Yes, rabbits can recognize and remember their owners. Through quality time and positive interaction, rabbits can recognize your individual scent. For your bunny, they remember the scent that brings them the positive interaction (e.g. feeding and loving them). With plenty of time and patience, you can build an incredible bond with your rabbit.
Rabbits are intelligent and social creatures. Like cats and dogs, rabbits learn through smell and understand pheromones (the natural scent a human gives off). What makes a pet bunny unique is that they sense your emotions based on the scent you give off – the invisible scent only animals can smell.
Scroll on to learn exactly how much your rabbit can remember and recall.
Do Rabbits Recognize Their Owners?
Rabbits can be trained to recognize their owners based on how much time they spend with them. Rabbits make their first initial impression based on scent; however, they will recognize you through appearance and sound over time.
Because rabbits are scent-based creatures, they develop positive or negative feelings depending on the type of interaction they receive. For example, if you talk to them in a threatening tone every time you’re around, they will negatively associate their feelings with you.
Domestic rabbits choose and recognize their owners based on their time and patience with them.
Some signs to know whether your rabbit likes and recognizes you are:
- Hopping in circles within your presence
- Showing their tummy (flopping)
- Click noises
- They like to touch you
- Soft licks
Studies prove that rabbits can recognize, remember, and associate feelings with people, objects, and other mammals of their kind. The action of a bunny’s recognition stems from ‘chinning,’ which is scent marking.
Can I Train My Rabbit to Recognize Me?
Yes, it is possible to train your rabbit to recognize you. If you’re willing to be patient and build a bond of trust with your rabbit, you’ll end up with a furry friend who loves and knows you.
Follow these steps to help your rabbit remember you:
- Play: Rabbits can get bored quickly, so interacting with them and stimulating their minds is a great way to bond and form associations.
- Give treats: Associating tasty treats with you will train your rabbit to expect good things from you. You can teach them to recognize their name and more with this method.
- Talk: Gradually your rabbit will learn your voice and pick up on changes in tone when you speak to them.
- Be gentle: Respect your rabbit’s space and let them come to you. Once they learn that you won’t hurt them, they’ll realize they can trust you.
Whether you need to rehome your domestic friend or go away to college or for a job across the country, your rabbit will miss you. However, how much your rabbit misses you solely depends on how much time and energy you have spent bonding with your rabbit before you leave.
Rabbits can differentiate between their owners as opposed to other household members. They associate you as their owner if you have given them loads of attention above anyone else. If you’re planning a trip away from your pet, ensure you get another bunny or affectionate sitter weeks before you leave so they don’t get lonely.
Try to visit your pet rabbit within a few months if you’re going to be away periodically through the year. It is unclear whether your bunny will remember you after six months or longer.
Do Rabbits Sense When Their Owner Is Sad?
Like dogs, rabbits smell pheromones and sense things about their owners that humans overlook. They sense your emotions through sweat, hormonal changes, and body temperature. When you are sad, angry, anxious, and happy, your domestic rabbit will sense these emotions.
Your rabbit can also understand when your voice becomes abnormal and read body language. While it’s nice to have a furry friend to comfort you when you’re upset or distressed, rabbits will mirror your emotions.
When you feel hostile or distressed, try not to be around your furry friend for too long. It’s okay to hug your rabbit and be with them for your comfort. However, take precautions about being depressed for long periods. For a bunny, a long time is more than 24 hours.
As rabbits mirror your emotions, your depression can cause them to become depressed. While there are other causes for rabbit depression, such as feeling lonely or missing their owner, the signs of depression mirror behaviors of their owner:
- Less energy
- They won’t groom themselves
- Decrease in appetite
The fastest way to get your bunny to become happy again is by finding out what caused their depression in the first place. Some common causes include:
- New environment (such as a move)
- Change in the owner (rehomed)
- Grief (their furry buddy passed away)
- Spayed or neutered (hormonally depressed)
- Seasonal depression (less sunlight or daytime hours)
- Illness or injury (your bunny got hurt or sick)
Unlike humans, rabbits usually have a good reason for their behavior change. Although rabbits can become depressed, it doesn’t take much effort to turn their mood around. So, if you notice any rabbit depression signs, ensure you give them lots of attention and love as soon as possible. Within a week, they should be feeling back to normal.
Do Rabbits Have a Good Memory?
The memory span of a rabbit is about four minutes, and so this means that they have short-term memory and not a lot of long-term memory. However, whatever happens in these four minutes of a bunny’s memory will determine their behaviors and actions throughout their lives.
