Rabbits may seem simple, but they have complex behaviors and needs that make them endlessly fascinating. Get ready to be amazed as we share 33 awesome rabbit facts that will transform how you see these charming creatures! From their extraordinary speed and agility to their unique sleeping habits and grooming rituals, rabbits have superpowers and quirks that will surprise you. You’ll gain new respect for rabbits hearing how their bodies engage all senses to survive and thrive. From dental mysteries to poop secrets, you’ll get the inside scoop on how rabbits see the world. Read on for the untold truth about the many talents of the humble rabbit – they are incredible animals hidden beneath soft fur and twitching noses!
Rabbits can live for 10 years
Rabbits are often thought of as short-lived pets, but with proper care, they can live for up to 10 years. On average, domestic rabbits live for around 8-10 years. Larger rabbit breeds, like the Flemish Giant, tend to have slightly shorter lifespans of 5-8 years. The key to a long, healthy life for a rabbit is providing them with a balanced diet, lots of exercise, a clean habitat, and regular vet checkups. As prey animals, rabbits are masters at hiding illness, so it's important to monitor them closely for any changes in eating habits, behavior, or droppings that could indicate a health issue requiring treatment. With attentive care and a loving home, your rabbit friend can be an entertaining part of the family for up to a decade.
Some tips for giving your rabbit the best shot at a long life include:
Feeding a diet composed primarily of grass hay, which should make up at least 75% of what they eat. This provides fiber to promote good digestion.
Limiting pellets and treats like fruits and veggies to small portions, as overfeeding these can lead to obesity.
Providing unlimited clean water.
Giving them plenty of room to run and play. A large pen or rabbit-proofed room is ideal.
Cleaning their litter box and habitat thoroughly and frequently to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Scheduling annual vet exams to check for issues like dental alignment and parasite infections.
Spaying/neutering by 6 months old to reduce cancer risk.
With their playful personalities and cute hopping antics, rabbits can make cherished companions. By providing them proper housing, nutrition, and medical care, you can give your bunny the longest, happiest life possible, keeping them active and healthy potentially into their 10th year or even beyond.
Rabbits are not rodents
While they may look similar at first glance, rabbits are not actually rodents. There are some key differences that set them apart from rodents like mice, squirrels and porcupines.
First, rabbits have a different set of teeth than rodents. Rodents have large gnawing incisors in the front and no teeth at all in the back of their mouths. Rabbits, on the other hand, have smaller nibbling teeth in the front along with large flat molars in the back for chewing and grinding food.
Rabbits are also distinguished by their long ears and powerful hind legs adapted for jumping and running. Their skeletal structure is built for speed, agility and evading predators. Unlike rodents who mainly use their front paws, rabbits propel themselves with their powerful back feet.
Another difference lies in their digestive systems. Rabbits are herbivores who eat grasses and leafy plants. They have a more complex digestive tract than rodents optimized for processing high fiber vegetation. Rabbits produce two types of fecal pellets that are reingested to fully digest nutrients, while rodents do not.
When it comes to reproducing, rabbits give birth to blind, furless babies while rodent offspring are born furred with eyes open. Additionally, female rabbits can sometimes conceive while already pregnant leading to superfetation, which is not possible in rodents.
Genetically, rabbits belong to the Lagomorpha order while rodents are in the distinct Rodentia order. Rabbits are most closely related to hares and pikas. Their evolutionary lineages diverged tens of millions of years ago.
So while the busy bunnies may visually seem like big mice or tiny squirrels at first glance, they are in fact very different creatures under the surface. Next time someone calls a rabbit a rodent, politely point out that they are their own unique kind of long-eared, fast-hopping lagomorph.
Rabbit teeth never stop growing
Unlike humans whose baby teeth fall out and are replaced by a limited set of permanent adult teeth, rabbits have continuously growing teeth. Their teeth are open rooted so they keep growing throughout the rabbit's life span.
This is because rabbit teeth have enamel on the outside and softer dentin on the inside. The softer dentin wears away more quickly which leaves sharp enamel edges. The teeth keep growing to compensate for this abrasion against food and prevent the teeth from becoming too short.
Rabbit incisor teeth grow at a rate of 3 mm per week! That means their teeth would quickly become overgrown if they did not grind them down. Rabbits have acquired some clever evolutionary adaptations to keep their ever-growing teeth worn to an appropriate length.
In the wild, rabbits will chew on tough grasses, stems, branches and roots. The gritty texture provides resistance to grind down teeth. Domestic rabbits need access to plenty of hay for the same reason. Pet owners can also provide untreated wood chew toys.
Rabbits also have teeth that are slightly misaligned so the top and bottom rows rub against each other when chewing. This creates a natural filing motion that wears their teeth down.
Lastly, rabbits will chew in a figure-eight pattern that ensures even tooth wear. You can often see them making this motion as they rhythmically gnaw on materials.
While continuously growing teeth help wild rabbits survive, it also means domestic rabbits need their teeth checked regularly. Veterinarians watch for any potential problems like overgrown points or misalignments that require trimming. Keep your bunny nibbling with plenty of hay and chews to keep those ever-growing teeth healthy!
Rabbit’s can’t vomit
Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits do not have the ability to vomit. There are a few reasons rabbits are physically unable to vomit:
Their esophagus is designed to force food down towards the stomach, without the reverse waves of muscle contraction required for vomiting.
