You may have noticed your bunny rubbing their chin against certain objects, even certain humans or their shoes. We have seen this in our bunny from about 4 months old, she would be walking around rubbing her chin on the stairs, tables, books, bags even in the garden with the plants.
We thought she was doing this due to her chin itching and wanting to somehow scratch her chin. I even tried rubbing her chin, in the beginning, thinking this would help with the itch. Little did I know, she was actually marking her territory.
Chin rubbing isn’t just about scratching an itch it’s a signal they give to mark their “space”. Rabbits express themselves differently from predators like cats, dogs, and humans that it can be difficult to figure out just what they’re doing and why.
Nearly every action has some sort of meaning to a rabbit, whether it’s fear, joy, establishing dominance or pure curiosity.
What Is The Scent Gland?
The scent gland is a gland that is located under a bunnies chin and cannot be seen, nor smelled by a human. You may think because they are rubbing their scent on objects that they will begin to smell.
However, you don’t have to worry, their chin rubbing does no damage to objects, clothes, or furniture. It is a gentle rub they give and looks like they are scratching the bottom parts of their necks.
They leave this scent odor behind to mark their territory and bunnies mark everything they think they own (including you!). Some bunnies will do their chin rubbing as soon as they are in their new environment while others may take a while to warm up to their new area or home.
Every bunny is different and has their own little personality traits. This is what makes your bunny so unique and special.
Is Chin Rubbing Normal?
Bunnies have scent glands under their chin which they use to mark their scent on something to claim it as theirs. In doing so, they also let other bunnies know that they have been there.
It is also common when you have put something new in their environment such as new toys. Your bunny will also do this when they are exploring a new territory.
So for those worrying if chinning is normal, yes it is a very normal behavior and this is done by pet rabbits as well as wild rabbits to make sure other rabbits know they are there.
Why Do Bunnies Mark Their Territories?
Bunnies mark their territory to show a sense of dominance. They like to show that they were there and also that whatever they mark is now theirs.
Female bunnies can also use this tactic to locate their own bunnies or the bunnies in their “group”. If you are not a part of their group, the female bunny could become aggressive and attack especially if it’s a little bunny that is not part of her pack.
Territory marking is a normal behavior of a bunny and cannot be stopped, nor should it be. This is just the survival method that helps them know and recognise their environment.
The best way to reduce your bunny marking their environment with pee or poo is spaying or neutering. By doing this, your bunny is easier to litter train.
Should I Be Concerned When My Bunny Rubs Her Chin?
No, you shouldn’t be concerned about your bunny marking their territory. Bunnies also do this to let other bunnies know they are here and could be notifying other bunnies they can breed. All bunnies do this on a regular basis.
Body Language Of My Bunny
A bunny may seem like a silent animal, but they use a lot of body language to communicate to their fellow bunnies as well as humans they come in contact with. It is important as a bunny owner to take note of your bunny’s behaviour to make sure they are happy and feel safe.
You may notice if you have more than one bunny that one bunny will claim their territory by chinning certain objects. This is to let their fellow bunnies know what is theirs. Taking note of your bunny’s behaviours can help you understand your bunny better. By understanding your bunny better, you can make sure your bunny is happy.
What Other Ways Do Bunnies Mark Their Territories?
Some other ways bunnies mark their territory is through droppings or poops. They do these droppings to also mark territory and you will see them leave these droppings around your house or the area they play in. They will mark their claimed territory with pee, poop as well as spray (smells way stronger & muskier than pee).
We have often seen our bunny pee in certain places of our house and she seems to go back to those exact places every time. One of those places is often our bed!
Much of this was before she got spayed. Once your bunny is spayed or neutered they become less territorial and much of their aggressive behaviour will be minimized. Litter training will also become a lot easier due to the reduction in territorial behaviour.
Bunnies will often pee and poop whenever they enter a new territory and this again is to leave their mark and for other bunnies to know that she was there.
When Your Bunny Rubs Her Chin Against A Human, Does It Mean She Is Affectionate?
It seems like the cutest thing when our bunny comes up to me or a new human and chin them. But does it mean she is showing affection? Unfortunately this does not mean she is showing affection. Rather, your bunny is just marking you as her territory. However, you could take that as a sign of love!
Your bunny rubbing their chin all over your home isn’t because they are itchy, but rather they are marking their territory and claiming objects as theirs. No need to worry though, your items and your bunny are safe while she rubs her chin on every part of your home.