For example, if your rabbit was dropped, squeezed, or yelled at, they’ll remember the association and then recall their hiding place. Whenever a rabbit experiences the same feelings from the previous adverse action, it’ll always return to its “safe place.”
The same type of memory happens with positive experiences. This type of memory is called associative memory, which is different from the human memory called episodic memory. Rabbits cannot interpret chronological events but rather the feelings attached to the event.
Associative memory is why rabbits can recognize you, remember their favorite person, recall young bunny hood experiences, and places that make them feel comfortable. Bunnies and other pets thrive and remember specifically based on instinct and survival.
So, if your bunny is in a safe place, their behavior will be calm and cuddly. However, if your rabbit feels threatened, they’ll tend to hide more often and be less social.
Do Rabbits Remember Their Mothers?
Rabbits do not have a maternal instinct, and so it’s rare that a baby bunny (grown into adulthood) will remember its mother. Wild rabbits drive the non-maternal instinct because wild rabbit mothers will avoid their nests to repel predators.
It is normal if your domestic rabbit gives birth and you notice her spending hardly any time with her babies. In rare cases, and only out of confusion, a mother rabbit may eat her young. However, a mother rabbit will feed her young once a day to ensure they stay alive, which is just enough to keep the babies full.
Because of the association between mothers and babies, a baby rabbit will have less associative memories with their mothers, making it difficult to remember their mother existed.
Don’t be afraid to handle baby bunnies, as it’s a myth that the mother will abandon her babies if they have a human scent on them. However, baby bunnies must stay close to their mother when they are young, so try not to handle babies too often.
When rabbits fully trust you and their environment, they will become affectionate and cuddly. Once you have a rabbit in your home, the rabbit will bond with you as much as you bond with it. For example, if you spend every day with your new-found friend and take care of all their essential needs, your bond will grow quickly in which they will become attached relatively quickly.
Your bunny can become attached to more than one person at a time. If you and another household member were to spend time with it every day, your bunny would become attached to the other person quickly as well.
On the other hand, some situations are different. In the circumstance where you are the primary owner and have had your bunny from day one, your bunny will become very attached from the start. However, if another person becomes more involved with your rabbit later in its life (let’s say you went on a business or college trip), your rabbit will still prefer you over them.
It can take two weeks to a few months for a rabbit to become attached to its new owner. The bond depends on how much time is spent and how the time is spent. For a bunny, their definitive love language is affectionate quality time.
Do Rabbits Remember Their Siblings?
If something holds emotional relevance to a rabbit, they will remember these associative experiences based on what happened in the event. So, if a rabbit were close to their siblings and spent a lot of time with them, they would remember each other.
Rabbit siblings usually have a solid and affectionate bond that is difficult to break. If you adopted a rabbit and your friend adopted their sibling, then introduced each other later, they would remember each other.
On the other hand, if your rabbit has been spayed or neutered, its scent changes, which may confuse the sibling later. Sometimes, siblings’ scents are still recognizable. Likewise, if a rabbit is not a sibling but has been raised together, the bond still matches the biological.
With this in mind, it’s recommended not to split up bonded rabbits as one may become depressed from missing their bonded mate. If a fight breaks between the two, ensure you separate them so that they can still see each other.
Do Rabbits Remember Places?
Rabbits will scan a new area or environment before settling in in the wild. They will take note of hiding places and where food and water are. A rabbit’s memory is not good enough to find their way back home if they stroll too far; however, when it comes to remembering, they associate familiar scents, voices, and images to make the connection.
Rabbits like to have things that keep their attention when it comes to places. Things like toys, water placement, food, and bedding all make your rabbit happy. With happiness stems place memorizing.
On the other hand, if your bunny associates fear, anxiety, and negative experiences with their home, they will only remember hiding places. With negative experiences, rabbits will quickly get to know their “flee” route and remember this path in future situations.
If you live in a busy, loud, and harmful household, it may be best to wait on adopting a rabbit due to their fragile sense of emotions.
Can Rabbits Get Upset With Their Owner?
A rabbit is an excellent buddy to own and grow within the grand scheme of things. Humans and rabbits create one of the strongest bonds over most other pets, as long as the entire relationship stays positive. Although accidents happen, your bunny will hold a grudge if you have hurt them or accidentally become aggressive.
With every accident, ensure you make up for it over time and stay more careful when handling your rabbit friend. The bottom line is if you’re looking for a close bond with an animal, the rabbit is your best choice.