This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.
How much your rabbit thumps will vary a lot. I’ve had rabbits that have never thumped, but the two I have now are nig on thumping. The little disabled one doesn’t do it much, but we have to pick her up to clean her out and sometimes we get a sassy little thump. Holly thumps at everything, for a variety of reasons, at a variety of times of the day.
Why do rabbits thump?
Wild rabbits thump when they’re scared, primarily to warn other rabbits of danger.
This seems to a human to be a pretty crap warning system, because we stamp our feet, especially on turf, nothing happens.
Well, we might get a sore foot.
But it wouldn’t serve as any kind of warning. If I stamp my foot on the grass, my boyfriend can’t hear or feel it, even though he’s only a few feet away.
Rabbits are built for thumping though. They have huge feet compared to the rest of their body and very strong legs. They also have a lot of fur on them, to increase the foot-to-floor ratio.
I used to live next door to a pub, and in the summer the beer garden would be full of people watching sports. Whenever someone scored, the punters would cheer. Clearly my rabbit (Original Isobel, the one-eared wonder) thought they were viking hoards on their way to a pillaging, so she’d thump.
I don’t know if the people in the pub could hear or feel it, but they certainly knew she’d done it.
We kept hearing a cheer, then a thump, then a little ripple of ‘wtf?’ as more people heard her. I’d love to know what they thought they were hearing, but I bet they didn’t think it was a bunny.
Rabbits thump because they’re frightened
Not frightened as in ‘argh I’m going to die’ – they scream when that’s that case, which is a horrific sound which I hope I never hear my rabbits make – but if there’s a strange noise or situation, there’s a thump. I zipped up my hoodie (I know, I’m a monster) near Holly the other day, and she thumped and ran into her box.
Rabbits thump because they sense danger
This is similar to being frightened, but they behave differently. If Holly’s frightened, she’ll thump and them run away and hide. If she has a weird feeling that something is amiss, she’ll sit bolt upright and thump every 10 seconds or so.
Since rabbits have much better hearing than we do, they thump at the littlest noise and it’s really creepy when they start doing it in the middle of the night and we can’t find anything wrong.
Rabbits thump because they’re annoyed
Our old rabbit Isobel was queen of this. She had quite a few vet visits towards the end of her life because she had a tumour and arthritis. She was a dream at the vets – incredibly calm and sedate, happy to let the vet check her teeth, clear her tear ducts – whatever.
The vets loved her. What they didn’t realise is that the reason she was so outwardly calm is that on the inside she was SEETHING with rage.
But Isobel wasn’t one to let people know she’d been put out. We’d take her out of the vets, and it wasn’t until we’d get sat down in the car that she’d thump once, just to let everyone know that that she had NOT enjoyed that. She kind of reminded me of Maggie Smith.
Rabbits thump because they’re playing
You may find that when you first get your rabbit, they thump when they’re inciting you to play. Holly, a nervous wreck, will do a little playful binky and then thump. I don’t know if the thump is actually excitement, or if she’s regretted inviting us to play so is warning us off. Either way it’s cute as hell.
If you think your rabbit wants to play but is still timid, just sit on the floor next to them. They’ll come up to you if they want. If you go in too strong you can easily frighten them.
Do rabbits thump for attention?
I firmly believe that rabbits do most things for attention/food.
Rabbits will thump to tell you something is wrong. My boyfriend came down one morning and Holly was waiting by the gate, thumping. He fed them, and let them out, assuming she was thumping to be out, though she’d never done that before.
As it turns out, our millipede Millie (original, I know) had escaped and had taken up residence in Holly’s box, and Holly was trying to tell Dave. I wasn’t there, but Dave said she was pretty good at letting him know her box had been compromised.
Don’t worry, Holly is far more of a threat to Milly. We have a pretty firm rule that we don’t have pets that will eat each other, which sounds obvious, but when you have tropical fish, you have to really do your research on that front.
Can rabbits see ghosts?
I don’t not believe in ghosts, but I’ve never seen one, and I don’t want to.
I’ve just seen too many rabbits thumping and staring at the wall. Holly thumps and stares at a really specific place in the living room (ahhh the wind just blew the bathroom door shut and I jumped a mile) for AGES.
It’s so creepy, and hilariously, she likes to do it when I’m out and Dave’s watching something creepy.
We wondered if she was responding to whatever Dave was watching so he makes sure to wear headphones (she’s so timid we try to avoid scaring her, since we’re so so sure she’s naturally cuddly but was frightened as a baby) and she still does it.
Hmm, maybe she’s so nervous BECAUSE she can see things/people we can’t! Maybe Isobel is haunting the living room! If any rabbit would it’d be her.
Aaaand that’s all I know about rabbits thumping.
Some rabbits NEVER thump. We’ve had a couple that would never have done anything so uncouth. Holly thumps all the time, just for fun. She quite often will punctuate a particularly good zoomie with a thump, but she also does this thing where she goes behind the door/sofa and grunts, so she is just naturally noisy.