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
which focuses on aspects of rabbit sentience.
"If a rabbit defined
intelligence the way man does, then the most
intelligent animal would be a rabbit, followed by
the animal most willing to obey the commands of a
My pet dwarf rabbit knew a
number of commands, always came running when I
called him, was house trained, walked on a lease,
and often managed to sneak out often, running up and
down the street, but always returned home and sat on
the front door step to be let back in after a while.
He was especially good at bringing back a pretty
young lady following close behind him. He would sit
there waiting for her to get almost close enough to
pet him, then he would bounce a few feet away and
sit again. Eventually, he would run between my legs
and sit down behind me and she would end up
practically bumping into me. LOL I recall he brought
me about 5 such ladies.
He loved riding in the car, climbing up and sitting
on my shoulder so he could see out the windshield.
When I got to where I was going, I would put him on
the ground and he would run up to the new people and
lick their ankles if they were a girl. He liked
girls a lot.
His favorite thing to do was "help" me gardening. He
would just have to nibble every branch I pruned and
would help dig when I was planting something. He
would wait until I finished with the shovel, and
then furiously dig the hole out bigger for me. He
loved to smell the fresh soil and cut away at the
of this delightful story of a dwarf rabbit:
I have to
say that one of the people who comment about rabbit
intelligence in the above link refers to hunting, a
cruelty to which I am opposed. The fact that the
person concerned is a student vet is even more
The following video is
included in the
in the following article shows among other things
that rabbits can count and remember a routine and
learn to master logic toys which require action to
retrieve the treats inside.
Rabbits are, in fact, quite intelligent creatures
able to memorize, solve problems, and react to cues.
Donít believe me? Every morning at 6:30am when our
alarm clock rings, I hit the snooze button. The
second time it rings, I hit the snooze button again.
Up until now, Bunny is nowhere to be seen. The third
time the alarm rings, Bunny comes running and is at
my heels before I can even turn the alarm off. We
then race to the kitchen (he usually wins, even
though he circles my feet all the way) and he
patiently waits for me to give him a carrot out of
the fridge. This happens every morning and shows
that Bunny can count and remembers a routine.
We absolutely love challenging Bunny and keeping him
entertained by providing him with logic toys. A
logic toy, by our definition, is any toy,
store-bought or handmade, that requires problem
solving to get a reward.
...the reason why I am writing this is to illustrate
that Bunnyís skills are learned and that he acquired
them after months of training. Not only can he solve
familiar logic toys, but he seems to be able to take
what he knows and apply it to new situations.
Whenever we give him a new toy now, he doesnít start
from zero; he can use his old skills and develop new
strategies. Itís quite amazing how he turned from a
rabbit that had no idea how to open a box to a
rabbit that can handle unfamiliar situations with a
our rabbit Sooty after coming indoors at the end of
the summer - she liked to live in her hutch outside
during the spring and summer - how she remembered
that when we went to bed she would always get a
treat. The first evening indoors she rushed around
frantically as she always did impatient for her
treat. This was after a period of nearly six months.
On an internet forum
someone asks the following question:
"A black and white Dutch rabbit
goes up to a hurdle with 4 bars, removes the second
cross bar up with her mouth and walks through the
hurdle, carrying the cross bar. She does not knock
any of the other cross bars off. She carries the
cross bar to the end of the runway and places it to
the side, next to another spare bar laying on the
Please always keep in mind
that animal intelligence should not be compared with
our own and while these exercises indicate
intelligence with the ability to learn and so on
many of these activities are of course not natural
behaviours for rabbits. I include them because they
show a certain intelligence that few people give
rabbits credit for.
have the following capabilities, which far surpasses
"Rabbits have their own set of gifts. Their sense of
smell exceeds that of a human. They find food as far
as half a mile from their burrow. They can sprint
faster than we can. They can leap, unaided, far
above their own ears. Their long jumps exceed their
body length amazingly. They love to climb as high as
they can go and survey the county side. Are they
looking for predators? Their eyes see above and
behind their heads. Their ears magnify the stealthy
step of a predator.
