Understanding 15 Rabbit Noises and What They Mean

image of a white rabbit on a box

If you’ve never cared for a pet rabbit, you likely think that bunnies are quiet animals. Well, they are, at least compared to dogs or cats who can keep you (and the neighbors!) up with their annoying vocalizations. While rabbits don’t make loud noises, they still make an array of sounds. These rabbit noises serve as their way of telling you how they feel. They may be quiet creatures, but let’s look at some common rabbit noises and what they mean.     

Rabbit Noises: Key Take-Aways

Ultimately rabbits make an array of different noises – some of signs of pain but some are a sign of affection. Here are some of the most common rabbit noises:

  • Purring – yes, a rabbit purrs, not as loud as a cat’s purr, but they purr.
  • Growling – growling means back off.
  • Grunting – a rabbit grunts to express annoyance and put you on high alert to keep your distance.
  • Thumping – this one of the loudest sounds rabbits make – it’s a thump with their back feet.
  • Grinding – tooth grinding can mean health issues, so get your rabbit medical attention.

How Much Noise Do Rabbits Make?    

Rabbits, both domesticated and wild rabbits, typically prefer to communicate through body language. However, they also create some noises in their attempt to communicate. Like humans and other animals, some buns are chattier than others, so one rabbit may make fewer sounds than his companion.    

For the most part, though, house rabbits are some of the quietest animals around. When you hear them make a loud noise, it usually isn’t a good sign, so it’s a good idea to pay close attention to the different sounds your rabbit makes so you can determine a sign of contentment versus a sign of pain.     

You can find out more about rabbits with these posts on the best bunny for kids, the broken New Zealand rabbits, and mini lops vs holland lops.

List of Rabbit Noises & What They Mean    

Rabbit noises express different emotions such as happiness, contentment, fear, anger, and pain. Let’s take a look at some of them.   

Happy Rabbit Noises   

Rabbits make a variety of sounds, but a happy noise is the sound you’ll want to hear the most as they indicate that all is well with your bun.   


A rabbit’s purr doesn’t seem so much like a cat’s as it doesn’t come from the throat but the gentle grinding of your bun’s teeth (also called tooth purring), so it’s a very soft sound. Still, like cats, rabbits purr when your rabbit feels calm and content, so you’ll often hear this sound when you’re petting your rabbit. It’s definitely a happy sound so if you hear it, enjoy it.     


No, you can’t mistake your rabbit’s clucking with that of a chicken as your bun’s is softer and gentler, sounding more like a hiccup than a cluck. Buns usually do this when they’re nibbling on something they love, such as carrots or in the case of this video below, leafy greens! Sometimes you can also hear a soft clucking sound coming from snoozing rabbits.   


Excitement can cause your rabbit to honk, like when he sees you coming with his favorite treat, or he knows it’s playtime. Rabbit owners describe the sound as a cross between a bark and a snort. Some even say it’s akin to a pig’s oink, only softer. Watch for this noise when your rabbit does a binky.  


Is your bunny humming? Well, he’s likely in the mood for love. Although most rabbits hum on certain occasions, you’ll usually hear it more from mating rabbits or unneutered males.   

Unhappy Rabbit Noises    

Rabbits also have a repertoire of sounds to express negative emotions. 


The meaning of a rabbit’s sign is similar to that of humans. Sighing in buns often signifies resignation to something he is either not happy with, such as being groomed or having his nails clipped, or content with. A rabbit sigh can sometimes be heard when the rabbit yawns or stretches, which is more a sign your rabbit is at ease.    


growl means precisely what you think it does. When your rabbit growls, it means your bun is angry and is telling you to back off or else! While not a happy noise, growling is at the top of the most common rabbit noise list. The first time I heard our rabbit growl I was cleaning his enclosure while he was still in it. (Tip: Clean their enclosure without them inside as big changes like this can make them irritable.)

It doesn’t sound like a dog’s growl but more like a low-pitched vibration. You may even mistake it for a squeak in some rabbits. Still, it’s a warning you need to heed as it can precede a bite or other aggressive behavior.   


