Ear Language

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Zekeybun

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Hello everyone!
Lately our bun has been using some newer body language and I was hoping I could get some opinions on how you would read it?
I’ve tried some online looking but can’t match up the pose. For reference she’s very timid free roam bun who usually sticks to corners and under tables but come out fo her shell in my bedroom which is kind of like “home base” with her food and litter. She will lay out near the center of the room with her ears back, not pinned I want to say it seems as though she’s relaxed based on what I can find online, mostly because she doesn’t show any other signs of fear or anxiety? It’s just rather different for her as she’s usually a very compancted loaf or sprawled with one ear up.
We recently lost her bonded mate so I feel as though I’m hyper reading into her body language to catch any signs of depression or general changes as soon as possible. Previously the night time routine would result in both of them flopped so this is new for her and I’m hoping someone might be able to help!

First two pictures are new ear language and the bottom is her most evenings! Thanks in advance for any info you may have!
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JBun

Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod
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How a rabbit rests will usually depend on a few different factors. First being how at ease they are feeling. Then how tired they are, and how warm or cold they are.

A rabbit that is more alert or a little nervous, won't usually sprawl out but will stay in a more upright or loafed position with ears up, so they can hear everything better and dash off if startled. A bun that is pretty relaxed but still somewhat alert and/or interested in what's going on around them, may sprawl out but still have their ears up to hear what's going on. A bun that is totally relaxed with no worries and is wanting a good rest, will likely do a full dead bunny flop with head down and even eyes closed.

Now we get to how temperature combines with this. A rabbit that is cold will almost always stay in a relaxed loaf or tight loaf position. The more compact they hold their body, including their ears(contracted, closed), the colder they likely feel. It's all about conserving heat. Rabbits that are slightly cold and loafed but relaxed will likely have their ears laying back but not too contracted/closed. Ones that are still a little nervous or alert, will usually keep their ears up and rest with eyes wide open. Rabbits that are cold but completely relaxed, will usually loaf but with ears tighter and not flared, and relaxed back laying down. This position helps to conserve the most body heat because they also lose heat through their ears. Rabbits that are getting too cold or hypothermic, will be in a tight ball, ears tight and back, and will be lethargic.

Rabbits that are a normal warm(not hot) body temp, may either do a less compact loaf or sprawl out, and they may have their ears laying back but more flared and normal than when they are cold. Or the ears may be up when they are wanting to listen to their surroundings.

Rabbits that are hot will sprawl out with ears up and flared to try and cool their body temp down. If they are only slightly hot, they may sit up sprawled out if they are a little nervous or just a little relaxed. Or if they are only normal warm or a little hot and completely relaxed, they may do a dead bunny flop with head laying down. A rabbit that is very hot and experiencing heat stress, will usually be sprawled out with head up and ears up and completely flared. They may have their eyes closed from the stress they're experiencing, and will have flared nostrils and increased respirations. A rabbit experiencing heat stroke will likely be completely flopped and lethargic, not moving.

So for your bun, the first photos I would say she is warm or somewhat cool but not really cold, and is pretty relaxed with her ears laying back and eyes relaxed and slightly closed. The last photo your bun is sprawled out, normal warm and somewhat relaxed, but still alert with ears up to listen in.

How the changes relate to her being alone, rabbits in pairs or groups may keep their ears up more often because they are trying to keep tabs on what the other rabbits are doing. So her ears being back now, may be a reflection of her just not having to listen for her friend, so she feels ok and doesn't feel the need to be as alert. And the body position could have to do with temperature. If she used to snuggle next to her friend then she would stay warmer and so be more inclined to sprawl out. If they didn't snuggle next to each other, her loafing more now could mean she is feeling a little less relaxed being on her own and wanting to stay in a more alert position, but relaxed enough that she feels comfortable laying her ears back.

If you're concerned about her missing her companion, the best indicators of a more depressed state would be reduced activity and interest, and reduced appetite/pooping. Now if these changes of her resting state, with her staying more loafed with ears laying down, if it was combined with being less interested and active, and also eating less, then that would indicate to me that the loss of her companion was affecting her mood, and I would want to keep a really close eye on her and try and find ways to help her.
 
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Zekeybun

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Thank you so much- this was super informative and really helped, I’ve been super lucky in her food and litter habits not changing. If anything were more on a schedule than ever before because she’s in my bed nudging me for breakfast at the first crack of sunlight! My fiancé and I alternate working from home so she’s getting more time and attention than usual but I’m also noticing either new things or changes. Again thank you so much for the assistance and information.
 

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