Q:I’ve noticed my pet rabbit will sometimes jump, kicking up his hind legs, and sort of shake his head. What is he doing? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
A: That behavior is called a binky, which begs the question: why do rabbits binky and is it normal? Rabbit binky when they are happy or excited. And yes, it is normal… and pretty cute.
Rabbits express their emotions differently than other pets do. They don’t bark to get your attention, they don’t purr as they lean against your legs, and they don’t roll on their backs and make intense eye contact until you rub their little bellies. So when you notice that your rabbit is racing around the room and jumping enthusiastically in the air, kicking up their hind legs and doing a little head flick, you know it means something… but what?
For starters, that behavior is called binkying, and don’t worry, it’s a good thing.
What does a bunny binky look like?
“Binkying or dancing or happy hopping is when a rabbit runs around fast, kicks up its rear limbs to the side and shakes its head,” says Dr. Melissa Witherell, a veterinary consultant in Davenport, Florida. “Sometimes they will also leap into the air with all four feet off the ground.”
Dr. Witherell explains that a “full binky” involves leaping into the air, while a half binky may look like a head flick accompanied by some movements of the ears.
What does it mean when rabbits binky?
Binkying is a totally normal rabbit behavior and your bunny is doing it because they feel pretty, pretty good.
“Binkying occurs when your rabbit is feeling well, is otherwise doing OK [and] is happy,” Dr. Witherell explains.
Domestic rabbits who are “energized or excited” are more likely to binky, she adds. On the other hand, it’s also normal if your rabbit doesn’t binky, or hasn’t binkied yet.
Do wild rabbits binky
So if a binky is considered normal body language for a house rabbit, then what about wild rabbits? Can wild rabbits binky?
Although Witherell explained binkying in the context of domesticated rabbits, she said that wild rabbits can also binky.
How do I get my rabbit to binky?
A bunny owner can’t force their pet to binky. But you can encourage it. According to Dr. Witherell, rabbits can be more likely to binky if they’re allowed to roam… er, hop, freely somewhere in your home, and if they feel like they have enough room to jump around.
“Rabbits who don’t get enough space might not be able to do this easily,” she adds. And, as with any pet, the more stimulation, playtime and other enrichment you can give your rabbit, the happier they’ll be. (And a happy rabbit seems to be a binkying rabbit.)
Is it always a good sign if my rabbit jumps about or shakes their head?
Although binkying isn’t anything to worry about (and is definitely something to share on TikTok, because it’s adorable), Dr. Witherell says that rabbits can shake their heads if their ears are bothering them, or because they have an ear infection, mites, or other abnormalities.
“Rabbits can also kick their legs, roll, or display a head tilt, during neurological issues like vestibular disease or seizures,” she says.
She advises that, if your pet bunny is displaying any concerning behaviors, is lethargic, or isn’t “eating, drinking, peeing and pooping normally,” then you should schedule an evaluation with your veterinarian. Dr. Witherell adds that it can also be helpful if you make a video of your rabbit’s concerning or uncharacteristic behavior to share with the vet during the appointment.