Updated: Feb 10
Rabbits are social animals that enjoy having physical contact with people. Our bunnies receive a lot of family attention from day 7. :-) However, rabbits are pray animals, petting them in the wrong place can result in discomfort, stress, or even fear. Thus, especially with a new pet, it's important to understand where they prefer to be petted to provide a positive experience for your furry friend and to build the bond.
Best place to start:
Head: Rabbits generally enjoy having their head and ears stroked, especially at the base of the ears. This can be a sign of affection and trust and most rabbits will settle down to hang around as long as their head is being scratched. However, it's important to be gentle and not overly aggressive about it. Check out our instagram @moraangora for some videos of this.
Back: Petting a rabbit's back can be a relaxing experience too! Especially if you start at the ears and then work your way down. It may be good to avoid petting just a rabbit's spine, as this can be painful and uncomfortable for the rabbit. However, using your whole hand is fine!
Once a bond has been established and you understand your bunny's body language these areas may be added too: Please note, not all rabbits enjoy being pet in these areas, some of mine do and some do not:
Cheeks: Rabbits also enjoy having the sides of their cheeks and down their neck rubbed. If they are comfortable, this can be a soothing and calming experience. If they are receptive, petting the here can also help establish trust and bonding between you and your rabbit.
Chest: Some rabbits enjoy having their chest gently stroked, as this can help relax and calm them.
They generally do not enjoy:
Belly: Petting a rabbit's belly can be a pleasant experience, once your bunny is comfortable with you as to do this effectively, you would need to flip your bunny - it's important to be gentle, don't mess up their digestion.
Under Chin: A bunny will rub their chin on things to put their scent there as they have glands there BUT they do not typically enjoy being pet there.
Feet: After a bond has been established and trust is strong, a bunny may tolerate having their feet touched but not typically a favorite place.
Tail: After a bond has been well established a bunny may tolerate having their tail pet but it is generally a hard pass.
Rabbits really do enjoy positive, physical contact, just be mindful of your bunny's comfort level. With positive interactions, trust builds. When in doubt, base of the ears is the best!