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The 5 Best Spots to Pet a Rabbit (Guide with Infographic)


Apr 12, 2023
young woman with adorable rabbit indoors

Rabbits are often very social and enjoy being pet, especially if they’ve been kept as a pet for much of their life. However, not all rabbits are that social, and some may be unsure of getting petted by those they don’t know.

Furthermore, every rabbit has its own preferences in where it likes to be petted. Once you get to know your rabbit, you’ll learn about their personal preferences in where they like to be petted. With that said rabbits do tend to like specific spots petted, while disliking other ones.


The 5 Best Spots to Pet a Rabbit

1. Head

Most rabbits prefer to be petted on their head. There are several potential reasons behind this. For one, rabbits have scent glands on their chin and cheeks, which they use to mark territory and communicate with other rabbits. They’re naturally prone to rubbing these areas against things, so they often like to be rubbed in these areas.

Rabbits also have a sensitive nose and whiskers. Petting in these areas may feel better than in other areas due to this increased sensitivity. Many rabbits will close their eyes and relax when they are petted on their head—a sign of their contentment.

Of course, it’s important to be gentle with your rabbit’s head, as it can be more sensitive than other parts of their body. Use slow, gentle strokes and pay attention to your rabbit’s body language to make sure they are enjoying the attention.

rabbit resting her head on the shoulder of her owner
Image Credit: Dean Clarke, Shutterstock

2. Ears

Many rabbits like their ears to be rubbed or scratched gently. Their ears have many nerve endings and are quite sensitive. Therefore, petting them in this area can be pleasurable for many rabbits. Furthermore, some rabbits may have a hard time reaching their ears by themselves.

However, rabbits have very sensitive ears, and some are more sensitive about them being touched than others. Rabbits that have had poor past experiences may not like their ears to be rubbed at all, for instance. If your rabbit appears uncomfortable or avoids ear petting, it’s important to respect their boundaries and find other ways to interact with them.

Of course, you should be gentle when petting any rabbit’s ears. Don’t apply too much pressure. Use soft, circular motions with your fingers, and pay attention to your rabbit’s body language to make sure they are comfortable and relaxed.

3. Cheeks

Many rabbits like their cheeks to be petted in particular. Their checks are often sensitive and contain scent glands, which they naturally like to rub on things. Therefore, they often enjoy having them rubbed by you. Their cheeks also contain many different nerves, making them more sensitive than other parts of their body.

You should always be slow and gentle when petting your rabbit’s cheeks. You never know when a rabbit may not like their cheeks touched, especially since rabbits may be sensitive about strangers coming near their face. Always approach them slowly and gently.

Pay attention to your rabbit’s body language and be responsive to their cues, such as flinching or pulling away, as this may indicate that they are uncomfortable or not enjoying the experience.

Not all rabbits like to be petted on their cheeks, either. It’s important to watch your rabbit’s body language, as stated above, to ensure that they like their cheeks to be petted.

White Rabbit Playing with People in the Cafe
Image Credit: KArd, Shutterstock

4. Back

A rabbit’s back is one of the most neutral places you can touch, making it a good option for rabbits that are unsure of their surroundings or whoever they’re interacting with. Many rabbits prefer to be petted on their backs first and then warm up to being petted somewhere else.

Of course, you should also be extremely gentle when petting their back, even though it is less sensitive than other parts of their body. It’s important to remember that not all rabbits enjoy being touched on their backs, particularly if they have had negative experiences with being picked up or restrained.

In addition, some rabbits may be more sensitive on their lower back near their tail, so it’s important to be particularly gentle in this area. If your rabbit seems uncomfortable or appears to be in pain, stop petting them immediately and consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

5. Underneath the Chin

Many rabbits like to be scratched underneath their chin. This is also a good way to get them to lift their head up so you can check their teeth or give them a treat. Petting under your rabbit’s chin can stimulate the mylohyoid muscle, which can be relaxing and pleasurable.

However, petting a rabbit under the chin can be a bit intimidating to some rabbits, especially if they don’t know you. Therefore, you should likely only attempt this after you have established a repertoire with the rabbit.

Always keep an eye on your rabbit’s body language to determine whether or not they’re enjoying the experience. Not all rabbits will enjoy their chin being touched, especially if they tend to be more skittish.

pink eyes rabbit-pixabay
Image Credit: AdinaVoicu, Pixabay


How Do I Know If My Rabbit Likes Being Petted?

You need to keep an eye on your rabbit to ensure that they’re enjoying the interaction. Not all rabbits like to be petted in the same areas, so it is vital that you pay attention to their body language. There are several signs that your rabbit is enjoying the interaction, such as:

  • Purring and teeth grinding: Many rabbits “purr” or grind their teeth when they are relaxed and happy. Therefore, if your rabbit is “purring,” it is likely because they are pleased with the interaction.
  • Licking and grooming: If your rabbit starts grooming themselves or their owner when being petted, it’s a sign that they’re enjoying the interaction. Often, rabbits only groom themselves when they are relaxed. You won’t typically find a rabbit grooming itself when they aren’t happy.
  • Relaxed body posture: A rabbit that’s enjoying itself won’t be tense or nervous. They should be relaxed. Their body may even be stretched out, and their head lowered. They may close their eyes or appear to doze off.
  • Approaching: If you stop petting, your rabbit may approach you asking for more petting. If they approach you for more, they probably enjoyed the petting session.

On the other hand, if your rabbit appears tense, pulls away, or tries to escape while being petted, this may indicate that they are uncomfortable or not enjoying the interaction. It’s important to respect your rabbit’s boundaries and stop petting them if they appear uncomfortable or anxious.


Final Thoughts

Rabbits like to be petted just like any other pet. In fact, they also like to be petted in similar places as other pets. Their head, back, and ears are all free game where they may like to be petted. However, every rabbit is different. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to your rabbit and determine where they like to be petted, specifically.

Always keep your rabbit’s body language in mind.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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