How to pet rabbits? Do rabbits like being petted? We have the answers!
On the contrary to a popular belief, rabbits do enjoy being petted gently. While sometimes they shy away from your hands or get aggressive when someone tries to touch them, they actually like it in a certain way. In fact, petting is the best way to calm down a stressed and anxious rabbit. Not just that, you can also strengthen your bond with your pet by showing affection and care.
All you need to learn is the correct way of petting your rabbits so they feel safe and protected. In this article, we will discuss everything about petting and taking care of bunnies. This guide is going to be very helpful, so make sure to read it till the end.
How To Pet Rabbits Correctly
Rabbits are small and sensitive animals. They get anxious very quickly because of even the slightest change in the environment around them. Petting bunnies isn’t similar to petting a dog or a cat. You can’t simply approach them with your hand all of a sudden and give them a nice pat or massage on their back or chins. Don’t even try to do so, you may scare the little guy to a great extent. Bunnies need to be approached in a different way so that they don’t get scared.
- 1. Make Sure Your Bunny Sees Your Hand
Before touching your rabbit, make sure they see your hand in a friendly manner. They shouldn’t find it scary or offensive. Before showing your affection towards your pet rabbits, it’s very important to understand how they see this world. For this, you need to study rabbit behavior.
“Did you know a rabbit almost has a 360-degree field vision”
However, their blind spot is just in front of their nose. This means, if you approach directly from the front, they’ll not understand what you’re trying to do and may get scared. Hence, always approach with hands from the sideways to above their heads.
If you’re a new rabbit parent and want to pet your rabbits for the first time, know that dominant rabbits display their superiority by getting in the face of fellow rabbits.
So, if you bring your hand directly in their face, they might get aggressive by misunderstanding you. Therefore, to prevent your pet from getting aggressive, always approach them from their head.
- 2. Pet The Forehead
Perhaps the best spot to pet a rabbit is it’s forehead. It’s the safest way of petting rabbits. They LOVE being touched on their foreheads. While petting the forehead, you can give them gentle strokes using your fingers.
- 3. Pet Behind Their Ears
If your bunny is enjoying being petted on the forehead, the next step is to slowly move to the area behind their ears. It’s another favorite petting spot of rabbits.
You can give them little scratches behind their ears and down below the neck or simply massage gently using your fingers. If you do it in the right manner, you will notice that your pet is shifting its position to relax better whilst you’re massaging.
Try touching their ears, if they seem comfortable, then massage the ears with your thumb and fingers. Most people believe that rabbits have sensitive ears which is not true.
However, some rabbits enjoy ear massages while others don’t. So, before proceeding, make sure your pet is comfortable with you touching their ears.
Also, never put pressure on your bunny’s ears. Never try to stretch or pick their ears because it can be extremely painful. Sadly some inexperienced folks and kids pick the rabbit up by their ears, which is like a shock to the poor animal. So, learn how to hold a rabbit correctly and teach your kids as well.
- 4. Offer A Full Body Massage
If your rabbit seems to enjoy the strokes on their forehead and back portion of the ears, it’s time to relax them more by offering a full body massage. You can do this by gently patting their back and down.
Your bunny might startle a bit while receiving the massage for the first time, but with time, your rabbit will enjoy being massaged in this way.
To help your bunny getting started, begin by giving gentle and small strokes halfway on the top of their back. Do this by giving small strokes on the forehead and back of both the ears while offering some occasional pats on the back.
As your bunny gets comfortable, increase the length of stroke so they get used to it.
Once you find out that your bunny is enjoying the massages, slowly start touching all over the body. Give lengthy strokes, some gentle scratches in between and massage nicely to calm them down.
- 5. Pet The Cheeks
Most rabbits love being petted on their cheeks. But again, when you pet them on cheeks for the first time, they might get startled because they didn’t really expect it. But after one or two sessions, they will start enjoying it.
Don’t pet on their cheeks directly, instead first massage their forehead, scratch their back and then slowly rub their cheek using your thumb. Increase the frequency of cheek rubs once your bunny gets comfortable.
We recommend making your rabbit familiar with cheek rubs because it allows you to perform regular tooth examination of your pet. By touching their cheek, you also get a chance to look at their mount and teeth for any abscesses and bumps. By doing this, you can spot the overgrown teeth and start the treatment as soon as possible.
Areas Where Rabbits Enjoy Being Touched And Petted
A rabbit’s more favorite petting spots include forehead, behind the ears, back, head and cheeks. When you pat these areas, your bunny will become calm and relaxed.
Areas Where Rabbits Don’t Like Being Touched And Petted
In general, rabbits enjoy being petted for a long time. However, there are some areas they never want anyone to touch. And if you still do it regardless, you’ll be responsible for making your bunny uncomfortable and aggressive.
- Their Bottom:
Rabbits don’t like their bottom (area around the tail to be touched) It is their most sensitive area.
- Chest And Belly:
When you try to touch the belly or chest of your little bunny, they will think that you’re being offensive and may scare off. They may even run from you when you do this.
- The Chin:
Rabbits are different from puppies and cats, they don’t enjoy being touched on their chins.
Feet of rabbits are very sensitive spots. So, don’t touch them because if you do, they’ll assume that you’re attacking them and may run away.
Signs That Your Rabbit Is Enjoying Petting
How to know whether or not your bunny is enjoying being petted? There are some signs that show your bunny is actually enjoying the massage and scratches you’re giving. You can easily notice this from their body language and behavior.
Below are the signs that a rabbit is enjoying being petted :
Yes rabbits purr! Purring is when your bunny is slowly grinding their teeth making a light vibration. It’s a very soft sound that you may or may not hear. You can either notice this by looking at their vibrating whiskers or feel it by placing your hand above their head. If you’re hearing or feeling such vibrations, know that your rabbit is loving the way you’re touching them.
- Melting Down On The Floor:
No…No don’t take it otherwise, melting means your bunny lies down very comfortably on the floor. If they’re enjoying your petting, they will stretch out nicely and lay their chin flat against the floor which looks like they’re melting.
- When They Ask For More:
Yes, you can actually determine whether or not your rabbit wants to be touched anymore. To know this, stop petting and place your hand anywhere on their head, preferably close to the nose. If your bunny nudges your hand or sits there in the same position, they want more of it.
How To Pet Shy Rabbits?
As we already discussed, every bunny has their own set of likes and dislikes. While some of them enjoy being petted, others don’t like it at all. Some bunnies may run when you try to touch them. If you own a shy rabbit, first make them familiar with the friendly gestures.
Learn about rabbit behavior and try to be very gentle with your pet. Some rabbits hate being petted because of their past traumas, someone might have handled them roughly or aggressively.
“Be a responsible pet owner and make your pet feel protected and loved”
We have already said it multiple times that rabbits are not like other pets. They have different habits and behavior which you should learn and understand. It is very important to provide a healthy, long and happy life to your pet. So, learn about their diet, their natural habits, their behavior!
We hope this guide helps give you a good understanding of your pet rabbits and how they like to be petted.