Rabbits express emotions differently than other pets.
Rabbits don’t yowl and bark the way dogs do to get your attention.
They do sometimes purr softly when they are feeling very content, but they don’t purr and rub up against your legs the way cats will do to show affection.
Your rabbit won’t roll over on its back and try to make contact until you rub its little belly.
But sometimes, your rabbit will jump, kick up her hind legs, and sort of shake her head. This behavior is known as a binky. And it’s perfectly normal behavior for a rabbit.
Why Do Rabbits Binky?
Binkying is a happy hop. It is a rabbit dance that tells you all is well in your rabbit’s world.
Rabbits may do a full binky or a half binky.
A full binky involves leaping into the air. A half-binky may be just a flick of the head and some wiggling of the ears.
Either kind of binky is something your rabbit will do over and over again, sometimes for an hour or more, when it feels good.
A real rabbit may binky the same way the Energizer Bunny beats his drum. Your rabbit just won’t quit binkying until something interesting comes along.
It isn’t just pet rabbits or show rabbits that binky. Wild rabbits binky too, although it’s rare for humans to be around to catch them in the act.
Guinea pigs also do something similar, which is called the pop-corn jump,
How Can I Get My Rabbit to Binky?
Rabbits do their binky dance without any advance notice.
If you want to watch your rabbit binky, you need to spend time every day with your rabbit!
You also need to give your rabbit enough space to binky.
A fenced, protected backyard is ideal. But about 200 square feet or 20 square meters (a large room, cleared of furniture, toys, and other obstacles, with a non-slip floor) is enough space for your rabbit to put on a show.
Here are four ways to encourage your rabbit to binky.
Take your rabbit on a field trip
If your rabbit spends most of its time indoors, take it outdoors for playtime. But not outdoors just anywhere.
You don’t want your rabbit to hop away during playtime. Any outdoor space you use as a rabbit run should be well-fenced.
This means no gaps underneath the fence, and a barrier taller than the rabbit can climb or jump over. Four feet (1.3 meters) is enough for all but giant breed rabbits, but six feet (2 meters) is better.
You also want to prevent encounters with domesticated animals that eat meat, such as rabbits, and wild animals of all kinds.
Also read: Can Rabbits Climb Trees?
Give your rabbit a toy
They love to run through rabbit tunnels. They love wicker puzzle balls they can push around with their noses, nibbling hay as they go.
Rabbits love digging toys, flip boards, and hiding houses.
Even something as simple as the cardboard roll from inside a roll of paper towels or toilet paper will give your rabbit something to push around and nibble on.
Don’t just give your rabbit toys. Play with them.
Rabbits enjoy the interaction with their humans and their companion rabbits. They may be so happy they break out and do their binky dance.
Also read: Can Rabbits Play With Dog Toys?
Put your rabbit’s favorite foods in their feeding bowls or cages
Rabbits mostly eat hay.
They are thrilled even by the same old dry but fresh timothy hay you feed them every day.
Just giving your rabbit hay to eat may be enough to inspire a performance of binky.
Or give your rabbit their favorite treats.
Maye you have trained your rabbit to come when you call its name by giving it a little bit of a carrot stick.
Carrots are sweet and crunchy. They are a favorite treat, but not something you need to give your bunny every day.
Or you may reward your rabbit for desired behavior with a leaf of romaine lettuce, a berry, a slice of fruit, or a pet on the head and encouraging words for good behavior.
Reward your rabbit for binkies, too.
In general, treat your rabbit well
Binkies are spontaneous behavior in rabbits that are treated well.
Give your rabbit clean hay and water every day. Make sure they don’t have to deal with freezing cold or stifling heat.
Protect your rabbit from scary encounters with excessively boisterous children and larger animals.
Do these things, and there will be a binky in your future with your rabbit.
Also read: 8 Fun Things to Do With Your Rabbit
What If My Bunny Doesn’t Binky?
There are some rabbits that don’t binky.
These rabbits are so relaxed and laid back that they have really calm personalities.
This isn’t a bad thing. These relaxed rabbits are the most likely to make good cuddle bunnies.
