Do you want to know why your bunny digs on you?
Have you been enjoying a peaceful moment with your bunny, only for it to start digging into you suddenly? You should note that the digging behavior of rabbits can vary depending on the specific context and purpose.
In this article, we will explain why your bunnies might be digging on you and how to respond to the behavior.
Why Do Bunnies Dig?
The digging behavior of your bunny starts with understanding their instincts.
In the wild, rabbits are burrowers.
Their survival depends on digging intricate tunnels and burrows for shelter and protection from predators.
These burrows are their homes, nurseries, and their safe zones.
Even domestic bunnies have retained this instinctual need to dig. Due to this deep-seated instinct, they might dig on carpets, furniture, or even their owners.
It’s a healthy, natural behavior that allows them to exercise and express their inherent rabbit nature.
Reasons Why Bunnies Dig on You
So, why does your bunny dig on you? Let’s discuss the reasons behind this behavior.
Bunnies, just like cats and dogs, have unique communication methods. When a bunny digs on you, it could be trying to get your attention or convey a message.
It might be trying to tell you it’s playtime or boring and needs stimulation.
2. Claiming Territory
Rabbits are territorial creatures. When they dig on you, they could be marking their territory.
The digging action could be a way of spreading their scent, telling others that you are ‘theirs.’
Surprisingly, bunnies could also be showing their affection when they dig on you. In the bunny language, digging on a companion might be a way of grooming or bonding.
4. Instinctual Behaviour
As we’ve already discussed, digging is an instinctual behavior for bunnies. When your bunny digs on you, it may just be practicing this natural behavior.
How to Respond or Stop
Digging is an instinct for bunnies, but it can become problematic, especially if they’re causing discomfort or harm.
Here are some strategies to discourage your bunny from digging on you:
1. Provide Alternatives
Give your bunny plenty of other opportunities to dig. This could include a digging box filled with safe materials like shredded paper, sand, or soil.
A designated digging area will distract them from digging on you and keep them mentally stimulated and physically active.
2. Discourage the Behaviour
If your bunny starts digging on you, calmly and gently discourage it. This could be as simple as placing them on the ground when they begin to dig or using a soft, firm voice to tell them ‘no.’
3. Use Protective Covers
If your bunny often digs on your lap, consider using a thick blanket or towel to protect your skin.
Training Your Bunny Not to Dig on You
The best way to stop your bunny from digging on you is through consistent, patient training.
Here are some steps you can take:
1. Positive Reinforcement
Reward your bunny for not digging on you. This could be a small treat, a gentle petting, or verbal praise. Over time, they will associate not digging with rewards.
2. Redirect the Behaviour
When your bunny begins to dig, redirect them to their designated digging area. It would be best to do this consistently to create a strong association.
3. Stay Calm and Patient
Training a bunny requires a lot of patience. You should not raise your voice or physically punish your bunny, as it can lead to fear and stress.
Here are some frequently asked questions.
Do Rabbits Dig When They Are Happy?
Yes, digging is a natural behavior for rabbits that can indicate they are excited and engaged. But, it can also be a sign of boredom, so providing your rabbit with plenty of toys and stimulation is vital.
Why Does My Rabbit Dig At My Leg?
Your rabbit may dig at your leg for several reasons: a sign of affection, a request for attention, or more space.
Digging can also be a part of play behavior for rabbits.
How Do I Know If My Bunny Likes Me?
Signs that your bunny likes you include running around your feet in circles, licking you, jumping into your lap, nudging you with its nose, or flopping or binkying (jumping and twisting in the air) in your presence.
They may also approach you for petting or treats.
How Do You Know If Your Bunny Likes You Petting Them?
A rabbit that enjoys being petted might purr, grind its teeth softly, close its eyes, or even ‘flop’ over with excitement.
They might move away, nip, or thump their back foot if they don’t want to be petted.
Why Does My Bunny Dig At My Shirt?
Your bunny may dig at your shirt as part of their natural digging behavior, for attention, or because they’re interested in the texture of the fabric.
Why Does My Bunny Dig On Me And Bite?
If your bunny is digging and biting, it may signify annoyance or a desire for more space.
Why Does My Bunny Dig On Me At Night?
Your bunny may be more active at night as rabbits are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk.
Digging on you at night could be a request for attention or play or a way for them to express their natural digging instincts.
Is Digging a Sign Of Distress in Bunnies?
While digging is a natural behavior for bunnies, excessive digging could indicate stress or boredom. Ensure your bunny has plenty of stimulation and opportunities to exercise.
Can I Completely Stop My Bunny From Digging?
It’s unlikely and not recommended to completely stop your bunny from digging.
It’s a natural and healthy behavior. The goal should be to direct this behavior to appropriate places.
Should I Stop My Rabbit From Digging On Me?
If the digging is causing you discomfort or leading to aggressive behavior, then it’s reasonable to try and discourage this behavior.
Reasons for digging in rabbits lie in understanding your bunny’s instinct and communication methods.
It can be surprising or annoying, but you should know that your bunny isn’t trying to harm you.
You can manage their digging behavior by providing them with alternatives and using patient training techniques, and continue to enjoy your bonding time with them.
We hope this article helped you know why your bunny suddenly digs on you. If you have any questions, comment below, and we will answer them.
1. Buseth, M. E., & Saunders, R. (2014). Rabbit behaviour, health and care. CABI. https://books.google.com.ng/books?hl=en&lr=&id=vE8oBgAAQBAJ
2. Oxley, J. A., & Ellis, C. F. (2015). Misconceptions regarding rabbit behaviour. The Veterinary Record, 176(13), 339. https://www.proquest.com/openview/a927714d239a6b6c2938256862c764d7/
3. S. M. Mullan BVMS, DWEL, MRCVS., & D. C. J. Main BVetMed, PhD, CertVR, DWEL, MRCVS. (2007). Behaviour and personality of pet rabbits and their interactions with their owners. https://bvajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1136/vr.160.15.516