Image of a noise symbol and the caption reads "why do rabbits thump." Image of a rabbit.

Rabbits thump with one or both rear feet when they sense that something is wrong, there is danger nearby, or they are stressed. Sometimes rabbits will thump multiple times until the danger or perceived danger has passed. Another reason rabbits thump is to communicate disapproval with something like you cleaning their cage.

Why do rabbits thump

There are several reasons why rabbits thump. Did you know that other animals thump or stomp also? Whitetail deer stomp when they sense danger just like rabbits do. It is a strange behavior that we do not understand completely but I will explain what we do know as fact and what we assume.

There are three reasons that rabbits thump including danger, stress, and disapproval thumping.

Danger thumping

If your rabbit believes that they are in danger from something they may start thumping. Since your rabbit sees you as a rabbit, they want to communicate to you that some type of danger is lurking. What do rabbits perceive as danger? It really could be anything from a predator like a cat to a guest visiting your house.

Stress thumping

Stress can cause rabbits to thump. I have had some pet rabbit owners tell be that their rabbit will thump when they pick them up. My advice is to stop picking them up…

Rabbits stress very easily for good reason since everything in the world is trying to eat them night and day. Many rabbits do not like to be picked up, handled, or cuddled. If you are doing something that causes your rabbit to thump, then you can assume whatever your doing is causing him or her stress.

If a rabbit is stressed to much over an extended amount of time it can kill them.

Disapproval thumping

Most rabbits are territorial and do not want their stuff messed with. If your rabbit thumps when you clean their cage or litter-box, he or she is telling you, “hey that’s mine, leave it alone.” I always clean my rabbits litter box/cage out when they are asleep during the middle of the day.

How does a rabbit make a thumping noise?

Some rabbits thump with one hind foot while others will use both feet. Rabbit have powerful rear leg muscles and use these to slam their feet into the floor in order to thump. I have heard from some pet rabbit owners that have had their rabbit thump while holding them. They said that their rabbit thumped hard enough that it was painful.

How can I stop my rabbit from thumping?

The only way you are going to stop your rabbit from thumping is to stop whatever activity, smell or noise that is causing your rabbit to thump. Do rabbits thump for no reason? Find out next.

Why is my rabbit thumping for “no reason”?

Simple answer, your rabbit is not thumping for no reason. Animals do not do things to be silly or for no reason. Remember that rabbits can hear a little better than us, are down low all the time and can smell better than you have ever dreamed about.

How you get your rabbit to stop thumping is to remove whatever is causing him or her to thump. Put yourself in your rabbits’ position and think from his or her point of view. Get in that bunny brain! Is there a pattern or certain time that your rabbit thumps?

Rabbit thumping pattern

Sometimes rabbits thump once and other times they will thump every minute for 10 minutes or so. I do not know why this happens, but I would assume they keep thumping until they perceive that the danger has passed.

Rabbit vs Deer thumping

I find it interesting that whitetail deer will stomp their feet like rabbits do. Deer have scent glands in their feet that alerts other deer that danger is near that area. I did some research to see if rabbits may have a scent gland in their feet but could not find anything.

About the Author

My name is Vanessa and I love my buns. My current house rabbit is Mr. Bunny, he is a black and white Dutch that just turned 9 years old.

I believe that rabbits are a magnificent animal that make great pets for SOME people. My mission is to share what I have learned about rabbits over the past 20 years to improve the relationship between our pets and us. Please contact me or comment if you have any questions or comments.