Like people, rabbits also have quite a number of ways they communicate. A rabbit climbing on you is your bunny’s way of “speaking” to you. So what is your rabbit trying to tell you by climbing on you?
Your rabbit may climb on you because they want to be playful, show affection, or comfort you or be comforted. A bunny can also climb on you because they are happy, curious, nosy, nervous or scared, or in breeding mode. Other reasons include asserting dominance, or because there’s danger.
If you are looking for a more in-depth answer to “why does my rabbit climb on me,” then read on.
Reasons Why Rabbit Climbs on You
There are quite a number of reasons why a rabbit may decide to climb on you:
If your rabbit likes you and trusts you, they may climb on you to show affection. If your bunny is licking you too, then this is even more of an affection sign.
A rabbit may also be climbing all over you as a sign of playfulness.
This may especially be the case if your rabbit isn’t biting you, nipping you, or digging at you.
Rabbit play in various ways and climbing is one of their play styles. When a rabbit is being playful and climbs on you, they want to play with you.
Wild rabbits climb on top of each other, especially during winter, to help keep each other warm and as a gesture of comfort.
So your pet rabbit can also climb on you, looking for comfort. You’ll find that your stressed or scared rabbit will only do this if they fully trust you.
If you are feeling sad or stressed, your rabbit may also come over and climb on you to comfort you.
Your bun may climb on you as their way to show dominance. In the wild, rabbits can climb on top of another rabbit to get them to submit and to show that they are the alpha bunny.
An adult dominant rabbit will try to get to your level or show they are “above” you by climbing on top of you.
If your bun is asserting dominance, they may also bite you, act territorial, grunt, thump, lunge toward you, chin you, and refuse to be picked up (but will climb on you).
An unneutered buck may also pee on you to assert dominance when he’s climbed on top of you (so beware).
Besides asserting dominance over you, your bun can also use you as a pawn to assert dominance over another rabbit. Kind of like a “look at me. I’m sitting on the human.”
Bunnies ask for attention in various ways, from laying next to you, nipping you, or headbutting you. Another way to request attention could be when your rabbit climbs on you.
Your rabbit may be asking to be groomed or just want a cuddle. If your bunny licks you, they are grooming you back. This is a sign of trust.
If there’s danger nearby and your rabbit is scared, they may be climbing on you in an effort to getaway.
Together with showing dominance, a rabbit may also want to mark their territory. So an unaltered buck may climb on you, simply to spray you as a sign of who’s boss and mark his territory – that’s you! – to boot
Another territory marking behavior is when a rabbit chins you. Their chin glands release the rabbit’s scent, and by chinning you, the rabbit is marking you as their human since you will smell more like them.
Climbing on you and biting you is also another way to mark the rabbit’s territory.
Wild rabbits would like a perch up high to see what’s going on and to help alert them if danger is nearby.
Domesticated rabbits aren’t on the lookout for predators; instead, they may just want to see what’s going on. And your rabbit certainly has a better view when they climb on you!
In Breeding Mode
A male rabbit that’s in breeding mode may climb on your feet, thighs, arms, or legs to mate. How, right? Well, the buck may mistake these fleshy body parts for the doe.
A sure indication that your buck climbs on you for mating reasons is when he humps you. He may also bite you.
If you don’t have plans to breed your bunny, neuter him to eliminate aggressive and territorial behavior.
A rabbit can climb on you because they are curious and want to explore and learn.
This behavior is more common for baby bunnies or a new bunny.
However, if you are wearing something new, your “old” rabbit may come over, climb on you, and explore to find out what something new is since it smells differently.
Nervousness or Fear
Bunnies do get nervous, and they can climb on you because they feel nervous.
If your bun is nervous, you’ll notice a stiff body posture and folded ears. Your bunny may also be breathing faster than normal, twitching its nose, and/or shaking in fear.
Don’t try to pick your bunny up suddenly if you see your bunny is nervous or scared. Be gentle so you don’t scare your rabbit.
If you are worried your rabbit is suffering a serious psychological condition, take them for a checkup at your local vet.
If you approach your bunny and they are happy to see you, they may do the bunny happy dance by running circles around your feet.
Part of the happy dance can also be trying to climb on you, jumping on you, or nudging you for some attention.
Smells Something Different
A rabbit’s nose is a lot more sensitive than a human’s nose, so even the slightest change of scent on you may have your rabbit coming over to investigate.
Your rabbit could climb on you and sniff at you to see if you are the human they know and love. Or if you smell sweet, your bun could mistake the sweet scent as a treat that’s waiting for them.
A Food Smell
If you are eating something delicious, your bunny may climb on you in a request that you share or to investigate what it is that you are eating.
There is lots of human food that you shouldn’t feed your bunny to keep them safe (like peanut butter and cookies), but if you are eating some fruit, then you can give your rabbit a bite.
Should Your Rabbit Climb on You?
Your rabbit can climb on you as long as it doesn’t hurt you or your bun.
Plus, if your rabbit climbs on you for good reasons, then climbing on you is ok.
Good climbing reasons are to comfort, to be comforted, to smell what you are eating, to show affection, to ask for attention, to be playful, out of curiosity, and in happiness.
On the other hand, if your rabbit climbs on you to assert dominance, mark their territory (by spraying, especially), or bite you, then the climbing needs to stop.
You also don’t want your bun to climb up high on you and then jump. This can result in serious injuries, broken bones, and even death for your bun.
How Do You Tell If a Rabbit Likes You?
Not sure if your rabbit loves you? Rabbits are quite shy and it takes them a while to get used to you and warm up to you.
If you want to know whether your fluffy-eared bestie likes you, look for these signs:
- Lay down next to you – your rabbit likes you if they flop down, sprawls down, or lays down next to you, content to not move away
- Grooming – your rabbit will groom you by licking or lightly nipping you
- Circling – this is an exciting show of affection as your rabbit zooms around your feet
- Binkying – a happy rabbit binkies, so a rabbit that likes you will binky toward you
- Asks to be petted – your rabbit will nudge you in a request to be petted and they love the attention you give them
- Sit on your lap – this isn’t normal behavior for rabbits but a bun that likes you will happily sit on your lap
- Purring – a rabbit that grinds its teeth or purrs is happy and relaxed
How Do Rabbits Show Affection to Humans?
Rabbits show affection to their humans in a variety of ways:
- Light headbutts to get head rubs
- Dancing around your feet
- Laying next to you and just chilling
- Making happy sounds like purring, clucking, honking, or oinking.
My Last Bunny Thoughts
Mostly, when a rabbit climbs on you it is simply rabbit behavior. And your bunny wants to communicate with you – whether it is to share their happiness, show that they like and trust you, or to dominate you.
If you let your rabbit climb on you, make sure you and your bunny are safe.
Accidents and injuries are the last things you’d want. Plus, consider neutering your buck if you don’t plan to breed bunnies – it’ll eliminate dominance, spraying, and other aggressive behavior (like climbing on you for the wrong reasons).