone or misses you a lot…
They may start stomping to express their feelings. Even if you own other pets, some rabbits can still feel the same.
It can happen if they aren’t bonded with anyone at all.
Even if you give your rabbit enough time and attention, they may still long for another companion.
Though it’s rare, it may still happen.
You will know if your rabbit feels lonely. Their body language will say it all.
Here are signs of a lonely rabbit:
- Appetite loss.
- Staying in one spot all day.
- Avoiding you or other pets.
- Losing interest in everything.
- Refusing to play or move around.
If your rabbit is showing one or more of these signs… it can be alarming.
You need to help them feel better or else, they can get sick.
Seek advice from a vet for more tips. You will also learn some tips further below.
#15: They want to go somewhere else
If your rabbit stays in one place at all times…
Their desire to explore will be stronger than usual. Bunnies are curious by nature.
Thanks to their strong senses, they are always interested in their surroundings.
If your rabbit wants to roam around, it’s best to let them be.
Otherwise, keeping them locked up can lead to this concern: Thumping their feet especially at night.
They’ll do this as if to say, “I want to go out!”
This is more common in young rabbits too. They want to play as much as they can.
So if they stay in their cage all day, they’ll do things to make you let them out. Even if you let your rabbit roam free, they can still do it if there are rooms they can’t access.
For example, the door is shut and your rabbit can’t enter.
Due to this, they’ll thump their feet once again.
It’s their way of saying, “Why won’t you let me in? I want to play in your room!”
#16: They want to play
Some rabbits also thump their feet as a signal of wanting to play. They’ll do this as if to say, “I’m ready!”
It’s common in young bunnies. Though, rabbits of all ages can do the same.
This shows that thumping doesn’t always have to be a negative act.
Though, in some cases, a rabbit will thump their feet at night if they want to play with you or the other pets.
But since it’s nighttime, most people are already asleep.
Having no one to play with, your rabbit can get frustrated. This will take us back to reasons #3 and #13. They will end up bored and boredom can annoy them.
But don’t worry, there are many ways to help your rabbit relax.
You’ll find out as you read the tips below.
Thumping can also be a way for them to demand food.
Especially at night, if they wake up without anything to eat. Never underestimate their tiny bodies.
Many rabbits can have a large appetite despite it.
At the same time, rabbits also have teeth that never stop growing. This is why they want and need to always chew on something.
It’s their way of keeping their teeth short.
So if your rabbit has no food late at night, you might catch them doing this as if they’re protesting.
“I want some food!”.
Even if you feed them enough, some rabbits may want more than their normal amount of food.
Note: If they have enough food, avoid overfeeding your rabbits. It can get them used to it. At the same time, it can also lead to obesity.
Being overweight is bad for your bunny’s health, so keep the feeding moderate.
Making sudden changes to their diet can also lead to health issues. A common example would be GI stasis.
To come up with a balanced, healthy diet, consider a vet’s advice. Their diet can depend on your rabbit’s age, weight, and health.
You might also be interested in: Why does my rabbit follow me?
#18: Dominant behavior
Going back to hormonal issues… many rabbits thump to assert dominance.
They do it to say, “I’m the boss here, you got that?”
This is more common in male rabbits. Though, females can also behave the same way.
As soon as they enter maturity (around 3 to 6 months old), they will start trying to be dominant.
In the wild, bunnies are always trying to improve their social ranking.
They do it by fighting with other bunnies.
Even if your rabbit has no one to compete with, they can still do it in hopes that you or a potential enemy can hear it.
No matter how close you are to your bunny, their hormones can still make them consider you as a rival.
If you’re uncertain if your bunny is trying to be dominant or not, there are ways to confirm it.
Here are 5 signs of a dominant rabbit:
- Biting you.
- Wagging their tail.
- Jumping over each other.
- Staring at you then turning their back on you.
The best way to resolve this issue is by spaying or neutering your rabbit.
