Bunnies are a misunderstood little species. If bunnies were to take a human form, they’d be the quiet kid who keeps a low profile in class; they seem kind of nondescript, but you get to know them and suddenly you’re like, “LOL he’s not quiet at all, he’s hilarious and smart and FUN!” Bunnies get a bad rap, I think, because way too many people see them as aloof, distant and unfriendly. It’s quite true that they’re not, in most cases, a pet you can scoop up and snuggle and love on and shower with physical affection. They usually don’t want to be held and because they’re diurnal (a fancy way of saying they sleep in the daytime), they’re not likely to follow you around the house all day.
If you read closely, you may notice that if you replace “bunny” with “cat,” the preceding three sentences still make perfect sense. What makes no sense is that more people don’t give bunnies a chance to demonstrate how awesome they are. Bunnies are subtle, but they will shower you with affection if you let them take the lead. For example: Bunnies don’t want to get off the floor; they want you to get on the floor with them. In the mornings, after Russell and Jane have eaten, I lay on the floor and they climb on me. Jane picks at my shorts and rubs her face on my feet while Russell perches on my back or gives me kisses. Bunnies don’t want to be patted like a dog; they want back-scratches, ear-rubs and cheek-strokes. Jane is in heaven when anyone gently rubs the top of her head, and Russell purrs when I give him an “earjob.” (Use your imagination. You can figure out what this looks like.)
Also! Bunnies can dance. Did you know that? Oh yes. Not all bunnies are dancers, but those who are can seriously cut a rug. Russell dances occasionally and IT IS ADORABLE. There is nothing as cute as a dancing bunny, especially when you consider that they do it only when they are so happy they can’t stand it. Dancing is an expression of pure lagomorphic joy and watching it will make your very heart glow.
I know, I know. I don’t even … whatever. Out-of-control adorable, right? That was one of his first nights with me and it took forever to record him dancing for that long. That giant mid-air twist at the end? Priceless.
Bunny behavior can be hard to understand, but I guarantee that if you invest time and attention in getting to know your bun and how he or she communicates, you will be delighted with the results. Rabbits are very intelligent and I swear to God they have a better sense of humor than many humans. They will ‘tell’ you when they’re unhappy, frustrated, angry or happy. A few of my favorites:
Stomping – A bunny stomps his back foot by lifting and slamming it down, just like you and me. And even though this is supposed to indicate anger, fear or extreme displeasure with a human, it’s too cute to be taken seriously. (Shhh.)
Flopping – Falling over on her side is your bun’s way of saying, “Life sure is swell. I think I’ll take a nap.”
Splaying – I’ve only ever seen Russell do this, but when he does, it means he is totally relaxed and happy.
Darting – Jane and Russell do this when they’re startled, as you might guess. Usually when I or my fiance walk unexpectedly into their room. I always coo, “Hey babies, it’s just Mama!” and they come right back out. (No, they don’t.)
Grooming – No bunny will groom unless he feels comfortable and secure enough to let his guard down. This is particularly important in bonding situations.
Licking – Better known as bunny kisses, this is your bun’s way of saying, “I love you!” and you should feel very, very flattered.
The full spectrum of bunny emotion and behavior is wider than I can do justice to in a short blog post. I cannot stress enough how very complex bunnies are and how glad you’ll be if you adopt and really get to know one.