Why Do Rabbits Lick Things? Rabbit Behavior Explained


In rabbits, licking is an instinctive and spontaneous activity. Licking people or items is standard behaviour and strategy for rabbits to assert authority or demonstrate affection.

The aroma of people on blankets, pillows, sofas, and other items may entice your rabbit to lick them. Some rabbits prefer to lick things with certain textures, such as leather, carpet, or velvet.

Since rabbits lack hands, they explore the world around them with their mouths. Their whiskers, teeth, and tongues are utilized to locate objects and taste and feel various flavors and sensations.

Some rabbits enjoy licking anything they come across while exploring with their lips.

Most of the time, this is natural, but excessive licking in grooming behavior, as well as licking that may be caused by boredom or anxiety, should be avoided.

Everything is determined by your rabbit’s personality. Rabbits are capable of all of these actions. You should only be concerned if your rabbit over-grooms itself or their linked mate or licks everything out of worry or boredom.

Why Does Your Rabbit Love to Lick You?

Rabbits lick you most of the time for the same reason they lick other rabbits: to groom you! It’s a way for rabbits to express their love for their humans and indicate that they care about that human’s hygiene.

When rabbits try to groom people in this way, we may see that they like to lick them on the face and forehead, which is similar to how mated rabbits behave in pairs.

Rabbits may also lick your clothing to express their affection. Your rabbit licks your clothes (because they smell like you) in an attempt to groom you and indicate that they care.

Don’t be surprised if you are pricked by your bunny as well. When they come across a seam in your clothing, they may mistake it for matted fur, which they must remove with their teeth.

In other cases, a rabbit may lick you or your hands simply because the rabbit thinks they taste good. You may have the residue of tasty food on your hand, which your rabbit enjoys licking.

Salt, which is contained in our perspiration, is also a favorite flavor of some rabbits. To enjoy that flavor, they’ll lick us, especially on the palms of our hands.

Licking as Grooming

Rabbits lick themselves multiple times a day to groom themselves. They can also lick other rabbits as a kind of social interaction.

Rabbits are highly social creatures, and grooming other rabbits, by licking them, is one of their favorite social hobbies.

Licking is a social activity as well as a grooming exercise for rabbits in this setting. Rabbits can nuzzle and nibble at their partners’ bodies in addition to licking them.

Because rabbits can only lick so much of their bodies, they will occasionally lick their paws and then use them to clean hard-to-reach areas.

Since grooming for rabbits is a communal activity, they may seek other rabbits with whom they are familiar and lick.

It allows them to clean themselves while also allowing them to socialize and interact with other rabbits.

Is licking Dangerous to Rabbits?

This is not just typical rabbit behavior, it also poses little risk of harm or destruction. Rabbit gnawing and burrowing can harm carpets, baseboards, and furniture. However, licking will leave a brief wet stain on the furniture or floor.

The only time your rabbit is at risk is if he tries to lick something with a toxic chemical residue. Suppose your rabbit tries to lick the floor right after you mop it, for example.

As a result, it’s essential to either use a pet-safe cleaner (like Puracy) or keep your rabbit away from any cleaned areas for at least a few hours.

Some people believe that rabbits who lick pillows are deficient in salt because of the salt in human sweat.

There has been very little research done on the quantity of salt a rabbit requires in its daily diet.

However, there is no indication that domestic rabbits with appropriate diets suffer from salt insufficiency.

This means that if your rabbit is licking your pillow because of the sweat, they could enjoy the flavor of the salt, but there aren’t any health risks to be concerned about.

Licking its Cage

A cage is not something a rabbit meets in the wild; thus, it is a weird object to them. They may attempt to taste it to understand better what this weird object is and how it tastes.

They may even lick the cage to express their ‘love’ for it. Furthermore, they may enjoy the feel or taste of cool metal on their tongue, or they may be licking the cage to remove treat residue.

If you have multiple rabbits, one of them may detect their residual aroma on the cage and lick it as if it were the rabbit itself.

It should not be a problem if the cage is licked on its own. However, if your rabbit starts biting on the cage instead of just licking it, you should put a stop to it, as this can harm its teeth.

Using non-toxic cleaning materials, ensure that the cage is safe to lick.

Licking Clothing and You

Rabbits may attempt to groom you by licking your skin or clothing. While the textures of skin and clothing are visibly dissimilar, your garments still smell like you, leading the rabbit to believe it is a part of you.

They can also lick you to express affection, just like other rabbits do.

They are demonstrating your authority by licking your face, just as they would lick the eyes of the dominant rabbit in their warren.

If you’re wearing makeup, though, you should avoid having your rabbit lick your face.

Licking your palms and fingers could indicate that your bunny is begging for attention and petting. It may believe it is the dominant one in this situation, but you’re probably not going to mind while patting its fluffy tiny head.