A thick band of muscle called the cardiac sphincter seals off the stomach from the esophagus. This sphincter closes tightly instead of opening for contents to come back up.
Rabbits have a high tolerance for toxins, so there has not been evolutionary pressure for them to develop a vomiting reflex as a defense.
The inability to vomit is an adaptation to allow rabbits to quickly eat vegetation for nutrition and energy. In the wild they have to eat fast and run from predators, so vomiting would be a disadvantage.
While vomiting can serve as an emergency defense for getting rid of spoiled food or toxins, it does have downsides. Vomiting can cause electrolyte imbalances and damage to the esophagus. Given their lightning fast digestion, vomiting capability would not have offered rabbits enough of an advantage to evolve.
However, not being able to vomit does mean that rabbits are extra sensitive to gastrointestinal issues. Eating something poisonous or indigestible can be life threatening. Diets and new foods have to be gradually introduced to avoid digestive upset. Symptoms of serious stomach problems like stasis or bloat require immediate emergency veterinary care.
So while cats and dogs can get rid of the occasional hairball or sock cluttering their stomach, rabbits cannot voluntarily expel anything they ingest. Their anatomy simply isn't made for regurgitation. This quirky feature is a reminder to monitor your rabbit's diet closely and take quick action if any signs of digestive distress appear.
Rabbits will lick each other to show love and dominance
It's common to see pairs or groups of rabbits huddled together grooming each other. Why do rabbits spend so much time licking and nibbling their companions? This social behavior serves a few purposes:
Grooming each other helps reinforce the bond between paired rabbits. The close physical contact and mingling of scents brings a sense of familiarity and intimacy. It's a soothing behavior that shows trust and affection.
In groups, dominant rabbits will "groom" lower-status rabbits more than vice versa. The dominant bunny licks to say "you are beneath me in rank." The groomed rabbit submits to the attention. So grooming displays the pecking order and social structure.
The fur on a rabbit's back and head is hard for them to reach on their own. Having a partner lick these spots cleans and maintains the coat. After a molt, paired rabbits will lick off loose fur from each other.
The sensation of being groomed causes the release of endorphins that reduce stress. Rabbits who are bonded will lick each other more when one comes back from the vet or a new situation causing anxiety. It helps calm them.
If one rabbit constantly pesters or over-grooms the other, it can indicate harassment or bullying rather than affection. But in most bonded pairs, the licking and nibbling shows rabbits working cooperatively to strengthen their lifelong relationship. The mutual grooming behavior both proves and deepens the stable bond between them.
Rabbits can turn their ears 180 degrees
Rabbits are famous for their supersized ears that can rotate nearly a full circle. A rabbit's large, upright ears are an adaptation to enhance hearing.
Rabbits can swivel their ears 180 degrees – they can point forward and all the way back. This range of movement allows them to precisely pinpoint sounds coming from any direction with great sensitivity.
A rabbit's ears contain over a dozen different muscles. Microscopically thin cartilage runs the length of the ear. When the ear muscles contract and relax in combinations, the flexible cartilage is bent into different positions.
In addition to the ear rotating backwards and forwards, each ear can swivel independently of the other. Rabbits will orient their ears like satellite dishes to focus in on sounds.
Watch how your rabbit's ears swivel around like radar as they detect noises or movement. The ears will instantly swivel towards new sounds they are investigating. When relaxed, the ears may flop downwards or out sideways.
A rabbit's hearing is so acute, they can perceive sounds up to two miles away! The sensitive ears pick up faint noises and high frequencies better than human hearing. Their ears can literally hear a pin drop.
This excellent hearing helped rabbits survive in the wild as prey animals. The impressive ears allowed early detection of any potential predators sneaking up.
Next time you see those prominent ears twisting and turning, appreciate how they enable your rabbit to enjoy symphony-level sound with their 180 degree range of motion!
Cottontail rabbits are not the same species as pet rabbits
When people think of a classic rabbit with a white, fluffy tail, they are often picturing a cottontail rabbit. But cottontails are actually a different species from the domesticated rabbits many families keep as pets. What are the differences?
Cottontail rabbits are native wild rabbits found living in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. There are over 20 recognized cottontail species including the Eastern cottontail, New England cottontail, mountain cottontail and desert cottontail.
The most common pet rabbits today are domestic breeds originating from the European rabbit. These include popular breeds like the Netherland Dwarf, Mini Lop, Lionhead and Holland Lop raised for exhibition, meat or as pets.
While cottontails and domestic rabbits both belong to the Lagomorpha order of mammals, they are distinct species with separate latin names. Cottontails are in the genus Sylvilagus while domestic rabbits are genus Oryctolagus.
In addition to genetic differences, cottontails and domestic bunnies have distinguishing physical features. Cottontails are smaller, have hind legs adapted for speed, and colors that blend with their natural habitat for camouflage. Pet rabbit breeds display much more variety in size, build, fur length, and color patterns.
Cottontails are elusive, independent animals that don't adapt well to human interaction. But domestic rabbits have temperaments bred to live comfortably around people. Pet rabbits come in an endless array of coat types, patterns and colors that cottontails do not have.
So while they may look cute and cuddly, cottontail rabbits need to live wild. Leave any wild bunnies you spot outside to find their natural shelter and food. When you want an interactive rabbit friend at home, adopt one of the many delightful domestic rabbit breeds.
