Rabbits exhibit climbing behaviour. Know why they want to climb on others?

Rabbits exhibit climbing behaviour and they will climb on top of each other. This action is usually seen between two newly introduced rabbits. This action between two rabbits is also known as “humping”.

But why do rabbits exhibit mounting behaviour? Does it mean let’s have some fun or I’m superior to you, or do they show their buddies how much they love each other as a sign of mating? Keep reading to find out more!

The animals’ behaviour of mounting is described as the first introducing stage of the two rabbits where both are from different environment with completely different personalities. Rabbits are extremely social and communicate with each other through mounting. The humping behaviour occurs when one rabbit slowly walks alongside another rabbit, and then jumps onto the other rabbit’s back or head.

In some cases, when they are newly introduced with each other, during introduction when they do not like each other they start a fight and that has been observed to become nasty. Then a longer introductory period is required before they become friends or fully bonded.

Being The Boss: A Process Of Communication

Sometimes it occurs that one rabbit mounts on another one. This is okay until the rabbit underneath is submissive. This shows that the rabbit at the top is the boss. They may be taking their turns to understand who is the boss. So, now we can describe mounting as a process of communication where a turn is taken by the two rabbits for establishing dominance between the two. This process occurs between two unknown rabbits and will lessen as they become familiar with each other and the relationship solidifies.

Love For Each Other: Mating

It can also happen when a rabbit loves the other one and wants to cuddle each other or mate the other. Obviously, when pairing active breeding males and females, the mount serves an important purpose for their reproduction. The rabbit who is on the top holds the other furry skin with teeth which is known as nipping. Sometimes rabbits get hurt due to their nipping behaviour too.

This behaviour is very important as per research that is going on to study their performance and multiplication. Comparative studies are being done to study the reproductive performance and behaviour of rabbits raised in a group-housing system and in a regular cage system. Female-female mounting has also been observed and studied in European rabbits.1

The mounting activity as a sexual behaviour was studied during pregnancy and lactation in white rabbits from both the countries of New Zealand (NZ) and California (C). Sexual activity of both mounting and mating behaviour decreased dramatically in both types of rabbits after 12–24 hours of coitus. Subsequently, a variable but a small proportion of subjects exhibited sexual behaviour. Sexual activity occurred in the last third of pregnancy for both strains. Postpartum estrus lasted for about 48 hours in most rabbits. However, only 50% of the subjects showed sporadic sexual activity between the third day of lactation and the weaning period.2

Handling Mounts Behaviour in Rabbits

Sterilisation or neutering has many benefits over letting the rabbits stay as it is together. This includes a longer lifespan and fewer cases of reproductive diseases, including the very common form of uterine cancer. If you don’t plan on keeping these pets or mating them, you may consider neutering them. There are other behavioural changes in rabbits after neutering, especially those caused by sexual hormones, such as urine spraying, chin marking territory and aggression, which will make your pet more willing and friendly.

To conclude, the rabbits’ mounting behaviour is quite normal, but you should watch them to not get hurt during such behaviour. Also, follow the precautions that if any rabbit is ill or has any sort of pain then don’t let the other rabbits near that sick rabbit and keep the sick rabbit separately from the sexually active mounting rabbits.


  1. Albonetti, M.E., Dessi-Fulgheri, F. Female-female mounting in the European rabbit. Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde (1990) 55(2), 128–138.
  2. Beyer, C. Rivaud, N. Sexual behavior in pregnant and lactating domestic rabbits. Physiol. & Behav.  (Sept., 1969) 4(5), 753–757.

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