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This is a weird one, but…they’re marking you.
Once your bunny has rubbed you with their chin, you belong to them.
Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
Personally, I’d be very flattered if one of my bunnies chinned me. It’s never actually happened.
They have, however, marked stuff that was mine and then when I’ve gone to pick it up, gotten all mad about it. I can only assume that ‘i’ve chinned it so it’s mine’ is legally binding within rabbit communities.
Why do rabbits chin their own stuff?
I think they’re just reaffirming that it’s theirs.
When Daisy was really poorly with head tilt we had to keep her separate from Holly. Holly was just too boisterous and it was pretty exhausting for Daisy to be around her all the time (especially since Holly was VERY disrespectful and kept, for example, standing on her head.
So whenever we let Holly free roam (and therefore have access to Daisy) she’d head straight for Daisy’s stuff (toys, dolls, etc) and chin it all.
A lot of rabbits do it in an almost aggressive way, running around chinning everything, but Holly acted more like an old lady at a garage sale. She’d wander around looking at everything curiously, stopping every now and again to give this or that a quick chin.
From what I’ve observed, other rabbits aren’t mad about stuff being chinned. Daisy didn’t rush to reclaim everything by chinning it herself.
I swear that bun has been reading this website. So I was cleaning out the litter box the other day and i sat on the floor to add some fresh hay. We’d had to get some stuff from Pets at Home which is fine, but really compacted, so it takes a while to get it out and it makes a mess.
Because I knew it’d take a few minutes and I didn’t want to spread hay all over my freshly vacuumed carpet I sat down next to the litter tray with the hay on my knee. Holly had retreated under her table at this point (the vacuum is definitely out to get her), but Daisy was only a couple of feet away. She RAN over and started furiously chinning the hay bag. Weird.
Since they’ve been free roaming, Daisy is a LOT more confident. If we give Holly a treat she has to zoom away with it, otherwise Daisy (yes, tiny, disabled Daisy) will nick it from INSIDE OF HER MOUTH. Even though she has her own treat. She also likes to run in circles with the treat in her mouth. No idea why.
Why specifically chinning stuff?
If you think about it, chinning is kind of similar to a cat or dog rubbing themselves against you. Cats will often rub their head on you. We think they’re being affectionate, but actually, they’re going ‘this bitch is MINE’.
Rabbits have scent glands on their chins, so they can smell where they’ve been. Like a much nicer version of dogs peeing on stuff.
Of course, if you have an unfixed male (or occasionally a female) they will also pee on stuff to mark their territory. But that’s more about who’s land is whose. Chinning is more like claiming individual items.
Although when it comes to anything soft that you can dig in, peeing on it seems to be the standard way to claim it. Be aware of this when it comes to things like cosy bunny beds, cosy human beds, and rugs.
Why does my rabbit NOT chin things?
How much your rabbit chins varies a lot depending on…who they are.
Usually, if you have a pair, they’ll be fairly similar in their chinning habits, because if they weren’t that’s like one of them admitting they don’t have any stuff.
For every rabbit that has never chinned a thing in his life, there’s another that insists on chinning every treat that comes their way.
It may be something to do with the way they were brought up (I’ve always had rescues so I’m not sure how old rabbits are when they start chinning stuff) – for example, a rabbit that had a lot of other rabbits around may chin a lot more than a single bun.
Ooooor some rabbits like to chin. Who knows?