Behavior

What Does it Mean When Rabbits Flop

rabbit flopping on his side

It’s time for your bunny to come home! Finally, you’ve got his cage, food supplies, and even toys ready. You even have your home rabbit-proofed!

Are you nervous? Happy? Or a little bit of both? How about your bun? How will he behave?

It certainly helps to have a basic idea of your rabbit’s behavior. For starters, what does it mean when rabbits flop? Is that a good or bad sign?

Getting Your Rabbit Home

Rabbits are prey animals in nature. So, don’t expect them to be affectionate and playful from the get-go.

Instead, expect them to be extremely cautious of their surroundings.

As I’ve said, it is their instinct. In their head, they’re probably figuring out the following:

  • Where should they hide in case of danger?
  • What are the potential dangers brought by your sofa (or that table around the corner)?
  • What does that rug taste like? (Hmmm…)

Give them time to adjust. Eventually, they’ll feel at ease and home to the point where they bunny flop beside you.

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What Exactly Is Bunny Flop?

Ever heard the famous line, “Curiosity kills the cat…”?

A rabbit’s curiosity can put the cats into shame. Rabbits are very… inquisitive. And this is still due to them being prey animals.

In the wild, an intimate awareness of their surroundings will most likely save them from predators.

Thus, they’ll explore every.single.thing in your home, every day.

(Is the newspaper tasty? How about the chair?)

After a couple of hours of exploring, he’ll probably get tired of his antics and get some rest. A resting rabbit might look like the following:

  • Your rabbit might lie with his paws and hind feet thrust under their bodies with their ears lying back.
  • You might also see them sprawled (as in their front and back legs are fully extended) without a care in the world.
  • Then, there’s the bunny flop.

What exactly is a “bunny flop”?

You’ll know when your bunny does its bunny flop.

A flop starts with your bun turning his head to the sides. Then, quickly, he’ll throw his body on the ground with a, sometimes loud, flop.

This isn’t unusual behavior for rabbits, both wild and domesticated.

Sometimes a bunny will have his legs extended stiffly…which is a little scary if it’s your first time seeing this behavior. Some fur parents even think their buns are dead.

In the next section, let’s learn what it means when bunnies flop.

What Does It Mean?

rabbit flopping on its side

No need to panic! Bunny flopping (Yes, including the fluttering of eyelids and whiskers) indicates that your rabbit is perfectly content, happy, and relaxed (This is the dream!).

He might even be preparing for his sleep after long hours of exploring.

Check out this article for other signs that your bunny is indeed one happy bun.

Rejoice! Because you’re doing good as a fur parent…

This is a good sign since laying on their side makes them vulnerable (to potential predators). But they’re comfortable and feel safe enough to do this with you around.

However, this is not always the case. Your buns might also flop to tease other rabbits around him.

Instead of fighting, a bunny might flop- a low-key way of showing that they don’t like being surrounded by other bunnies.

How Do I Get My Rabbit to Flop?

Getting your rabbit to flop is not that complicated. You just have to provide him with what he needs to make him feel safe and comfortable enough to make your pet feel happy and safe.

Specifically, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Provide your rabbit with comfortable accommodations
  2. Get him a cage or indoor pen (or check out these outdoor housing tips), litter box, feeder bowl, and water dispenser.
  3. Feed him regularly with fresh hay and veggies
  4. Give him treats
  5. Groom him regularly
  6. Keep his cage clean
  7. Train him and schedule a playtime

In the next section, we’ll talk about cases wherein flopping is associated with cases that need your urgent attention.

Other Reasons Why A Rabbit Flops

Is your bun flopping? That’s good!

Is he in a gloomy mood even though he’s “usually” flopping? If your answer is yes, then you have to observe him further.

The following are the possible conditions where flopping is one of the symptoms: (though they’re uncommon, it’s worth noting)

Wry Neck

Wry neck, also known as Torticollis, is a condition wherein a bunny cannot hold his head upright.

This condition is caused by an inflammation in the inner or middle ear, or worst the brain.

What are its causes?

  • More common – When your bun’s ear mites irritated his ear, this will make him susceptible to bacterial infection in both the middle and inner ear.
  • Less common – an infection called encephalitozoonosis (EC), brought by a parasite.
  • P.mutltocida, the same bacteria that causes snuffles on rabbits, might also give your bunny a wry neck. All it takes is for the bacteria to travel to your bun’s ear and brain.
  • When your rabbit has ingested contaminated hay.

Symptoms

  • Your pet chooses to position his head to the side (crooked head)
  • Your rabbit refuses to move and flops down to his side
  • Your bun goes in circles and then rolls over repeatedly

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause.

If there’s mite infestation, do your best to eradicate the pests. However, it’s best to consult your pet’s veterinarian to handle your pet’s condition properly.

Floppy Rabbit Syndrome (FRS or Nutritional Muscular Deficiency)

One day your bun is completely healthy and active, and the next he’s flopping or worse, refuse to move.

If this is the case, he might be suffering from Floppy Rabbit Syndrome or FRS.

What causes this condition?

A lack of Vitamin E will make your bun vulnerable to free-radical peroxide damage. This, in turn, will affect your pet’s muscles.

Symptoms

  • He or she is limping or flops on your hands.
  • Lack of coordination, also known as ataxia
  • Your rabbit can’t stay upright for long periods.
  • Paralysis for several hours

Prevention

To prevent this from happening to your little one, make sure to give him a Vitamin E supplement. Consult your veterinarian for other tips.

FAQ’s

Do rabbits flop when stressed?

Sometimes rabbits flop too upon getting out of a “stressful situation”. For example, after getting his nails trimmed or brushing. It’s as if he’s saying, “That’s too much! Let me rest in peace, now.”

How do I know my bunny is happy?

Here are a couple of signs to confirm that your bunny is happy:

Your rabbit shows plenty of energy.
He loves his food
A happy rabbit begs for your attention.
Your rabbit doesn’t show destructive behavior.
He’s calm and relaxed.
He makes happy rabbit sounds.
A happy bunny shows affection for you.
Happy bunnies sleep a lot.
He loves to play
Happy rabbits do the binkies and the zoomies.

Do all rabbits flop?

If rabbits are in a secure and loving environment, then yes, at some point, your rabbit will flop!

Bottomline

Although rabbits may look like simple creatures, they are actually quite complex. They feel emotions too. And they have a way of showing them. So, get ready to feel amazed (or exasperated at times) as you embark on this journey of rabbit binkies, flops and other antics!

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