Rabbits will jump for joy when they are happy
Have you ever seen your rabbit randomly take high, arching jumps into the air? What you are witnessing is called a "binky" – an energetic leap that is one way rabbits express happiness and delight.
Rabbits perform binkies when they are excited or having a burst of pure joy, similar to how dogs run in enthusiastic circles. The binky starts with the rabbit lifting their front feet off the ground, tucking up their head, then kicking up their back legs in a dramatic jump and twist.
An especially giddy rabbit may binky over and over in gleeful hops, spins, and gigantic leaps. Sometimes they buck and kick mid-air during the binky as if dancing for joy.
You are most likely to see binkies when a rabbit is let out for exercise in a large open space. The room to run and play sparks binkies. But rabbits who are merrily grooming a companion or busily foraging for food may binky spontaneously too.
Young rabbits tend to binky more frequently with their youthful energy. But even sober adult rabbits will binky now and then when overcome with happiness.
If you notice your normally sedate rabbit erupting into frequent binkies, that's a sign they are thrilled with their environment and care. It's like they are jumping for joy. Next time you catch your bunny binkying, give yourself a pat on the back for keeping them healthy and content!
Some breeds of rabbit can weigh more than 20 pounds
When you picture a cute, cuddly bunny, you may envision a small, fluffy critter that fits in your lap. But some giant rabbit breeds tip the scales at over 20 pounds – heavier than many cats and dogs! What are these jumbo-sized rabbits?
The Flemish Giant is one of the largest breeds, easily reaching weights of 15-22 pounds. Their long, muscular bodies can stretch over 30 inches. Despite their intimidating size, Flemish Giants have a mellow temperament.
Continental Giants are another huge breed that can weigh up to 25 pounds. These massive rabbits have rolls of loose skin giving them a droopy appearance. Their enormous size requires significant space and care.
The Checkered Giant is a mix between a Flemish Giant and a large English Spot. With their distinctive black and white spotted fur, they impress with weights over 18 pounds. These giants need lots of hay to power their hefty frames.
The French Lop is the largest of the lop-eared breeds, posing substantial heft up to 20 pounds with their bulky head and thick coat. Despite their substantial presence, French Lops are surprisingly agile.
For owners craving an extra-large lap pet, the Giant Papillon can deliver with weights scaling above 20 pounds. They resemble an oversized version of the dainty Papillon breed.
While most petite dwarf breeds weigh under 5 pounds, these giant rabbit varieties tip the scales well over 20! Just be sure you're ready for an XL companion before welcoming one of these super-sized breeds into your home.
Wild rabbits live in warrens
In the wild, rabbits don't live solitary lives alone in small burrows. They are very social and organize themselves into large interconnected underground colonies called warrens.
A rabbit warren is a complex network of tunnels and chambers that provides shared living quarters, shelter, and protection for a group of wild rabbits. The tunnel systems are excavated around open grassy areas that serve as grazing grounds.
Warrens contain multiple rooms and levels. Individual rabbits or small family groups will claim certain chambers as their own sleeping and nesting space. But the warren as a whole is communal territory belonging to the entire colony.
There are often multiple entrances leading into the warren so rabbits can quickly escape predators. The chambers and tunnels provide safety from harsh weather and cover from aerial attack. Airflow through the burrows regulates temperature.
Wild rabbits spend most of their time in the warren when not foraging. Playing, raising young, and socializing all occur in the secure underground environment. A colony may have anywhere from a few rabbits to over one hundred members depending on the size of the warren.
The shared warren gives rabbits better odds of survival than living solitary. It's an impressive example of highly social animals evolving an extensive habitat adapted for their needs. Rabbits in the wild clearly don't dwell in small single burrows like cartoon depictions – they live cooperatively in huge, complex underground cities!
Rabbits are high maintenance pets
With their soft fur and cute faces, rabbits may seem like the ideal low-maintenance pet. But these complex, fragile animals actually have very specific care needs that require an informed, dedicated owner. Here are some reasons rabbits are higher maintenance than they initially appear:
Rabbits have delicate digestive systems and require a highly fibrous, low-calorie diet of mainly hay. Incorrect nutrition causes serious health issues.
They need large enclosures with space to run and stand on their hind legs. Traditional small cages cause physical and mental stress.
Litter habits must be taught by repetition, patience and positive reinforcement. Rabbits can be litter trained but are not innately so.
Rabbits are intelligent and need mental stimulation including toys, activities and interaction. A bored rabbit will act out through unwanted chewing and aggression.
Grooming requirements like frequent brushing, nail trimming and hygiene around the tail and genitals have to be maintained.
Vet bills add up fast, especially if the rabbit has ongoing dental or gastrointestinal issues. Spaying and neutering is essential.
Bunny-proofing your home thoroughly takes commitment. Rabbits chew baseboards, cords, furniture and more if allowed free range.
With attention and learning, the responsibilities of rabbit ownership can be very rewarding. But impulse purchasing a rabbit without understanding their complex requirements leads to poor outcomes. Educating yourself before adopting is key to having a healthy, enriching experience with these endearing but high-maintenance animals.
Rabbits can be litter trained
While rabbits don't automatically use a litter box like cats, they can most certainly be trained to do so with patience.
