55 Things About Bunnies We Didn’t Realize
Bunnies are possibly the most adorable small pets one can own. They're fluffier than guinea pigs, more interactive than hamsters and they're not hard to find. So what's the problem?
It's tempting to impulse adopt a cute, fluffy rabbit, especially around Easter, but definitely don't. Cute bunnies are tons of fun, but there are so many things about them to know before bringing one home.
Even if you're not considering a new pet, these fascinating bunny facts will blow your mind.
Bunnies Don't Like Being Picked Up
Just look at that face. Does that look like a ruthless predator to you? No.
Bunnies are prey animals, so their instinct tells them that being picked up means they're about to be eaten. The more bunnies are socialized early on, the less fearful they will be about being handled.
Still, most rabbits prefer to be petted than carried.
That Doesn't Mean They Aren't Social, Though!
While they're not fans of being carried, bunnies bond with their humans and adore attention. If they really like you, they might lay down beside you for a movie night. They also like to be brushed.
If your bunny is skittish, hand feeding them can build trust and help them warm up to snuggle time.
Bunny Teeth Grow Throughout Their Lives
The ever-growing teeth of bunnies are useful in the wild, but they can be problematic in pets. If they're not given plenty of items to chew on, their teeth can become overgrown. Malocclusion, or a misaligned bite, is more common in purebred rabbits.
If your bunny isn't successfully grinding down their teeth, it might need a visit to the vet to trim them down. Wooden blocks, sticks and hay can help.
Timothy Hay Should Be the Focus of Their Diet
Bunnies can't eat just anything. Because of their constantly growing teeth, a diet of mostly timothy hay with a small amount of high-fiber rabbit pellets is ideal.
That can also be supplemented with fresh greens, but some greens should be avoided or only offered in small amounts.
Bunnies Can Live Up to 12 Years
The average wild rabbit only lives a couple of years due to disease and predators, but many pet bunnies live eight years or more. Small breeds usually live longer than large breeds, but it's really luck of the draw.
It's important to keep in mind that getting a bunny is a long term commitment, unlike the couple of years one commits to owning a hamster or rat.
Bunnies Are Not Rodents
Speaking of hamsters, rabbits aren't related to them very closely. They're not rodents at all.
They're actually lagomorphs, thanks to their four incisors in their upper jaw compared to the two incisors found in rodents.
Bunnies Are Excellent Jumpers
It's probably obvious that bunnies love to hop, but you might be surprised how powerful their little legs are. They can jump up to three feet in height and clear a distance of 10 feet.
That's a pretty impressive distance for a creature that's only about a foot tall.
The Highest Bunny Hop Recorded Was 39.2 Inches
Exceptionally athletic bunnies can jump over the average kindergartener. Mimrelunds Tosen, a black and white rabbit owned by Tine Hygom, jumped a record-breaking 39.2 inches off the ground at an event in Herning, Denmark, on June 28, 1997.
Other rabbits have probably topped that, but that's the highest leap on record.
Pet Bunnies Can Learn to Use a Litter Box
Alright, so this one isn't foolproof. Bunnies usually adapt to using a litterbox with little encouragement, primarily urinating in the box.
It's common for them to still leave some pellets out and about while they're hopping around, however.
Fortunately, rabbit poop is much easier to pick up than dog poop.
Unlike Cats, Bunnies Have a Huge Sweet Tooth
Bunnies adore fresh produce, particularly fresh berries and carrots. Too much of these sugar-rich food can mess with their gut health, however, so offer fruit as an occasional treat rather than a main course.
The Biggest Pet Bunny on Record Weighed a Whopping 55 Pounds
The Guinness World Record named a Continental Giant rabbit as the world's largest, weighing a massive 55 pounds.
His name was Ralph, and feeding him cost $90 every week.
Keeping a Bunny in a Small Cage Is a Bad Idea
We totally get that rabbits seem like other small pets that are commonly kept in desktop sized cages, but they're not. Rabbits are fairly high-maintenance, requiring attention, exercise and space that most rodents and other small mammals don't.
Five square feet of cage space is the bare minimum for large rabbits, and they should have time daily to run around outside their enclosure.
Bunnies Should Never Be Kept With Guinea Pigs
Again, bunnies aren't rodents. They may seem like cousins of the guinea pig, but they speak two different languages.
Even though their needs are relatively similar, they can't communicate with each other well, leading to unnecessary stress and potential aggression.
