Circling refers to a rabbit running in circles around another bunny. This body language is commonly shown by aggressive and territorial bunnies especially those that have not been neutered or spayed. However, it could also mean other things.
It does not only happen to other bunnies. Sometimes, as you try to walk across the room, your bunny may run towards you and begin circling your feet.
Why is your bunny circling?
For you to correctly decipher the message that your furry friend is trying to send to you, you need to look at the context as well as whether this animal is neutered or not. Some of the common reasons why it happens to include the following:
A courting behavior
This is a courting behavior often noted in unneutered rabbit housed together, i.e., it “is part of a rabbit's courting behavior and is sometimes accompanied by a soft honking or oinking.”. This pet is trying to say, ‘I love you’ or trying to express its affection and it may also sniff and make a courting dance.
When it is part of courting, you may also note other behaviors such as mounting. These pets can even mount your feet, hand or other bunnies. In such a case, it is showing its desire to mate.
Seeking for attention
Sometimes, if you ignore this furry critter, it may circle your feet as a way of seeking attention from you. Maybe it wants to play with you. Your pet is trying to tell you, ‘hey, let us play’ or ‘I am here, you should notice me’
Angry or agitated
Circling followed by chasing, boxing, jaw snapping or lunging may indicate displeasure or be part of a fight. Some bunnies may do this as they are snorting, hissing or grunting. This pet is trying to tell you ‘back-off’.
Besides circling, you will often note his or her ears laid back and getting into a lunging position. If the warning is not heeded to, it can lead to a fight.
If it happens while you are holding their favorite treats, it may be a means of begging you for the treat. Your pet may stretch towards you or stand on its hind legs. It is asking for you to give it whatever you have on your hands.
Sometimes this behavior may be done to show dominance to a mate. When trying to show dominance, you are likely to notice “one rabbit run circles around the other rabbit, while the other rabbit is sitting still” .
As a way of dealing with circling related to courtship, aggression and showing dominance, neutering and spaying to a non-breeding bunny may be advised. It has many other benefits besides stopping such behaviors.