Why do rabbits grunt? Rabbit grunting can be a sign of frustration and anger, but it is also common in unneutered male rabbits that want to mate.
Some people observe the noise in more positive circumstances, paired with other excited behaviors like jumping, binkying, or zooming around you. But, when used in a positive way, this sound is more often referred to as honking.
Grunting isn’t always something to worry about, but can be a sign that your bunny is unhappy. Let’s take a closer look at the explanations behind this interesting vocalisation.
Why Do Rabbits Grunt?
Alongside their behavior, rabbit noises can tell us a lot about how our little pets are feeling.
Learning about rabbit noises and behaviors can help you keep your bunny happy, and respond appropriately to their emotions.
Grunting can be heard in rabbits that are frustrated and is common in bunnies looking to mate.
Owners may also observe grunting noises when two rabbits meet for the first time, but this will usually dissipate over time.
Some rabbits may grunt to get your attention, but it’s important that you observe when grunting happens if you wish to understand exactly what’s causing the vocalisation for your bunny.
However, some owners struggle to know when their bunny is grunting rather than making a different noise.
What Does Rabbit Grunting Sound Like?
Bunny grunting is a deep short sound, usually repeated several times in a row. It can be hard to tell the difference between grunting and honking, as they sound very similar.
The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the situation in which your rabbit is making the noise.
Grunting is associated with negative behaviors, or with male unneutered rabbits.
Watch out for other negative behaviors, like stomping their feet, or nipping at you. Males that are unneutered may show excitability.
Honking is associated with more positive behaviors, like general excitement, happiness, or seeking your attention for play.
Grunting and Other Behaviors
As we’ve just mentioned, grunting is often paired with other behaviors as your rabbit expresses feelings of frustration or anger.
Here are a few other actions to look out for if you hear a grunting noise from your rabbit:
And more. If your rabbit does any of these whilst also grunting, it could be a sign that they are feeling unhappy about something.
When Do Rabbits Grunt?
Rabbits grunt in different situations depending on when they are feeling offended by something. Unneutered male rabbits may grunt more often, particularly when feeling excited or when they want to mate.
Many bunny owners have found that their male rabbits stopped grunting once neutered.
There are plenty of things that can cause your rabbit to grunt out of frustration or anger.
Perhaps you are trying to pet or hold them when they would rather be left alone. Perhaps you are moving things around in their hutch as you try to clean it.
Or, perhaps you are busy doing something and ignoring your rabbit when they want to play with you!
The reason will likely be different for every bunny, but you may recognize patterns when you start listening out for grunting. If you can learn what is causing your rabbit to grunt, you may be able to stop it.
How to Stop Rabbit Grunting
Learning how to stop bunny grunting will depend entirely on whether you can find the cause of the noise. What’s frustrating your rabbit? Do you have an unneutered male?
If your rabbit is grunting when you do something that is necessary, such as cleaning their hutch, you may just have to put up with the noise for now.
Even though it may anger your rabbit to have their things moved around, it’s important that we keep their homes clean and sanitary, to reduce risks of infections and other problems.
If your rabbit is grunting when you try to pet them, it may be best to leave them alone for a while and try again later.
And, if you have an unneutered male, you can speak to your vet about getting them fixed, to see if this will solve the behavior. Your vet will be best placed to run you through the pros and cons of this, so you can make a fully informed decision.
Ultimately, the reason for grunting may be different for every rabbit!
Why Do Rabbits Grunt? A Summary
Do you often hear grunting or honking coming from your rabbit? We would love to hear about the things that cause your rabbit to grunt!
Have you had to change your behavior to keep your rabbit from grunting with frustration? Let us know in the comments.
References and Resources
- Rooney, N. (et al), ‘The Current State of Welfare, Housing and Husbandry of the English Pet Rabbit Population’, BMC Research Notes (2014)
- Foote, A. ‘Evidence-Based Approach to Recognising and Reducing Stress in Pet Rabbits’, Veterinary Nursing Journal (2020)
- Stapleton, N. ‘Stranger Danger: The Importance and Perils of Companionship in Rabbits’, The Veterinary Nurse (2016)