Your Pet RabbitTo be able to make a decision whether or not your rabbit is well, you need to know what is “normal” for them. Like children, behaviour in rabbits can be inherited or learnt. Some behaviour is instinctive, such as suckling their mother as soon as they are born.
The rest of a rabbit’s behaviour is learnt from parents and by observation, and then becomes instinctive. Animals continually learn throughout their lives. They rely heavily on sight, sound and smell. Verbal signals are avoided as they could result in detection by a predator. The functions of behaviour are to eat, to avoid being eaten, and to reproduce.
In rabbits, alertness is their first line of defence; they will spend the majority of the day looking out for predators and dangers. Rabbits rely heavily on smell and constantly sniff the air looking for an indication of who or what is around them – and whether they are friend or foe.
Rabbits are not very vocal but have a range of sounds indicating different feelings:
Thumping of the back feet – this noise is associated with fear and is a way of warning others of dangers in the area. Dominant rabbits will also thump in order to gain attention.
Hissing, growling or muttering – usually indicates aggression and precedes an attack. It indicates the rabbit feels threatened or is behaving territorially.
Teeth grinding – soft grinding or cooing means your rabbit is happy (and often accompanies being tickled or stroked). Loud grinding is a sign of intense pain as is loud squealing – it may also indicate danger.
If you provide the correct care, diet, environment, exercise and attention to your rabbits they should remain fit and healthy, and will be bright, alert and eat and drink normally. Any change in normal behaviour may indicate an underlying problem.
Watch out for:
- Eating or drinking less than normal
- Restless or lethargic – or a crouched, huddled appearance
- Coat that looks dull or is soiled or itchy
- Discharge from the eyes, ears or nose
- Soiling around the vent with urine or faeces
- Faeces abnormal in colour or texture
- More or less urine being produced – or unusual in colour
- Offensive odour from the ears, mouth or vent
- Loud teeth grinding
- Difficulty in eating, drinking or moving difficulty in breathing – or raspy noises from the chest.
To see our full range of Supreme Petfoods Science Selective super premium foods, treats and toys pop into Scampers on the A142 Soham By Pass, between Ely and Newmarket and speak to one of the Scampers Pet Care Advisors.
Supreme Petfoods, promoting the Well-Being of Small Animals.