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I'm considering a pet rabbit and am wondering about noise issues.

Dogs bark, and cats meow; do rabbits make any noises, or are they silent?

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4 Answers

For the most part rabbits are silent, but not entirely.

We've had three pet rabbits and they did, from time to time, grunt. Most of the time it was when they got irritated by the cats, but also when they decided that they didn't like something we were doing (like stealing their plastic keys). At any rate, the grunting sound is a sign of displeasure and a reasonable warning to stop what is bugging them and it's not terribly loud.

However, they'll not approach even the general noise level of regular cat and not even remotely close to a dog.

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Rabbits make a variety of sounds. The following are the most significant.

The loudest normal sound is non-vocal: foot stomps. Anyone who has seen Thumper in the Disney movie is familiar with this action. The bunny will stomp one of their powerful back legs. It conveys extreme displeasure or sends a warning of danger. I usually refer to it as bunny profanity.

Possibly the loudest sound is screaming or crying. It sounds like a human baby in pain. Hopefully you will never hear it. The rabbit is likely in extreme pain, or in fear for its life.

Quieter than a dog and maybe about the same volume as a cat, growling is used to express displeasure and request avoidance ("keep away from my stuff!"). In some rabbits, it can be a warning; if you are unfamiliar with the rabbit, assume it means the same thing as a cat or dog. Some of the smaller breeds, particularly the Lionhead types, will use it for communication ("I want my treat NOW!"). If I am working with a growling rabbit at the shelter, I use caution. If he is Tigger, our Lionhead, I will nuzzle his nose with mine and tell him to stop.

The nicest noise is teeth chittering, sometimes called purring; a rabbit will click its back teeth together in a pleasant little noise. The rabbit is very content and has probably either melted on your lap or is laying next to you. Your bunny loves what you're doing; don't stop.

Rabbits run in the 35-to-40 mph range, and they can get to top speed in your living room. There is a bit of noise when they move at this speed, which can include jumping on or over furniture. This will only be seen on high traction surfaces like carpet, and it is a sight to watch. Usually they will have completed before you can get your camera running.

They will eat hay, drink from the water bottle (bowls are much quieter), dig in the litter box, and make other sounds of life. They will also do these things while you're sleeping. If you need absolute quiet at night, a rabbit is not the pet for you. For the normal individual, the sounds are not bothersome.

Unless you have a very thumpy bunny and you live in an upstairs apartment, it is unlikely anyone will hear your bunny outside of your home. We take our rabbits camping all the time; they stay in the camper (with the air conditioner on for hot weather), and even the fussiest neighbor has no barking, growling or howling to complain of.

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I'm not sure about what passive noises they make, but I do know when rabbits are really stressed/scared, they make a human-like screaming noise.

They make the same noise to a lesser extent when fighting. It's more like a chirping/squealing noise if I remember correctly. It's been a while since I've heard rabbits fighting.

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I've no clue how can anyone claim they are a silent animal.

I've had a Rabbit at home for ~10 months, and while during the day it wasn't very noticable, during night the constant sound of him scratching anything was definitely an issue.

So, unless you plan to have the rabbit live where people can't hear him at night, you should definitely reconsider it.

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How much time did your rabbit spend outside it's cage? this question addresses solutions to digging. –  James Jenkins Feb 16 at 0:19
    
@JamesJenkins (disclaimer: I'm talking about several years ago, and it wasn't my rabbit, it was a housemate's) He spent most of the time in an area of maybe 2 square meters, including a nice cage, and guinea pig companion. That being said, the point is that the OP have to seriously consider this, since maybe he didn't think about it. –  Lohoris Feb 16 at 0:31
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I suspected it was a limited area issue. The problem you describe is not a rabbit issue, it is one of a pet confined to an area to small to allow sufficient exercise. Similar behavior would be seen in a cat or small dog confined in the same space. –  James Jenkins Feb 16 at 1:00
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See this related question on required space for a rabbit. –  James Jenkins Feb 16 at 1:03
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