Rabbits are not nocturnal
Unlike many small mammals like hamsters or mice, rabbits are not nocturnal creatures. They are most active during dawn and dusk hours and will sleep for long stretches during both day and night. Rabbits actually follow a crepuscular schedule.
Crepuscular animals are those that are primarily awake for the twilight periods at dawn and dusk. This makes rabbits most alert and energetic at sunrise and sunset. Out in the wild, the low light hours provide cover while still allowing visibility to spot predators.
You'll notice pet rabbits eagerly anticipating their morning breakfast and playtime as daylight breaks. Many bunnies become most lively in the evening before bedtime. Your rabbit may get the "zoomies" and excitedly race around when the sun dips down.
In between periods of intense activity bracketing the dawn and dusk hours, rabbits will take long naps sporadically throughout a 24 hour cycle. They have polyphasic sleeping habits rather than sleeping through an entire night like humans.
Rabbits need between 8-12 hours of sleep in total each day. Their natural rhythms have them lightly dozing off and on in both daytime and nighttime. This allows them to remain somewhat alert to potential dangers even when resting.
If kept indoors on a normal human family's schedule, rabbits can adapt their sleep patterns to be more active in the evenings when their owners are home. But they still enjoy bursts of high energy following their crepuscular instincts aligned with dawn and dusk.
So while they are fairly flexible, rabbits are not nocturnal. Their natural bio-rhythms have them hopping at dawn's first light and sunset's final glow.
Rabbits can see in (almost) all directions at once
Rabbits have an excellent panoramic field of vision allowing them to detect movement coming from nearly any direction without turning their head. There is just one small blind spot right in front of their nose. Otherwise, rabbits can see almost a full 360 degrees around themselves at all times.
Rabbits have large eyes positioned high and wide on either side of their skull. This eye placement gives them a wide span of peripheral vision as well as good overhead visibility.
Their eyes are also set more to the sides of their head than predators like dogs or humans. This allows more overlap between what each eye can detect in the monocular fields of vision. The expanded overlap plus peripheral range creates an uninterrupted view of nearly the entire circle of their surroundings.
Additionally, rabbits have elongated pupils that are horizontal instead of vertical. This again expands their field of view and ability to spot danger.
While not full 360 vision, the incredibly wide visual range lets pet rabbits stare at you with one eye while looking out the window with the other. Rabbits don't have to move their head to see what is happening on all sides of them.
Of course, rabbits can swivel their ears to pinpoint sounds and turn their head to focus directly on objects of interest. But their baseline relaxed state allows constant vigilance for threats that could approach from any angle, thanks to their supersized panoramic vision.
Rabbits can make sounds!
Rabbits have a wide vocabulary of sounds beyond silence. While many assumptions exist that rabbits are mute, they can vocalize a surprising array of noises. Here are some examples of sounds rabbits use to communicate:
Tooth purring – Rabbits express contentment by gently grinding and rubbing their teeth together, creating a distinctive purr.
Growling – Angry or territorial rabbits make low, guttural growls and grunts much like a dog. The growl serves as a warning.
Honking- When in extreme distress, rabbits emit a loud honking scream. This piercing cry signals panic and pain.
Clicking – Some rabbits will make a light clicking sound by softly tapping their teeth. This signalsfriendly greetings.
Thumping – Rabbits famously thump their large hind feet on the ground as an alarm of danger. The thump warns the warren of approaching threats.
Shrieking- Rabbits under attack may shriek or scream at a deafeningly high volume and pitch.
Snorting – Rabbits snort in displeasure, especially during tense encounters with other rabbits.
Whimpering – Low whimpers and cries communicate pain, fear, loneliness or need.
Grunting – Does may grunt while nursing their kits. And some rabbits grunt when indulging in special treats!
Rabbits have distinct vocabularies of nuanced sounds covering a range of emotions. Next time your bunny thumps, growls or purrs, appreciate that they are speaking volumes!
Rabbits should not eat a lot of carrots
While carrots make a popular go-to treat, rabbits should not eat large quantities of this sugary vegetable. Carrots, though delicious, can cause obesity and health issues if overfed.
Wild rabbits rarely encounter starchy roots and concentrated sugars. Their digestive systems are adapted for high-fiber grasses, plants and leafy greens. Too many carrots overload their sensitive stomachs with excess starch and natural sugars.
The water content in carrots can also lead to potentially fatal diarrhea if given in excess. The classic cartoon image of rabbits munching on carrots all day promotes a dangerous myth.
Occasional carrot chunks in small portions (no more than 2 tablespoons) are fine as a supplement to a hay-based diet. But carrots should never be a dietary staple.
A rabbit's daily calories should instead come primarily from fresh timothy or orchard hay, which provides vital fiber for digestion and healthy teeth. Fresh greens and limited pellets can round out proper nutrition.
Bring out those yummy carrots only as a sparse treat a couple times a week. And be sure to introduce new veggies slowly to check for tummy tolerance.
While crunchy carrots are understandably irresistible to bunnies, the vegetable's high glycemic index makes it risky as a major food source. Follow your rabbit's lead for ideal portion sizes to keep this sweet snack an occasional delight.
Rabbits are very territorial
Though they look sweet and docile, rabbits are quite territorial creatures. They mark and protect their space through scent and aggressive actions. Here are some signs of your bunny's territorial nature:
Chin rubbing- Rabbits have scent glands under their chin. By rubbing against objects, they spread their smell to claim items as their property.
