Rabbits are fragile and small creatures, which often keeps their owners on their toes. Many bunny parents often state that they have been frightened when their bunnies do not move. It turns out that these fur balls were playing a game with their owners. Bunnies often use this trick to attract their owner’s attention.
Do rabbits play dead? Yes, rabbits can play dead from time to time. It is called thanatosis.
Rabbits usually lie on their back and close their eyes, and do not move for a few seconds while playing dead. Then, they slow down their breathing rate and remain motionless until they catch their attention.
Wild rabbits use this trick as a defense against its predators. But, on the other hand, the pet rabbits use this to attract the attention of their owners.
Bunnies may also end up playing dead if they feel threatened or are scared.
When does a rabbit play dead?
As it has been stated before, a rabbit will play dead for different reasons-
It is asking for your attention
Bunnies love their owner’s attention. They will get jealous if you do not give them enough attention and time. Bunnies can become selfish for their owner’s love and ask for their attention in different ways. If it fails to get closer to you using different tricks, it will use thanatosis as a last resort.
You will find that your rabbits have suddenly become motionless and are lying still. However, it will become lively again as soon as you transfer your attention towards its well being.
The rabbit is afraid
Pet rabbits get this trait from their wild ancestors. Bunnies are extremely alert, and they can become scared quite easily.
A rabbit may start playing dead if it is terrified of something. For example, it can happen if the bunny feels threatened due to a new member, a sharp and disturbing noise, or any other pet in your house.
Try to find the causes that have frightened your pet. This way, you may be able to solve it.
You are over handling your bunny
Over handling is another common cause that leads to thanatosis in pet rabbits. Your rabbit may play dead if you are near it.
Bunnies love to play and remain active while they are awake. If you keep them confined in cages or over handle them, they will become bored. Over handling or not enough exercise can cause them to become frustrated. In such cases, the rabbit will use this act to run away from you.
Your pet is sleeping
A lot of times, when bunnies become still and motionless, they are in a deep sleep. Some bunnies lie on their back and flop weirdly while in REM (rapid eye movement) Sleep. Since bunnies sleep with their eyes open, it becomes difficult to distinguish what they are doing. If your rabbit is making a low purring sound, it is sleeping.
Rabbits can play dead and lie motionless due to different factors like fear, jealousy, attention-seeking etc. Pet owners need to check if their pets can move as soon as they approach bunnies. Playing dead is quite common in bunnies, and it is usually harmless.