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Why Does My Rabbit Follow Me?

Is your rabbit following you around and everywhere you go?

Rabbits are very social animals that like spending time with their owners. They see their human companions as sources of comfort and security and will always follow them around.

In this article, we will discuss why your rabbits may be following you and determine if it is right to let them do so.

Overview

Rabbits are highly social animals, originating from a complex community structure in the wild.

Living in large groups, known as warrens, these creatures exhibit a broad range of social behaviors.

These behaviors can often translate into their interactions with humans, their newfound companions in domesticity.

One common misconception about rabbits is that they’re similar to rodents, such as hamsters or guinea pigs.

However, rabbits are lagomorphs, a completely different group of animals.

This difference is biological and reflected in their behavior, which is more aligned with animals of a higher social structure, such as dogs or cats.

Why Does My Rabbit Follow Me?

So, what does it mean when your rabbit follows you around?

It can signify several things, including:

1. Curiosity

Rabbits are naturally curious creatures, always looking for new and exciting things in their environment.

This curiosity drives their behavior and helps them learn about their surroundings.

So when you notice your rabbit following you, they might be interested in your activities or want to discover more about you.

This curiosity is an important trait that makes rabbits intelligent, engaging pets.

However, ensure your rabbit’s environment is safe to explore, as their curiosity could lead them to chew on harmful objects or venture into unsafe areas.

2. Seeking Attention

Rabbits, being social animals, crave interaction and bonding. If your rabbit is following you, they might be trying to communicate their need for your attention or affection.

This can be especially true for rabbits who have formed a strong bond with their owners.

They may seek your company, want to play with you, be petted, or enjoy your presence.

Moreover, rabbits have a wide range of emotions and can experience loneliness if they don’t receive enough social interaction.

Therefore, following you could also be a cry for companionship. As an owner, you should spend quality time with your rabbit, ensuring they feel loved and cared for.

3. Hunger

Your rabbit may associate you with food, especially if you’re the one who usually feeds them.

So, if it’s nearing their mealtime and they start following you around, it could mean they’re hungry and expect you to provide their food.

It’s not unusual for rabbits to get excited about mealtime, and following their owners is one of the ways they show this anticipation.

Keep in mind that rabbits need a balanced diet primarily composed of hay, complemented by a suitable amount of fresh vegetables, rabbit pellets, and a limited quantity of fruit.

So, even if your rabbit seems eager for food, ensure you’re not overfeeding them.

4. Asserting Dominance

In the wild, rabbits have a clear social hierarchy in their warrens. This hierarchical behavior sometimes translates to domesticated rabbits too.

If your rabbit is following you persistently, it could be its way of asserting dominance or trying to establish its position in the ‘warren’ of your home.

While this is less common than the other reasons, it’s still possible. Asserting dominance can sometimes lead to aggressive behavior.

The Impact of a Rabbit’s Following Behavior

Rabbits are complex creatures with unique ways of interacting with their environment and human caretakers.

The act of a rabbit following its owner can have numerous implications, potentially providing profound insights into the rabbit’s mental state and your relationship with them.

Here’s how this behavior might impact you and your bunny:

1. Enhancing the Human-Rabbit Bond

When a rabbit chooses to follow its owner, it generally indicates a strong bond between them.

Rabbits are typically cautious animals, and the act of willingly following a human signifies a level of trust and comfort.

This trust is a vital component of your relationship with your rabbit. It shows that they see you not as a potential threat but as a companion or even part of their ‘family.’

This strong bond can benefit you as an owner, enhancing the overall pet ownership experience.

2. Indicating Comfort and Trust Levels

As prey animals, rabbits are naturally alert and wary of their surroundings.

When rabbits feel comfortable following their human caregiver, they feel safe and secure in their environment.

A rabbit’s comfort level and trust can impact its health and happiness.

Stress can lead to numerous health issues in rabbits so this behavior can be a positive sign of their overall well-being.

3. Uncovering Health Issues

While the following behavior can often indicate positive emotions, it can sometimes point to underlying health issues.

For instance, if your rabbit is following you around more than usual and seems to be begging for food even after being fed, it might be a sign that they are not feeling well or their nutritional needs are not being met.

In such cases, you should monitor your rabbit closely and see a vet if you notice any sudden changes in their behavior or appetite.

4. Potential for Overdependence

While a rabbit following its owner can signify a positive bond, it can sometimes indicate an overdependence on its human caregiver.

Rabbits are social animals but also need space and time to explore independently.

If a rabbit becomes overly attached, it might struggle with being alone if you leave them for the weekend or short holiday, which could lead to stress and anxiety.

Balancing interaction and independence is vital to ensure a rabbit’s emotional well-being.

