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Rabbits/Baby rabbits behaviors; jerking, kicking, etc.



I have tried searching up about why baby rabbits jerk but I could not find an answer. I hope that you can help me ASAP!

(1) My rabbits are 11 days old and we have been carrying them, is that advisable? The mother rabbit seems fine with it. However whenever we carry, stroke and observe them from outside the cage, it is seen jerking a lot. Why is this so?

(2) My baby rabbits keep licking and biting me sometimes, do they do it because they are uncomfortable?

(3) 2 of my baby rabbits are healthy and big-sized but the other 2 are smaller in size, is this normal?

(4) Lastly, how can I tell if a rabbit is stressed out or scared (fear)?

Thanks for helping! I hope you can reply as soon as possible because I hope nothing happens to my rabbits!

Dear Sandra

Sorry for the delay in answering.  The AllExperts site has not been cooperative!  :(

1.  It is not advisable to carry baby rabbits.  Not only are they very susceptible to the bacteria on your skin, but they also can jerk unexpectedly and pop out of your hands.  A fall from even a short distance can be fatal.  Not sure what you mean by jerking.  But if the baby has ever been dropped by someone carrying it, then there could be brain damage.

2.  Possibly, or they could be hungry.  But by licking your hands, they are getting bad bacteria in their intestines that could kill them.  Always disinfect your hands with hydrogen peroxide and betadine surgical scrub before you handle the babies, but handle them as little as possible!  You increase their risk of illness with ever time you touch them.

3.  The two smaller ones may not be feeding as vigorously as the other two.  As long as they are warm and round and healthy, this is not a major problem.  They will catch up once they start eating solid food.  But if they are cold and wrinkled and look as if they are starving, you may need to supplement their food:

4.  Stressed/fearful rabbits will try to get away from you, or will hunch tightly with ears back and eyes wide.  You can learn a lot about rabbit body language here:

I hope this helps.



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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:

Find a rabbit vet at for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.

RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.


I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

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