Rabbits have very powerful hind legs and every now and then they use these to “Stomp” , creating a loud noise. But why do bunnies make this noise? Is it out of excitement, anger, fear or something else?
Why do Rabbits Thump?
There are several reasons why rabbits thump and as lifetime bunny owners ourselves we have witnessed these reasons many times. Typically, there are two times you will hear the thump more than any others, we have discussed these below, using our own bunnies as examples.
Rabbits Thumping Through Fear and Intimidation
The first reason tends to occur when they in their cage. Because the cages are flat, boxed and often made of wood, this sound reverberates and can usually be heard throughout the house or even the garden if you have them outside (if so, bring them in, it’s cold out there!). When you take a look to see what the issue is, you’ll often find them sitting still, looking alert with their backside slightly elevated to allow them to keep the repetitive thumping noise going.
In cases like this, they are reacting out of fear. Chances are they have been startled and are firing some warning shots at whatever they think is threatening them or preparing to attack them. From personal experience, this can be everything from the rabbit in the next cage moving around after several hours of silence (they seem to forget they are not alone) to an object (plastic bag, vacuum cleaner) left nearby.
On one occasion, one of our rabbits thumped because the other moved around. Upon hearing the thump, the second rabbit decided to thump in retaliation, at which point the first one responded. This continued for well over thirty minutes. At 2am, no less.
Rabbits Thumping Through Disapproval
One of our bunnies will also thump after we carry him from his cage and place him in the living room so he can run around. He doesn’t like being picked up and carried and he likes it even less when we put him down. So he thumps to show us just how annoyed he is and the longer we hold him for, the louder and more disgruntled the thump will be.
Typically, when they are out of their cage they will run and hide rather than standing and fighting, so if they thump it usually means they are angry or disgruntled and not scared or trying to intimidate.
Other Reasons Rabbit Thump
Rabbits also thump as a way of communicating, but what they are communicating is usually “stay away” or “there is danger nearby”, which ties into what we mentioned above. Generally, it is nothing to worry about and as loud as it sounds, it’s unlucky to do them any harm or even to do any serious damage to their cage.
If you find that they are sitting there thumping like crazy, then try to find what might be scaring them and move it or silence it. If they thump because they are annoyed at you then it will likely be a one-off and they’ll forget about it a few seconds later.
In our experience, it’s a trait more common in males that have not been castrated and doesn’t reflect on their temperament at all. You might think that a thumper would be more aggressive, but the sweetest, tamest rabbit we’ve ever owned also happens to be the biggest thumper.