Rabbits can form a close emotional bond with their human owners.
When your fluffy friend seeks out attention and physical affection after a tense moment, that may be their way of apologizing.
Read on to learn more about how rabbits apologize to humans and express regret and sadness.
So, how do rabbits apologize to humans? Rabbits will apologize through a variety of head nudging, licking, and physical body gestures.
These types of behaviors show that your rabbit wants to maintain or repair their relationship with you, and demonstrate its trust and concern for you with affection.
Many of the strategies a rabbit has for apologizing involve physical affection.
A common physical gesture is licking or nibbling your hands and feet.
By licking and lightly nibbling your skin, the rabbit is showing that it cares about you. Like many mammals, rabbits demonstrate their care and affection by helping to groom others.
So if your rabbit follows up an accidental scratch with a gentle lick, they may be saying, “Don’t worry, I still like you.”
Rabbits will also initiate physical contact by nudging your hand.
This usually occurs in combination with the licking and is a way for the rabbit to express interest in having some physical intimacy with you.
Another important form of physical affection for rabbits is touching heads.
This is an especially meaningful form of physical affection to show a human, as it is usually used between two rabbits.
When rabbits are concerned about your relationship or sense that you’re upset, they will engage in attention-seeking behaviors.
These behaviors can range from strange jumping to simply sitting calmly in front of you.
If you are upset or angry, your rabbit may try to energize you by running around you in a circle. This is your rabbit’s way of trying to improve your mood by playing.
Rabbits may also exhibit a behavior called binkying. Binkying is when a rabbit makes a somewhat spastic jump into the air, twisting its body and flicking its tail.
When a rabbit is apologetic, the binkying serves two purposes.
The first is to get your attention. If you’re ignoring the rabbit or giving them space, they will try to catch your eye by repeatedly jumping in the air.
The second purpose is to express their positive feelings. Binkying is a display of joy, so an apologetic rabbit may show off their happy dance to prove to you that there are no hard feelings.
A lower energy method for apologizing is to lie down and relax. If a rabbit wants to make up with you, they may choose to demonstrate how comfortable they are with you as a show of trust.
Content and relaxed rabbit will lie flat on a cozy surface, like your bed or couch, spread out for maximum comfort.
This can be a nice quiet time to decompress and reaffirm the bond between rabbits and humans.
If you are trying to check on your rabbit’s mood, try to listen for loud tooth-clicking. Quiet tooth clicking is normal for rabbits, but loud clicking is a definite sign of tension or distress.
When a rabbit is loudly chomping their teeth, that’s a signal that they need some extra care.
When you have a moment of conflict or tension with your pet rabbit, you can expect a process of anger and forgiveness.
Rabbits are intelligent mammals with long memories, and they may need time to work through their anger, just as you would.
Once they are ready to makeup, they will need your reassurances that all is well.
There are several physical signs to look out for if you sense your rabbit is about to reach its boiling point. One of the most obvious signs of an angry rabbit is downward ears.
A content rabbit will have its ears upright and turned forward. An angry rabbit will turn its ears to the side and then downward.
An upset rabbit may also raise its tail when upset, as a sign of agitation.
And if the rabbit is especially upset, it will take an aggressive stance, with the front legs tensed and slightly spread, prepared to come at you if necessary.
If your rabbit is apologetic, you can repair your relationship by forgiving them. You can show forgiveness by reciprocating your rabbit’s acts of contrition.
For instance, if your rabbit is trying to touch heads with you, you can bend down and let them touch your head. Your rabbit will recognize this common form of rabbit body language.
In other scenarios, if your rabbit wants your attention or affection, you can take some extra time to play and snuggle.
This demonstrates that you still love your rabbit and want to spend time with them.
Ultimately, one of the best ways to make up with your rabbit is by giving them a treat.
Rabbits associate their human owners with food, so giving them a treat is a kind gesture that shows you are still present to provide them with care.
Similar to forgiving a rabbit, you can initiate the apology with treats and affection.
When presenting your peace offering, such as a slice of their favorite fruit, get close to the ground so you can be at the same level as your rabbit.
If you come in from above or toss the food in their cage, the rabbit won’t have a chance to comfortably bond with you.
Place the treat in your palm, lap, or near your body, so the rabbit can approach and physically engage with you as they enjoy their special apology snack.
If your rabbit is extremely distressed or scared, avoid picking them up or touching them.
Instead, wait for them to approach you. They may want to stare down the treat for a moment before giving it a taste.
Rabbits are surprisingly emotionally intelligent.
Although these small mammals may not seem like they’re paying attention, rabbits have a strong memory and retain a large amount of information related to experiences and emotions.
A rabbit’s excellent long-term memory means that it can remember its human owner and bond with them.
Your pet rabbit will develop memories of negative and positive routines with you and pick up on disruptions in patterns or moods.
Rabbits are very responsive to shifts in mood. If they sense happiness or sadness in someone else, they will reflect it in their behavior.
This is especially true when the rabbit interacts with its primary human caretaker.
Although rabbits are more invested in their relationships with other rabbits, they are still bothered by having a bad relationship with a human owner.
When a rabbit has formed a bond with its owner, it can feel sorrow or regret for accidentally hurting its human pal.
This is particularly common when your pet rabbit has accidentally scratched or bitten you.
If a rabbit feels bad for hurting you, they will express their concern through their physical body language.
Rabbits are fantastic pets. They are extremely loving and intelligent and are capable of forming a strong bond with their owners.
When you have a conflict or distressing episode with your rabbit, don’t take it lightly. Rabbits are emotional animals that can have strong reactions to abrupt shifts in mood.
Fortunately, rabbits are quite expressive. Rabbits apologize to humans through nudging, petting, and playing, they will show you that they are ready to apologize.
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