Do Rabbits Make noise? Understanding Rabbit Sounds

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Do Rabbits Make noise?

Rabbits are one of the quietest pets you can ever own. Most of the time, they tend to be quiet, but they are capable of making noises. 

They can’t bark loudly like dogs or meow like cats to demand attention. However, they have a noise or sound for every need; when they’re happy, unhappy, and everything in between.

It is, therefore, essential to learn and understand rabbit noises and what they mean to help you meet their needs. 

Understanding what they’re trying to tell you can help you build a strong and healthy relationship with your pet rabbit.

Do rabbits make noise?

Yes, rabbits make noise to communicate. Rabbit noises help them express the emotional state they’re in. They make noise when happy, excited, threatened, scared, and unwell. 

These noises are crucial; the only way you can decipher them is by paying attention and taking the time to listen keenly.

What noises do rabbits make when happy?

Here are a few sounds you can hear when your rabbit is happy and content.

Teeth Purring 

This noise consists of light, rapid tooth crunches. It sounds a lot like cats purring, but quieter. It often comes out when you’re cuddling or petting the rabbit, but occasionally, the noise may come out when he’s snuggled up on a sofa by himself. 


Honking is often confused with grunting because they sound similar. However, honking is softer and has a different meaning. A rabbit honks for the following reasons:

  • When enjoying something
  • When excited
  • When he wants to get attention
  • When he wants to initiate mating

If your rabbit is unneutered, honking can be a way of showing interest in mating with another rabbit. It’s also accompanied by a circling movement. But if your rabbits are neutered and spayed, honking is a sign of happiness and excitement.


A rabbit’s cluck is different from a chicken’s cluck. It’s quieter, with a soft pitch, meaning that a rabbit is content or appreciates something. This sound is heard when rabbits are eating or chewing on something they like a lot.

What noises do rabbits make when unhappy?

When rabbits are unhappy, their noises are aggressive and loud. These noises can be a sign of anger, fear, or pain.


Rabbits make a grunting or growling sound to express anger or disapproval. They do this mostly when you invade their territory or pick them up. Despite being pets for a long time, most rabbits don’t enjoy being picked up or held. 

Growling is a warning sign to back off. If you’re not careful, it’s often followed by a bite or scratch.


Whining or whimpering means that your rabbit is feeling scared or distressed. This noise is meant to let you know he’s unhappy about a particular situation, either a person or another rabbit. It’s especially common when two rabbits are in the same cage, which is a sign of discomfort.


A rabbit hisses by blowing air between the tongue and teeth. A rabbit can make this noise to warn another rabbit to get out of his way. If there are no other rabbits around and it hisses at you, it’s better if you stay out of its way.

Foot stomping or thumping

Rabbit on a plant
Rabbit on a plant

Sometimes a rabbit may thump one foot on the ground or both back feet at the same time. This noise is a warning sign that he has smelt, heard, or seen danger. 

Danger may be in different forms; it could be a predator, fire, or sudden/strange movement. Stomping lets you know that he’s nervous or afraid.

What noise do rabbits make when they are unwell?

Recognizing when your rabbit is sick or unwell can be tricky. But he can make some noises to communicate that he isn’t feeling well. Noises such as teeth grinding, wheezing, sneezing, coughing, or screaming can let you know that he’s unwell.

Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding is different from teeth purring. If a rabbit grinds its teeth loudly and excessively, it could mean that he’s in pain or uncomfortable, and he might need medical attention.


Just like humans, rabbits wheeze when they are struggling to breathe. In most cases, wheezing noises result from breathing problems or a blocked nose. This could indicate respiratory infections like a cold.

The wheezing noise sounds a lot like heavy, labored breathing. Usually, it clears up on its own, but if it persists, contact a vet immediately. If left untreated, it could develop pneumonia, which may be fatal.

Sneezing or coughing 

Rabbits can sneeze when their airways are blocked. Sneezing is triggered when the nose is irritated by dust particles, food particles, etc. It can also be caused by respiratory infections. 

On the other hand, coughing helps clear the throat. It can also result from respiratory infections, even though sometimes it might not be a symptom of anything.


A rabbit scream is perhaps one of the most worrying noises your rabbit can make, and it sounds like a long, loud, and sharp cry. It’s alarming and means that your rabbit needs immediate attention. When a rabbit screams, it means that he’s experiencing the following;

  • Extreme pain
  • Extreme fear
  • Extreme anger

Sometimes a rabbit might scream when he’s dying because of the air being forced out of his lungs.

13 Sounds Rabbits Make and What They Mean


Rabbit noises can tell you a lot about what your rabbit is feeling. Happy noises include honking, purring, and clucking. Distressed noises include growling/grunting, hissing, and foot-stomping or thumping. 

Finally, noises to indicate that your rabbit is unwell include teeth grinding, wheezing, sneezing/coughing, and screaming. 

It’s essential to differentiate between these noises to be able to take care of your rabbit.

Photo of author


Jennifer Bourassa is a passionate animal lover and the founder of The Rabbit Retreat, a website dedicated to educating rabbit owners and providing them with the necessary resources to care for their furry friends. With over a decade of experience in rabbit care, Jennifer is a knowledgeable and compassionate advocate for these beloved pets. Jennifer's love for rabbits started when she adopted her first bunny, Thumper, and quickly realized the joy and challenges that come with rabbit ownership. Since then, she has made it her mission to help other rabbit owners navigate the ins and outs of bunny care, from feeding and grooming to housing and more. With The Rabbit Retreat, Jennifer hopes to build a community of like-minded rabbit enthusiasts who can share their experiences and support one another in providing the best possible care for their furry companions.