Rabbits…Did You Know?

Although they’ve fast become a popular pet, there’s still a lot of things people don’t know about our fluffy friends...

We know lots of dog and cat breeds….but how many rabbit breeds are there?

You may have noticed that rabbits come in all shapes and sizes. There are, in fact, nearly 50 breeds of domestic bunnies! Although, in most cases, you only find a few at your local pet stores. They come in many different sizes – from the tiny Netherland Dwarf to the huge Flemish Giant! They can also come in many different colours and even coat types.

Baby rabbits?

Believe it or not, a baby rabbit is called a “kit” or “kitten” – not to be confused with our feline friends. Mother rabbits have litters of kittens – up to 14 at once! The size of the litter does depend on the size or breed of the rabbit, with smaller breeds having fewer kittens per litter.

What do you call a boy?

Once again borrowing from another species, a male rabbit is called a “buck”.

And a girl?

Many people call female rabbits “bunnies”, however the technical term is “doe”. Interesting tidbit - a doe will mature earlier than a buck - probably not too different sometimes from their owners... :)

How can you tell if your rabbit is a boy or a girl?

It is tricky to tell from just looking if a rabbit is a boy or a girl. The only sure way to know is to examine their genitals. It’s quite difficult to tell in young rabbits less than four months old as the males testicles may not yet have descended.

Girls have a very distinct appearance to their genitals, almost protruding from their body - a V-shaped appearance. Boys’ tell-tale signs include two oblong testicles which appear above their genitals.

Cats meow, dogs bark…what sound does a bunny make?

Our bunny friends tend to make three distinct types of sounds. One of the most common sounds you may hear is a ‘grunt’ – an attention seeking behaviour. It can also be a sign of agitation or a warning to other rabbits, people or animals. Rabbits will grunt when threatened or to show they are not happy with a situation.

When happy, a rabbit may ‘purr’ by clicking their teeth together. This should not be confused with teeth grinding or chattering however, which can be a sign of pain or sickness.

When unhappy or nervous, a rabbit may ‘thump’ by taking a back foot and thumping it on the ground. In the wild this behaviour is used to alert other rabbits that there is a danger nearby.

Outside of these sounds, rabbits only tend to make outward noise if they are in pain or terrified. If a rabbit begins to scream or squeal (a sound you never want to hear), seek veterinary attention right away as your rabbit is likely in an emergency.

Why is my rabbit shaking its head and jumping funny?

A ‘binky’ is a performance that bunnies tend to do to show their joy. When happy they will ‘dance’ around with funny jumps and twisting their head around, showing you just how happy they are! At first this may look disconcerting to a first-time bunny owner, however when a rabbit 'binkies' it means you are doing a good job and they are happy and content!

While rabbits have many complex and differing behaviours and personalities, knowing to understand your bunny is a great way to start off a strong long lasting relationship. Through understanding some basic facts about your new friend you are on your way to a wonderful, long and loving bond with your new friend.

Do you share your home with a bunny? Share your pics with us on our Facebook page!