Why Do Rabbits Lie On Their Side? (Solved!)


So, why do you think rabbits lie on their side? Is it just because they find it comfortable? Or is there something else going on that most people are perhaps unaware of? The answer is actually pretty cool…

If a rabbit is lying on their side, this is a sign that they are very happy. When they lie on their side, this is called a ‘flop’, and it means that they are relaxed and content.

But why is this the case? What makes them feel that being on their side is the best position to be in? What is going on inside the mind of your rabbit?

Let’s explore the reasons behind it all.

Rabbit lying on its side

What it All Means

Basically, if your rabbit flops down and goes straight into this position of being on their side, then everything is good in their world at that time. It’s a pleasant experience for them, and there’s nothing for you to worry about.

It’s a major sign of your rabbit being quite content with everything, and it also shows how relaxed they are at that moment. If you have a rabbit that does this on a regular basis, then you are certainly doing something right as an owner.

It certainly doesn’t mean anything is wrong. On the contrary, as far as your rabbit is concerned, there’s nothing untoward in their life at all. Now, how good is it to know that your pet rabbit is so at peace with the world that they can indulge in what is pretty much their favorite way of relaxing?

It’s Known as a Flop

The technical term, well as technical as it can be, for this type of action is a ‘flop’, [Source] and you kind of understand why it’s called this when you check out what happens. Your bunny can go from a standing or sitting position to being completely reclined on its side in seconds.

This action can come across as being pretty dramatic, and it looks as if they are putting on a huge show to catch your attention, but it’s nothing like that. It’s simply their way of relaxing in an instant even though we feel that their ability to throw themselves to the ground is a bit much.

Also, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your rabbit is throwing some type of tantrum and that this is the way in which they voice their displeasure. Nothing could be more wrong than you thinking along those lines.

Your rabbit literally does just flop down, hence the name. Let’s face it, even calling it a ‘flop’ is pretty cute all on its own.

But don’t worry about them hurting themselves when they practically throw their body down onto the ground. They know what they are doing, and they don’t have a care in the world at that point, so everything is absolutely fine.

Sleeping rabbits

When Will it Happen?

To be perfectly honest, your rabbit could indulge in this particular behavior at any point. For some, it’s after a good meal when their belly is full and they experience that same sense of contentment as we do in the same situation.

For others, it’s after spending some quality time bonding with you, and with you showering them with absolute affection. This closeness makes them extremely happy, so they will want to relax and chill after it.

Alternatively, it can just be at any moment where they do not experience any stress or anxiety. No sounds or movements are upsetting them or stressing them out.

In short, no threats equals a flopping rabbit.

No matter the reason, simply enjoy the fact that your rabbit is quite content at this moment in time. Keep on doing whatever it is that you do as an owner as it’s clearly working for them.

So, What’s Going On Inside the Mind of Your Rabbit?

Now you know that this action is a great sign, it’s perhaps fun to examine what’s potentially going on inside the mind of your rabbit.

Remember we said it indicates they are relaxed and content? [Source] Well, think about how you personally feel when you too are feeling relaxed and content. Perhaps we are more in-tune with our rabbits than we think?

With this, we just want to let everything go and let all that stress and worry fly out of our body. Well, your rabbit is doing exactly that, but in their own unique way.

By adopting this position, they are placing themselves in more of a vulnerable state. But then, they feel comfortable enough to do this simply because they know that nothing bad is going to happen, and they completely trust you.

So, just think that your rabbit is chilling out and smile when you see them on their side. Also, just leave them alone when they are like this. It may startle them if you approach them or try to show them some affection. They are enjoying their time-out, so give them some space.

The Positions

Typically, there will be several ways in which your rabbit may decide to recline and take on this pose. It all comes down to what they want at that moment in time. Remember, your rabbit is very clear in what they want, and that applies even to how they lie down.

So, while your pet rabbit may have their own unique way of flopping down onto their side, there are three main ways in which your rabbit may flop.

  1. Your bunny may lie down with their legs tucked neatly beneath them.
  2. Their front paws are stretched out in front while their back legs are out to the one side.
  3. Their front legs are stretched out as far as they can go, and the same applies to their back legs.

As you can imagine, that all sounds pretty cool, and it shows how relaxed they will be if they take on any one of those three positions.

But Where Will They Lie Down Like This?

Here’s the cool thing about your rabbit taking on this chilled, laid-back flopping position, they will do it anywhere they please.

It’s not limited to their cage where they would understandably feel a whole lot safer. Nope, if your rabbit feels as relaxed and at ease as this, then the world is their flopping oyster.

Other rabbit owners have mentioned how their rabbit has been known to flop down on a rug, on the arm of the couch, on stairs, pretty much anywhere. If a rabbit can lie on it, then they will flop on it.

This is all yet another sign that things are perfect in the world of the rabbit. It shows a great deal of comfort in their surroundings, and that’s all thanks to you showing them the love, care, and affection they seek.

Ultimately, Work on Creating the Perfect Environment

Finally, your main aim here is to work at creating the perfect environment for your rabbit to then allow them to go ahead and sprawl out on their side. If you manage to achieve this, and they do it on a regular basis, then you are doing well.

Give them the care and love they seek. Make sure they are well fed and looked after. Give them space to run around and burn off energy in a calm environment. All of those things will play a role in creating that all-important sense of feeling safe to encourage your rabbit to go ahead and lie on their side.

Remember, your rabbit will have no problem in voicing their displeasure at something, but on the flip side they will also be content to lie back in this way and just enjoy life. Think about how cute it is when your rabbit is all relaxed after flopping down in that theatrical way. So, go and make them relaxed and happy.

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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