Circling behavior- Your rabbit may walk circuits around your feet or furniture to signify "This area is mine!" with their movement patterns.
Urine spraying- Unneutered/unspayed rabbits may spray urine on territory, leaving a pungent trace of ownership.
Lunging and biting- Rabbits will lunge, growl, and attempt to bite or swat if approached while in defense mode of their space.
Digging/flicking- Your rabbit may dig or flick litter out of their enclosure to signal "Back off!"
Rearing up- A rabbit may rise up on their hind legs in a show of dominance over their turf.
Excessive chewing- Marking territory with their teeth by nibbling baseboards, table legs, etc.
To avoid clashes, have your bunny neutered/spayed and give them ample personal space. Provide toys and activities for an outlet. With patience, they can learn to share some designated areas. Just always respect their need for a home base that belongs to them alone. At heart, rabbits want to rule their own independent kingdoms.
Milk is not good for rabbits
It may seem strange, but feeding dairy milk to rabbits is not recommended. Rabbits are lactose intolerant, meaning their digestive system cannot properly process the sugar (lactose) in milk.
Like all mammals, wild baby rabbits drink their mother’s milk. But as they mature, rabbits gradually lose the enzyme needed to digest lactose. Feeding dairy milk to adult rabbits will likely give them an upset stomach or diarrhea.
The water content and fat found in cow’s milk and other dairy products can also throw off the sensitive digestive balance rabbits require. Since rabbits are herbivores, their systems are not adapted to digest the proteins and fats in animal-based dairy foods.
Many well-meaning rabbit owners offer milk to provide calcium for growing bunnies or nursing mothers. But the risks far outweigh any limited benefits.
If you want to provide a lactating doe extra calcium, select a water-based calcium supplement specifically formulated for rabbit care instead of dairy milk. And growing young rabbits get plenty of calcium from a balanced diet of hay pellets and greens.
While milk chocolate is toxic to rabbits, a small taste of pet-safe vanilla soy milk makes a fine occasional treat. Otherwise, avoid pouring your rabbit a refreshing glass of dairy milk like we might enjoy. Stick to clean water and rabbit-appropriate foods to keep your bunny’s sensitive digestive system running smoothly.
Rabbits sleep with their eyes open
Rabbits often sleep with their eyes partially open, creating the illusion they are awake and alert even when dozing. Unlike humans who close their eyes fully when sleeping, rabbits frequently keep their eyes at least half-open while napping.
There are several reasons rabbits nap with open eyes:
As prey animals, they remain partially alert for predators. If sleep is disturbed, they startle awake instantly.
Rabbits have limited eye muscles controlling eyelid opening/closing compared to humans. Their eyes cannot close down fully.
Rabbits have a third eyelid called a nictitating membrane that slides across the eye for protection while open.
Eye lubrication is maintained best with eyes open. Frequent blinking preserves moisture.
To determine if your rabbit is sleeping with their mysteriously open eyes, look for these signs of true sleep:
Lying down fully stretched out and relaxed.
Steady, slower rhythmic breathing.
No response to noises or nearby movement.
While it can look eerie to humans, behind those partially open slits your rabbit is likely enjoying deep rabbit dreamland. Let your bunny snooze in peace knowing their unusual open-eyed sleep is normal and beneficial.
You can let a house rabbit roam your house
Many loving rabbit owners allow their pets free rein to hop around indoor home spaces when supervised. Well-behaved, spayed/neutered house rabbits can enjoy being part of a household family.
Giving your rabbit access lets them get ample exercise and mental stimulation. But rabbit-proofing is essential for their safety and protecting your belongings. Tips include:
Blocking access to unsafe areas like balconies, fireplaces, etc. Restrict stairs.
Removing electrical cables and poisonous houseplants they could chew.
Providing digging surfaces and chew toys to redirect destructive habits.
Keeping toilet and cabinet contents out of reach – bunnies love unrolling toilet paper!
Sweeping up small items that could be ingested like pins, rubber bands, etc.
Monitoring interactions with children and pets so things stay calm and gentle.
Providing a secure enclosed area or crate for when you can't watch closely.
With preparation and training, house rabbits can be a delight interacting with you in shared living spaces. Just be cautious introducing roaming privileges slowly. And return them to a safe enclosure when leaving home or at bedtime. With common sense precautions, you can enjoy life at home with a sweet, free-range rabbit underfoot.
Rabbits can be trained like dogs
Intelligent, social rabbits can be trained to respond to commands and develop good manners much like dogs. With positive reinforcement methods, you can teach your rabbit tricks and important behaviors.
Some skills rabbits can learn include:
Coming when called
Sitting, standing, jumping and spinning on cue
Litter box habits
Not nipping or digging at inappropriate times
Walking politely on leash
Staying off furniture or restricted areas
Stationing in place or waiting for permission
Tolerating handling for grooming and vet exams
Amusing tricks like 'begging' for treats or giving 'high fives'
Rabbits pick up on training best when started young. Use rewards like small treats and consistent commands. Be patient – rabbits are sensitive and require gentle yet firm guidance.
With time, you can harness your rabbit's intelligence and eagerness to bond for better manners and responsiveness. Positive reinforcement training deepens the mutual understanding between you and your bunny. Who says you can't teach an old bun new tricks?