Suggested read: 9 Reasons Why Rabbits Jump Over Each Other (Leapfrog)
#19: They’re stressed
Stress can affect your bunny in many ways. But one thing is for sure, it’s bad for their health.
It can even make them very sick. Due to stress, rabbits will thump their feet to vent out their frustration.
This happens if there are a lot of things that keep bothering them or making them upset.
For example, overcrowding can make them feel suffocated.
Imagine yourself staying inside a full-packed elevator. Isn’t it stressful at times? In some cases, it can even make it hard to breathe.
Your rabbit can feel the same way.
Though, there are also plenty of other things that can cause them stress.
Here are 7 factors that can affect your rabbit:
- Foul odors.
- Loud noises.
- Hormonal changes.
- Dirty environment.
- Too much handling.
There could be more depending on your rabbit’s personality. But these are the common elements that you need to avoid.
#20: They’re angry
An angry rabbit will also thump to express their feelings.
If your rabbit is the brave and bold type, they may even charge at you or their enemies.
This action is often followed by a bite. They will thump… charge… bite… run and hide. It’s a defensive reaction for some bunnies.
But most rabbits will thump their feet then run away to hide for safety.
Though, it often means that they are angry or they feel offended.
Even the smallest things can make them upset. For example, rearranging their room will make them mad.
They will stomp as if to say, “Why did you move my belongings?”
Some rabbits are strict, and that’s one thing that can make them angry.
Even if they’re not mad at you, they can still lash out at you by waking you on purpose at night.
They will stomp knowing that you might react to them.
“Come over here, I’m angry about something.”
#21: To warn you about danger
If your rabbit feels close to you, they will consider you as one of their kind.
This means that if there is any threat or danger, your rabbit will want to protect you.
In the wild, rabbits live in burrows underground. So if they spot or sense a predator while they are above…
They will thump their feet on the ground to warn the others below them.
It’s a signal that says, “The enemy is here!”
As pets, your rabbit will do it for the same reason. They want to warn you because they care about you.
#22: For attention
A smart bun can also learn that thumping can make them get attention. How it happens is very simple.
They thump, you wake up, you go to them to react or check them.
Your bunny will realize this and will keep doing the same trick.
Most of them are smart enough to notice how easy patterns work.
You may not notice it at first, but your rabbit will repeat this as long as it can get them what they want.
This can happen more often if your rabbit is always bored or misses you a lot.
Though, no matter how cute and clever they are, you shouldn’t tolerate this behavior.
Like children, your rabbit can become spoiled.
This will lead to more behavioral issues. The more they get used to it, the harder it can be to correct it.
So both you and your rabbit’s best interests, avoid spoiling them.
Instead, learn other ways to fix this behavior. Keep reading to learn some tips.
Wanna know how spoiled bunnies act? Try watching this:
#23: Out of fear
One of the most common reasons why rabbits thump their feet at night is fear.
Rabbits can get anxious a lot. Many things can strike some fear in them.
This is especially common at night when everything is dark and quiet. Sounds, scents, and movements can make them feel afraid.
Their senses keep them sensitive even if they are alone.
This is why you can’t always stop them from thumping. It’s their natural response to fear or danger. A rabbit in fear may also freeze after thumping.
If they feel trapped or cornered, they will stop moving.
They do it in hopes that predators won’t spot them or they will leave them alone.
Sometimes, fear paralyzes them. This is alarming and can lead to a heart attack.
Further reading: 13 Things Rabbits Do When They Are Scared (Behavior)
What should I do if my rabbit thumps? 7 tips
#1: Make them feel safe
The best way to help your rabbit stop thumping is by making them feel safe.
After all, they do thump out of fear or anxiety most of the time.
You can help them relax by:
- Getting them a companion.
- Keeping other animals away.
- Avoid catching them off guard.
- Placing them in a peaceful room.
- Letting your rabbit know you’re around.
If your rabbit still shows signs of fear, proceed to the next tips.
#2: Check if they’re sick or in pain
In some cases, being sick or in pain will make your rabbit act strange.
So to make sure they’re not thumping due to an illness, check how they’re doing.
