Has your bunny ever climbed onto your lap and started digging on your leg (similar to a cat kneading your knee, but a little more painful if your bun has long nails) for no apparent reason (to you)? Well, there are a few reasons why rabbits do this.
So why does your rabbit dig on you, and is this behavior normal?
Rabbits will often dig at their owner (which is normal) when they are bored or looking for attention. If a rabbit is stressed, it will dig on your arms and chest. If they want to play, they will dig on your lap or feet. If they nip you simultaneously, they may be establishing dominance over you.
If you have been trying to figure out why your rabbit is digging on you (and if it’s a form of communication), you’ll learn everything you need to know about rabbits digging on people in this guide.
Reasons Why Rabbits Dig on You
Digging allows house rabbits (or domesticated rabbits) to exercise their muscles and keep their nails short. Wild rabbits burrow for safety, and digging is an instinctive behavior (even for pet bunnies).
Bunnies dig in certain places for a reason, so let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons and what your bun is trying to tell you:
Your rabbit digging on you can also be their way of showing dominance, as they feel they are the boss of the house. If your floppy-eared friend has a dominant personality, they will demand grooming or playtime by digging on you.
Occasionally, your rabbit’s dominant behavior can lead to them nipping or biting you to emphasize their demand or to tell you to leave them alone.
If your bun is anxious or feeling nervous, they may act out by digging into your clothing in an attempt to hide. Rabbits can become anxious for different reasons, such as:
- New people
- Loud children
- Changes to their environment
- Other pets such as dogs or cats starling them
A nervous or anxious rabbit will frequently dig on you, and it’s essential to make sure that you prevent them from becoming stressed by removing the cause for their uneasiness.
Wants to Play
Your bunny digging on you may be a sign that they want to play, and they have learned that digging on your lap or at your feet will get your attention.
If this doesn’t work, you may notice your bun digging at different areas in their living space, as they are aware that you will see this and go to them.
Ensure your bunny is getting enough attention, as the digging can be pretty uncomfortable, especially if they dig on your bare skin.
Texture of Clothing
Sometimes your rabbit’s digging behavior may simply be that they really like the texture or smell of your clothing, and they enjoy digging into it.
Wearing oversized clothing or jerseys is often a favorite for your bun. If you have a blanket wrapped around you, you may also notice your bun digging happily into it.
Not in the Mood
Not all rabbits like to be picked up and carried around. If your bunny starts digging at your chest, it means they want you to put them down. If you continue to hold them, they may nip you as a warning.
Ways to Prevent Your Rabbits From Digging
Even though you might enjoy the attention from your rabbit, frequent digging can cause damage to clothes and your skin (especially if your bunny’s nails are long).
Here are a few ways that you can prevent your rabbit from digging on you:
It’s very important to build trust with your floppy-eared friend. Rabbits are naturally anxious and wary of humans, and they need to be taught to trust you.
Developing a bond with your rabbit can be a long process, and you will need to be patient. Try not to pick up your rabbit or discipline them until a bond has been established. Let the bond between you grow naturally by:
- Giving your bun lots of affection
- Playing with your bun often
- Giving them treats
- Grooming them often
Your bunny is an intelligent animal, and it’s possible to train rabbits. Although it takes time and patience, the long-term results are worth it.
Teach your bunny that there are specific places they are allowed to dig, and if they dig on you, say “no” firmly and place them on a mat or designated digging area.
Rewarding your bun with treats when they dig in the right places will help your bun differentiate between what is acceptable and unacceptable.
Finding an Outlet
If you don’t have the time to train your bunny, you can always provide a different outlet for them to release their need to dig, such as providing:
- Toys to chew on
- Cardboard boxes to dig against and tear apart
- Wooden treats to nibble on
- A small obstacle course to explore
- A polar fleece blanket to dig into
How Do You Tell If Your Rabbit Likes You?
Rabbits are affectionate and loving animals, but they do not always express it the same way other pets do.
Here are some signs that will let you know your floppy-eared friend likes you:
- Your bun grooms you
- Your bun likes to flop down and lie next to you or against you
- Chinning (your bunny claims you as their own by rubbing their chin against you)
- Climbing into your lap
- Binkies or zoomies when they see or hear you approaching
- Purring when you stroke them
My Last Bunny Thoughts
When your bunny digs at you, it can be irritating, especially if your clothes get damaged or you get hurt because of your rabbit’s sharp nails. While digging is a natural behavior for rabbits, there are different ways to prevent your bun from digging on you.
It’s essential to find out why your bunny is digging, as this is your rabbit’s way of telling you something.
Give your bunny lots of attention, and make sure they are not bored or anxious. Having your bun sterilized will also lessen the amount of digging they do.