If your rabbit cuddles with you, they love and trust you unreservedly. As prey species, some rabbits can be scared of humans because we are much bigger and stronger. So they might run when we try to hold them or cuddle with them.
So, do rabbits like to cuddle?
Yes, and no. Some love to be handled, pet, and cuddled. On the other hand, others cannot stand cuddling, depending on their personality and past experiences with humans.
As a result, before they allow you to cuddle with them, you need to earn their love and trust based on what you do for them every day.
There is so much more to learn about rabbits and cuddling. In this article, we look at how rabbits view cuddling and what we can do to make the experience better for them.
Do rabbits like to be cuddled?
Yes, some rabbits like to be cuddled right from when they are young, but most often dislike it. Because they are prey animals, their main survival instinct is to run away.
Additionally, they have major trust issues. Sometimes it can take a while for them to trust you, so you just can’t sneak up on them, lift them, and start snuggling. They get so freaked out when you do that because, to them, doing this is similar to a hawk picking them up. That makes cuddling hard.
However, they can easily be trained to do many things. It is your job to teach your rabbit how to trust you. They have some special requirements when it comes to physical affection.
Be patient, let him explore you, and realize that you are not a threat. Eventually, he will trust you, and both of you can have a rewarding relationship.
How to get your rabbit to cuddle with you
It is normal for rabbits to lack trust. The most important thing you need to do to cuddle a rabbit successfully is to gain his trust and affection.
Showing your rabbit that you do not want to harm them is important. Luckily, this is something you can work on with patience and effort.
Here are some tips to help you gain your rabbit’s trust.
Know your rabbit’s personality
Rabbits have different personality traits. Some have trust issues and can run or become defensive if you try to interact with them. Others are calm and might even initiate affection. Either way, it is best if you know their personality.
Some common personality traits for rabbits are:
- Shy rabbits
- Aggressive rabbits
- Outgoing rabbits
- Funny rabbits
- Withdrawn rabbits
- Scared rabbits
Once you know the personality, you understand how to approach them and make them feel safe.
Spend time together in an isolated environment
Before making any cuddling moves, make sure you spend time with your bunny alone: no pets, no other humans, no noise, and no TV.
If the rabbit is caged, open the doors to the cage. This will allow him to leave when he wants to and re-enter comfortably with no pressure.
Let the rabbit come to you
You should never force interaction with your rabbit. Once you are in the room, just be present and be patient. Lie on the floor a few meters away and wait for him to come where you are.
It could be tempting to touch him, but hold off for a while. Let him smell you as he familiarizes himself with your scent, which is a gesture of trust.
Give your bunny treats to motivate him to come to you and spend time with you. This will show him the benefits of being so close to you, and he will start associating you with something they like: it is a positive mental association.
Introduce physical contact
As you continue building trust, take it to another level and build a closer bond by increasing physical contact.
Once the bunny comes to you, try petting him on the forehead, which is a sweet spot for most bunnies. If you sense he is getting comfortable, rub his back as well.
But in all these, give him full control and touch him at his own pace. Once he trusts you fully, try laying down next to them and hugging them.
Rabbits have a few spots where they dislike being touched. Be careful not to touch the following areas: under the chin, their feet, and around their butt (the tail).
If you frequently cuddle with your rabbit, he will learn to trust you and be happy. Make cuddling a habit, and make sure he knows what to expect and when. He will love the routine.
Signs that your rabbit wants to cuddle
Rabbits are not verbal, but they communicate through body language. They will use the following signals to get your attention if they want to be cuddled.
- Flopping down close to you
- Friendly lick
- Circling their feet
- Rubbing against you
- Sitting near you
- Teeth purr or teeth click when you touch them.
What to avoid when cuddling
You always want to avoid doing things that might trigger or scare your rabbit and allow him to feel safe. This means avoiding making him feel scared and trapped.
- Never sneak up on or approach him from behind because this might scare him. You always want to let them know when you are approaching.
- Do not touch the area the rabbit dislikes. If he does not like being touched on the tail, do not do it. Always respect his boundaries.
- Do not chase or run after the rabbit. If he does not want to be touched at that moment, avoid chasing him because he might think you are a predator. Always let him come to you.
- Do not squeeze or hold too tight. Rabbits are small and fragile. Squeezing them can easily cause injuries.
- Do not hug your rabbit unless you are sure that he likes it. Hugging can make him feel trapped.
- Do not turn your rabbit on his back. Rabbits are afraid of being on their backs. Doing this might scare them and cause panic.
- Do not pick the rabbit up unless you are sure he will not mind it.
Should you pick up a rabbit to cuddle?
Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits do not like to be picked up. Some of them tolerate it, but others do not like it. Rabbits prefer to cuddle on the floor because they feel safer. Lifting them is an unnatural experience, which might cause panic, and they could injure themselves or you.
They like being approached in a calm, quiet, and confident manner. They get scared by rapid movements. They like being on the ground and having space to run freely.
For a rabbit to be comfortable with being picked up, you must start early, preferably when they are a few weeks old, for them to associate it with socialization.
If you want to pick your rabbit up, you should do it correctly to avoid panic and serious injuries. This is the right way to pick him up:
- Approach slowly and get down on the floor
- Make the rabbit comfortable by petting him gently.
- Place your hand under the rabbit’s chest.
- Support the hindquarters
- Hold the head higher than the hindquarters.
- Hold him close to your body to make him feel safe.
- Hold the rabbit firmly, but if he starts to struggle or show signs of wanting to jump, put him down gently.
Avoid picking up a rabbit by its ears, scuffs, legs, tail, or in any way that does not support the back. It can be painful and cause serious injuries.
Rabbits can be affectionate, but cuddling takes patience. Cuddling can help you bond with your rabbit.
Therefore, the main goal should not be cuddling but building trust. Cuddling will come naturally if your rabbit trusts you, loves you, and feels safe and comfortable around you.
Take time to understand your bunny. Learn his body language, and you will know when it is the right time to cuddle.