With their large personalities, rabbits are an amazing addition to any family. However, there’s a lot to learn about these gentle animals before you decide to bring one into your home. Here are 12 things you may not know about the World’s cutest pet!
1. Rabbits are crepuscular
If you’ve spent any time with a rabbit you may notice it is quite lively in the mornings and early evening and a bit less willing to play during the day time. House rabbit owners may go several hours during the day time without seeing their ball of fluff at all as it chooses to hide away under a bed or behind a sofa. This behavior is due to the fact that rabbits are crepuscular.
In the wild, rabbits know that dawn and dusk are the coolest and safest times of the day to feed and play. This makes a rabbit a great pet for those of us who are out at work all day as a bunny is usually in the mood to play after we return from our 9-5. Note however that some rabbits may continue to play well into the night!
2. Rabbits eat their own poo
Wait! What? Yes, you heard that correctly, they really do eat their own poop. Rabbits have complex digestive systems and produce two types of droppings. The normal round dried pellets most of us are familiar with and another type of dropping called caecotrophs.
Wild rabbits eat these special droppings directly from the anus and then re-digest them to gain the maximum number of nutrients. With domesticated rabbits you may see caecotrophs lying around from time to time, they appear wetter, more clumped and smaller than normal pellets. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about, there is less of a necessity to re-digest food for domestic bunnies given nutrient rich veggies each day.
3. Rabbits can give birth to up to 14 babies per litter
In fact the largest rabbit litter on record is 24! A rabbits gestation period is around 31 – 33 days with females also able to fall pregnant within just a few days of giving birth. Even if we take a fairly average rabbit litter size of around 6 that’s an awful lot of new fluff balls from a female rabbit every year.
Although large litters help rabbits thrive in the wild there is also a sad side to this fact. Breeders capitalize and pet shops know that parents can be easily convinced by children and sell rabbits at a knockdown price which doesn’t reflect the reality of rabbit ownership.
Children quickly get bored and inevitably rabbit shelters become full of neglected or abandoned rabbits all looking for a home. Remember, don’t buy – Adopt!
4. Rabbits can’t throw up
A rabbits digestive system is very complex. The gut contains a delicate balance of bacteria known as flora which helps to break down food and nutrients to be used by the rabbits organs. Unlike a dog or cat that is able to bring up something it eats by mistake, rabbits have no ability to be sick (gag reflex).
This means that diet is all the more important with failure to provide the correct balance of high-quality hay and a limited amount of vegetables that a rabbit needs to keep its digestive system moving can lead to its gut going into stasis which can lead to death.
5. Rabbits can be noisy
Think about every rabbit you’ve ever seen? Unless you’re a rabbit owner you probably don’t recall ever hearing one make any sort of sound at all, do you? Well in fact rabbits do make noise. Although rabbit communication amongst each other is mainly based around actions and gestures. Rabbits often show us their feelings through sound!
Pet rabbits, particularly unfixed males can be heard to ‘Honk’ as they explore particularly if there is a female nearby, owners may also hear rabbits purr when they are happy and contented. Rabbits are also capable of letting out a blood-curdling scream if they are cornered or worse still, captured by a predator.
6. Rabbits can outgrow some dogs!
The world’s largest rabbit breed is the Flemish giant. Originally bred for fur and meat the Flemish giant rabbit, can weigh four pounds or more by seven or eight weeks of age and when fully grown may be as big as a dog!
The current record holder Darius was crowned 10 years ago. He is 4 feet 4 inches long and weighs in at a whopping 49 lbs. According to some reports Darius crown will likely soon be taken – by his own son! (Must be great genetics in that bunny family!).
7. They can see in almost 360 degrees
Although a prey species, rabbits have evolved physical characteristics that make them amazing survivors. One such evolutionary trait is the positioning of its eyes.
Aside from a small blind spot at the front of their faces, the positioning of a rabbits eyes enable it to see in nearly 360 degrees. They are also long-sighted which means they can usually spot predators before the predator spots them and react accordingly, either by freezing in place until the danger has passed or fleeing to the safety of the burrow if they think they may have been spotted.
8. Rabbits can hear in two directions at once
A rabbits impressive ears are not just for show. Rabbits can rotate their ears independently of each other through 270 degrees. This means they can pinpoint sound coming from two different directions, be it a potential enemy rustling in nearby bushes or their friendly human calling them in for a treat.
9. Rabbits love to Dance (kind of!)
Rabbits are happy little souls and love to explore and play. If you’ve ever watched a rabbit you may suddenly be surprised to see the rabbit leap into the air, sometimes with a ‘run-up’ but also sometimes from a stationary spot. This spontaneous leaping is known in rabbit circles as a ‘binky’.
Some rabbits will binky more than others but as far as we know, rabbits binky for no other reason than they are extremely excited and happy – binkying is a rabbits happy dance! It’s no surprise that seeing a binky also spreads joy to an owner too! The only downside to binkies is that they are notoriously difficult to photograph!
10. We can thank the Romans for rabbits
Although until recently it was believed that Normans introduced rabbits to Britain for their meat and fur, recently discovered remains have shown that we actually have the Romans to thank for our fluffy bundles of joy!
An archaeological dig in Norfolk has uncovered the remains of a 2,000-year-old rabbit – by far the oldest of its kind found on British shores and regarded as proof that the Romans bought the animals here.
11. Rabbits can be taught to play basketball!
Yes really! If you haven’t seen Bini the Bunny we’ve added a video for you below! Rabbits are extremely intelligent animals who can be taught to do all sorts of impressive tricks and while not every rabbit will be interested in playing basketball, most can be motivated into some pretty impressive behavior using small pieces of their favorite treats!
12. Rabbits can go up and down human stairs
It might not sound impressive in comparison to basketball playing but I was really surprised to see this one! Rabbits actually have no problem running up and down human stairs, in fact once they are used to stairs rabbits will probably race up and down them at speed!