Rabbit Whimpering. This Is What It Means


If you have ever heard a rabbit whimper and wondered why, or if you are planning on getting a rabbit for a pet and need to know why they whimper, this is for you. Rabbits are emotional and talkative animals, and the sooner you learn their own special language, the better off your pet rabbit will be. 

A rabbit whimpering is a sign they are really unhappy about a particular situation, person or other rabbit, and you need to change the situation as quickly as possible. They commonly whimper when they suddenly come into contact with another rabbit, and it is best to immediately separate them.

Some people who don’t know rabbits will probably think the only noise a rabbit makes is when she is nibbling on a carrot! This couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, rabbits are by and large noisy creatures, but all for a good reason. If you find the fact that rabbits cluck, hum and hiss at times interesting, then read on as we check out a full guide of why a rabbit whimpers, and what to do about it.

Rabbit in a cage outside

Rabbits Use Noises, Such As Whimpering, To Communicate

Rabbits love to communicate, and the more you can read their body language and speak their language, the happier your pet will be. The happier your pet is, the better your relationship will be with your rabbit. 

Rabbit noises can really run the gauntlet, and whimpering is only one noise your rabbit may produce.

A rabbit’s noise repertoire is huge. It can include noises to show pleasure or pain, to show fear, or even to indicate when they are sleeping and content. If they are sound asleep, for example, a light clicking can be heard at the back of their throat, particularly if they are happy at the time.

A Rabbit Will Tell It Like It Is

When you stroke a rabbit, he might purr or even honk loudly, which is quite fun. Getting to know your pets little quirks really makes you feel closer to them, and they feel so much happier too.

It is important to place a rabbit in context with the noises they make, and at times they might mix and match noises, so to speak! A rabbit being petted will more than likely purr loudly, as opposed to whimpering.

They do this by rubbing their front teeth together instead of purring from the back of the throat, as a cat does. If you stop petting them whilst they are experiencing this heavenly moment, they could honk and stamp their feet simultaneously. Clearly, they are eager to get across what they want and when they want it!

Rabbits can sigh a lot too, particularly if they are in a pleasurable moment, like getting in some pets and strokes for the day. However, the problem is they can also make the same noises if they feel a bit fed up, which is a little like us humans.

This could occur, for example, if you are performing some grooming task that they dislike. Which again is a little bit like humans.

It is always important to be able to discern noises such as these, because what some might hear as a sigh could in fact be a respiratory issue that might need medical attention. It is however easier to read a pet the more time you spend with them, and the more you get to know their habits, their likes and dislikes. 

As well as pleasurable sounds, a rabbit can warn you when they are in some sort of distress. From hissing to screaming, and everything in between. This is where whimpering can come into play.

It is said that when rabbits scream, it is through sheer fear or pain, and any screaming rabbit needs prompt attention. A rabbit is quite clear in many of its communications with us humans. Hissing can indicate anger and can be focused on, for example, unwanted attention from another male rabbit. 

But that’s enough about other signs, what about whimpering as that’s the focus of this post.

Whimpering Is A Sign Of Unhappiness

Whimpering is one of the more common sounds you might hear from your pet because it is used in abundance to signal when he or she is in discomfort or distress. 

So far, we have learned that rabbits make noises to serve as a form of clear communication with other rabbits and humans. Many of the noises they make are pleasurable and perhaps easier to identify, particularly in context. That’s not the case here.

If a rabbit starts to whimper, it is a sign they are really unhappy about a particular situation, person or other rabbit, and you need to change the situation as quickly as possible. 

Some rabbits do not get along with other rabbits, and if you place them together, they might whimper as a sign of their discontent and distress. No one wants their pet to be distressed, so it is better to sort the situation out as soon as possible.

Brown pet rabbit

Rabbits Are Filled With Emotions

If you have a rabbit as a pet, it might mean a lot to you to know that they are filled with emotions. They have a massive range of emotions, and they have no qualms at showing each one.

Whimpering can mean so many things. Again, context is so important in understanding what has set your lovable rabbit into an emotional melt-down.  Pregnant rabbits will often whimper and stamp their feet if you place them with another male rabbit whilst they are in this condition. [Source]

Always ensure that your rabbit’s environment is stress-free. That they are warm enough or cool enough at any given time, particularly if they are whimpering. They are merely communicating their discontent.

Now We Know Why They Whimper, What Should We Do?

Keeping their pet calm is normally the intention of any owner, and there are a few checks one can do to ensure that their rabbit is in a stress-free environment. Remember, whimpering is linked to being scared and unhappy, so this stress-free environment is best.

Check around your home that noise is not an issue. Rabbits are attuned to noise in order to live a safe life in the wild. So your neighbors barking dog, cars going past too loudly, or bangs and dropped items might terrify them. Noise can disturb a rabbit and shock them so badly they can actually have a heart attack. 

If noise is an issue, you might move your pet to a room where it is a little quieter for their home base. 

If something is disturbing to your rabbit, make sure he has lots of places to hide and burrow. This is their way of settling themselves down.  Some pet stores sell little rabbit houses as bolt-holes, but if you want an inexpensive, easy to get hold of version, a cardboard box will do. If they have this type of shelter, their whimpering will stop.

Rabbits are a little bit like humans and feel more relaxed in a settled routine. That means feeding him the same time each day, and allowing him to sleep pretty much the same time each night. This type of routine builds trust in the environment and in their owner, so it is often a good start off point for your pet rabbit. 

If you handle your rabbit too much or try to settle her in too quickly, she might start whimpering as a warning sign. Rabbits only want to be touched at certain times, and they also take time to get used to new owners, so give her a chance and let her set the pace initially.

Once she trusts you, the fun and games can begin, and often you can get into cuddle demands, which means a loud honk in return for a cuddle with a bit of clucking thrown in!

A Bored Rabbit Is A Noisy Rabbit

Believe it or not, rabbits need stimulation and hate being bored, so some whimpering may occur. [Source] So make sure you not only have a nice place for him to sleep, but also that he is pleasantly entertained during the day. A few toys will help.

Some you can make yourself, and some you can buy from the pet shop. Generally, they love finding treats, which mimic their life in the great outdoors. So consider hiding chewy treats made especially for them around the home. You can also get some excellent string toys that they can pull and tug at. If a rabbit is bored, they might whimper to get your attention and show how fed-up they are.

Comfort Is The Name Of The Game

Think about keeping your rabbit indoors. In the good old days, many rabbits were kept outside, but it has been found that this is not ideal for them. Being jumpy creatures, they will hear every sound around them and react to it. If there are birds of prey, dogs, or other strange noises, they will be severely stressed out, plus very cold or warm weather also stresses them out.

Remember, stress is a major cause of whimpering for your rabbit.

It’s always exciting when we bring our pets home, and this is no different if your pet is a rabbit, but make sure you don’t crowd them or overwhelm them, as mentioned earlier, let them come to you. If you force the issue, whimpering could ensure. 

A happy pet will cluck and purr, and these are the noises we want to hear from your rabbit, so using the tips mentioned, you should find yourself well on the way to hearing your pet rabbits sounds of pleasure. 

Barry Gray

Barry is a freelance writer from Scotland. He has written about pets for over a decade, and his work has been turned into a range of ebooks, courses, and material for diplomas. Barry is passionate about all animals, but particularly dogs, fish, rabbits, birds and spiders. You can find out more about Barry at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/

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