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Can Rabbits Walk? (Why They Don’t Always Hop)

Can Rabbits Walk? (Why They Don’t Always Hop)

The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.

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Wild and pet rabbits are usually seen hopping and running around. These are prey animals, so they have developed the skill to outrun their predators to protect themselves.

As a matter of fact, wild rabbits can reach the speed of 30 miles per hour, while pet rabbits can reach the speed of 35 miles per hour.

But, can rabbits walk? Can rabbits walk on two legs?

We’re here to answer these questions in this article. So, keep on reading.

Can Rabbits Walk?

Although rabbits are commonly seen running and hopping around, these animals can also walk.

These animals have strong back legs, so they can easily hop to escape danger, but they will walk when they’re exploring new territories or when they’re cautious.

However, if you see a rabbit walking most of the time instead of running, then there’s probably something wrong. For example, this animal might be injured, sick, or highly anxious, and you need to see what’s wrong.

Why Do Rabbits Hop?

Rabbits hop because of the way their bodies are built. They have strong back legs that push them to the front, and they land on their front legs for balance.

The bunny’s hind legs help it spring into the air in case of danger. A rabbit can leap up to 10 feet in the air and 4 feet to the front when it’s hopping.

Since bunnies are prey animals, hopping provides rabbits with an efficient way to escape danger.

These strong legs allow the rabbit to seek safety when it’s chased by predators. Rabbits also use their strong legs to defend themselves as they usually kick predators to protect themselves.

Rabbits have flexible spines, and the bones only make only 8% of their total weight, so their bodies can leap into the air easily.

Most rabbits can hop by the time they’re ten days old, and they maintain this ability all through their lives. If you have a pet rabbit that doesn’t hop, it’s probably sick or suffering from an injury.

Can a Rabbit Hurt Itself by Hopping?

Rabbits’ bodies are built to hop and jump, but they have very flexible spines. This means that if they’re not careful, they can easily get hurt while hopping.

The spine’s flexibility allows the rabbit to leap to the front for a significant distance. But the impact of the leap or jump can be too much on the fragile bones.

In the wild, rabbits have more control over their hopping distance and mechanism. They mainly hop on the ground, so their bodies are able to absorb the shock without getting hurt.

Pet rabbits might not be careful while hopping. Since rabbits are easily scared, they might attempt to hop from a table to the ground or between furniture pieces.

In this case, the rabbit might fall, and it might get badly injured.

When a rabbit lands on a hard surface like wood or tiles, its body will be subject to danger because of the shock’s impact. So, if you’re keeping your bunny indoors, make sure that it doesn’t jump off high furniture pieces.

Landing on carpets or rugs is better for your rabbit. These surfaces absorb the shock, so the bunny will be safe.

Does the Way a Rabbit Hops Show How It Feels?

The body language of the rabbit, including the way it hops, can tell us a lot about how it feels or what’s going on. Typically, the rabbit will use its hop as a means to express itself.

  • A rabbit that hops around in the same spot is happy and safe. Domesticated rabbits usually hop in the same spot because they know that they’re away from danger and that you’re always around to provide safety and water.
  • A rabbit hopping in a straight line is simply trying to reach a specific spot. It can also be running away from a predator or trying to reach its home for safety.

This is the most common type of hopping that you can see in both wild and domesticated rabbits.

  • A rabbit that hops to the front and then pauses to stand on and thump its back legs is probably scared. This animal will also thump its legs to notify other animals of danger or scare a predator away.
  • A rabbit hopping in a zigzag pattern could be lost, confused, or trying to spread its scent. Rabbits usually do these when they’re trying to find a specific spot or when they’re trying to communicate with other animals.
  • A rabbit that hops in your direction and then stops right in front of you is trying to challenge you. Although it’s rare since rabbits are usually shy and easily scared, the animal might be angry with you for something you did, and it will treat you as a potential threat.

If you’re keeping a pet rabbit, it’s crucial to understand its body language to be able to act accordingly.

What Does It Mean when My Rabbit Doesn’t Hop Anymore?

Any change in the rabbit’s behavior is a sign that it’s suffering from an issue or dealing with a stressful situation. In some cases, the rabbit won’t hop because it’s lazy, but this is not common as bunnies are naturally active animals that like to run and hop around.

Some rabbits have one splayed leg or suffer from this condition in both hind legs. In some cases, the rabbit will suffer from this condition in all four legs.

This happens when the leg is positioned to prevent the rabbit from retracting it to its body. As a result, it won’t be able to hop.

Most animals that suffer from splayed legs are actually born with this condition. They also inherit it from their parents.

Some rabbits have time to adapt to this condition, so they can learn to walk and run even though they have splayed legs. However, older bunnies that suffer from splayed legs due to joint damage might not be able to hop.

