Sentient Rabbits:





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Related Links:

Sentience in Farm Animals  Animal Sentience Stories

To add interest I have interspersed this commentary with thought provoking quotations from philosophers, ethicists, scientists and other notable thinkers both past and present.

This is part of a section called Sentient Rabbits which focuses on aspects of rabbit sentience.



Firstly a definition of altruism:

It is thought that when rabbits thump their back legs when they see a predator they‘re doing so to warn other rabbits of the impending danger. This gives other rabbits time to escape. This act is the true definition of altruism because the thumping rabbit risks his or her life to warn the others. Instead of blotting down the nearest rabbit hole which would be the safest option he instead delays to raise the alarm, doing so puts his own life at risk

If you don't think rabbits are capable of altruism read the story of Derek the rabbit:

After years of caring for his fellow rabbits at Best Friends, Derek finally got the gift of a lifetime -- a home and people to take care of him. Of course, he didn't go to his new home by himself. Naturally, our nurturing Derek wanted to bring along his best friend, Luna, who has weak back legs and has been relying on Derek for encouragement and kisses. The two of them will be living in sunny Placerville, California.

Self-less rabbit

Derek started off life as an "accident." A woman in Las Vegas who didn't know rabbits can be spayed or neutered (Yes, they can!) wound up with 178 of them! Derek was one. But he always seemed grateful for his life at Best Friends, and showed it by looking after bunnies less fortunate than he. Derek himself walks with a limp, but he's never felt sorry for himself, and has always worried about other rabbits instead. For years, he looked after a rabbit named Tommy who couldn't walk without a bunny cart. When Tommy finally passed on, Derek began looking after Luna, who was struggling with her back legs as she aged.

Continue reading:


According to the article below rabbits do a lot of licking or as the article suggests, altruistic grooming. Besides self grooming they will groom bonded partners, you, and the things in close proximity.

Aside from grooming themselves, the average rabbit does a whole lot of licking. Rabbits practice altruistic grooming when bonded with another rabbit – or an “FLR” (funny looking rabbit) = YOU! They are social and territorial animals with a defined hierarchy. There is always a dominant rabbit, and this dominant rabbit must be groomed by its subordinates (again, you…). However, once a rabbit has picked its partner, they will return the grooming and you may get a good bath once in a while! While rabbits typically only have one bonded partner, they will frequently lick objects around other rabbits to show they are fond of them, while maintaining their dominance. Rabbits often lick items that belong to their favorite people, and frequently explore the world with their little bunny tongues!


Below is a comment to the Question: How smart are rabbits, wild and domesticated?


I’ve had very smart rabbits and some not so bright. What astounds me is the way they understand each other. I’ve seem a rabbit take care of her mate who had head tilt: if he started to roll, she went right to him and used her body to stabilize him. I had a blind rabbit run to her mate when I was doing something in their habitat she hadn’t experienced. He came over, checked out what I was doing, went back to her and reassured her nothing was wrong. She settled right down and began to clean his face, which I interpreted as her thanking him. There was a rabbit missing one of her hind legs, so she had difficulty scratching and cleaning her ear. She lived with 3 others who all took turns letting her lean against them while another cleaned that ear. That’s just a few examples of how dedicated they can be to one another.

Comment above from:
Candice Lynn, Ran a rescue/sanctuary for 6 years; pets, as many as 10 at a time, since 1996.


More stories, information, videos, will be added as they come to my attention. If you have a story or information to share about rabbits showing compassion please contact me:

Particularly welcome are personal anecdotes about your companion rabbit or any rabbit known to you personally.  Don't worry about writing skills or lack thereof, it matters not, what is important is to share as many stories that show that rabbits are sentient beings, intelligent, compassionate, loving, playful and so on. It is important to get people to realise that rabbits are aware, intelligent have emotions including the ability to be playful, happy, contented but that they also experience pain and suffering.

Select other aspects of rabbit sentience


General intelligence











Emotion in rabbits




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Wikimedia User Orlandkurtenbach

Important Please note

I am not an animal expert of any kind just your average person who loves animals, all animals, and feels deeply about the plight of many of our fellow creatures. Neither am I a writer, or any other expert. Therefore please keep in mind that the information included in this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but of course possible.

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