Pay attention to their body.
Is it too stiff? Are their muscles limp? Do they have eye or nasal discharges? Weird looking poop? Do they make unusual movements? Strange noises?
You can also try to check if they have an infection. Most of the time, wounds in the mouth caused by overgrown teeth can lead to it.
If you’ve checked everything and your bunny still thumps… they might be doing it for another reason.
See the next tip.
#3: Ignore if they’re thumping for attention
If your rabbit is thumping for attention, all you have to do is ignore it.
As mentioned earlier, they might keep thumping to get what they want. To avoid spoiling them, you only have to pay no attention.
Don’t give them what they want. Keep doing it until they stop.
Yes, it’s hard to ignore such a cute bunny. But things can grow worse if their bad behavior doesn’t get fixed.
Endure it for your rabbit’s sake.
“How to know if your rabbit is thumping for attention”
Rabbits that thump for attention will have a confident gaze in their eyes. Their ears will be erect and pointed forward.
They will have relaxed muscles and will try to do other things such as wagging their tail or nipping your hand.
Meanwhile, rabbits in fear will have their ears folded back.
They try to look as small as possible. Their muscles will be tense or stiff.
Their nose will twitch even faster. It’s a sign of rapid breathing due to anxiety.
Research shows that anxious rabbits will have an increased heart rate. To avoid a heart attack, make them feel safe, as stated in tip #1.
#4: Avoid moving things around
Moving things around can also make them upset or nervous.
Avoid making big changes in the house or your rabbit’s room. If you plan to, try to do it at a slow pace. This means that you need to move things one at a time.
Don’t surprise them by placing a new large object in their enclosure.
They might think it’s a threat to their welfare.
Let them familiarize themselves with new objects before moving them into the room.
#5: Keep them comfortable
A comfortable bunny will stop thumping if nothing is bothering them.
To achieve this, you only have to give them their basic needs.
Clean their enclosure at least twice a day to get rid of bad odors. Give them access to unlimited hay at night. Or at least, leave them enough food to chew on at night.
As long as your bunny has everything they need… it lowers the chance of them making weird noises such as thumping.
#6: Consider spaying or neutering
As mentioned throughout the article, their raging hormones can be a big issue.
The only way to fix it is by spaying or neutering your rabbit. If you have no plans of making them breed, then this is a healthy choice for your bunny.
Doing this can also help improve their lifespan. It will prevent cancer.
#7: Take them to the vet
If you’ve done everything you could and your rabbit still keeps thumping…
It’s only a sign that something is wrong. With a rabbit’s nature of hiding their pain, they could be very ill.
There are diseases you can’t detect with your naked eye.
Only a professional can help diagnose your rabbit. Before it’s too late, don’t hesitate to take them to the vet.
People also ask:
Why does my rabbit thump at night?
Your rabbit thumps at night to warn you about danger. It happens if they hear unusual sounds. Strange scents and movements can also make them react the same way.
Sometimes, fear will also make them do it.
Do rabbits thump when they are happy?
Rabbits do not thump when they are happy. Most rabbits only thump out of fear, anger, or as a way to alert you about danger.
Though, some rabbits can thump before they jump.
They do it right before they start playing. But not all rabbits will do the same.
Check out this article: 19 Signs That You Have The Happiest Rabbit In The World
Do rabbits thump when in pain?
Rabbits thump when they are in pain. Sometimes, the pain can confuse them and make them feel like someone attacked them. Then, due to the confusion, they will thump.
In some cases, they also thump to make other rabbits stay away from them.
They do it in case their illness can be contagious.
It’s also a way to say, “Leave me alone”. When they’re in pain, they want to isolate themselves.
A sick rabbit will be easy to catch. This is why they want to keep others away to protect them.
Why is my rabbit stomping his feet?
Your rabbit is stomping his feet to express fear, anxiety, or anger. They will also stomp to warn you if they feel threatened. When rabbits sense danger, their first reaction is to warn others so they can run to safety.