Like Dogs and Cats, Spaying or Neutering Your Bunny Prolongs Their Life
Spaying or neutering bunnies is a good call for numerous reasons. Bunnies who are "fixed" are much less likely to develop cancer as they age.
Intact male bunnies are also known to become territorial, spraying urine on anything they want to claim as their own.
If A Bunny's Cage Is Dirty, They're Likely to Develop Snuffles
Rabbits kept in poor conditions, particularly damp, dirty ones, can develop pasteurellosis, better known as snuffles.
While it seems like nothing more than a cold, it's a bacterial infection that can be fatal if not treated by a vet.
Introducing Bunnies to Each Other Is a Process
Rabbits love other rabbits, and they're best kept in pairs or a small group.
The easiest way of doing this is by adopting a bonded pair or purchasing baby bunnies from the same litter. If you're welcoming a new bunny into the family, introducing them is a step-by-step process.
Whatever you do, don't put them in the same enclosure right off the bat. Fights are likely to ensue.
When a Bunny’s Partner Dies, It Grieves Much Like People Do
Once bunnies are bonded, separating them for any length of time can cause them a great deal of distress. Inevitably, one rabbit passes away first, and its living partner often struggles to cope with the loss. Losing a partner is particularly hard on bunnies that have been bonded with each other since birth.
Rabbits express their grief in several ways, but hiding away and becoming temporarily more nippy is common. Other bunnies look to their owners for extra attention. Either way, it's a good idea to find them a new partner soon since a rabbit kept in a pair will likely never be happy alone again.
Most Bunnies Love to Play
Admittedly, tea parties aren't the typical way for bunnies to play, but you can see how much they like to be involved in whatever their owners are doing.
Bunnies usually like to play with sticks, cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls and other items they can toss and nibble.
Interestingly, Bunnies Can't See Directly In Front of Them
Their eyes are actually on the sides of their heads, which has its pros and cons. Bunnies can't see right in front of their face, but they can see what's happening behind them and to either side.
This unique positioning of their eyes gives them the best view of approaching predators.
Rabbits Handle Bath Time Themselves
Like cats, bunnies are fastidiously clean. They lick their paws and wipe their faces and ears several times a day, and it's painfully cute to watch. Bunnies who are close often groom each other as well.
Giving Bunnies a Bath Can Actually Be Harmful
Caring for a bunny like one would care for a baby or a puppy doesn't work too well, as well-intended as it may be. Rabbits don't enjoy getting wet for a number of reasons. Their fur takes forever to dry, predisposing them to respiratory infections and even hypothermia.
Usually, bathing them is completely unnecessary. If they soil their fur in one area, the best course of action is to spot clean your bunny rather than submerging them in the sink or tub.
Rabbits Are No Fools
Bunnies might look like sitting ducks when they're grazing in a meadow, but their eyes and ears are working double time to keep them safe.
As chill as they appear, bunnies usually choose a strategic location to chow down, planning out the quickest escape route in case a fox or coyote tries to join them for lunch.
If a Predator Does Appear, Bunnies Have an Exist Strategy
When they do have to make a break for it, bunnies are sneaky. Instead of running straight, they run in a zig-zag pattern to make it harder for hungry predators to stay on their trail.
Rabbits Can Sleep With One Eye Open
Alright, they usually don't sleep with a single eye open, but they can sleep with both eyes open. This enables a snoozing bun to notice changes in light and shadow. If they sense movement, they'll wake up and run. It also gives predators the illusion that the bunny is fully alert.
Bunnies also sleep with their eyes closed, but only when they feel completely safe and secure. If a bunny falls asleep next to you, take it as a huge compliment.
Bunnies Rarely Blink
Don't even try to beat a bunny in a staring contest. On average, they blink 10 times an hour, while humans can easily blink that many times in a single minute.
It's Possible to Scare a Bunny to Death
We don't mean to scare bunny owners, but a large dog barking or a loud siren can potentially kill your beloved pet.
Bunnies are easily frightened by loud sounds, and they've been known to suffer heart attacks or shock if the noise is disturbing enough.
Bunnies Like to Mark Their Territory
Even when bunnies are spayed or neutered, they like to let other bunnies know what's theirs.
Much like cats, they have scent glands in their chins, which they rub on items (or people) to claim them.
Bunnies Are Pros at Ear Gymnastics
Bunnies can rotate their ears 180 degrees so that they can detect exactly where sounds are coming from. When rabbits are relaxed, their ears are more relaxed as well.
