Why Do My Rabbit’s Teeth Chatter When I Stroke It?

rabbit being stroked

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As rabbit owners, it is important to understand the things that you pet is trying to tell you through it’s subtle body language. The thing about rabbits is that they cannot communicate in the way that other animals, like dogs can.

But once you get to know your bunny, you will learn to understand how he is feeling.

One thing that catches a lot of new owners off guard is that their rabbit will chatter its teeth when it is being petted. But why is this?

Rabbits chatter their teeth when they feel happy and comfortable. If your rabbit does this when you stroke it, this is a sign that it is enjoying your affection. However, there may be times that your rabbit chatters its teeth as a sign of distress or discomfort and in this instance, the chattering is much more disjointed.

You may find yourself worrying whether the chattering is a result of something being wrong or whether your bunny is simply letting you know he’s happy.

why do rabbits teeth chatter

The good news is that there are things you can do to figure out which it is.

Do Rabbits Purr?

When you think of purring, you instantly imagine a cat. These animals purr by vibrating muscles in their throats that cause the vocal chords to vibrate also.

However, when rabbits purr, it is a completely different kettle of fish since they do it by chattering their teeth. This chattering is typically very smooth and uninterrupted and is your rabbit’s way of letting you know that he is content.

This should be taken as a huge complement since it takes rabbit’s a lot to trust people so when they feel comfortable and safe with you, this is something of an honour.

To distinguish a happy teeth chatter, you can look out for other signs because it can be difficult to hear your rabbit purring without getting very close to it.

Rabbit's Teeth Chatter

As it gently rubs its teeth together, your bun may also twitch its nose and potentially other parts of its body.

However, it is important not to confuse this twitching with a twitch that signals your rabbit is in pain or frightened.

You might also notice that your rabbit’s teeth chattering is accompanied by small movements in the jaw and whiskers. While rabbits tend to keep their eyes open most of the time, when they feel relaxed and safe, they will close them.

When you’re petting your rabbit, you may see his eyes slowly closing either halfway or completely. If you notice all of these things, carry on petting your rabbit because he’s having a wonderful time.

Can You Feel A Rabbit’s Purr?

When you are spending time with your rabbit, you might wonder whether he is enjoying it but as we mentioned, you may not always hear the purring as it can be very quiet.

However, you can try to feel it if you’re curious to know whether you’ve hit your bunny’s sweet spot.

Rabbits often like being stroked on the cheek and this is the ideal place to put your hand and feel for that purr. You’ll notice a gentle vibrating sensation that begins at the back teeth.

If you feel this, you’re doing a good job and your rabbit is happy.

Is My Rabbit Chattering His Teeth Because He Is In Pain?

While much of your rabbit’s teeth chattering will be a sign of contentment, there may be times that this signals something a little more concerning. There is a suggestion that cats purr when they experience pain as a way of soothing this, and while we aren’t 100% certain, this could be the case for rabbits too.

If your rabbit is showing other signs that he may be in distress, you should consider whether there has been any recent trauma.

Most rabbit owners are very responsible but even the most experienced and well-meaning rabbit parent may have an accident.

Rabbits do not do well when they fall from a height but it is common for them to try to jump out of your arms, so it’s important to not hold them at a height unless you absolutely must.

If you have recently dropped your rabbit, this teeth chattering could demonstrate that he has sustained a painful injury and needs to be seen by a vet.

Rabbit's Teeth Chatter

However, there are other traumas that could cause pain and you may not always have witnessed the event. The only way to know is to look over your rabbit and check him for signs of injury.

If your bunny has recently had surgery, it could be that he is experienced pain because of that. In this instance, you should administer pain medication if it has been prescribed or speak to your vet about other ways you can manage your rabbit’s pain as he recovers.

Some of the most common health issues for rabbits are in relation to their teeth and digestive systems. Since rabbits are so good at hiding their symptoms, these problems may not always be apparent.

Your rabbit’s teeth will continually grow throughout his life and this means that he needs ways to wear them down. Chew toys are an excellent option but providing plenty of fresh hay will be more than enough to keep the teeth ground down.

If your rabbit’s teeth have become overgrown, your vet can perform surgery to trim them down.

GI stasis is a gut problem where digestion slows down completely. This is a serious issue for rabbits and can cause them a lot of pain.

You might not know about the problem but monitoring your rabbit’s toileting will give you a clue that something is wrong. If this condition is not treated, it can become fatal.


Rabbits normally chatter their teeth when they are comfortable and content; this is otherwise known as purring. If your rabbit does this when you stroke it, this is his way of letting you know that he is enjoying being petted.

However, there may be times that your rabbit chatters his teeth because he is in pain so it is important to keep an eye on his health and report any issues to your vet.

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