Licking Out of Boredom

If your rabbit is bored, it may groom itself excessively to pass the time. While obsessive grooming may appear harmless at first, it can quickly progress from licking to gnawing, burrowing, biting, overeating, and tearing out its fur.

Worse, rabbits can absorb fur while grooming themselves, which can cause intestinal obstructions if consumed in excess.

Furthermore, excessive licking of their fur might result in an excess of moisture, which can irritate their skin and cause their fur to fall off. If this continues, bacterial infections may develop.

Knowing what rabbit boredom looks like will help you figure out whether or not your rabbit is self-destructively licking out of boredom.

Excessive Licking

Though some licking is normal and even expected in rabbits, excessive licking can indicate a health problem including a bacterial infection, injury, or worm.

Check for wounds, bumps, bruises, or other symptoms of harm if your rabbit is licking one section of its body excessively.

Several pregnant rabbits switch from excessive licking to excessive chewing, which might cause them to injure themselves. There are a variety of skin disorders that could be causing your rabbit to lick excessively.

12 Common Rabbit Behaviors

1. Chinning

Do not be shocked if your rabbit rubs its chin on furniture and other objects it comes across, even you when you introduce it to a new section of the house or give it the run of a room. This is how your rabbit says, ‘Dibs!’

Rabbits have a gland under their chin that emits a scent when they rub their chin against something. You will not be able to smell this marking action because only other rabbits can smell it – but not humans.

2. Running About in A Tizzy

Rabbits prefer things to remain in their original state. As prey animals, rabbits have a natural propensity to memorize the structure of their surroundings, particularly any potential escape routes.

If you modify the arrangement your rabbit is used to, such as if you rearrange furniture or add a new chair, do not be surprised if you see your rabbit trot around the room and retrace its steps.

3. Eating Poop

Rabbits consume a small portion of their Poop. Although it may appear to be disgusting, rabbits do this for a legitimate health reason.

Cecotropes are a type of Poop that differs from regular rabbit poop in that it is softer and contains more nutrients than the rabbit requires.

It’s also known as ‘night faeces’ because rabbits typically consume it in the early morning hours.

The rabbit is re-digesting its rabbit food so that it can accumulate the essential vitamins and minerals that were skipped in the first pass through the digestive system.

4. Grooming

Rabbits, like cats, keep their fur and paws clean by licking themselves throughout the day.

Rabbits do not need to be bathed, but they do need to be brushed on a regular basis to reduce the amount of hair they ingest while grooming.

Sitting up, licking, and then flinging his paws out karate-style and rubbing them against it’s face is one of the cutest grooming postures a bunny can do.

5. Licking You

Grooming is a way for two bonded rabbits to show affection for one another. Your rabbit will sometimes lick you to show its affection for you similarly!

A rabbit may also lick you to indicate that it desires to be petted.

6. Nudging

A rabbit will nudge you with its nose when it needs your attention. When you have a delicious meal in your hand, or when your bunny likes you to pet it, it will nudge your hand or arm and wait for you to pet it; you can expect a nose nudge.

7. Grinding Teeth

A relaxed, happy rabbit might gently grind his teeth together in a rhythmic manner. If you are close to your rabbit or petting it, you will hear this.

However, loud teeth crunching can indicate that your rabbit is in pain, frequently followed by suspenseful body gestures (e.g., hunched with ears held tight against her body).

8. Thumping

When a rabbit is upset at anything, you probably did something in its environment. It may give a loud ‘thump’ by hitting its rear foot firmly against the ground.

When you put it back in its pen after it’s been joyfully roaming about a room, you could hear a ‘thump’. The rabbit will typically hop away and turn its back on you after the ‘thump’ – the ultimate bunny diss!

9. Dropping Fecal Pellets

If your rabbit starts leaving a trail of faecal bunny pellets behind it as it jumps around, you’ll know it likes where it is. It may be entirely litter-trained, but it’s opting to claim its newfound domain outside the box.

10. Jumping

A joyful rabbit will sometimes sprint away, hop up in the air, and click its heels together, a behavior known as a “boink” or binky. A joyful and playful rabbit is a boinking bunny.

11. Tossing Things

Rabbits are known to fling things around. Toys for rabbits, litter boxes, and food dishes are just a few examples. Tossing can indicate a desire to play or, in the case of a tossed rabbit food bowl, a means of attracting your attention. ‘Feed me!’ the bunny exclaims.

12. Growling/Lunging

If a rabbit feels threatened, it may snarl and/or lunge, especially if it’s is backed into a corner with no way out. Avoid putting your rabbit in situations where it might feel threatened, such as chasing it around a room when it just wants to be left alone.

Final Thoughts

Licking themselve is an innate and entirely natural behavior for rabbits. This is something that we must understand.

At the same time, excessively licking themselves, or other rabbits, or items, might become hazardous.

You can keep your rabbit happy, healthy, clean, and able to enjoy life to the fullest by understanding why rabbits lick and what different licking activities entail.

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