Rabbits don’t like to be held
Though rabbits often enjoy human companionship, most dislike being picked up and held. There are good reasons for this based in rabbit behavior and body language:
Prey instinct- Since rabbits are prey animals, being seized triggers their instinct to escape from predators. This causes fear.
Dislike of restraint- Rabbits want to have all four feet on the ground so they can hop away if frightened. Control is unnerving.
Aversion to instability- Rabbits feel insecure and anxious when unbalanced without solid ground underfoot.
Threat of falling- A fall can severely injure a rabbit, so being lifted high up becomes terrifying.
Discomfort- A rabbit's spine shape makes it painful for them to dangle fully suspended in human arms.
Lack of trust- Frequent handling when a rabbit is young helps them become more comfortable being lifted.
For all these reasons, it's best to avoid picking up your rabbit unless absolutely necessary. Allow them to come to you at ground level for pets and treats instead. Gain their trust with time. If you must handle your bunny, support their feet and hindquarters at all times. Let them find secure footing again as soon as possible. Soon your free rabbit will come to snuggle beside you on their own terms.
Rabbits shed a lot
Rabbits shed a lot more fur than their sweet, fluffy appearance suggests. All rabbits replace their thick protective coats twice a year with dramatic "molts." But even between molting seasons, daily shedding leaves behind noticeable puffs of fur.
During molting, tufts of their old coat will come out in handfuls as a new undercoat grows in. You may see large wads of hair around their enclosure and on your clothes. Lint rollers become your new fashion accessory.
Their digestion and diet can influence shedding levels. Digestive issues or poor nutrition can increase loss of dead hairs. But healthy heavy shedding is simply part of being a rabbit.
Long-haired breeds like Angoras require extensive daily grooming to prevent painful mats and blockages as shed fur gets caught in their luscious locks. But even short-haired rabbits benefit from regular brushing to remove loose hair and distribute natural oils.
If your immaculate home style leans minimalist, a high-shedding rabbit may not be the best match. But if you don't mind constant fur on your clothes and vacuuming with vigor, you'll love cuddling a cotton-tailed cutie through the flurries of molting seasons.
Rabbits have an adorable cleaning routine
Part of the joy of watching rabbits is seeing their cute personal grooming ritual. Rabbits are fastidiously clean pets and devote time each day to washing themselves.
Rabbits begin cleaning sessions by vigorously licking their front paws. Their paws collect moistening secretions from glands in the mouth that activate on contact. Once dampened, the paws become washcloths.
Your rabbit will rub their lips and face in circular motions to distribute the grooming moisture. Then they methodically wash behind their ears, down their back, and around the tail. The flexible spine allows them to twist and contort for maximum reach.
Periodically your rabbit will pause to lick the wet from their paws so they stay damp enough to clean efficiently. The wash cycle repeats until their coat is fully groomed.
This full beauty routine can last 30 minutes or more each day for a well-groomed rabbit. You may notice them emerge from a thorough session with moist ears and a damp face.
Beyond keeping fur tidy, the grooming habit serves social functions in bonding when rabbits wash each other. Mutual washing reinforces friendship and declares group belonging. Watching your pair of rabbits take turns washing up is twice as cute!
Rabbits can purr
When petted just right, some rabbits make a soft purring or cooing noise to express happiness. Not all rabbits will purr, but those who do channel clear contentment through this charming sound.
Rabbit purrs originate from teeth chattering together in a steady rhythm. Unlike a cat's purr coming from the voicebox, a rabbit purrs by gently grinding their upper and lower teeth. This creates a distinctive murmuring sound.
You may notice the purr when petting along the cheeks, forehead and back of the neck which rabbits can't easily groom themselves. The massage hits just the right spot for them to relax and release their signature sign of satisfaction.
Young rabbits tend to purr more frequently as they receive nurturing from mom. But adult rabbits also purr when bonding with human caretakers or mates. It signals trust and vulnerability.
The purr may be very faint, or loud enough to hear from a few feet away. Not all individuals purr, and each has their unique way of expressing contentment. If your rabbit isn't the purring type, you'll know they are happy when they present their head for more pets.
Whether loud or nearly silent, the rabbit's distinctive purr lets you know your furry friend is blissful and communicating their deep comfort with you.
Some rabbits only have one lop ear
Rabbit breeds with lopped ears sometimes display a cute quirk where only one ear droops down while the other stands upright. This asymmetrical look can occur either congenitally or after an ear injury.
Lop rabbits like Holland Lops normally have both ears hanging down loosely due to genetic factors that weaken their ear cartilage. But occasionally one ear will remain perked.
A rabbit with only a single lop ear may have less extreme genes for lopping. Or an imbalanced hormone level during development can effect just one side.
Here are the next sections of the article:
Rabbits don't like to be held
Many people assume rabbits enjoy being held and cuddled like cats and dogs, but that is not the case. Here are some reasons rabbits generally do not like being picked up and held:
As prey animals, being grabbed triggers their instinct to flee from predators. This causes fear and stress instead of comfort.
When held, rabbits feel insecure and unsafe since they are not on solid ground. Their powerful back legs dangle instead of being in control.
Tight squeezes from enthusiastic hugs can restrict their breathing and movement which rabbits find frightening.
Being suspended upright makes some rabbits feel dizzy and disoriented. The unstable position disturbs their sense of balance.
Restraining a rabbit against their will, even if gently, goes against their independent nature.