Even rabbits with completely floppy ears, however, will pin their ears flat to their heads and make themselves as small as possible when they're extremely afraid.
Bunny Ears Also Serve As Thermostats
Bunnies don't sweat or pant, so their ears work to regulate their temperature instead. The blood vessels in their ears expand or contract to either release heat or retain it, keeping the bunny's body temperature in a healthy range.
Bunnies are much better adapted to cold weather than hot weather, however, and should never be left outside on a hot, sunny day.
Bunny Rabbits Are Crepuscular
Bunnies aren't nocturnal or diurnal, but crepuscular.
That means they have the most energy at dusk and dawn, snoozing and snacking in the hours between.
Bunnies Really Do Love to Dig
Peter Rabbit's rabbit hole wasn't fictional at all. Bunnies dig vast networks of tunnels and rooms to travel, hide from predators and build nests.
In the wild, they spend most of their lives in these burrows. Networks of burrows that connect are known as warrens.
Mother Rabbits Are Only Pregnant for About a Month
Unlike many larger mammals, rabbit pregnancy is short-lived. The average pregnancy lasts just four to five weeks, and a mother rabbit can have up to 15 babies in a single litter.
Seven is the average number, but you can still see where the phrase "multiply like rabbits" comes from.
When It Comes to Newborn Care, Bunnies Have It Easy
Round-the-clock nursing? Not in a bunny nest. Mama bunnies only feed babies once, maybe twice, per day, for less than 10 minutes each time.
The babies can get enough nutrition for the whole day from this short feeding window.
Deer and Bunnies Have Something in Common
Like deer and many other animals, female rabbits are known as does, while male rabbits are called bucks. These terms are usually only used by vets and breeders, however.
To the rest of us, bunnies are just called bunnies.
Baby Bunnies Are Called Kits
Here we've been calling baby bunnies, well, baby bunnies, but as it turns out, we were wrong. They're called kits or kittens, just like baby cats.
If you had baby bunnies and baby cats together for a photoshoot, calling it a kitten photoshoot would technically be correct.
Bunnies Literally Jump for Joy
When bunnies are happy, they're known to spring up into the air and wiggle around. This is known as a binky, and it's incredibly adorable.
It's more common for young rabbits to do, but older rabbits binky as well.
They're Also Known to Flop Over With Contentment
If a bunny spontaneously flops over on its side, that's a sign they feel relaxed and safe.
Sprawling out on one side is a vulnerable position, so if a bunny flops around you, they trust you.
Love Bunnies? Take a Trip to Bunny Island
Okunoshima, an island in Japan, is referred to as Bunny Island, thanks to the thousands of bunnies who live there out in the open. Hunting them is forbidden, but tourists are invited to come and visit them as they please.
Just leave your dog back at the hotel, because other animals aren't permitted on the island to keep the bunnies safe.
The Largest Rabbit Breed Is Called the Flemish Giant
The Flemish Giant is the biggest kind of domesticated rabbit, topping the scales at over 13 pounds.
Larger than most chihuahuas, Flemish Giants were first bred for the meat trade, but they had too high of a bone-to-meat ratio to continue the practice.
People continued breeding them, only to keep as snuggly pets rather than to serve for dinner.
The Netherland Dwarf Is the Smallest Domesticated Rabbit Breed
On the other end of the spectrum, the Netherland Dwarf is the smallest of the domestic rabbits.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association accepts 1.1–3.5 pounds, while the British Rabbit Council won't accept any show bunnies over 2.5 pounds.
Rabbits Can Have One of Two Ear Types
As you've probably noticed, some bunnies have ears that stick up, while others have sot, floppy ears.
The floppy-eared breeds are known as lop rabbits. Since they have a slightly raised section of cartilage at the top of the ear, the head of lop bunnies is known as the crown.
Some Rabbits Are Bred for Their Meat
While the Easter bunny doesn't look much like a snack to us, some rabbit breeds are designed specifically for meat production.
The New Zealand White (NZW) and the Californian are the two most common types of meat rabbits, with the NZW boasting the best meat-to-bone ratio.
The Fur of Angora Rabbits Is Used to Make Incredibly Soft, Warm Clothing
Other rabbits, called angoras, are used for producing exceptionally soft fiber that can be made into yarn and knit into scarves and sweaters.
There are several different types, including the English Angora, the French Angora, the Satin Angora, the Giant Angora, the American Fuzzy Lop and the Jersey Wooly.
