Why Does My Rabbit Put Her Head Down When I Pet Her?

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Why Does My Rabbit Put Her Head Down When I Pet Her?

Having a new pet is exciting, but what do you do when you don’t have the “average” pet like a cat or dog? How do you know how to read their body language and understand their moods? 

If you’re confused about something your rabbit has done, you probably don’t have someone you know with pet rabbit experience to ask. No problem – that’s what the internet is for, right? To answer all of your many pet rabbit questions. 

So, why does my rabbit’s head go down when I pet her? 

Let’s find out.

Do rabbits like being pets?

What a great question to ask, and probably one of the first you should be pondering when deciding what pet to have. Surely you find rabbits adorable and want them as pets, but do they want you?

Rabbits can be great pets and good companions. However, how happy your rabbit is as a pet depends greatly on you as a pet owner. 

To have a happy and adorable pet rabbit, make sure that you know how to take care of them, and then read the signs they give you. 

Let them come to you

Rabbits will be naturally shy creatures. As a prey species (meaning they have lots of predators), they are wary of creatures larger than themselves. That will include you until you’ve won over their trust. 

How to gain their trust? Let them come to you. 

You may want to cuddle up with your adorable pet rabbit and give them lots of love and affection, but don’t rush the situation. Resist the urge to constantly pick up your rabbit; they are more comfortable on the ground. 

Be patient and when you want to pet your rabbit, let it come to you. Rabbits can be affectionate pets, but give them time to get comfortable with you. 

Pet on heads, faces, and backs

Your rabbit has started to feel comfortable with you, and now they want your affection. They’ve come to you, and it seems as though they want to be your pet. 

Where exactly do you pet a rabbit?

Rabbits like to be petted on their heads, faces, and backs. Specifically, they like having their forehead and cheeks petted. They also enjoy a nice back rub – who doesn’t, right?

Avoid petting your rabbit on its ears, neck, stomach, feet, and tail. 

If your rabbit is approaching you in the hopes of getting some affection, this is a great sign that they like being your pet. 

Read the signs

All bunnies have different personalities, so it may take some time to understand your rabbit. However, certain “universal” signs will tell you if your rabbit is happy or not. 

If you’re yearning to have your rabbit cuddle up with you, then remember to let her come to you and pet her in the right places. If you try to force it, by picking her up. She’ll likely get scared of you and start hiding and running away anytime you come near. That’s not what you want. 

At first, just sit on the ground calmly in the same space as your rabbit. Soon enough, she’ll see you are a friend, not a foe, and she’ll wander over to cuddle up for some affection. 

Girl petting a rabbit
Girl petting a rabbit

Why does my rabbit put her head down when I pet her?

Usually, when your rabbit puts its head down as you pet them, it’s a good sign. But let’s look at some possible interpretations of their rabbit language to figure out why a rabbit may put its head down while being pet. 

Wants you to continue petting her

You’re petting your rabbit in all its preferred spots (head, face, and back), and it’s enjoying the attention. It generally relaxes and puts its head down. They may even close their eyes. 

This is a great sign. It means that your rabbit trusts you and wants your attention and love. By putting her head down in this manner, it means that she wants you to continue showering her with love. 

Sprawling out

If your rabbit comes near you and lays down flat, completely sprawled out, as though pancaked on the ground, this is also a good sign. While it may not necessarily mean she wants to be petted, it does mean that your rabbit is comfortable with you. 

Rabbits only take this position if they feel at ease and safe. A happy rabbit will often lie flat next to its owner. Take this as a good sign. 

Groom me

If your rabbit puts its head down and nudges you, it means that they want your attention, or in rabbit terms, they want to be “groomed.”

It’s a win as a rabbit pet owner if your rabbit has come looking and asking for your affection in this way. Give them some love. 

Most likely, your rabbit will then put her head down as a sign of contentment at being petted. 

Woman petting a rabbit on a table
Woman petting a rabbit on a table

Signs of an unhappy rabbit

While we’re hoping you see the above signs of a happy pet rabbit, it’s good to understand when your rabbit is not pleased. After all, who doesn’t have their moods?


While you may think this is a cute sign, it’s actually a bad thing if your rabbit is thumping. 

What does thumping look like? A rabbit will “thump” its hind legs onto the ground so strongly that it makes a loud sound. 

Thumping generally means that a rabbit senses danger or is upset with you. A rabbit may only thump once, but if they sense continuous danger, it will thump many times. 

Grinding teeth loudly

Purring is a good sign. Rabbits purr by gently clicking their teeth together. They often do this while being petted to show that they are happy. 

Purring shouldn’t be confused with grinding their teeth. They mean completely different things. When a rabbit is loudly grinding its teeth, they are not happy. 

It can also be a sign of pain. 

Wagging tail

Don’t confuse your rabbit’s wagging tail as a good thing. When a rabbit wags its tail, it is not happy with you or the situation. 

It’s not as serious as thumping, but it is not a good sign. 

Don’t mix up your pet knowledge of dogs and take a wagging tail as a sign of a happy rabbit. It certainly is not. 


Lunging is another aggressive act by your rabbit. Often, a rabbit will lunge to tell you to back off. They may feel threatened or territorial. Lunging is their way of telling you to go away. 

If your rabbit lunges at you, it is a sign of fear. They are responding aggressively to defend themselves or their territory. If your rabbit lunges at you, leave them be so they know you aren’t a danger to them. 

Rabbit Body Language

Understanding rabbit cues

Rabbits will let you know how they are feeling; you just need to know what their actions and signals mean. 

Learning the meanings of your bunny’s habits will help you to be a better pet owner. Get in tune with your rabbit’s feelings so that you can gain their trust and create a bond. 

Rabbits are affectionate and curious creatures. There will be a lot of opportunities to create a deep bond with your pet. But, be patient, learn the cues, and respect what your rabbit tells you. 

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.