Do Rabbits Understand Kisses?

Opinion varies about whether humans should kiss pets. The temptation to do so may seem overwhelming sometimes. We all love our pets, after all. It is usually safe to kiss a rabbit, and many pets enjoy this display of love.

Rabbits do not kiss each other, but can learn what kissing means. If grooming precedes the kiss, your intention will be clear. Many rabbits enjoy being kissed on the top of the head.

Your rabbit will not kiss you back, but will return your affection in other ways. Licking is a key sign of affection from rabbits. You can teach a bonded rabbit to ‘kiss’ you with training.

Do Rabbits Like It When You Kiss Them?

Rabbits do not kiss to show affection. Primarily, rabbits rely on grooming to show esteem. A rabbit’s reaction to being kissed depends on the individual animal.

Rabbits have firm boundaries around human contact. If your pet shies away from being touched, kissing is inadvisable. Your rabbit could misunderstand your intentions. This will result in biting and scratching.

You’ll know if your rabbit enjoys being kissed. Rabbits do not tolerate anything they consider unpleasant. If your pet does not enjoy the experience, she’ll flee. Acknowledge this, and do not repeat the action in the future.

Some rabbits enjoy being kissed. It’s akin to being groomed, which is a source of pleasure. If your rabbit responds appropriately, it’s safe to kiss her.

Can I Teach My Rabbits to Kiss Me?

You can train your rabbit to ‘kiss’ you, or other rabbits, using a command word. By saying, “kisses” before you perform the action, an association is forged in your pet’s mind.

Be aware that rabbits do not kiss in the same way as humans. She will rub noses or lick you. These are signs of affection in rabbits. Licking, in particular, is a huge compliment.

Allow your rabbit to grow used to the “kisses” command. Try it while sitting or lying close to your pet. If your bond is strong, she will respond with nuzzles or licks.

Is it Safe to Kiss a Rabbit?

If you are healthy and your pet enjoys being kissed, it’s usually safe. Follow these precautions:

  • Get down to your rabbit’s level rather than picking her up
  • Do not loom over your rabbit, or lunge at her suddenly
  • Groom your rabbit before kissing, even if it’s just for a few seconds
  • Precede the action with a command or word. “Kisses” is fine
  • Kiss the ‘sweet spot’ at the top of your rabbit’s head

Using a command word informs your rabbit of your intention. She will expect a kiss to the head after you speak. This will prevent her from becoming frightened by your movement. It also forges a positive association with this word.

You can choose a different command, but “kisses” is the preferred choice. Your rabbit will recognize the hard K and S sounds, and learn the word faster.

Is it Ever Unsafe to Kiss a Rabbit?

There are three situations in which you should never kiss a rabbit:

  • Never kiss a nervous, agitated, or anxious rabbit.
  • Never kiss a rabbit if you have a cold sore.
  • Never kiss a rabbit if you’re pregnant or have compromised immunity.

Acting against this advice places yourself and your pet at risk.

Don’t Attempt to Kiss a Nervous Rabbit

A nervous rabbit will be in a state of high agitation. You may think that kissing your rabbit will calm her down. In reality, you risk adding to her anxiety.

Rabbits are a prey species. They always respond to sudden movements. If you move your head toward an anxious rabbit, she’ll react instinctively. This will likely involve biting and clawing. This could draw blood and pass on an infection.

Calm your rabbit down using other, safer techniques. Once her equilibrium is restored, she will be ready for affection. Only then should you attempt kissing or similar behaviors.

Never Kiss a Rabbit with a Cold Sore

If you have a cold sore, you are living with the herpes simplex virus (aka HSV 1). This form of herpes can be caught without sexual contact. Sharing a towel, for example, could cause HSV 1.

Rabbits are susceptible to HSV. Kissing a rabbit, or even rubbing noses, will likely pass on the condition. As Veterinary Pathology explains, HSV can lead to encephalitis. This condition causes a fatal swelling of the brain in rabbits.

