What Do Rabbits Mean When They Chatter Their Teeth at You?

By Naomi Millburn

Easter bunny. image by B.Stefanov from Fotolia.com

The sight of your rabbit's teeth chattering at you may be simultaneously endearing and disconcerting. You may find yourself asking what the action means, whether it's a sign of dissatisfaction or happiness, like a bunny purr. The better you understand your rabbit's behavior, the better for the both of you.

Purring

A rabbit chattering at you may be a very good thing. If you observe your pet giving off a smooth and fast sound via her teeth, she may just be giving you the bunny equivalent of the kitty purr -- a surefire indicator of joy and relaxation, aww. Your rabbit may make this sound when she's feeling serene, perhaps in the middle of a soothing petting and stroking session. It may mean that she feels totally comfortable and safe while in your presence.

Pain

At the opposite end of the spectrum, a bunny chattering her teeth at you may also be an expression of pain and discomfort. If the chattering is especially loud, pay close attention to your pet, because she may just need your help. Be on the lookout for other hints that your bunny is in the midst of some malaise, such as crouched posture and pressed down ears. If you are worried that your rabbit may be chattering out of pain or discomfort, notify your veterinarian immediately.

Other Potential Chattering Causes

Conspicuous teeth chattering or "grinding" isn't exclusively a sign of physical discomfort or pain in rabbits. The sound also may be related to emotional distress, whether anxiety, nervousness or abject terror. If your bunny is in panic mode because of a new and unfamiliar situation, perhaps, you may notice her chattering her teeth at you -- all the while her eyes are prominently jutting out of her head.

Chattering Style

If you want to figure out your bunny's chattering motives, listen closely to her style. If her chattering has a smooth and uninterrupted flow to it, she's seriously, seriously giddy about something, whether it's your mere presence or the sight of a yummy cereal kibble treat in the vicinity. If the chattering continuously stops and starts up again, she's a happy camper too, but perhaps also eagerly awaiting for your next cozy petting move.

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