A rabbit owner could be forgiven for believing that their pet is trying to tell them something when it hops around in circles at their feet. However, the answer probably lies more with human rather than animal instinct. It’s likely that it’s just a natural response to being picked up by someone.
Particularly if you have ever experienced rabbits as prey animals, they may feel threatened whenever they are lifted from the ground as this can often mean they are about to be grabbed by a predator – so your rabbit is simply giving themselves some support and moving away from you during what they interpret as a threatening situation.
In addition, most rabbits love being held on one level, but aren’t so keen on being tilted or downwards as this makes them feel vulnerable in case they are about to be eaten.
Some rabbits are bred with an instinct to run when picked up, due to their origins as meat animals – so even pet rabbits have this instinct.
The digestive system of the rabbit is also very fragile and potentially dangerous if it is allowed to move around too much, or after being out during especially cold weather.
The ‘Pooh’ factor… Rabbits produce lots of stools each day which tend not to smell too good when left for long periods in their cages – particularly during colder weather or if you have had your rabbit outside during the summer months.
To counteract this, some owners choose to simply move their rabbit out for short periods of time at regular intervals throughout the day. This is probably where your rabbit has learned that it’s time to run!
While rabbits are prey animals, they are not only quick creatures but strong. They have powerful hind legs which allow them to leap several feet without getting too much of a stretch – it is this ability that means the rabbit will suddenly disappear when you walk past – they’re really fast!
Many pet rabbits are selected to be docile and won’t run away from you, but this isn’t always the case. If your rabbit is afraid of being picked up or is generally afraid of people, it may take a while for them to get used to being held by your family.
Before picking up your rabbit, try getting them used to be stroked around their ears so they learn that they have nothing to fear when lifted off the ground.
If you approach carefully, letting them sniff your hand first then gradually reach out and stroke them either on the head or even down their backs, eventually they will learn that it’s perfectly safe in their own homes.
“Try not to chase after her.”