Rabbits will yawn from tiredness – right before they go asleep or immediately after they wake up. This movement is their mouth opened wide and often accompanied by stretching.
There are a few other reasons why you might see your rabbit yawn. Check out the rest of the article to find out more!
Why Rabbits Yawn
The top six reasons why you might see your rabbit yawn:
As mentioned above, a sleepy rabbit will yawn when they’re tired and ready for bed – or when they’ve recently woken up.
Other signs that your rabbit is tired include if they lie down, close their eyes, and if their nose twitching slows. Once they’re asleep you might even hear snoring.
Rabbits feel boredom – this is usually when they’re lonely or have nothing to mentally stimulate them. Yawning could be an expression of their boredom.
If your rabbit is bored there are a few things you can do to prevent it. You could play with them, get some new toys, get them a companion, or let them out of their cage. A bored rabbit is more likely to be destructive and become depressed.
For more information, check out our post about the signs of a depressed rabbit.
If a rabbit is too hot and looking for ways to cool down, you might see them yawning. This helps stabilize their temperature and cools their brain down.
Rabbits will also breathe and twitch their nose faster to try to cool down. Heat can dissipate from their ears too!
You can help keep your rabbit cool by putting ice cubes in their water, creating a shaded area, using cool mats and compresses, turning the A/C on, and keeping them indoors. Always watch out for any signs that they have heatstroke.
Rabbits are creatures of habit and highly social creatures. You might notice your rabbit yawning around the group that they live with. This will signal to them that it’s time for bed, so they can all follow the same sleep schedule.
Rabbits have a bunch of ways to signal their group without being vocal. For example, they thump the ground to warn of incoming danger or indicate that they want to be groomed to assert dominance.
By yawning, rabbits take in more oxygen which has the direct result of making them alert. When they’re more alert it’s beneficial in terms of safety to stay sharp and help them as they constantly assess their surroundings.
It’s even more important for wild rabbits to stay alert – it could be the difference between life and death. Though domesticated rabbits don’t have to rely on alertness to survive, it’s still a built-in technique.
Rabbits can yawn when their mood, appetite, or emotions change. This is because neurotransmitters in their brain send signals because of chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and more.
Why Do Rabbits Stretch While Yawning?
If you’ve seen your rabbit yawning, you might have also seen them doing yoga-like positions of arching their backs and pushing their paws out in front of them.
When your rabbit stretches out, it indicates that they feel safe and secure in their surroundings. They’ll often lie down shortly after this and relax. Another sign of this is if your rabbit flops – when they sprawl out on the floor with their legs out behind them and settle down for a sleep – it’s also a huge sign of trust.
Why Is My Rabbit Yawning and Shaking?
If your rabbit is shaking while they yawn, it could be a sign that there’s a problem. One of the likely reasons is that it’s a physical reaction to being scared. It could also be because of the temperature of if they’re sick.
Your rabbit might be shaking because:
- They feel threatened: A scared rabbit (when there’s a predator, loud noise, or unfamiliar smell for example) might shake and look to you to acknowledge and deal with the situation.
- They’re cold: Shaking could be how a rabbit tries to warm themselves up by moving more.
- They’re sick: If your rabbit has any symptoms like not eating or drinking, lethargy, changes in behaviors, or bowel habits, then there could be a deeper issue.
- Their mouth hurts: Your rabbit could have a toothache, an infection, or some other issue in or around their mouth.
If you suspect that your rabbit is sick, take them to a vet for a check over. If they’re scared or cold then you should be able to comfort or warm them up enough for them to stop shaking. If the shaking persists, it’s worth speaking to a vet.