There are other conditions that prevent a rabbit from hopping.

  • A rabbit might be suffering from arthritis in the back legs, which makes hopping painful and uncomfortable.
  • If the rabbit is suffering from a trauma inflicted on its legs or spine, it won’t be able to hop properly. This usually happens if it’s attacked by a predator or it has landed on a hard surface.
  • A bacterial infection can affect the bunny’s neurological coordination and prevent the rabbit from hopping.

Can Rabbits Walk on Two Legs?

Rabbits use their back and front legs to run, hop, and balance themselves. But their strong back legs can also support their bodies when they want to stand up.

Bunnies stand up on their hind legs to explore an area or to have access to food. If you have a pet rabbit, it might stand on its hind legs to ask you for food and attention.

However, they can’t walk on their back legs without support from their front legs. Without support from the front legs, the bunny won’t be able to keep itself balanced because of the weight of the head and the position of the head with respect to the animal’s spine.

On the other hand, some rabbits have developed the ability to balance themselves and walk on their front legs. This is due to a genetic mutation that provided these animals with strong front legs that are able to support the weight of the body.

Unfortunately, this isn’t considered a superpower for rabbits but actually a disease.

This genetic mutation has been widespread in a French breed of rabbits that caught the scientists’ attention since the 1930s.

Rabbits that have the ability to walk on their front legs suffer from a lack of coordination between the hind and front legs. They can walk on four legs, but when the animal wants to run or hop, it will use its front legs only.

Animals that have this genetic abnormality usually suffer from vision problems that lead to total blindness.

What Does It Mean when a Rabbit Stands on Its Hind Legs?

Wild and domesticated rabbits stand on their hind legs for several reasons.

In the wild, rabbits stand on their back legs to have a better view of what’s going around them. This position allows them to see for a longer distance, so they’re better at locating danger.

The animal usually stands on its hind legs and moves its head in all directions while moving its ears to be able to locate predators nearby. It also sniffs the air and thumps its legs on the ground to notify other bunnies of the presence of danger.

Domesticated rabbits stand on their hind legs for other reasons. Since these animals feel quite safe in their enclosures, they might stand on their hind legs to ask you for more food.

It’s quite normal for a rabbit to stand on its back legs when you’re playing and interacting with it. It’s also the rabbit’s way of asking you for attention.

Since rabbits are pretty curious, these animals will stand up if they can’t see you well when you’re around.

In rare cases, even a domesticated bunny will thump its hind legs when it’s standing. In this case, it might be scared of you or angry about something.

Can You Walk a Rabbit on a Leash?

Although you can train a rabbit to walk on a leash, it’s not easy. Walking on a leash is against a rabbit’s natural instincts, so it’ll resist being trained for a long time.

Bunnies like to run and roam freely, and a leash will make them feel restricted. Unlike dogs, walking on a leash makes a rabbit feel prisoned and trapped.

At the same time, the leash will prevent the rabbit from getting the necessary exercise, so it will be bad for its health in the long run. However, if you only use the leash for short periods, it should be fine.

As a matter of fact, walking the rabbit on the leash is a good option if you want to take it outside and want to make sure that the rabbit won’t get lost.

But if you want to train your rabbit to walk on the leash, you can follow these tips.

  • Wait until your rabbit has fully trusted you. Bunnies take time until they feel safe around you, but once they do, you’ll be able to train your animal easily.
  • Choose an H-shaped harness to train your bunny, as it’ll be more comfortable and safer.
  • Keep your rabbit on the leash for short periods and use it inside the house.
  • Let the rabbit explore the house while it’s on the leash, as this will encourage it to tolerate it even more.
  • Once the rabbit feels comfortable, you can take it outside.
  • Avoid walking the rabbit on the leash after getting a nap because it’ll be full of energy. During this period, the animal wants to run and hop freely, and the leash will make it feel restricted and uncomfortable.
  • Keep an eye on your rabbit and watch its body language. If the bunny is showing signs of discomfort or stress, you should remove the leash because it might try to run away and injure itself.
  • Even if your rabbit has been trained to walk on the leash, you should remove it regularly. Bunnies need to exercise freely to stay in good health.

Final Thoughts

Although rabbits are usually seen jumping and hopping, they also walk, especially when they’re exploring new territories.

When rabbits hop, you can understand how they feel by watching their body language.

Rabbits’ bodies are built to help them jump and hop safely. However, their flexible bodies can get injured if they don’t land properly.

These animals stand on their hind legs to explore the area around them and might try to warn other members of their group of the presence of a dangerous predator. However, some bunnies suffer from a genetic mutation that allows them to stand and walk on their front legs.

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