It is a special feeling when another species shows affection towards you, but some do it in a pretty weird way. For instance, cats lick you when they want to display their love, but you are probably unsure what does it mean when a bunny licks you.
Rabbits, just like every other living being, have their ways of showing whether they are hungry, angry, happy, or get bored and what they need. Let’s take a look at the true meaning of licking as an unusual way of expressing emotions.
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Reasons Why Your Rabbit Licks You
There are numerous positive and negative reasons for your bunny to start licking you. You can differentiate its intentions by your body part it chooses to lick and its body posture while doing that.
Once you figure out how to properly read the signs, it will strengthen the relationship between you and your furry friend. Plus, such understanding will make it a whole lot easier to communicate.
1. It shows affection
In most cases, licking is one of the highest displays of love a rabbit can show you, and it is the closest thing to a kiss for humans. Rabbits are grateful creatures, but they can’t tell you how much they love you. Since your bunny can’t take care of you the same way you look after it, this lovely creature will thank you in other ways.
Most rabbits love to show their affection, and one of the most common ways is licking. As shy as they can be, they are very likely to loosen up when spending time with their favorite humans, and you can expect your long-eared buddy let you know how much it appreciates you.
Still, excessive shyness sometimes prevents bunnies from expressing their gratitude and affection, so there is no reason to worry if your little fellow doesn’t lick you often. Another option is that you have a rabbit that is not a big fan of this activity in general.
2. It is grateful
Rabbits are social creatures and find relationships with other animals and humans crucial. If your bunny is happy with you, it will come to you and show its gratitude in the best way it can.
For instance, your long-eared friend will come close and lick you straight out of the blue when it is glad to see you or enjoys the playing session with you. In other words, it is grateful for your care and protection and wants to thank you for providing pleasure by licking you.
3. It grooms you
Both wild and domesticated rabbits lick each other to groom one another. Grooming is one of the ways to show they care about each other’s health and hygiene, but it is also a tendency to remove scents that can lead their predators to them.
Be aware that wild rabbits never groom humans, but it is quite the opposite with pets. Their grooming instinct usually kicks in when they are relaxed and want to get closer to their offspring or socialize with other rabbits.
If your bunny feels secure and content near you or with your touch, it will show you its affection by grooming you.
4. It wants you to be healthy
Rabbits have a relatively weak immune system and are very sensitive to dirt. Therefore, being clean is crucial to them, which is why they groom the ones they love.
If your bunny like you, it will probably come to you, give you a few licks, and run along. It is how it ensures that you are clean and protected from severe diseases.
5. It wants your attention
Rabbits are incredibly social creatures and can cling to you when they are alone most of the time. Licking, in combination with cuddling, is a sign that your cuddly friend is lonely and requires a bit more of your attention.
In such a case, you can expect your long-eared buddy to nudge you, jump or dig around you, or tirelessly run back and forth.
In this case, you should spend more time with your furry friend, pet it, and hold it in your lap. Believe it or not, it will mean the world to this little buddy. Another possibility is that the rabbit wants to jump on your lap as a safe place for grooming after it has taken care of you.
6. It wants to show dominance
It can seem weird, but it can be true, particularly if you have a male rabbit. Such behavior is more familiar with rabbits that are not neutered or spayed.
Once your bunny’s hormone levels become high, it will try to show you who is the boss in the house. You will recognize this case when a bite comes after licking.
Be aware that hierarchy is crucial for bunnies. In fact, they always know which is the dominant and which is subordinate in the relationship. If you grow multiple rabbits, you will see an established hierarchy, but it can be a bit more complicated for them when bonding with humans.
If you want to confirm whether showing dominance is a reason why your rabbit licks you so much, you should pay attention to other signs that follow this behavior:
- Tendency to mark their territory
- Refusing you to handle or touch it
- Lunging toward you and trying to push you out of its way
- Claiming things that may have your scent on it
- Trying to move you from its favorite spot
If you recognize some of these actions, you should take your rabbit to the vet and neuter or spay it. This procedure is the best way to prevent your pet from getting used to behave like that. Otherwise, you will probably have a hard time with an aggressive and too dominant bunny.
7. It is bored
Domesticated rabbits get bored more often than you can guess. Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised when your long-eared buddy comes to you as soon as you enter your home and start licking you for no reason.
It signifies that your rabbit considers you a synonym for safety and protection. You are your pet’s safe zone and someone who provides comfy surroundings, food, and playful time, making its life fun and fulfilled.
8. It wants something from you
A rabbit can often come and lick you because it wants something from you, making this behavior a common extortion technique. As you can guess, it wants food or treats in most cases.
If it is a case, your bunny will start licking your hand, hoping that this will prompt you to offer it something to nibble on. Since licking your hands is probably not enough for this lovely creature to let you know what it wants, it will also:
- Run from the food bowl to you and back
- Take the food bowl and throw it in the air
- Stand up on its back feet in an attempt to locate some food
- Dig inside its bowl
- Climb on your lap and start sniffing you
In these cases, a small treat can do the trick. Still, remember to follow your rabbit’s eating cycle to prevent overfeeding it. Interestingly, most bunnies are greedy and have a big appetite despite being small. Only a precise feeding schedule can keep them healthy and lean.
9. It wishes to court you
It seems funny to you, but you should be prepared for such behavior when you have a rabbit that is not yet spayed or neutered. Once your bunny reaches sexual maturity, it will tend to mate.
In this period, bunnies start licking potential partners they want to mate with. If no other rabbits are around, your cutie will start acting strangely around you. Besides unexpected licking here and there, you can also expect it to:
- Bite you
- Circle around you
- Rub its chin on your leg or hand
- Make weird noises like grunting or crying
If you don’t plan to breed your little furry friend in the future, the best decision is to sterilize it. Apart from keeping its hormones in check, this procedure will also significantly lower the risk of cancer, which often appears in female rabbits.
10. You smell intriguing
Rabbits have 100 million scent cells, meaning their sense of smell is very delicate. If you come home and smell differently than usual, be sure that your rabbit tends to like it. It will be a reason for it to start licking you and gather as much information as possible.
Once your bunny realizes that your smell comes from something inedible, it will quickly give up. On the other hand, food smell is too tempting, and it will most likely keep licking you if your smell reminds it of apples, flowers, or bananas. The reason is simple. If your pet thinks you have a hidden treat, it is a way to get it.
Rabbits are cuddly and loving creatures that tend to be loved, protected, and happy. At the same time, they want you to feel loved just as much and always do their best to return love and affection. Therefore, you can expect these caring creatures to lick you when they consider you precious.