Nottingham

Thousands vote flat-faced rabbits top of cuteness survey

Otis the rabbit Image copyright Wikimedia: Mjm91
Image caption Otis, a Havana rabbit, is described as having a mildly-flat face

Rabbits with mildly-flat faces are deemed the cutest, according to an academic survey of more than 20,000 people.

Participants were asked to look at photos of 25 rabbits then rate their faces from zero to 10.

The research - dubbed "bunny Tinder" - was done because rabbits with very flat faces are prone to health problems.

The academics from Nottingham want to discourage people from breeding or buying these types of rabbits.

"We would encourage breeders to avoid breeding extremely flat-faced rabbits and to focus instead on breeding more preferred mildly flat-faced rabbits such as the Havana breed," said the study, which has been published in the journal Animals.

Image copyright Pixabay: Anton-Moritz
Image caption Rabbits like this one, with long faces like wild rabbits, were not rated as highly

The survey by the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University and two independent researchers, was completed by 20,858 people.

It also found:

  • Rabbits with non-lop ears and short fur were preferred more than rabbits with lop ears and long fur
  • Softness (45.7%), face shape (42.5%) and fluffiness (36.7%) were the main reasons for giving high scores to rabbits with mildly-flat faces
  • Animal care professionals gave lower ratings to extremely flat-faced rabbits
  • Younger people were more likely to prefer flat-faced rabbits
Image copyright Wikimedia: PigeonIP/Kaninchen
Image caption Rabbits with extremely flat faces, like this one, are prone to health problems, experts say

The researchers believe flatter-faced rabbits may be perceived as more cute because their large eyes, bulging craniums and shorter noses, make them appear more vulnerable.

But the survey's lead author, Dr Naomi Harvey, warns: "If you're buying a rabbit with a very flat face it might develop tooth problems or be more at risk of getting ear infections and eye infections.

"That's going to be painful for the rabbit and it's going to be horrible for you as the owner to see it suffer."

Image copyright Pixabay: Hans
Image caption Rabbits with lop ears, like this one, were not as popular, according to the survey

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