How Do Rabbits Show Affection to Humans?

brown rabbit in lap

Dogs make excellent companion animals because they form strong bonds with their owners. Even cats use a repertoire of gestures to express the love they feel for their humans. But what about rabbits? Are they as warm and loving towards their fur mom or dad? How do rabbits show affection to humans anyway?  

If you’re a first-time bun parent, it may take a while before you manage to understand your pet’s body language. But when your rabbit shows certain signs, take heart. It means you’ve earned his love. 

Can Rabbits Love Their Owners?   

Many long-time bun owners say that rabbits are more like cats than dogs when showing their affection. Similar to their feline counterparts, rabbits tend to be more reserved in expressing their devotion to their human. You may even think that your pet doesn’t care a whit about you. At least at the start.  

Because rabbits are shy by nature, your rabbit may not warm up to you immediately. You’ll first need to gain his trust before you can experience his unique way of telling you that he likes you.  

white rabbit being held

How Do Rabbits Show Their Affection to Humans? 

Taking good care of your bun and meeting all his needs are sure-fire ways of fostering a strong bond with him. In time, you may see some subtle cues that indicate your fur baby’s growing attachment and love for you. Here are some of them.  

Licking and Nibbling   

Rabbits who live in groups sometimes lick and nibble each other. That’s because buns gently nuzzle or lick those they love and care for. It’s a way for one rabbit to place his smell on another, thus creating a bond between family members.  

In the rabbit world, licking is also a show of respect and even submission. Many bun owners feel that getting a rabbit lick is a badge of honor and consider it their pet’s ultimate sign of affection.  

Looking Calm and Relaxed While Lying by Your Side 

Being prey animals make rabbits wary about their surroundings. When you’re still new to them, you may notice that they’re not entirely comfortable in your presence.   

A rabbit that lies on the floor with his feet sprawled out is in a vulnerable position because he can’t quickly dart away from danger. So if your bun flops on the floor next to you, take that as an indication that he doesn’t feel he’ll need to flee any time soon. That’s trust, right? And rabbits only trust those they like.  

Circling Your Feet 

When rabbits get excited, they sometimes run in circles. Your pet may be showing his delight in seeing you when he greets you by zooming around your feet. Take note that buns only circle the feet of humans they like and wouldn’t do it with a stranger. It typically means that they enjoy the company of the person. Thus, they turn into happy rabbits when they see this particular human.   


Tooth-clicking is different from tooth-grating. The latter indicates distress and usually sounds harsher and louder. Tooth-clicking has a softer, gentler timbre, akin to a cat’s purr.   

Purring or tooth-clicking occurs when a rabbit is happy and content. Watch out for this reaction when you’re petting your bun. If he purrs, that means he loves the bonding moment you two are sharing.  

Sitting on Your Lap  

Rabbits don’t usually make it a habit to sit on people’s laps. They hate feeling trapped, that’s why and will often try to get away from unfamiliar people who try to cuddle them. Some buns don’t ever get used to sitting on laps.  

However, rabbits who form a deep bond with their human will sometimes initiate a cuddling session. If your fur baby does that, it means he trusts you and is happy to be close to you.  


That leap in the air rabbits make is a sight to behold. Buns do the binky when they’re super excited or happy. Have you noticed how your furball executes this joyous little jump when he sees you coming? Then be happy, too, for it means that you’re doing everything right for your pet.  

grey and white rabbit up close

How to Gain Your Rabbit’s Love 

Just because you’ve brought home a rabbit doesn’t mean you’ll immediately receive his affection. You’ll have to earn it first. 

Like with any companion animal, you can build a stronger bond with your fur baby by doing certain things.  

  • Don’t hold your bun against his will: Buns hate being held, especially by people they don’t know or trust. Let your pet come to you on his own terms. He’ll likely enjoy a cuddle or two when he has gotten to know you better.  
  • Give some treats: Who doesn’t like treats, right? By giving your rabbit some tasty tidbits, they’ll associate your presence with a positive experience.  
  • Provide quality time: Spending time interacting with your pet allows him to get to know and trust you.   
  • Be quiet: Rabbits startle easily. Loud noises also stress them out. So make your bun’s living environment as peaceful as possible.  
  • Provide a comfortable home: Keeping your rabbit inside a cage all the time won’t turn him into a happy, affectionate bunny. Rabbits need to run, play and explore, so make sure you give you bun plenty of opportunities to do those things.  

How to Show Your Love to Your Rabbit 

Rabbits can show affection to humans. But how can humans show their love for their bun in ways their pet will understand? Here are some tips: 

  • Nuzzling: Don’t try this if you’ve just brought home your pet, as he may misinterpret your intention. But once you’ve gotten to know each other, rubbing noses with your bun is an excellent way of showing your affection for him. 
  • Grooming: Rabbits usually groom those they like. By returning the favor, you’ll convey the message that you care for him.  
  • Petting: Buns enjoy the soothing strokes their humans give. When your fur baby sits by your side, caressing his cheeks, chin, forehead, and back is an activity you’ll both surely enjoy.  

Rabbits have their unique way of showing affection to their owners. By learning how to interpret the gestures, you’ll be able to tell if your bun indeed loves you. 

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, will you give it a share or two 🙂 Thank you! ~from Every Bunny Welcome

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