Why Do Rabbits Twitch Their Nose?

Rabbits are almost always twitching their noses. It’s normal behavior that a rabbit uses to smell, draw air into their lungs to breathe, and more. The speed of the nose twitching can vary depending on the environment, and occasionally their noses will stop twitching completely.

Read on to find out why the speed of your rabbit’s nose twitching might change throughout the day and in different situations.

Reasons Why a Rabbits Nose Twitches

There are a bunch of situations that cause your rabbit’s nose to twitch. Throughout the day most of these reasons might crop up, and the reasons will change regularly.

Your rabbit’s nose might be twitching:

  • To detect you: If you come into a room and your rabbit’s nose is twitching, they’re probably checking if they recognize your scent. If you’ve been around another animal or rabbit, their nose will be twitching a lot while they figure out the new smells.
  • At feeding time: A rabbit’s keen sense of smell is used when they smell food. In the wild, they’ll follow the smell to find food, while domesticated rabbits determine if food is good (not stale). If you get their favorite treat out their nose will probably twitch extra fast out of excitement.
  • To breathe easier: By twitching their nose, rabbits are making it easier to pull in more oxygen to their respiratory system.
  • If they’re stressed: Nose twitching can indicate stress – in the wild it could be if they detect a predator or danger, for domestic rabbits this could be from a loud noise.
  • To regulate their temperature: In the summer, rabbits will twitch their noses to cool them down. In the winter, nose twitching is to get more air and the mucous in their noses absorbs and maintains the heat to keep them warm.
  • Attracting mates: Twitching their noses is also a way of communicating and trying to attract a mate. This is usually accompanied by honking, circling, and dancing.
  • Exploring new territory: A rabbit’s nose will twitch as they survey a room. If they come across something new or particularly interesting, their noses will twitch even faster.
  • Communication: You might see two or more rabbits twitching their noses as part of a larger system of movements to communicate with each other.

What Does It Mean When a Rabbit’s Nose Is Twitching Fast?

If you notice your rabbit’s nose is going faster than normal, there are a few reasons that could be causing  it:

  • Excitement: A curious rabbit’s nose will already be twitching, but once something takes their interest (like a treat or new place to explore) their nose twitching will rapidly increase.
  • They’ve been active: Increased twitching can help rabbits get more air (and therefore oxygen) into their lungs. This’ll be when they’re exercising or running. The twitching is a way of catching their breath and cooling down.
  • They’re too hot: Look out for this particularly in hot weather. Heatstroke can cause fast nose twitching. If your rabbit is hot, try to help them cool down (giving them plenty of water, shade, and perhaps even ice cubes) or they’ll end up needing vet care.
  • They’re scared: If your rabbit is nervous or frightened, extra fast twitching helps them detect what’s around them to make them feel calmer.
  • They’re sick: A poorly rabbit will try to hide any pain or illness (a prey instinct). But if their nose is twitching super fast with no apparent reason, it could be that they’re sick – even if they’re not showing any other symptoms.

Why Is My Rabbit’s Nose Not Twitching?

There are a few reasons why your rabbit’s nose might not be twitching.

When They’re Relaxed

If your rabbit’s nose is not twitching or twitching slowly, it means that they’re super relaxed in your presence. This means they don’t need to be on alert and smelling you, instead, they can sit calmly and relax.

You might notice this happens when you start petting your rabbit – their nose might slow down and then altogether stop twitching. This means you have a great bond with your furry friend and they trust you implicitly.

When They’re Asleep

Rabbits’ noses don’t twitch when they’re sleeping. During sleep, a rabbit isn’t paying as much attention to their surroundings so they don’t need to be smelling anything or breathing quite so heavily.

This could be one of the few indicators that your rabbit is asleep since they sometimes sleep with their eyes open while sitting upright. This is a survival instinct so they can run at a moment’s notice. So check their nose twitches if you need to check if they’re awake or asleep!

When They’re on High Alert

Typically a rabbit’s nose will twitch double speed when they’re scared, but their nose can stop entirely if they have a sudden fright. For a second, they freeze until they decide what to do next.

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