Rabbits are easy animals to take care of; they live for ten+ years, rarely get sick, and require very little grooming. They are also capable of extreme cuteness. But every once in a while you might see some strange behavior that leaves you wondering what’s going on. One common question I’m asked is why does my rabbit put her head down when I pet her?
When your bunny puts her head down she is signaling to you that she wants something, most likely some peace and quiet! The first thing you need to ask yourself is do you have any children or other pets who like to roughhouse with your rabbits?
Rabbits can be extremely sensitive to their space being invaded by humans or other animals so it may not mean that your little one is trying to be mean when she puts her head down.
If you’ve already asked yourself that question and they are not being harassed by the other members of the household, then it may just be time for your bunny to take a break. A rabbit can become overstimulated so give her some peace without giving up on petting or playing with her.
If your rabbit doesn’t mind being pet but isn’t acting aggressively there are still possible reasons why she might lower her head when you touch her. First off rabbits communicate through body language, if they feel uncomfortable in any situation they will put their ears back against their head, or even do this cute thing where they tuck their front paws close to their chest while lowering themselves slightly to indicate a lack of comfort.
Imagine the bunny saying “Aaaw, please don’t do that!” I once had a rabbit friend who would get down on her front paws and put her ears back while gripping the wall with her hind legs. If she really did not want to be petted you might get a repeat performance of this move but this time accompanied by a nip or two.
It’s pretty rare though, most rabbits I have met are very forgiving when you make a mistake in judgment while trying to connect with them so don’t feel bad if your bunny tries to correct you!
If both 1 and 2 do not apply then there is one other possibility: your bunny wants something from you! Food probably tops the list of things that rabbits would like to receive from us, but another important aspect that they need is attention. Make sure your bunny isn’t just telling you she wants something by lowering her head; take a good look at her body language and behavior before concluding the obvious.
Once you know what’s behind your rabbit’s decorated lower face, it’s time for the two of you to form some new habits! Always be aware of how much petting or playing is too much for your bunny so that you can give them the space they want when they need it… before they “nip” you!
And whenever possible make sure that bunnies get plenty of exercises, especially since most are nocturnal animals who are active during the night.