If your rabbit has never binkied, don’t worry. It’s just a reflection of their underlying calm personality.
But if your rabbit likes to do binky performances and stops, it’s time to consider whether they are well.’
Does your rabbit drag its hind legs, or seem sometimes just to “freeze” in the middle of an activity?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” it’s time to take your rabbit for a visit to the vet.
Frequently Asked Questions About Binky Behavior in Rabbits
Rabbit owners tend to have lots of questions about binkies by their bunnies. After all, watching a binky is part of the fun or owning a rabbit!
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about binkies and their answers.
Q. I still don’t get exactly what a bunny binky is. Can you show me an example?
A. Here is a YouTube video of an English Spot rabbit doing a binky.
And here is a YouTube compilation of two happy rabbits doing binkies and zoomies.
The second video is also a great example of the kind of space rabbits need for binky dances.
Q. Will rabbits binky just anywhere?
A. Rabbits need a relatively large, uncluttered space to binky.
This means picking up everything on the floor for a room-sized space except the toys your rabbits are currently using.
There needs to be a path of about 10 feet (3 meters) free of obstructions.
Rabbits can’t see what is directly in front of them, so you want to move furniture out of their way. You also want to make sure the floor is not freshly waxed (not enough traction for your rabbit to come to a safe stop), and your rabbit does not trip over the edge of an area rug.
Q. Are binkies and zoomies the same thing?
A. A half binky is a little dance with a turn of the head. A fuel binky involves a jump into the air.
A zoomie is a high-speed run around the room. Binkies and zoomies are not the same thing, but rabbits may do both in the same play session.
Q. Are binking and circling the same thing?
A. Binking is a kind of happy hop your rabbit does to show contentment. Circling is running around and between your feet, usually with the expectation you are going to give your rabbit a treat.
Circling may or may not be accompanied by honking. That’s a happy noise that is a sign of affection toward you.
Q. My rabbit was doing a binky dance when it ran under the couch. Now it just thumps its foot and refuses to come out. What does this mean?
A. Thumping the hind feet is a rabbit’s way of communicating danger, or just answering you with a “No.”
Your rabbit will wait you out if necessary, rather than leave its hiding place. When it does come out, make sure it is not sick and does not need treatment by a veterinarian.
Also, make sure there are no large animals in your home that are frightening your rabbit.
Also read: Why is My Rabbit Stomping at Night?
Q. What does it mean when my rabbit stops its binky dance to stand on its hind legs and looks around?
A. This behavior, known as periscoping, is the rabbit’s way of inspecting its environment to locate the source of an unusual sight, sound, or scent. It’s an indicator of curiosity.
When periscoping occurs in the context of binkies or zoomies, something very unusual and probably threatening has caught your rabbit’s attention.
Q. What does it mean when my rabbit stops its binky dance, stands on its hind legs, and starts boxing?
A. Happy rabbits don’t box. This behavior is the rabbit’s way to tell you, or another animal, that it senses danger for itself or its family, and it is ready to fight.
If you are the only person or animal in the room when your rabbit starts shadow boxing or lunges at you, just get up and leave. Let your rabbit cool down before you approach it again, carefully.
Fortunately, this kind of behavior in rabbits is very rare.
Q. My rabbit sometimes does a binky or a zoomie and then plops down on its side. Is it sick?
A. Rabbits typically lie flat on their stomachs. This protects their inner organs if they are attacked.
When a rabbit flops down on its side, it feels secure and protected in its environment. It trusts you.
Q. My rabbit tilts its head at me, but doesn’t do the happy dance. Is something wrong?
A. Nodding in the direction of people, other rabbits, or food is normal for rabbits. Holding the head in a permanent tilt is not.
Head tilt usually indicates an inner ear infection or the presence of a parasite called E. cuniculi in the rabbit’s brain. The parasite is more of a problem in dwarf breeds than in standard or giant breeds.
Both of these conditions can cause loss of balance. Your rabbit may seem to bat its eyelashes a lot, or its eyes may flicker.
When your rabbit starts falling over, or can’t sit up, or seems generally distressed, it is time to see the vet. The infections that cause this unusual behavior are treatable if they are caught in time.
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