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Why Is My Rabbit Doing a Binky?

 
By Ricardo Luis Bruno, Veterinarian and ethologist. December 15, 2020
Why Is My Rabbit Doing a Binky?

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Jumping is almost synonymous with rabbits. Their skeletal structure and musculature, especially on their hind legs, makes them jumping machines. In the wild, jumping allows them to carry out various tasks which allows them to survive and thrive. Domestic rabbits may even jump about for seemingly no reason. There is a term for this type of jump in rabbits and it's called binkying.

Whether this is the first time you have heard of the term binkying or you are just curious, AnimalWised explains why is my rabbit doing a binky? By understanding bunny binkying, we can better understand the well-being of our rabbit.

You may also be interested in: Why does my Rabbit Lick Itself?

What is binkying in rabbits?

Rather than being different from jumping, a bunny binky is simply a type of jump. It is a sudden jump which seems to come out of nowhere and appears to serve no apparent purpose. The jump isn't simply straight up in the air. A bunny binky may involve a twist, but it also has a certain giddiness normal rabbit jumps don't have.

The reason a rabbit can binky is because of their musculoskeletal system. A rabbit's bones are light, but their muscles and tendons are very strong[1]. This gives them not only their acute hopping ability, but their agility. The binky is an agile movement which is can involve somersaults, twist and other acrobatics. How they are performed depends on the ability of the rabbit and the extent of the stimuli behind them.

Some categorized binkying into two types. Either a full binky with a jump or somersault, or a half binky where only the head moves in a twitchy sort of way. However, we need to be careful as a rabbit may shake their head for various reasons, including due to an ear infection. This is why it is important we understand why a rabbit is doing a binky.

Why do rabbits jump?

It is no coincidence that rabbits have developed a morphology that allows them to binky. Their survival and ability to thrive in wild populations is not only due to their high reproductive capacity. Their evolution has given them the tools and skills they need to survive, despite being quite far down on the food chain.

In the wild, rabbits will jump for the following reasons:

To escape from predators

Rabbits do not have much ability to defend themselves if they are caught by a predator. Instead, they use evasion tactics to stay alive. Not only can rabbits jump, but they are fast runners. Even if they are being pursued by a predator, they can run away and even jump to the side to give them the slip. They do this via slight modifications of their leg positions against the ground.

To overcome obstacles

A rabbit's ability to jump also allows them to tackle obstacles they may find. This is very helpful in the wild, especially where humans have erected fences and other structures. In the domestic environment it can be problematic as we need to be careful our rabbit's jumping ability means they escape.

Why Is My Rabbit Doing a Binky? - Why do rabbits jump?

Difference between rabbit binkying and jumping

As we have stated above, binkying is a type of jumping, but we need to make the distinction between the two. Binkying is a type of jump which happens when the rabbit is comfortable and happy. Most commonly it is an expression of joy. They jump in the air and twist only when they feel comfortable enough in their environment.

Although a rabbit running away from a predator may jump to evade them, this is not the same as a binky. This means we can find it difficult to distinguish the difference between the two. To help us, we can look at the context of the jump and understand the reasons for binkying.

Reasons why a rabbit is doing a binky

As we said, there are different circumstances why a rabbit will binky and they are all positive:

They are excited about food

Rabbits need an unlimited supply of hay and will get the majority of their nutrition from this and rabbit feed. However, we also need to supplement their diet with fruits and vegetables suitable for rabbits. While they are unlikely to be very excited about their quotidian hay, they do love to eat fresh fruit and veg.

A bunny's love for fruit and vegetables means we may even be able to use them as incentives during rabbit training. Since these are positive experiences, the rabbit may express their joy through a binky. This can either be in anticipation of eating some delicious food or because they are enjoying having just eaten some.

They are playing

Young rabbits, as with young children, will often jump and be excited at the minutest stimulus. While they are vulnerable, they are not always aware. When they are with their siblings, they will play and frolic with each other at any opportunity. It is an important way for them to learn the skills they need to get by later in life. Binkying during play is a common display, especially with domestic rabbits.

Adult domestic rabbits will also binky when they play. While it will depend on the individual bunny, rabbits are very playful animals, especially those which have been well socialized and have a happy life.

They have a lot of energy

When we have had a strong coffee or are otherwise full of beans, we can get a little bit jumpy. Although being jumpy is correctly associated with anxiety, it can happen if we simply have a surfeit of energy. This is the same with rabbits. When their metabolism is high, they can convert a lot of their food into energy and they will binky all of a sudden to release this energy.

The amount of energy a rabbit have will also depend on the time of day. Rabbits are crepuscular animals. This means they are most active at dawn and dusk. During this time, you might be more likely to see them binky since they are at their most alert. Individual rabbits will also have different metabolism levels, so they may be more likely to binky than others.

They want our attention

There is a myth about rabbits that they do not bond with their human guardians. Not only do they bond, but they can bond very closely. This means they miss them when they are not around and they look forward to spending time together. When a rabbit sees us, they may binky in anticipation or as an invitation to play. As long as they are happy, they may want to get our attention using a binky, but it is important we differentiate this from nervous jumping when stressed.

Why Is My Rabbit Doing a Binky? - Reasons why a rabbit is doing a binky

How to help your rabbit binky

Since rabbits binky when they are happy, helping them to binky more means we need to encourage their happiness. It's not something we should every try to force or get frustrated if they don't do it. Also, every rabbit is an individual. The amount they are binkying will depend on their energy levels and personal preferences. It doesn't necessarily mean they aren't happy.

However, there are some general tips and methods you can employ to help encourage binkying in rabbits. They include:

  • Basic needs: the basic care needs of a rabbit are not complicated, but if we leave any of them out, it can seriously affect their well-being. Ensure they have a quality diet which meets all of their nutritional needs. Supplement this diet with fruit and vegetables to make your rabbit binky all the time.
  • Environmental enrichment: we provide lots of toys for cats and dogs, but many of us do not consider rabbits in need of much environmental enrichment. This couldn't be further rom the truth. We should play with them, give them spaces to roam, provide toys when possible and ensure they are properly stimulated whenever possible.
  • Space: another factor in a rabbit's happiness is space. Rabbits will divide their hutch into different areas[2], so we need to ensure they have the right amount of space to do everything they need. This includes binkying. We also need to ensure individual rabbits have sufficient space even if they live with others. A rabbit run is also very important as it lets them stretch out. You will often see a rabbit binky in a run as they are excited to be there.
  • Know them: we need to know our rabbit to know what makes them happy and what makes them sad. This way we can know how to encourage the former and avoid the latter. Fortunately, getting to know your rabbit is one of the best aspects of keeping them as your companion. Once you do, your bond will be one of the main reasons they binky at all.

If you are a first time rabbit guardian and are at all unsure of what you need to do to take care of them, you can check out our rabbit care guide video below:

If you want to read similar articles to Why Is My Rabbit Doing a Binky?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

References

1. Gondret, F., Hernandez, P., Rémignon, H., & Combes, S. (2009). Skeletal muscle adaptations and biomechanical properties of tendons in response to jump exercise in rabbits. Journal of Animal Science, 87(2), 544-553.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18849388/

2. Baumans, V. (2005). Environmental Enrichment for Laboratory Rodents and Rabbits: Requirements of Rodents, Rabbits, and Research. Institute for Laboratory Animal Research Journal, 46(2), 162-170.
https://academic.oup.com/ilarjournal/article/46/2/162/910262

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