There are exceptions – some relaxed rabbits who completely trust their owners enjoy gentle cuddling. But the safest assumption is that picking up a rabbit will cause anxiety instead of making them feel loved.
It is better to show your affection by petting your rabbit while they are secure on the floor, providing interactive toys, or giving them room to hop and play. Save the hugs for stuffed animals instead of live rabbits who would really rather keep all four feet on the ground.
Rabbits shed a lot
Rabbits shed…a LOT. Their coat maintenance involves continually shedding old hairs to make way for new growth throughout the year. Without regular brushing, all that loose fur quickly collects in clumps.
Rabbits have light undercoats that are naturally shed in large amounts. Longer guard hairs protect the undercoat but also detach easily. During molting seasons, shedding accelerates as they replace their old coats.
Stress or changes in diet, location or climate can also increase shedding. Health issues like skin conditions or fleas may lead to excess loss of fur. Even without these factors, shedding is just part of the rabbit's hair growth cycle.
The grooming, vacuuming and laundering needs of a shedding rabbit are demanding. Their enclosures require daily vacuuming and litter replacement to control stray fur. Upholstery and carpeting where they roam will collect fur tumbleweeds.
Wire bristle brushes must be used multiple times per week to capture shedding hair before it spreads everywhere. Laundering their bedding frequently is a must to remove embedded hair.
While molting seasons are shedding bonanzas, rabbit owners need to stay on top of fur control year round. With commitment to managing the voluminous shedding, owners and rabbits can happily coexist in fur-filled harmony.
Rabbits have an adorable cleaning routine
Observing a rabbit's daily grooming ritual reveals some super cute behaviors that are part of their cleaning routine. Here are some of the endearing ways rabbits keep themselves looking prim and proper:
Licking their paws like cats to clean their face and head. Their agile tongue makes efficient work of wiping away debris.
Circling while nibbling on their hindquarters to groom hard to reach spots. It's like a funny little dance as they contort to nibble their backside.
Stretching out upside down or on their side to get full access to areas needing cleaning. Yoga rabbit!
Lightly nibbling and licking their companion rabbit's head during mutual grooming sessions to clean each other's hard-to-reach spots.
Speed grooming all four feet in rapid succession with licks while reclining on their belly.
Briefly flopping over on one side to smooth and fluff up the coat then quickly hopping back up once that side is prim.
Standing tall on hind legs and using their mouth to smooth down and arrange the chest and belly fur just right.
Shaking their head rapidly back and forth like a mini earthquake to get ears fully erect after grooming.
Observing your bunny's meticulous cleaning routine reveals just how much time and care they devote to staying impeccably groomed from head to toe!
Rabbits can purr
Many people don't realize that rabbits actually purr just like cats! It's an adorable vocalization that shows they are content.
A rabbit's purr is a soft, rumbling murmur made when they are being petted or groomed. The purring indicates a relaxed, happy rabbit enjoying the attention. It's an instinctual communication of comfort and wellbeing.
While cats purr on both the in-breath and out-breath, rabbits only purr when breathing out. The purr is created by rhythmic motions of the voicebox and larynx combined with light teeth chattering.
Rabbits may also click their teeth together in longer strings or patterns to signal pleasure. The sounds range from light purrs to louder motor-like vibrations depending on their mood.
In addition to purring, a completely blissed out rabbit may close their eyes, rest their head on the ground, sprawl out lazily, or even drift off to sleep. These behaviors all demonstrate deep comfort.
The purr is one clue your rabbit is thriving when you hear its soothing rumble during petting sessions. Next time your bunny purrs, you'll know you're doing an excellent job keeping them healthy and content!
Some rabbits only have one lop ear
The defining trait of lop-eared rabbits like Mini Lops is their long, floppy ears that hang down instead of standing upright. But occasionally, breeders find babies that have one straight ear and one lop ear. Why does this happen?
The lop ear trait is caused by a simple dominant gene. Rabbits with one copy of the lop gene express the droopy ear. But in rare cases, the gene only impacts one ear which leaves the other ear normal and erect.
This lopsided expression can occur if the lop gene isn't fully penetrant. Certain modifiers may prevent the gene from manifesting fully in both ears during development.
Hormones and growth factors during gestation can also influence how symmetrical the lop trait appears. The genetics get shuffled in unusual ways that result in the split expression.
For show rabbits, the uneven ears would be considered a significant flaw. But pet owners often find the uniqueness extra adorable! The quirky look makes their bunny extra special.
The mixed ear carriage doesn't cause the rabbit any health issues. It may just look like they are perking just one ear up to listen closely. No matter how its ears flop, that darling lop will still melt hearts!
Rabbits have very sensitive digestive systems
A rabbit's digestive system is quite fragile and sensitive compared to many mammals. Their digestive health requires special care and close monitoring by owners. Here are some of the factors that make rabbit digestion so delicate:
Rabbits are strict herbivores meant to digest high fiber vegetation. Their digestive enzymes and gut flora aren't adapted to handle sugars, carbs and proteins.
Food passes quickly through their digestive tract within 12-20 hours. This gives little time to adjust to new foods which can cause upset.
Stress, pain, dehydration, temperature changes and other variables easily disrupt healthy digestion.
Lacking a vomit reflex, indigestible foods cause gas, pain and potentially deadly blockages.
Unique double blind sac cecotrope feces must be reingested for full nutrient absorption. Disruption of this process caused illness.
