your pet rabbit is tapping his foot, and you can’t make the connection. So why is he doing this?
Rabbit body language
In the wild, rabbits live in colonies. To organize their social life, communication is essential. Rabbits have a wide range of possibilities at their disposal: attitudes, movements and noises. The domestic rabbit has not lost these abilities and you will find them in your rabbit.
The position of the body, the ears or the tail can be subtly combined to express submission, fear, aggressiveness, relaxation or curiosity. Rabbits can quickly adjust their body posture to that of their fellow rabbits and avoid conflict most of the time.
As a rabbit owner, it will be helpful for you to learn about rabbit body language. Even if he knows that you are not a rabbit, he will communicate with you in his rabbit way. It will be easier to tame your pet by using its language. For example, you can lie down on your stomach to greet your rabbit by rubbing your nose against its nose, or rub your feet on the ground, as if you wanted to wipe them, to show your displeasure following one of its misdeeds. This will be very effective.
Ears that are upright indicate an alert rabbit, ears that are tilted forward indicate a curious rabbit, ears that are tilted back a little indicate a relaxed rabbit, ears that are tilted forward a little more indicate an aggressive rabbit, etc.
You can understand the potential vulnerability of the ram rabbits for which the breed standards require that the ears be well floppy and immobile. These rabbits are more easily subject to sudden aggression from other rabbits with more mobile and non-drooping ears. However, let’s not make them complete victims because they still have olfactory and auditory communication, and visual communication using their paws and tail.
Your rabbit stamps its foot
Some happy rabbit owners wake up in the middle of the night because their pet is tapping its hind leg on the floor without knowing what to do to make it stop. Given your knowledge of rabbit body language, you know he’s trying to say something. But what is it?
Half asleep, you have only one fear, that he will wake up the neighbor or other people in the household, and only one desire, to go back to sleep. Then the day breaks, you’ll have to find a solution.
Rabbits have activity peaks at dawn and dusk and do not sleep through the night, waking up quite often. During these waking phases, they react to their environment.
When a rabbit taps its hind leg, it is usually expressing concern about danger and wants to inform the colony. Even if your rabbit is alone in his cage, which is not very good for his morale, he will want to communicate his fear. And the sound and vibration of his pawing is intended to be heard underground, in the burrow’s galleries.
The pawing can also be a sign of annoyance: your rabbit is upset about something. In this case, not only will he stamp his hind leg, but he may also give a high-pitched grunt.
Another way to distinguish between fear and annoyance is to observe the attitude of other rabbits. In the first case, the other rabbits will freeze to identify the danger, and may even start pawing as well. If they don’t perceive anything particularly threatening, they’ll go about their business, but it will still be stressful to hear the banging. In the second case, the other rabbits will remain indifferent as soon as the noise begins.
Finding the cause to get back to sleep
If the problem persists over time, your rabbit’s sleep may be affected. By moving his cage away from your room, you can reduce the disturbance. But that won’t solve the problem your rabbit is obviously facing.
Rabbits are fearful animals because they are vulnerable. So the only solution is to find out what’s bothering him so much. If your rabbit is alone, he may be showing anxiety about being without a companion. Perhaps he sees a shadow that has moved with the wind and that he finds threatening. To test this hypothesis, you can cover his cage with a sheet to limit his vision during the night. If he already has a companion, it may be a conflict between the two rabbits.
In any case, you will have to spend some time observing your pet (and its possible companions) to understand the situation and come up with a solution to calm it down.