Like growling, rabbit hissing is your pet’s way of warning you or other rabbits to stay away and get out of his or her personal space. It’s a strange sound and you may hear it when your bun doesn’t want to be held or is being protective of his food or home. Sometimes, if your bunny has a tendency to scratch at the floor, you may hear a hiss along with their behavior.  


Rabbits who growl may also grunt. Grunting is a higher-pitched sound compared to growling and is a less common noise buns make. A perceived threat is usually the reason why rabbits grunt. It’s their way of warding off the predator or intruder. A grunting rabbit is showing a sign of annoyance and saying he or she doesn’t want company and may take a swipe at you if you don’t leave him alone.   


Thumping is not a vocal sound but instead is created by your rabbit slamming his hind legs against the ground. Aside from screaming, it is probably the loudest noise you’ll hear from your bun. It can be as loud as a book dropping on the floor. Rabbits who thump are nervous or scared. They may sense danger in some form, and thumping is their way of warning everyone in the vicinity about the threat. 


This may indicate annoyance, such as when you insist on handling your per when he wants to be left alone. Pregnant does, or female rabbits may also whimper when you put them in a cage with another rabbit, especially if it’s a buck. This may be her way of telling you she doesn’t want a cage mate or a buck’s displays of affection. 

Sounds of Distress in Rabbits    

As prey animals, these are noises rabbits make to let you know they’re in danger, or extreme pain, so if you hear any of these, quickly check on your pet.    

Tooth Grinding     

If you’re a first-time bun parent, you might confuse this with purring. But whereas purring is a gentle sound, tooth grinding is louder and has a harsh resonance. Rabbits make this sound when they’re stressed or in pain. Seeing your pet in a hunched position as he makes this sound means a trip to the vet may be necessary as it can also indicate dental disease. And a rabbit that has tooth pain will often stop eating, which can then lead to even more issues since their digestive track will slow down as well.


You need to determine the difference between wheezing and sighing because they may sound similar at first. Sighing is usually one prolonged breath exhalation while wheezing sounds as if your bun is having difficulty breathing. And that’s exactly what this rabbit noise indicates. Wheezing often occurs with respiratory illnesses, which can sometimes turn serious very quickly. So immediately consult your pet’s doctor when he makes this sound.   


If your rabbit sneezes every once in a while, it’s likely nothing to be alarmed about. A dust particle or piece of fur can irritate the nasal passages and entice a sneeze. However, if it becomes a regular occurrence, a visit to a rabbit veterinarian is recommended.


Hiccups can happen when your rabbit has been zooming or playing. You’ll likely notice the rabbit bop moreso than hear the actual hiccup. Hiccups should go away in a very short time. If it’s been over 30 minutes, it could be a sign of trouble breathing and a trip to the veterinarian is recommended.


Of all the noises rabbits make, a rabbit scream is one sound you wouldn’t want to hear because rabbits only scream when they’re scared out of their wits (like when they’re under attack) or in severe pain. This high-pitched noise will send chills down your spine, and if you ever hear it drop whatever you’re doing and run to your bun. 


Rabbit noises are your pet’s attempts to communicate with you. However, because he’s using a different language, you won’t immediately be able to get what he means. By taking the time to listen to him, you’ll be able to decipher the various sounds he uses, which can help strengthen the bond between the two of you. 

FAQs about Rabbit Noises

What noise does a bunny make?

A rabbit makes a variety of noises – from purring, grunting, hissing and even tooth grinding. Some are happy sounds and some are unhappy. Find out about each one in the Rabbit Noises section above.

What does it mean when a rabbit honks?

A honk is a happy sound, so it can mean they are super excited to see you coming. Maybe you have their favorite treat or favorite chew toy.

What are some happy rabbit noises?

Some happy rabbit sounds are purring, clucking, honking, and humming. Find the full descriptions and examples in the Happy Noises section above.

Other Posts on Rabbit Behavior

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