So, your rabbit is making a purring sound, but you are unsure as to what it means.
Purring means your rabbit is content or happy. They make these noise when they are completely happy in their environment, and with their activity at that moment. They regularly make this sound while eating, being stroked or sleeping.
But how do they do it, and how do you make sure that they can purr?
Of course, as a proud bunny owner, you should be going out of your way to produce the perfect environment for your rabbit to feel relaxed enough to make those pleasant sounds. So, we are going to look into all of it.
The Basic Meaning Of That Purring Sound
Like we just said at the top of this post, a rabbit purring is a wonderful sound to hear, as it does mean your rabbit is quite content and happy with life at that moment. You should perhaps think of it as being not too dissimilar to the purring your cat may make when they too are happy.
However, don’t expect this purring sound to be as loud as that made by a cat. Instead, it’s significantly softer, even though it does sound along the same lines.
Later on, we will also describe a sound that’s similar to purring, but it’s one that you need to be paying attention to, as it may indicate a problem or that your rabbit is upset. In saying that, we can begin by describing how your rabbit is even capable of making this purring noise.
How They Make The Sound
The way in which your rabbit will make this sound is by rubbing their front teeth together. It’s this rubbing that somehow manages to create a purring sound, and that’s different from your cat. With a cat, they use the back of their throat in order to generate the purring sound, but your rabbit has no interest in doing that. Instead, they’d rather use their teeth.
They achieve this by creating a clacking sound with their teeth. Don’t worry though, it’s not painful for them at all, and they know exactly what they are doing when they start to make this noise with their teeth.
We cannot stress enough how this noise is so low-sounding, and at times it can be barely audible. This applies even if your rabbit generally quite a noisy character. But then, as it’s connected to them being content, happy, and relaxed, then perhaps it’s no surprise that the sound itself is so soft.
Also, some people do refer to the sound as something similar to a low rumble. It can take some time getting used to the sound in order to correctly identify it, but once you realize what’s going on, then you will be amazed at how often your rabbit may be purring around you.
What To Not Confuse The Sound With
Before we go into more detail on when your rabbit is likely to make this purring sound, we need to make one additional point.
Pay attention to the sound and make sure that it is a purring noise. As they make the sound by rubbing their teeth, it does mean some owners can become confused between that sound and when your rabbit is grinding their teeth.
If your rabbit is indeed grinding their teeth, then that’s not a good thing. It means they are in pain or discomfort, and you need to start to work out what’s causing them to make that sound.
One tip that will help you differentiate between the two is basically the look in their eyes. A rabbit that’s grinding their teeth due to pain or discomfort will have a scared look in their eyes. It’s almost as if their eyes are jutting out, and they are tense rather than relaxed. They can be jumpy, nervous, and on edge. Once you get used to how your rabbit reacts to things, it will become easier to spot when the noise is being created due to some negative experience instead of a positive event.
If it’s purring, then their entire demeanor changes. Their body is relaxed. There is a softness to the sound as opposed to teeth grinding, which is generally louder.
So, don’t merely listen to the sound, but also pay attention to what’s going on with the rest of your rabbit to make sure you understand how they are feeling at that moment.
When Could They Make That Purring Sound?
We said how your rabbit makes this purring sound when they are happy, so what type of situations or events would make them happy and relaxed enough to purr the day away?
One thing to stress is that this noise is not as common as others that your rabbit may make. However, it’s also easy to miss it since the sound can be very subtle. It’s not as obvious as their honk or grunt, but then those noises have different meanings to a purr, and the purring sound is just far gentler in nature.
So, when is your rabbit most likely to make those purring sounds? Well, it turns out that there are several key moments where you may want to pay some extra attention to what’s going on.
Well, the first situation has to be when you are stroking them. Your rabbit will love this bonding session with you, and it does eventually lead to them becoming relaxed enough that they can let that purr go. Focus on their forehead, ears, cheeks and backs, but be gentle. [Source] A soft, loving stroke is something your rabbit will enjoy, and as their anxiety and stress drops, the possibility of them letting out that soft purr will increase.