If you notice signs of over-dependence, you might need to gradually encourage your rabbit to spend more time alone or provide them with toys and other forms of enrichment to keep them entertained when you’re not around.

Encouraging or Discouraging Following Behavior

As a rabbit owner, you should understand how to manage your pet’s behavior to ensure they’re comfortable and content, and this includes knowing when and how to encourage or discourage their following behavior.

Let’s delve into some practical strategies to guide your rabbit’s actions based on your specific circumstances and comfort levels:

Encouraging Following Behavior

If you enjoy your rabbit’s company and want to encourage them to follow you around, here are a few strategies:

1. Reward Positive Behavior: Reward your rabbit when they follow you by offering them a treat or gentle petting. Rabbits are intelligent animals and will quickly associate following you with positive experiences.

2. Regular Interaction: Make time for regular social interaction. Engaging in playful activities with your rabbit or simply spending time with them can help establish a bond, making them more likely to follow you.

3. Training: Rabbits can be trained using positive reinforcement techniques. You can use treats to encourage your rabbit to follow you and reinforce this behavior over time.

Discouraging Following Behavior

It can be endearing to have your rabbit follow you around, but there may be times when you need to discourage this behavior.

This could be due to the rabbit becoming overly dependent or if the following behavior becomes disruptive.

Here’s how you can gently dissuade your rabbit from following you:

1. Setting Boundaries: Teach your rabbit which areas are off-limits by gently guiding them away from these spaces. It might take time, but eventually, they’ll learn where they’re allowed to go and where they aren’t.

2. Providing Enrichment: If your rabbit is following you out of boredom, providing them with plenty of toys, puzzles, and opportunities for exploration can keep them entertained, reducing their need to follow you constantly.

3. Controlled Feeding: Establish a feeding routine if your rabbit follows you around mainly for food. Over time, they’ll learn that food is only available at certain times, which can discourage them from following you incessantly for treats.

Whether encouraging or discouraging your rabbit’s following behavior, you should approach it with patience and positive reinforcement.

Being harsh or punishing your rabbit could lead to stress or fear, adversely affecting their health and behavior.

Other Common Rabbit Behaviors

Besides following their owners, rabbits exhibit other behaviors that can seem peculiar if you’re unfamiliar with them.

If you understand these common behaviors, you can better connect with your rabbit and meet their needs.

Here are some common rabbit behaviors that may accompany the following:

1. Nudging

Nudging is a typical rabbit behavior where they push their nose into you or other objects.

This can be their way of asking for attention or demanding that you move out of their way.

Sometimes, the nudging can also signify affection, especially if accompanied by relaxed body language.

2. Circling

If your rabbit is running circles around your feet, it’s usually a sign of excitement or an expression of affection.

In some cases, it can be a mating behavior.

Unspayed or unneutered rabbits may circle other rabbits or even their human caretakers as a form of courtship display.

3. Hopping or Leaping (Binking)

One of the most delightful rabbit behaviors is the “binky.”

Binky is a unique rabbit behavior where they jump in the air, twist their body, and head in opposite directions before landing.

This is a sign of pure joy and excitement, often exhibited when playing or exploring their surroundings.

4. Flopping

A rabbit flop might initially give you a start because rabbits fall onto their sides or back and look like they’ve collapsed.

However, in most cases, a flop is a good sign. It shows that your rabbit is exceptionally relaxed and comfortable in their environment.

5. Thumping

When a rabbit thumps or stomps its back legs, it’s usually a warning sign.

In the wild, rabbits use thumping to warn their warren of potential threats. In a domestic setting, rabbits may thump to express displeasure or fear.

6. Chinning

Rabbits have scent glands under their chins, and they use these to mark their territory.

If you see your rabbit rubbing their chin on objects (or even on you), they’re leaving its scent behind to declare that it’s its territory.

7. Periscoping

Periscoping is when a rabbit stands on their hind legs with their ears standing straight up, looking much like a periscope.

This behavior is usually a sign of curiosity or caution as they try to get a better look at their surroundings.

Conclusion

Whether rabbits are following you out of curiosity, seeking affection, or asserting dominance, it’s clear that this behavior is a testament to their unique, often misunderstood, social nature.

Recognizing and understanding these behaviors will help you respond better to your rabbits and deepen the bond you share with them.

We hope this article helped you understand why your rabbit may follow you. If you have any questions, please comment below.

Resources

1. Anne Mcbride, E. Magnus, G. Hearne. Behaviour problems in the domestic rabbit. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313158179_Behaviour_problems_in_the_domestic_rabbit

2. Crowell-Davis, S. L. (2007). Behavior Problems in Pet Rabbits. Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, 16(1), 38-44. DOI: 10.1053/j.jepm.2006.11.022. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1557506306001807

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