With almost 100 million olfactory receptors in a rabbit’s nose, it’s not unusual to find it twitching its nose. Whether it’s bonding with another rabbit or you, relaxing or trying to make sense of its environment, there’s usually a reason your rabbit wiggles its nose.
Furthermore, nose twitching is one of the ways your rabbit talks to you.
5 Reasons Why Rabbit’s Nose Twitch
If you’re observant, you’ll notice that a rabbit wiggles its nose almost every time. Naturally, rabbits have a good sense of smell than the average human. It relies on its sense of smell to survive during the first weeks of birth as it’s usually born blind and deaf.
As it grows, sight and hearing take shape, but it doesn’t lose its strong sense of smell. Below are some reasons for a rabbit’s nose twitching:
- To feed: one of the first things your rabbit does when you give it food is to sniff it and twitch its nose in response. It determines if the food is safe to eat or toxic. This is how wild rabbits can distinguish between safe and unsafe plants and locate other tasty foods. While tamed rabbits don’t have that problem, they have eating preferences. They will wiggle their noses excitedly if the food is their favorite or turn it down flatly if it isn’t.
- To explore their territory: most animals use their senses to explore their surroundings to know if they should fully settle in or not. The same goes for rabbits. They try to make sense of their environment by twitching their noses and looking out for danger. They sense potential hiding places for predators/dangers and mark their territory, whether it’s their owner or material stuff around them. Besides, a rabbit is naturally curious, and their noses are their detectives.
- To show stress/anxiety: many things can make your rabbits anxious or stressed. Since they’re tamed rabbits, they have no issues with predators. However, other things can make them uneasy, causing them to twitch their noses constantly. For example, the sight of someone unfamiliar or thought to be dangerous or of household instruments such as a knife can make them anxious. Your job is to find the cause and eliminate it.
- To avoid heatstroke: rabbits are prone to getting heatstroke, so they twitch their noses to get heat out of their system and maintain their body temperature. If your region is usually hot, you’ll find your rabbits wiggling their noses to stay cool. You can help them by moving them to a cooler place.
- To bond with others: rabbits are social creatures; they are ready to bond with fellow rabbits and their owners. It’s not unusual to find rabbits playing and cleaning each other up and wiggling their noses in unison. It shows they’re relaxed and love the company of whoever they’re with. They’ll twitch their noses excitedly, too, once they get familiar with you.
Are There Abnormal Nose Twitching Instances You Should Look Out For?
Even though it’s normal for your rabbit to twitch its nose, there are instances you should be concerned about. If everything is fine, your rabbit should twitch its nose in a relaxed and friendly manner.
But when it does so aggressively or agitatedly for no obvious reason, you should pay attention. Below are instances rabbits twitch their noses very fast:
- When your rabbit is twitching its nose with its ears pulled tight: if you want to know how your rabbit communicates, watch the movements of its ears and nose. When your rabbit is agitated or scared of someone or something, it twitches its nose very fast and pulls its ears backward. To curb the situation, take the rabbit out of that environment or eliminate the source of agitation.
- During any physical activity: rabbits aren’t one to stay cooped up in a place all day, especially when they have a companion. You’ll find them jumping from one end of the hutch to the other excitedly. Since they can’t breathe through their mouths, they’ll twitch their noses very fast to let out air. Ensure there are no dangerous instruments wherever your rabbits are playing in.
- When they are sick: twitching is another way to calculate your rabbit’s body temperature. If your rabbit keeps wiggling its nose when there’s no trouble or cause for excitement in sight, it might be ill. To confirm if it is, check for other signs of illness such as poor appetite, bloated stomach, changes in their excreta, inability to sleep, unhappy mood, etc.
- When adjusting to something or someone: if you introduce your rabbit to something or someone new, you’ll find that they’ll begin to breathe heavily. This means they’re processing all they can about that thing before getting used to it. Rabbits are inquisitive, so they want to know as much as possible. This heavy breathing makes them twitch their noses unusually fast.
Does A Rabbit Stop Twitching Its Nose?
Usually, nose-twitching isn’t a round-the-clock expression for rabbits. Your rabbit stop twitching its nose :
- When it is tired: you’ll find your rabbit doing little or no activity when it’s tired. Instead, it’ll want to be left alone, away from you and its companions. Sometimes, it could be sad too. If your rabbit is sad, find ways to cheer him up.
- When it is on the alert: rabbits are very sensitive animals; they can easily pick up strange senses in their environments. If your rabbit notices anything shocking or strange, it first stops all it’s doing. Sometimes, it runs away to a potentially safe place until it can process everything.
- When it is sleeping: like any other living thing, rabbits stop every activity when they are sleeping. You’ll notice that it breathes slowly and lies on its side or back or sleep upright.
- When it is relaxed: if there’s no sign of danger in sight and your rabbit loves his present company, it will stop twitching its nose and simply enjoy the moment.
Should You Pay Attention To Your Rabbit’s Nose Twitching?
By all means, you should pay attention to your rabbit’s nose twitching. Never disregard it; you may even be saving your life or family. For instance, it is likely your rabbit senses harm before you do with its strong sense of smell.
If you pay attention and trace the cause of discomfort to him, you can nip trouble in the bud before it blossoms. Other benefits include:
- Helps build a strong bond: when you find out why your rabbit wiggles its nose, you’ll understand it better, strengthening your relationship. You could even twitch your nose when he’s doing it for fun.
- Detect health issues early: it’ll be easier to detect health complications before they get to a head when you know how your rabbit communicates. You’ll also know what’s affecting his health in the environment and how to deal with it.
- Enjoy taking care of your rabbit: devoting your time and efforts to caring for your rabbits can become a monotonous routine instead of something enjoyable if you dont pay attention to how your rabbit communicates, including twitching its nose.
Are There Other Behaviours You Should Pay Attention To Asides Nose Twitching?
Twitching their noses is just one of the rabbits’ behaviors. There are other ways they communicate, such as :
- Grinding their teeth: rabbits usually grind their teeth when relaxed and satisfied. However, if the grinding is loud and disturbing, it shows that your rabbit is probably sick or in pain.
- Chinning: to mark their territories or owner, rabbits use the scent glands under their chins to leave their scent on things and people by rubbing their chins against them. However, this scent can only be detected by other rabbits.
- Licking itself: rabbits don’t wait for their owners to clean them up before they are clean. They habitually lick themselves and use their little paws to rub their faces. In the process, they eat their hair. To prevent them from ingesting too much hair as it deteriorates their health, regularly brush and trim their fur.
- Licking its companion or you: asides grooming, licking is also a bonding instrument. Rabbits will lick their companions or owners if they love your company. And if it licks you, return its affection by petting it or rubbing its head.
- Thumping: not only do kangaroos thump their feet, but rabbits also do too. They strike their hind feet hard against the ground and turn away from you. In fact, there’s a famous rabbit in history, Thumper, who’s known for habitually thumping its feet.
- Nudging: like a dog gently nudges you, rabbits also do when they want your love or attention or if you’re serving them their favorite.
It’s rare for a rabbit to bite you, except it accidentally does so or mistakes you for a predator.
Your rabbit’s nose twitches about 100 times or more per minute, and there’s nothing unusual about it. However, look out for instances when the twitching becomes frantic or unnecessary to keep tabs on your rabbit’s wellbeing.
You could even twitch your nose when your rabbit’s doing so for some fun time together.