Do Rabbits do Anything?
Clicker Priming (Revised)

Rabbit Jargon (with commentary)


Binky - v. + n.  a sudden vertical jump while twisting the head and body in opposite directions.  Often occurs mid run.  An expression of ultimate rabbit joy.  The word 'binky' is misleading.  It sounds cute and babyish (like a beloved blanket or pacifier), whereas the rabbit binky is athletic, like the midair twists of a bucking bronco.  In fact, Alex and I call them 'broncos'.  

Buck - n. male rabbit.  

Bunny - n. rabbit  I know you didn't need that defined, but I'm curious how we ended up with two such different names for the same animal. I suspect there's a backstory of invasion and language mingling (this is why we raise 'cows' but eat 'beef'), but for now all I can say is that I'm looking into it.

Burrow - n. a hole or tunnel where rabbits live.  It is also the name of the Weasley family's ramshackle home in the Harry Potter series.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.  An average rabbit litter is six kits.  Guess how many children are in the Weasley family.

Chin - v. when rabbits rub the scent glands in their chins on an item to show possession.  I've also read that it's the rabbit version of writing "I was here" on picnic tables and the like.  Fortunately, the scent is undetectable by humans so they can chin to their heart's delight with no problem.  

Crepuscular - adj. active at dawn and dusk (twilight).  Rabbits (like cats, bears, skunks and a host of other crepuscular animals) spend the day dozing.  They may wake up for short spells and move around, but they quickly return to napping.  


Lady and Fergus 02152016
Sleepy Lady (left) and Fergus

Dew claw - n. a thumb-like claw, on the front paws,  that doesn't reach the ground.  In my experience, rabbits tend to gnaw on this nail, keeping it short enough that guardians don't need to trim it.  Dogs also have dew claw

Dewlap - n. loose flesh and fatty tissue hanging from the neck.  It is more prominent on does than bucks.  When a doe is pregnant, she pulls fur from her dewlap to line the burrow in preparation for the birth of her young.  Before I knew much about rabbits, I looked at Lady's dewlap and worried she might have a thyroid issue.  Just imagine if I'd brought her to the vet to get tested!

Lady screened porch 09142014
Lady showing off her dewlap

Doe - n. a female rabbit.  I bet you saw that coming.

Flopped - adj. a rabbit stretched to its full length in a state of complete relaxation and trust.  Some rabbits literally go from standing to flopping down on their side (scaring uninitiated caregivers).  Others prefer a partial flop.  They sit in typical bunny-loaf position (picture a football with a head), then stretch out Sphinx-like on the ground with their rear legs twisted to the side. In either version, the rabbit is letting down her defenses, choosing a position that would hinder escape.  For a rabbit to trust you enough to allow you to pet her while she's flopped is a gift, a blessing, a golden moment of inter-species trust.  It's as unlikely and sacred as a wild bird landing in your hand.  Flopped, a rabbit's body feels squooshy, boneless, perfect for wriggling through subterranean tunnels or under garden gates à la Peter Rabbit.  


Lounging rabbit 052411
Cottontail flopped

G.I. Stasis - n. medical condition where the gastrointestinal system slows or stops working.  Gasses build up and the rabbit stops eating or drinking.  It's a serious situation with countless potential causes ranging from overgrown teeth to a sudden change in diet.  Left untreated, it can kill a rabbit in a day or two.  

If you'd like to learn about early detection and prevention The House Rabbit Society has an excellent article.   Lady has had it twice in the three years she's lived with us.  In both cases a rushed visit to the vet had her feeling much better and acting like herself a few hours later.

Kit (kitten) - n. baby rabbit

Lagomorph - n. "any of an order (Lagomorpha) of gnawing herbivorous mammals having two pairs of incisors in the upper jaw one behind the other and comprising the rabbits, hares, and pikas."  Thanks to Merriam-Webster online for the definition.  I've heard that rabbits are more closely related to deer (sharing a common ancestor) than rodents, but I haven't verified it.  If you happen to know whether or not it's true, please leave a comment.

Pellet - n. 1). a fortified food sold at pet stores specifically for rabbits. 2). Rabbit poo.  There's something both apt and confusing about using the same word for what goes into a rabbit's mouth and what comes out the other end.  In our house we call the food "pellets" and the feces "poo".  Don't worry, you'll get to read a lot more about poo in an upcoming post.  

Scut - n. a rabbit's tail.  This is one of my favorite words in the English language. It's such a funny bit of trivia and the word even looks like the body part it represents, all compact and round.  I'm sure I will write a post devoted to the scut one of these days, but for now I'd just like to point out that the /^t/ sound quite appropriately makes you think of a word with a similar sound and meaning.  You guessed it, 'but'.

Bunny back 070310


Thump - v. + n. a loud sound created by the quick raising and lowering of the hind feet, but you probably figured that out since it's a great example of onomatopoeia.  The thump can be an alert, informing other rabbits of potential danger nearby, or an expression of anger (picture a two year old not getting her way). It is not a sign of joyful excitement.  Sorry Disney.  

Warren - n. network of connected rabbit burrows.  


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Love this ! Good job, very informative --


Thanks Susan. I was aiming for informative without being boring

Suzanne Stimpson

I learned new information about rabbits. Thank you Tricia. Yes, little pikas are cute if you can glimpse them among the rocks they so love. You do hear their squeaky voice though.

Deb Howe

And your rabbits are adorable!

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