Posted by: soniahs | October 29, 2010

Friday bunnyblogging

Like many animals, bunnies like to sniff you before allowing you to pet them. This is also a ploy to get in position for the ultimate in bunny ecstasy: the forehead rub.

Noe demonstrates the proper position.

If they’re not stressed, rabbits go into a trance-like state when you rub their foreheads. They’ll basically sit there, unmoving (or perhaps grinding their teeth a bit), even after you finish petting them. Bonded rabbits will slip their heads under each others’ chins, so perhaps this is a comfort thing?

Noe’s favored petting procedure goes like this:

  • Sidles up to a human, and places her nose night next to their hand. (Sometimes she does this with our feet, too.) Often, she will angle her body just enough that you have to move slightly to pet her. This reinforces that you are doing her bidding.
  • The human now begins to rub the forehead.
  • After a few rubs, Noe relaxes and the human is allowed to proceed to full-body petting. It is important not to touch the tail or feet (these are very personal spaces), but it is OK to stroke the ears.
  • When properly relaxed, shoulder rubs are welcomed. Just remember to alternate these with more forehead rubs, so the trance-like state is maintained. If the petting is really enjoyable, she will lick whatever surface she is laying on (this is probably a mutual-grooming thing, though she does not condescend to actually lick us.)
  • Petting should proceed until she gets up and hops away. She will let you know when she is done.

Full-body petting may now proceed.

Side note: After petting a rabbit, you should not be offended if the bunny gets up and immediately grooms him/herself to get the nasty human smell off. Unlike carnivores, rabbits do not have a strong odor to advertise their presence to other animals- in fact, they are better off not being noticed. This makes them smell MUCH better than dogs and cats (well, except right after eating a cecal pellet.) Us primates are apparently quite stinky in comparison.

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