Photo by Jacob Amson
Rabbits have different ways of communicating with their owners. They don't make many different sounds but use their bodies to deliver a message. Owners often misinterpret their rabbits' actions because they don't know their pets' body language.
Today, we will discuss one part of a rabbit's body—the ears. When you plan on adopting or if you already have a bunny, it's crucial to know the rabbit ear positions because if you don't, your rabbit parenting experience will not be as smooth as other bunny parents have.
Why should owners understand this concept or topic? What will happen if they don't know how to interpret their pet's ear position?
Understanding Rabbit Ear Position
Rabbit ear positions shouldn't be ignored because these determine whether you have a happy, scared, or stressed bunny. Rabbits are prey animals, whether they are indoor pets or live in the wild.
They have good hearing and use this to know whether a predator is around. Their ears help them know they are in danger because they can hear between 360 and 42,000 Hz.
Like humans, rabbits have outer, middle, and inner ears. The outer ear catches sound waves from the surroundings, making the eardrum vibrate. The vibrations will then be passed to the middle ear's three small bones called malleus, incus, and stapes.
From the stapes, the vibrations will enter the cochlea, which is located in the inner ear. The basilar membrane, located in the inner ear, will convert the vibrations into nerve cells, causing electric signals that the brain will translate into sounds.
9 Rabbit Ear Positions and Their Meanings
Now that you understand how rabbits hear let's talk about rabbit ear positions.
1. Ears pointing upwards
This ear position comes along with sprawling. This means that your bunny is relaxed and feels safe in the place. You can see this more often if you are sure that no predators are inside the house that might threaten your rabbit.
2. Upright and Rigid
This means alertness. Your rabbit hears something from a distance, so the outer ears face forward. Its ears can also face different directions depending on where the noise is coming from to hear properly.
3. Ears slanted backward
This is a sign of aggression. One reason for the aggression is improper handling. It is preparing to attack or bite if your rabbit's ears are slanted backward, so be careful about how you interact with your bunny. This position of the ears may also be accompanied by growling.
4. One ear up
This looks cute from an owner's perspective, but this means being aware for a bunny. Your rabbit is relaxed in one place, but if one ear is up, it still wants to know what's happening.
5. Ears apart along the back
This means your bunny is submissive. This ear position typically happens when a bunny is introduced to a dominant bunny. The dominant rabbit is accustomed first to the place before the second rabbit arrives. The second rabbit will show submissiveness by positioning its ears apart along the back.
6. Ears together along the back
This ear position means your rabbit is relaxed and no signs of danger are nearby. Your rabbit may be loafing or sprawling when you see this ear position.
7. Shaking ears
This could mean two things. The first one is because of itchiness which can be accompanied by scratching using the foot. The second one is because your bunny doesn't want your attention; it might shake its ears because it wants to be alone and does its own thing.
8. Ears slanted forward
Your rabbit explores unfamiliar places or observes new things in the house. You can see this ear position when your bunny is new to free-roaming because there are so many areas in the home that are new to the pet.
9. Swiveling ears
Your rabbit will rotate its ears in different directions to catch sounds in the place. It can also swivel only one ear or the other.
Disclaimer: We are not professional veterinarians or medical doctors. We created this blog based on our experiences with pet rabbits, volunteered hours in the rabbit shelter, extensive pet product research, and experienced peers. The purpose of this blog is to provide information about properly taking care of rabbits. Please know that it is still best to visit the vet regularly. For medical emergencies, contact a rabbit-savvy vet. Always observe your rabbits around new products or environmental changes.
Final Thoughts on Rabbit Ear Positions
Rabbit ear positions are essential to understanding rabbits' personality and needs and can help you build the best possible relationship with them.
We can learn a lot about bunnies, and we hope this blog has been helpful. Whether you're a new bunny owner or have been raising bunnies for years, it's essential to know how your rabbit is feeling—and how they communicate those feelin, so you can be sure they're happy and healthy.
Visit HoppScotch.bun today!