Sentient Rabbits:

General intelligence




About think Differently About Sheep

Sentient Sheep

Sheep in religion and mythology

Sheep in Art

Sheep Breeds

Help Our Sheep


Animal Rights

Factory Farming

Animal Rights and Why they Matter

Sentience in Farm Animals

Animal Sentience Stories

Farm Animal Facts

Why Animals matter:
A Religious and Philosophical perspective

Vegan Rambles

Something Positive

Photograph Gallery


Animals in art

Art Gallery

Clip art


Graphic Quotations

Portrait Gallery: Animals do Not all Look the Same


Useful Links: Action You Can Take


A Memorial to Sooty

A Memorial to Joey

A Memorial To Patch

Urge Canada to End Its Shameful Seal Slaughter
https://Stop The Canadian Seal Hunt


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.


"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 rabbit."
Robert Brault


General Intelligence


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 roots.


Read more of this delightful story of a dwarf rabbit:

How smart are rabbits, wild and domesticated?

From a comment by Alan Hall

Please read the complete comment and also others pertaining to intelligence in rabbits:  

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 distasteful.


The following video is included in the article below




The story 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 plan.


Bunny Logic 101 Ė Rabbits are Smart!


More about rabbits and logic toys


I recall 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 floor."

The video below is the one the poster refers to


Rabbit cheats at hurdles



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.


Rabbits have the following capabilities, which far surpasses ours:


"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 structural supports.

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."


Are 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 seems.


Are Rabbits Stupid


By Julie Smith

"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.

Read more about the authors observation on rabbit intelligence


The 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.


Bunny Facts

"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 take place.

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 believe. "

Please continue reading the full article which is very informative concerning sentient behaviour in rabbits

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 rabbit intelligence.

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:

"..rabbits make wonderful, exciting, intelligent companions for wonderful, exciting, intelligent people. "

What Are Rabbits Really Like?

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 rabbits

Bunnies 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."

Please continue reading the complete article

The Language of Rabbits

An Animal Rights Article from

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 and suffering.

Select other aspects of rabbit sentience









Emotion in rabbits



Heading graphic:


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.

Copyright, accreditations and other matters, please read