Fortunately, their fur can be harvested humanely, without harming the bunny at all.
The Fur of the Satin Angora Is Translucent
If you see an all-white bunny, there's a chance it might be a Satin Angora. Satin Angoras have silkier fur than most Angoras, and it's always pure white.
However, they don't produce as much of it as other rabbit breeds, so it takes longer to harvest enough to make into yarn.
Just Like Cats and Dogs, Rabbits Are Bred for Shows
Some people who really, really love bunnies decide to take it to the next level. At bunny shows, judges rate bunnies based on how well they match breed standards. Every detail of the bunnies are examined, from their nails to the color of their fur.
Not all bunnies can be shown, so make sure to purchase or adopt a "show quality" bunny, not a pet quality one, if you're considering getting into the rabbit show scene. Most rabbit shows take place in spring or fall, because the mild temperatures are less stressful on the animals.
Not Just Any Cute Bunny Is Eligible for Rabbit Shows
Speaking of disqualifications, even the cutest of bunnies can be a poor fit for shows. Something as simple as a unique eye color or weighing slightly less than the breed standard is enough to disqualify them.
Other disqualifications could be as simple as a chipped tooth or a patch of missing fur.
Rabbits Can Swim, but Only If They Have To
As mentioned before, rabbits don't enjoy baths. They can swim if they have to, however.
Bunnies have been known to swim to escape predators, but they will never jump into a pond to cool off just for fun. Swimming is stressful for them, so they're probably in trouble if you see a rabbit swimming.
While Bunnies Don't Need Baths, Regular Grooming Is a Must
Rabbits do groom themselves regularly, but brushing helps prevents mats. Since bunnies molt seasonally, losing all of their fur and replacing it with a new coat, brushing them helps to prevent piles of fur all over the house.
It also gives you a chance to check them for fleas, ticks and other problems that might warrant a trip to the vet.
Adorable Pet Bunnies Are Prone to Spinal Injuries
Because bunnies have such strong back legs but relatively small bones, they're capable of fracturing their spines just from a particularly forceful jump.
Fractures can also occur when they twist aggressively, like when trying to jump out of a person's arms or escape a predator.
In Some Cases, a Rabbit Can Survive a Broken Back
Many times, bunnies can survive broken backs. The prognosis depends on how severe the break is and the location of the break. For minor fractures, bunnies can recover in a matter of weeks.
Severe breaks that leave a rabbit paralyzed, however, can require extensive surgery, physical therapy, or even euthanasia.
Most Spinal Injuries Can Be Prevented by Proper Bunny Handling
Even bunnies who know you are usually skeptical about being picked up. It feels like a predator is swooping them up, so they're likely to try to escape by twisting out of your arms.
To avoid a tragedy, pick your bunny up by placing one hand in front of its chest and another under its bottom, then firmly lifting them off the ground and bringing them close to your body for support.
Avoid squeezing them, but keep your grip firm to prevent them from wiggling away from you.
Bunnies Can Be Killed by Ordinary Flies
Flystrike is a gruesome condition in which flies, particularly bot flies, land on a bunny and lay eggs on them. These eggs hatch into maggots that burrow into the bunny's skin.
They can be removed by a vet, but flystrike often causes infection or shock. Both can be fatal. To avoid flystrike, keep your bunny's enclosure clean and dry.
Rabbits Can Be Territorial
Rabbits can be territorial around their homes, to people and to other rabbits. They may try to nip at unfamiliar hands if they haven't been properly socialized, so tame them with frequent handling and plenty of treats over time.
They may also fight other rabbits who invade their space, which is why introducing bunnies to each other slowly is a must. It's also a good idea to get them spayed or neutered to further reduce the potential for territorial aggression.
It’s Best for Bunnies to Live Inside to Avoid Exposure to Viruses
Myxomatosis and viral hemorrhagic disease are both potentially fatal rabbit illnesses that are common in the wild, but they can be avoided simply by keeping your pets inside.
Even bunnies who live in your yard can become infected, as the viruses are spread by infected flies, fleas and mosquitos.
Baby Bunnies Should Never Be Taken From Their Mothers Until They're at Least Eight Weeks Old
Unless a bunny's mother passes away, there's no reason for a bunny to leave her care until its between eight and 12 weeks of age. At that point, they're fully weaned and ready to move to their forever home.
Small breeds may be full-grown just a few months later, while larger bunny breeds can continue growing up until they're around a year and a half old.