10 Sounds That Rabbits Make and What They Mean

Black and white rabbit sitting on grass with mouth open surrounded by wire fence

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

Rabbit sounds, such as purring, teeth grinding, and clucking, can tell you a lot about how your rabbit is feeling. Rabbits communicate with others through quiet sounds as well as their body language. The longer you're around rabbits, the more you will notice how they communicate with you vocally and the variety of sounds they make. Learn to interpret happy and unhappy rabbit sounds and you'll better understand your rabbit.


7 Rabbit Sounds and Their Meanings

Happy Rabbit Sounds

If you see a rabbit that is running, leaping, and flopping over onto its sides, that usually means that the bunny is doing the happy dance. Some other signs of contentment include:

  • Clucking: Rabbit clucking does not resemble the clucking sounds of a chicken—it is a lot quieter. A clucking sound coming from a rabbit means that they are satisfied with what they are nibbling on.
  • Purring: Purring for a rabbit is a lot like purring for a cat in that they both mean "happy and content." However, cats purr using their throat while rabbits make the sound by lightly rubbing their teeth together. It is a very soft sound, but one you will want to listen for.
  • Humming: While all rabbits do it on occasion, most rabbit keepers associate it with an unaltered buck wooing his lady love.

Unhappy Rabbit Sounds

Some noises are very obvious signs of pain or fear such as screaming. A rabbit will only scream if they are scared, stressed, or frightened. Hopefully, you never hear a rabbit scream, it is eerily chilling. Some other sounds of anger, pain, or fear include:

  • Growling: Rabbits certainly can growl and it often precedes a lunge and possibly a bite. If the rabbit feels threatened (even by you), they will have no qualms growling and lunging.
  • Snorting: Snorting can come before or along with growling.
  • Hissing: This sounds exactly the way you think it does. A hiss is used to ward off other rabbits.
  • Whining or whimpering: Rabbits will whine or whimper if they do not want to be handled. You may hear it, particularly from a pregnant doe that has been put into a cage with another rabbit (especially a buck). The whimper is a protest to the environment in which they find themselves. This might include an unwanted cagemate or in the case of a pregnant doe, a sign that they are not interested in a buck's advances.
  • Foot stomping or thumping: When rabbits loudly stamp their back feet, it usually means they are nervous and afraid. It could indicate that the rabbit hears a strange sound and thinks a predator is en route. Stomping lets everyone in the vicinity know that something bad is coming. This behavior is very common among free-roaming rabbits who want to inform others of a potential attack.
  • Teeth grinding: The sound of a rabbit grinding its teeth is nearly unmistakable. It is hard to confuse it with purring even though it is made the same way. If your rabbit is grinding its teeth, it is in a lot of pain and needs medical attention.
  • Screaming: The sound of a rabbit screaming will send chills down your spine for two reasons. First, it sounds eerily close to a terrified child. Second, rabbits only scream when a predator is chasing them down or they are dying. It is never a false alarm when a rabbit screams.
illustration of sounds that rabbits make

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