Overgrown teeth misaligning leads to reduced chewing efficiency and GI problems.
With attention to diet, hydration, tooth alignment, and environment, a rabbit's sensitive digestive system can thrive. But owners must stay vigilant for any signs of upset and never hesitate to get veterinary care when needed. Respecting the delicate nature of bunny digestion helps ensure a healthy, hopping companion!
Rabbits will try to chew on everything
Providing safe chew toys is essential for rabbits because they will gnaw on just about everything in their path. Here are some reasons rabbits are drawn to chewing all kinds of tempting items:
Their constantly growing teeth require abrasion to wear them down to a proper length. This drive for chewing is instinctual.
Gnawing provides mental stimulation and stress relief the same way some people bite their nails.
Exploring new objects with their mouth is how rabbits investigate their environment.
Varnished wood, rugs, books, and electrical cords all attract chewing from bored, curious rabbits.
Digging and chewing are natural rabbit behaviors – they don't understand human distinctions between approved and forbidden items.
A change in environment or routine can trigger increased, potentially destructive chewing.
With persistence and providing plenty of "yes chews," it is possible to teach rabbits what is off limits to gnaw on. But owners need to be vigilant and rabbit-proof any accessible tempting chewing opportunities. Patience and providing acceptable outlets for gnawing is key to reducing destruction.
Even the best behaved bunny will sneak in a nibble given the opportunity! It's just their irrepressible nature to chew, chew, chew.
Rabbits will rub their chin against objects
Have you noticed your rabbit rubbing their chin on you, their enclosure, toys or other items? This scent-marking behavior has several communicative functions:
Territory – By transferring scent glands from their chin to objects, rabbits mark their turf. This signals "this space is mine!" Chinning shows ownership.
Affection – Rabbits may chin loved ones including owners, rabbits, cats or dogs. It marks members of their social circle.
Attraction – An unneutered male rabbit may chin to make themselves more appealing to potential mates. The scent grabs attention.
Nesting – Maternal rabbits will chin newborn babies and the nest to define the nursing area. It reinforces the mother-infant bond.
In the wild, chinning allows a rabbit to have a sense of control and ownership over their environment and companions. They rely heavily on scent signals that we humans cannot perceive.
So next time you feel the slight sandpaper chin rub against you, know you have been honored with the bunny's special mark of territory and affection! It's how rabbits mingle their scent with the important beings and places in their world.
Rabbits poop a lot
Just how much is "a lot" when it comes to rabbit poop? On average, rabbits produce 200-300 round, dry fecal pellets per day! Here's a breakdown of how they manage to poop so prolifically:
As herbivores designed to consume huge quantities of grass and leaves, there is a lot of indigestible fiber that must be eliminated
Their digestive tract is incredibly active and food passes through very rapidly. This allows them to maximize nutrient extraction.
Rabbits re-ingest certain special pellets called cecotropes to allow bacterial fermentation of fiber the small intestine missed. This doubles digestion!
A adult rabbit eats the equivalent of a large salad every day. That's a lot of roughage to process.
Wild rabbits need to eat constantly but run from predators often. Prolific pooping lets them graze efficiently without being weighed down.
Domestic rabbits maintain this high speed digestive transit even though their diet is less calorically diluted than in the wild.
Rabbit owners can be amazed at how these petite animals can produce mountains of poop. But for rabbits, it's just the natural result of their unique digestive physiology evolved for maximum eating and pooping efficiency!
Rabbits can run up to 45mph
You might be surprised to learn that rabbits are capable of running at speeds up to 45 miles per hour! Here are some of the special adaptations that allow rabbits to sprint so impressively fast:
Powerful hind leg muscles account for a quarter of their body mass. The muscular back legs provide tremendous propulsion.
Their long, lightweight skeleton is built for speed and agility. Light bones reduce inertia.
They have a fused vertebral column that allows them to arch their spine for leaping thrust.
A narrow pelvis lets the back legs swing forward with each bound without impedance.
Large heart and lungs supply oxygen needed to sustain rapid movement.
Elongated heel bones give added leverage for each forceful stride.
Of course most pet rabbits housed indoors won't reach top speeds very often. But turned loose in a safe open space, you can witness them dash at velocities over 40mph for short bursts.
Observing a rabbit running all-out reveals the beauty of motion their athletic body can achieve. Their speed and agility is a thrilling site to behold!
Rabbits need a lot of space
While rabbits are often housed in small, compact hutches and cages, this goes completely against their natural instincts. To stay physically and mentally healthy, rabbits need lots of room to live and play.
Ideally, a rabbit's enclosure should be at least 8-10 times their length to give adequate space for hopping and standing upright. Enclosures should be tall enough for them to periscope up without ears touching the top.
Rabbits allowed free range of rabbit-proofed rooms get even more opportunity for exercise and mental stimulation. Scampering around expansively satisfies their active nature.
Limited space leads to boredom and depression which causes poor health and behavior issues. Cramped quarters prevent normal social interaction between bonded rabbits.
Providing platforms, tunnels, boxes, obstacles courses and toys adds "play space" diversity but does not reduce actual floor space needed. Rabbits need room to run, jump and forage, not just hideouts.
While babies or recovering rabbits may need temporary confines, permanent living areas must be as large, open and stimulating as possible. Remember to think like a rabbit and design their living space to match their physical and mental needs!