Of course, this is something you need to build up to with your rabbit. They must feel that they can trust you, and know you won’t go ahead and try to go near any of those parts of the body that they would rather remain untouched. So, that does mean avoiding their underbelly and butt. They hate those parts being touched, and they will try to get away from you. Expect other noises emerging from your rabbit, which shows their general displeasure.
What we recommend is to start to build up the time you spend stroking them. Start with their forehead only until they grow accustomed to you being there. Then, increase the time spent on their forehead. Your rabbit may nudge you to let you know they aren’t happy that you stopped, and that’s all a great sign.
As they get used to the pleasant sensations, their entire body will relax, and then the purring sound is almost like an indication that their trust in you is growing. So, when that happens, keep on going.
Another common time when your rabbit may purr is when they are eating. Remember that your bunny loves food, so it makes sense they will then let out that purring sound when all is well in their world.
When your rabbit is eating, leave them alone to just get on with it all. That cute purring sound could quite quickly change into something else that’s effectively telling you to go away. They hate to be disturbed when eating, and remember that they will see this as being a vulnerable time for themselves. They will be on edge, and likely to be spooked by even the slightest of sounds or some strange movement.
Give them space to eat, and don’t bother them. Be careful when trying to get close, in order to hear them purring, or you will ruin the entire moment.
Another time when your rabbit may purr is when they are relaxing enough to have a nap. You probably know how you feel when exhaustion or tiredness hits, and you just fall into bed. That feeling of relief that you can have a sleep and feel so much better when you wake up is the exact same thing that your rabbit is experiencing.
The sensation of being completely relaxed and comfortable makes everything else in the world seem absolutely fine, and that then creates the time when your rabbit may start to let out that purring sound.
Clearly, you should just leave them to their own devices at this point. Just imagine how you feel when you are relaxed and someone comes along and gives you a fright. It sends your pulse racing, and the problem here is that your rabbit will also experience that rush in their heart rate. Unfortunately, it can lead to a heart attack, especially in young or older rabbits, so don’t do it.
Instead, if you see your rabbit is settling down to sleep, don’t try and get too close to listen out for that purring sound. It’s all too easy to scare them, and as we just explained, you don’t want to be doing that.
The Correct Environment
This all adds up to a very real need for you to create the perfect environment for your rabbit. By doing so, you will increase the odds of them making this all too cute sound.
So, what does your rabbit actually need for them to feel settled? Well, they don’t need too much, even though your rabbit can, at times, be somewhat demanding.
They need a safe place to sleep. Remember, your rabbit needs a healthy number of hours each day when it comes to sleeping, so a comfortable place is essential. For a house rabbit, look at creating some sense of a burrow for them to sleep in. Behind the couch or under a table in a corner will prove to be ideal. However, don’t confuse purring with what is effectively snoring, but believe us that you will be able to tell the difference between the two sounds in next to no time.
Make sure they have enough food and water to get them through the day. A bunny with a full belly is more likely to make those adorable sounds. If they are hungry or thirsty, then they can become grumpy and irritated, just like us humans, if we are in the same situation.
But perhaps the most important thing of all, when talking about getting your rabbit to create that purring sound, is you spending time with them.
Spending time and building trust between you and your rabbit won’t happen overnight. Your rabbit is anxious by nature, [Source] so they won’t automatically take to you or feel that they can relax in your company. They need to learn that you are a safe individual and not a predator for them to worry about.
However, once they do this, then your entire world will change, and the bonding sessions between your rabbit and yourself can become quite intense. It’s at that moment where the purring can emerge.
Overall, your rabbit producing this purring sound is brilliant to hear. It means you are doing well with your care for your rabbit as their little world is perfect and nothing is wrong. Achieving this is great news for any owner. After all, your rabbit is a nervous and anxious animal, so getting them to settle down and feel relaxed in your company and environment is amazing.
So, do what you can to create this atmosphere, and enjoy listening out for that purring sound as an indicator that all is well.