Rabbits are great engineers. They dig complex tunnel
networks. They use the roots of trees and bushes as
Rabbit teeth grow all their lives. They need to chew
eight hours a day to wear their teeth down. Unless
they chew, their teeth may overgrow."
Rabbits Stupid asks the author of the next article.
What may appear as lack of intelligence to the
uninitiated in rabbit behaviour may not be as it
Are Rabbits Stupid
"Itís so stupid, it will mount your arm if you reach
into its cage.
Heís so stupid he always knocks the food bowl out of
your hand when you try to feed him.
Heís so stupid, he doesnít know heís chasing one of
his friends instead of his competitor.
The Smart Species
We human beings are quite vain about our
intelligence. We are good at solving problems, and
so proud of our discoveries that we will give them
our own names, even if they are diseases. We humans
find nothing more exciting than retiring into our
own thoughts, a mental intensity that dissolves all
of the world into the self-center.
But this love affair with intelligence can be a
liability when it leads to an attitude of
superiority over animals. We are quick to judge
animal intelligence, deciding that this species is
smart and that species is dumb. In truth, animals
seem most dumb when we do not understand them. Once
we figure out why an animal does what he does, the
animal becomes smarter!
Not So Dumb
Consider the first rabbit. He mounts a human arm
because he is a sexually mature, unneutered
individual deprived of the company of his own kind.
And what about the second rabbit who persistently
knocks the food bowl from his human hand? His blind
spot is right below him, at chin level, where the
human sticks the bowl. Heís hungry; he canít find
the food because the human has put it in one small
place that he canít see. So he takes charge of the
situation and scatters the pellets around where he
has a better chance of finding them.
And what about that third rabbit who lost track of
his competitor and started chasing a friend? He was
not the only Ďstupidí rabbit in the group I watched
a few months ago, because when he started chasing
the guy he was mad at, the other eight rabbits
started chasing somebody, too, although they were
not mad at anyone. And the first rabbit could not
keep track of who he was chasing because everybody
was wildly chasing somebody different every few
seconds. As I watched this group, I thought I was in
a rabbit lunatic asylum.
A few days later I wondered, maybe something like a
Ďchaos factorí exists in rabbit group behavior.
Perhaps as a way to manage the aggression of one
individual, every rabbit in the group will start
chasing someone to distract and then confuse the one
who is really angry. This might also explain
something about our rabbit couples: one rabbit will
start chasing a partner if a third rabbit gets too
close to the cage. This is not just misplaced
aggression, I now believed, but behavior that has
social importance when rabbits live in a group, the
arrangement in nature."
about the authors observation on rabbit intelligence
following article by John W Jones of Verlannahill
Rabbitry discusses among other things that rabbit
intelligence should not be compared to our own or
that of your cat or dog. Rabbits have their own
unique intelligence which has helped them survive in
their own changing environment and shows that
rabbits are capable of learning to adapt to change.
"Never make the mistake of underestimating your
rabbitís intelligence. To do so is to miss an
important aspect of knowing and enjoying your
bunny. No animal has survived over millions of
years of evolution by being stupid. Animals alive
today that we arrogant humans call stupid are simply
animals we have not taken time to understand and
appreciate. The greatest mistake we as humans make
about animal behavior is attempting to evaluate
their behavior by measuring it against our own
perception of acceptable stimulus response systems.
We assume that our superior intellect requires that
our standard of correctness be the only one and
therefore anything else must be inferior. That is a
rather arrogant appraisal by a creature that has
spent less time on this earth than any of the
hundreds of other animals we call inferior. After
all we are the only creature bent on collectively
destroying the very planet we depend on for
survival. It kind of makes you wonder where the
finger of inferiority should really be pointing.
