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Understanding Rabbit Noises | 13 Sounds Rabbits Make and What they Mean

Understanding Rabbit Noises | 13 Sounds Rabbits Make and What they Mean

You might think rabbits are quiet pets. But if you listen, you’ll find that a bunny seems to have a noise or sound for every occasion. Rabbit noises have very specific meanings. So listen closely. Your rabbit may be trying to tell you something.

Understanding Rabbit Noises

What’s that sound? Rabbits have a noise for every occasion. Here are some noises your bunny might make.

  • Purring
  • Honking
  • Buzzing
  • Clucking
  • Grinding
  • Screaming
  • Hissing
  • Muttering
  • Wheezing
  • Growling
  • Whining

Happy Rabbit Noises

If you hear your rabbit making these noises, it’s a good thing!

Clucking or Chirruping

A rabbit’s cluck is a soft, gentle noise that sounds almost like a hiccup. 

This is a happy sound that female rabbits usually make when feeding their kits. Any rabbit might make these noises, however. And when they do, it means contentment. You might hear it in rabbits sleeping, or when they’re eating.

Buzzing or Humming

If your rabbit is in the mood for love, it might make a humming or buzzing sound. You’ll usually hear this from boy rabbits that have not been neutered.

Honking or Grunting

Honking and grunting are amorous signs. These rabbits’ noises are a bit more serious, though, than buzzing. If a rabbit is honking, grunting, and circling, it’s a sign that the mating dance has begun. 

Both males and females make these noises. If your rabbits have been neutered, they may honk and grunt out of general excitement, like if they see you coming with a treat. They may also do it to get your attention.

Purring

A rabbit’s purr is different from a cat’s purr. It’s softer, and the rabbit makes the noise by rubbing its teeth together rather than vibrating the throat muscles. Purring can be a sign of contentment. However, it’s also easy to confuse purring with teeth-grinding, which means that your bunny is in pain. When in doubt, look for other behavioural signals.

Rabbit Warning Sounds

Your rabbit also has noises to warn you, or other rabbits, that it’s unhappy.

Sighing

Sighing means something similar in human and rabbit languages. It means your pet is resigned to something it’s not particularly happy about, like being brushed or having its nails clipped.

Whining or Whimpering

When your rabbit whines or whimpers, it’s a sign of unhappiness with the situation. Your pet may whine if you try to cuddle it against its wishes, for example. It might whimper if put into an enclosure with another rabbit that it doesn’t particularly like. Females may also make this sound if males are making unwanted advances.

Snorting

Snorting means your bunny is getting irritated. Snorting often precedes growling.

Grunting

Grunting can be a happy noise, but in a different context, it can be a sign of annoyance.

Muttering

When you see someone walking around, muttering angrily to themselves, how do you think they’re feeling? It’s the same with rabbits. If your pet sounds like it’s muttering under its breath, it is probably one annoyed bunny.

Hissing

Hissing is a warning to other rabbits to get away. If your rabbit hisses at you, consider doing the same. 

Growling

If your rabbit growls at you, it’s time to step away. Growling means a severely annoyed rabbit. Your bunny may follow up a growl with a lunge, or even a bite.

Rabbit Distress Signals

Rabbits have ways of telling us that they’re afraid, in danger, or in severe pain. If your rabbit makes these sounds, you need to act fast.

Teeth Grinding

If your rabbit is grinding its teeth, especially if it’s sitting in a hunched-up position, this means your bunny is in pain. Rabbits are prey animals, which means that they try to hide illnesses and injuries. So if you notice it, it’s probably worse than it looks. Time to go to the vet.

Wheezing or Sniffling

It’s important to understand the difference between wheezing and sighing. A sigh is usually just one big exhalation, and it’s a sign of contentment. 

Wheezing, though, sounds like laboured breathing, and that’s what it is. If your bunny is wheezing, they’re having problems breathing. It may be a respiratory problem, to which rabbits are prone. These kinds of problems can become very serious very fast. So contact your vet immediately.

Screaming or Loud Squealing

If you’ve ever heard a rabbit scream, you won’t forget it. Screaming means that your rabbit is under attack or in extreme pain. Some rabbits have screamed right before dying. Hope that your rabbit never makes this noise. But if they do, understand that you need to find the source of the problem and deal with it immediately.

Final Thoughts

Our rabbits are talking to us all the time. They’re just speaking a different language. If you make an effort to learn their language, it can help to strengthen the bond between you and your bunny.

3 thoughts on “Understanding Rabbit Noises | 13 Sounds Rabbits Make and What they Mean”

  1. My bunny sounds like he’s lightly blowing his nose and it’s really worrying me! He seems OK and only does it when I stroke him on his head. He usually flops and then does this and grits his teeth but I already knew the gritting was a sign of contentment. I hope you can help me out. Thanks!

    Reply
  2. My rabbit ..mogu ..is more or less normal.
    Mdium active. Eating normally. It is winter here. So bit lethargic.
    MAKING A SHORT LOW FREQUENCY SOUND AT NIGHT.
    PLS do suggest.

    Reply
  3. Such a relief! I’m a new rabbit owner so I was worried when my baby-bunny boy started making a strange noise I’d never heard him make before- I thought he might have caught a respiratory infection (because of the info I was finding off Google) even though none of it quite made sense given that, aside from the occasional strange and short-lived nostril sound, he was perfectly fine and healthy. It wasn’t until I read over everything here and listened to the videos provided here I realized my bunny wasn’t sick- he was just buzzing!

    Reply

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Jess Faraday

Jess Faraday is a longtime bunny lover and a mom to a succession of rescue rabbits. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience and hopes that it will make the world a better place for bunnies

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