Six things you didn’t know about rabbits
Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits - there’s over one million of them as pets in the UK, so we thought we’d bring you some great facts about our hopping friends.
It’s also a great excuse to supply you with lots of cute rabbit pics. So sit back, relax and get ready for a rabb-eting read.
Rabbits eat their own poop
Rabbits eating their own poop is something The Tale of Peter Rabbit didn’t teach you, but it turns out that it’s true. In fact, rabbits eating their own poop is vital to their health.
Rabbits produce two types of poop: one is hard, dry waste pellets, and the other soft, moist droppings. This second type is full of protein and B vitamins, and rabbits eat them once a day to maximise the nutrients they can obtain from the food.
Healthy rabbits can produce up to 300 droppings a day - so at least they can help with the cleaning!
They can’t live solely off carrots
We’ve heard the line ‘What’s up, Doc?’ as Bugs Bunny chews on a carrot, but it seems that he has been leading us astray all these years, as too many carrots can be unhealthy for rabbits. They are full of sugar and should only be given occasionally as a treat.
Instead, rabbits should be given hay daily. It's their main food, and the amount of hay they eat should be similar to their body size. Hay keeps their teeth, which are constantly growing, worn down and keeps their tummies healthy.
Rabbits communicate with their body language
It turns out that when rabbits are hopping around and wiggling their noses, it isn’t for nothing. This is their way of communicating. A rabbit’s long ears are inquisitive: when both are pointing up, they are alert and listening for sounds. If one is up and one is down, they are still trying to listen but aren’t paying full attention - a bit like when parents are shouting for you to complete chores.
Rabbits can show signs if they are happy, excited or distressed. If your bunny is kicking their feet back as they are hopping around, then they are likely to be in a happy and playful mood. Their noses are like social thermometers and can give an indication to how they’re feeling. When they nudge their nose on you, it might mean that they want attention or that they want you to move out of the way.
Some rabbits can be the size of a small child
When you think of rabbits, it’s easy to think that they are small, cuddly and could fit in a child’s hands. But there are some breeds of rabbits which are much larger and even the size of small children. It’s common for some breeds like Flemish Giants to reach over a stone in weight and 2.5 feet (0.8m) in length.
The Guinness World Record for the longest rabbit goes to Darius, who stands at 4ft 3ins (1.3m) long and weighs around 3 stone (19kg). Darius’s title is being challenged by his children Jeff and Anya, who are both over 4ft (1.2m). The family collectively munch through £5,000 worth of food each year, better keep those cupboards stocked up.
Rabbits have almost 360° vision
Rabbits have the ability to see in almost every direction. In the wild, they are bottom of the food chain and their eyes have evolved to spot predators before predators spot them. Their eyes are set widely and positioned on the side of their heads, which means they have a very good chance of seeing predators approaching, even if it’s behind them.
However, the one draw back is that they have a blind spot directly in front of them, which is around ten degrees. So if you put a treat down right in front of their nose, it’s likely that they won’t be able to see it.
Because their eyes are on the side of their head, there isn’t much that they can see with both eyes, meaning they may have difficulty judging distance and speed of approach whilst running. So on the plus side, they can see from almost all angles, but on the downside, they can’t see things very well.
Rabbit show jumping IS a sport
Rabbits can be trained to jump hurdles and go through tunnels to improve their agility. This is known as show jumping.
The RSPCA's website says that show jumping can be good exercise for some rabbits and can even strengthen pet-owner bonds. They also say that it isn’t suited for all rabbits, and it’s advisable to always speak with a vet before starting any agility training to make sure your rabbit is suitable.