Your bunny has evolved the instinct to interact with
and respond to the environment in which he is
placed. The greater the intelligence an animal has,
the greater are his collective chances, as a
species, of surviving changes to an environment and
adapting to new ones. There will always be the
question of instinct verses intelligence and which
is the most important to the survival of an animal.
That Instinct weighs in heavily is not in question
here, but what degree real intelligence plays is
very much in question. The fossil record shows
evidence that adaptability to changes in environment
is the primary predictor between survival and
extinction. The very fact that you have the bunny
you do indicates its high adaptability to chance.
If having intelligence is to posses the essential
cerebral skills necessary for accomplishing a
successful interface with the fundamentals of
environmental change, then it would seem that your
bunny must posses either a highly adaptable instinct
or some degree of intelligence to allow learning to
Animal behaviorists have traditionally held that
animals at the level of rabbits possess little
native intelligence and what behavior we do witness
is actually instinct driven. I have been through
graduate studies in psychology and behavior sciences
and have been well exposed to this line of
argument. I have also worked closely with animals
in an environment outside the laboratory where I
have personally witnessed animal behavior that
defies explanation on the basis of instinct alone.
To use a recent case as a minor example; I recently
obtained several rabbits from a breeder who provides
water to his animals in open water crocks. He
mentioned this to me and indicated that he felt they
might not adjust well to using a water bottle with
nipple of the type I use in my rabbitry. After
getting home I was placing the new rabbits into
their new cages and following routine, installed a
water bottle on all the cages. Once I had the
rabbits settled in, I preceded with unloading the
van and putting our travel things away. It was
probably an hour later before I got back to check on
my rabbits and remembered the words of caution from
the breeder. When I entered my rabbitry I found my
new boarders busily drinking from their water
bottles with the same zeal as my old timers as
though that behavior had been their habit all
along. I really donít believe instinct alone can
explain the new rabbitís ease of adapting to their
new environment. Learning was involved in
discovering and adapting to the new method of
obtaining water. Learning by any definition is a
product of intelligence. When you merge instinct
and intelligence you have a very impressive animal.
Stupidity has never been a positive predictor for
survival of any species and I will always believe
that rabbits enjoy a basic intelligence far greater
than some animal behaviorists would lead us to
The following article discusses further the unique
aspect of rabbit intelligence which although may
have traits of cat or dog intelligence, human intelligence even fish intelligence remains uniquely
After discussing the
comparison with dogs and cats, which many people make
when considering the merits of owning a rabbit as a
pet, the author goes on to cite the characteristics
that are uniquely rabbit in nature and sums up with
the following statement:
make wonderful, exciting, intelligent companions for
wonderful, exciting, intelligent people. "
The above article offers
good insight into the nature of rabbits.
The next article, a doctor tells about how rabbits
communicate by sharing her experiences with her own
are generally silent with unchanging facial
expressions, so itís easy for researchers to be
unaware of their distress and avoid possible pangs
of conscience over what theyíre doing to them.
People think their silence makes them unreadable but
bunnies communicate constantly"
From hours of interaction Iíve
learned bunnies do make their feelings clearly
known. They stamp their feet when upset or sensing
danger. They make a quiet grunt when angry and an
extremely soft grinding noise when happy.
"None of these messages could
possibly be heard over the noise of a lab, but
bunnies also use their bodies and ears to
communicate. They hunch up when scared and totally
flatten out when relaxed. Their ears pull back, eyes
widen, and noses twitch rapidly when scared. Their
ears stand up straight, eyes relax, and breathing
slows to gentle nose wiggles when content. They
literally leap for joy when extremely happy and run
and hide in a flash when scared. They are
affectionate, gentle creatures who will bond with
another bunny or animal, groom and sleep tight
against their companion, and grieve when it's gone."
More stories, information, videos, will be added
as they come to my attention. If you have a
story or information to share about intelligence in
rabbits 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 the ability to be playful and have
emotions including happiness, jealously, contentment
and even anger but that they also experience pain
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