If you have a cold sore, look for any symptoms that she has contracted HSV. These include:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Discharge from the eyes and nose
  • Circling
  • Head tilting
  • Seizures and muscle spasms
  • Loss of balance and limping gait

Don’t Kiss Rabbits When Pregnant

Pregnant women have a compromised immune system. The same goes for the young or elderly, or somebody carrying an autoimmune virus.

Your pet may look healthy, but rabbits carry a range of diseases. Your pet does not realize this. Her immune system prevents the infection from bothering her.

In a healthy adult human, the immune system will destroy these diseases if transmitted. In pregnant women and those otherwise compromised, the immune system is weak. This can lead to infection.

Zoonoses and Public Health examines bacterial infections that pet rabbits can pass to humans. They include the following:

  • Pasteurella
  • Tetanus
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Encephalitozoon cuniculi

How to Show Your Rabbit You Love Them

Kissing her head is one way to show your rabbit that you love her. If your pet does not respond to this behavior, use an alternative. There are four cornerstones to showing love for a rabbit:

  • Understanding
  • Petting and grooming
  • Attention
  • Food

You can prove your love by meeting one or more of these core requirements.

Understanding Your Rabbits Needs

Rabbits cannot communicate verbally. Meeting your pet’s requirements without being asked will enhance your bond.

Rabbits do not enjoy being locked in hutches or cages. If you can, house your pet in a playpen or spare room. If you use a hutch, ensure it’s large in size and filled with toys. Rabbits need to be constantly stimulated.

Your rabbit will also need exercise. Ensure that your pet runs free in the sunshine at least three hours each day. This will keep any blues at bay.

Petting and Grooming

Rabbits demonstrate affection for each other through grooming. This makes grooming important for bonding with your pet.

When you groom your rabbit, she takes it as an act of subservience and respect. This is fine. It makes your rabbit feel important and loved.

Petting is also vital to rabbits. Rabbits love to be petted and stroked. Gently stroke your rabbit on the head, cheeks, and upper back.

Your rabbit may purr when you do this. This is the ideal moment to offer a kiss. She will feel adored.

Affection Through Attention

Rabbits love company and attention. Offer your rabbit short, controlled bursts of attention throughout the day. Make time for play, too. In these instances:

  • Get down to your rabbit’s level
  • Mimic your rabbit’s behavior
  • Let your rabbit make noise and destroy things
  • Praise and treat your rabbit as she plays

Your rabbit always enjoys games more if you’re involved. Rabbits feel loved when offered one-on-one attention.

Give Your Rabbit Food

The way to a rabbit’s heart is through her stomach. Rabbits are food-focused animals. Providing sustenance will always be well received. The key to bonding with your rabbit through food is:

  • Ensure your rabbit is fed daily
  • Ensure that feeding time falls into a consistent timeslot
  • Provide high-quality food and fresh vegetables
  • Offer your rabbit small treats whenever she pleases you

Nothing says, “I love you” to a rabbit like food. You may be surprised at how much joy a raisin can bring.

How to Tell if Your Rabbit Likes You

If your rabbit interacts with you, she likes you. Rabbits are afraid of humans. If your rabbit did not like you, she would hide. The following behaviors are additional signs that your rabbit likes you:

If your rabbit does any of these, you’ve bonded. You can cement this affection with a kiss. Your rabbit will then understand that the kiss is a sign of love.

Lou Carter

I’ve loved rabbits for as long as I can remember, so it felt natural to share my passion for lagomorphs with a much wider audience. My objective is to help owners to keep their pet rabbits happy and healthy.

Cite this article:

MLA Style: Carter, Lou. "Do Rabbits Understand Kisses?" Rabbit Care Tips, (January 22, 2021),

APA Style: Carter, L. (January 22, 2021). Do Rabbits Understand Kisses?. Rabbit Care Tips. Retrieved January 22, 2021, from

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