“Ehh, what’s up doc?” If only all rabbits can speak like Bugs Bunny we’d more easily understand and know what our pet bunnies mean to convey. Right?
So do rabbits make sounds to communicate?
Rabbits do make sounds, and they communicate both verbally and non-verbally to share when they feel and think. When happy, your rabbit may purr, honk, or sigh. In distress, your bunny may squeal, scream, or yelp. And when angry, you can expect to hear a growl.
It is easy to recognize the different sounds a rabbit makes and know what they mean? You’ll learn everything you need to know in this guide on rabbit sounds to help you take even better care of your floppy-eared friend.
Why Do Rabbits Make Sounds?
When rabbits make sounds, it is usually soft. After all, they are mostly small animals. To learn the sound your rabbit makes and what they are trying to tell you, you need to listen very carefully.
Most often, these sounds will accompany some non-verbal body language too. But back to the question which we’ve kind of already answered: why do rabbits make sounds?
Just like other animals and humans, they make sounds to communicate how they feel – whether they are happy, content, sick, hungry, angry, frustrated, or scared.
Meaning of Rabbit Sounds
Let’s look at the meaning of the different rabbit sounds:
If your pet bunny is happy and content, they may run, flop over onto their side, or leap. Other signs of happiness include clucking, humming, and purring.
If your rabbit is in distress, whether because they are scared or in pain, the most obvious sound they make to communicate this is to scream.
Other sounds of a bunny in distress include growling, hissing, whining, whimpering, snorting, thumping, or grinding their teeth.
10 Types of Rabbit Sounds
Here are the types of sounds your bunny will use to communicate with you:
This is a common noise among unneutered rabbit males. Bunnies grunt or honk when they want to mate.
Generally when a rabbit honks or grunts, they may also circle their mate, mark their territory with urine, or be aggressive or restless.
Your neutered or spayed pet rabbits may also grunt or honk. This is an indication that they are happy to see you approaching with yummy food.
A rabbit’s purring sounds very similar to a cat’s purr; it’s a low-pitched rumbling sound and a lot quieter than the purr of a cat.
Also similar to a cat, your bunny may make a purring noise when it is happy. You will likely see this when you pet your bunny while they are sitting next to you or on your lap.
Also a sign of feeling content, your floppy-eared pet may sigh when they are sitting comfortably and relaxed. To sigh, they may take a deep breath and then let it out slowly, similar to how you do it too.
No, this doesn’t sound like the clucking a chicken makes! With rabbits, clucking is more like a hiccup.
A rabbit clucking is a sign that they are content. While this isn’t a common rabbit noise, you may hear this when they are sleeping or happily eating away.
A defensive noise, your bunny may growl when it’s trying to warn you off due to feeling threatened. A rabbit may snort first and then growl.
When a bunny growls it thinks that you are:
- restricting its movement (remember, a bunny doesn’t like to be held as it’s a prey animals are relies on being able to get away for survival)
- in its territory
- too close to its food
- coming close when it’s stressed
- moving too fast or acting in a way that’s threatening
Ideally, you never want your bunny to growl at you, but if it does, approach it slowly and from a lower level. Make yourself as small as possible to remove the “threat” element. Don’t touch your bunny as this makes the whole situation worse.
When a rabbit hisses, it blows air between its teeth and tongue, just like how humans hiss.
Your bunny may hiss and growl when it’s feeling threatened or aggressive, and it may also nip at you.
Teeth grinding and purring may sound similar, but this is an important sound distinction to make. When your rabbit grinds its teeth, it is louder and occurs more frequently than a purr. It is also a sign your bunny is feeling discomfort or is in pain.
Other behavior generally accompanies teeth grinding: aggressive behavior, jumpiness, and hunching over.
Your rabbit may stomp its back feet, making a loud noise, when it is nervous or afraid. The purpose of thumping (especially in the wild) is to let other rabbits know there is a threat close by.
If a bunny screams or squeals, your bunny is in a lot of discomforts. It sounds like a small child is screaming.
This may happen if your bunny perceives you to be a threat, so like an alarm call, they’ll continuously scream or squeal. In the wild, this also lets other rabbits know a threat is nearby.
If your rabbit squeals, leave it alone until it is calm. If you continue holding or petting it while it screams, your bunny is learning that you are a threat.
On the other hand, your bunny may also scream if it is in pain. If your rabbit suffers from the viral hemorrhagic disease, which is very painful, it may squeal or scream.
Your pet rabbit may wheeze when it is having trouble breathing. When it wheezes, you’ll notice that this sound is like your bunny is snoring, has a blocked nose, or breathes with difficulty.
If your rabbit has a respiratory infection, like a cold, then it may wheeze, and a trip to the vet is needed. You may also see your bunny has an ocular or nasal discharge or doesn’t seem to be eating when it has this infection.
Why Is My Rabbit Making Weird Noises?
Rabbit noises may sound weird but could be normal.
If your bunny is honking, grunting, oinking, purring, or sighing, then it is happy. If your bunny is screaming or squealing, it is in distress or discomfort so it can either be angry, feel threatened, sick, or in pain.
What Sound Does a Rabbit Make When It Dies?
A rabbit may scream or squeal loudly when it dies if it is in severe pain or if it is scared.
A rabbit makes sounds and uses its body language to communicate with you, its pet owner, and with other rabbits.
The sounds a rabbit makes when it’s happy differs from when they are frustrated, angry, scared, or sick.
Knowing which sounds are important to providing your bunny with the best care possible.