A rabbit running in circles may seem utterly adorable and have you taking out your smartphone so you can video the cuteness. Or it may seem annoying as you can easily trip and fall when your bun runs in circles around your feet.
But why do rabbits run in circles, and should you be worried? Or is this merely cutesy behavior?
Rabbits run in circles because they are courting another rabbit, displaying dominance, or seeking attention. A rabbit can also engage in circling behavior when they want to play, want a treat, are bored, are happy to see you, or have a head tilt.
Here’s everything you need to know about a rabbit running in circles, when you do and when you don’t need to be worried, and when you need to get help.
Why Is My Rabbit Running in Circles?
A rabbit can’t speak like a person and communicate their thoughts and feelings. So rabbits have various other ways that they communicate with other rabbits, predators, and their human bestie (aka pet owner).
One way in which rabbits communicate is via sounds like purring, honking, growling, and clucking. The other way that buns communicate is via various other behaviors like running in circles, thumping, grooming, or nudging.
Your bun is communicating when they run in circles – around you or another bunny or alone in their environment. But what are they saying?
What It Means When a Rabbit Runs in Circles
When your rabbit runs in circles, there are a few meanings behind this kind of behavior.
Here’s what it could mean when your bun is running in circles so you can better understand your Mr or Ms. Fluffles:
When your rabbit isn’t physically or mentally stimulated, they feel bored, just like us people do. Your rabbit can also be bored when its cage or playpen is too small.
So when your bun is bored, they can hop or run in circles to keep themselves entertained.
Two rabbits circle each other when they are courting each other.
It means the rabbits like each other. It’s also their mating dance, so when two rabbits run in circles, it’s the start of their mating ritual.
This courtship behavior is common in rabbits that are unaltered (not spayed or neutered).
This kind of behavior is typically accompanied by honking or oinking sounds.
When your rabbit circles your feet, they are trying to get your attention.
Your rabbit wants to play or be groomed. They may also be begging for a bite of the yummy food you are carrying around. Your bun can also be trying to get your attention and asking you to move out of the way.
Happy to See You
Another reason your rabbit is running in circles around your feet is that they are excited and happy to see you.
When you are bonded with your rabbit, they know, love, and trust you.
Your pet bunny knows you look after them by keeping them safe and feeding them. So it’s only natural that they’ll be happy to see you when you’ve been out of the room for a while.
Rabbits are intelligent and like to play. So when your rabbit is engaging in circling behavior, they are likely initiating play.
If you have two rabbits and they are chasing each other in circles, they could be playing. And when your Fluffles circle you, your rabbit may be playing with you or asking for you to play with them.
Yet another reason for the circling behavior is to establish dominance. Your rabbit may try to establish dominance over another rabbit or you.
You’ll likely see this behavior when you’re trying to bond two rabbits and you’re at the stage when they are meeting face-to-face.
When an alpha rabbit displays dominance, it’ll also try to mount the other rabbit.
Also, beware that circling can turn into fighting and serious injuries if one of the rabbits doesn’t want to be the submissive bun.
When your rabbit suffers from head tilt (wryneck or torticollis), they run in circles – usually compulsively in the same spot.
This is a serious medical condition.
Your bunny can still live a fulfilling life if they suffer from head tilt, but you need to support your bun and get advice from your vet about how you can best support and love your rabbit with a head tilt.
How to Stop Your Rabbit From Running in Circles
How you stop your rabbit from running in circles depends on why they are circling:
- You can neuter your rabbit to prevent unwanted pregnancies and have more rabbits than you can handle and afford.
- You can ensure the cage and living environment of your rabbit are large enough.
- Give your rabbit enough toys and a friendly bunny companion to alleviate boredom.
- Get help from a vet if you suspect that your rabbit may have a head tilt or another serious condition.
When to Seek Medical Help
When your rabbit is running in circles, you need to get medical help if:
- Your rabbits are chasing each other aggressively and fighting. If a rabbit kicks, claws at, or bites another bun, it can suffer serious injuries like broken bones or wounds that can become infected.
- Your rabbit suffers from head tilt.
Head tilting is a symptom of an inner ear infection, an E. cuniculi parasitic brain infection, a head injury, a tumor, ear mites, or a drug reaction.
Symptoms of head tilt include:
- Lack of balance
- Running in circles in the same spot, over and over
- Head tilted to one side
- Head shaking
- Lack of appetite
- Drooping ear and/or lip
Your vet will treat your rabbit with antibiotics, fluid therapy, or surgery, depending on what’s needed. They’ll also advise on nutritional aid, supportive care, and physical therapy.
My Last Bunny Thoughts
When a rabbit is running in circles, they are trying to communicate with you or its fellow rabbit.
It’s essential to try and understand what your rabbit is communicating so you can meet their needs – give them attention, feed them, or play with them.
When two rabbits are circling, you want to keep an eye to ensure their playful behavior as displays of dominance can easily turn ugly.
And when your rabbit has a head tilt, a vet is the best person to help you manage your rabbit’s condition so they can continue to live a loving and fulfilled life.