THE RABBITS SENSES
Posted by riseandshinerabbitry
The domestic rabbit may now be domesticated but has never lost its natural senses, if let out in the wild they would go back to their natural ways of living! Rabbits are hard-wired to live in groups in which they establish social hierarchies. The rabbit’s best and well-known weapon is agility, speed which is crucial in its survival in nature. Its powerful back legs help the rabbit reach impressive speeds – you will often be surprised as to how fast they can sprint when jumping from a bush you’ve just come close to. Another issue regarding their agility is the fact that they never run in a line, but choose to make a confusing array of movements while running. Sometimes this strategy confuses them too and they end up running in a complete circle. They have a very good stamina and can keep running for a relatively long time without slowing down the pace. Another thing that makes it difficult for prey to capture rabbits is their capacity to camouflage their presence in many terrain types. They’ve adapted so that their fur matches the color of the inhabited territory. Being rather small in size, they manage to escape unseen even through thin bushes and similar kind of cover (but usually do not wait for anyone to get close to their hide-out and run vigorously when they sense danger) Surviving in such harsh conditions and with so many predators forces a small animal like the rabbit to develop not only great speed and camouflage abilities, but also exceptionally sensitive senses.
The rabbit’s appearance clearly indicates its keen sense of hearing, being able to hear sound from as long as two miles away, with the other senses being just as remarkable. For instance their sense of smell is so sharp that they can smell food that is bellow ground. Their eyesight is exceptionally accurate, especially at night, and are able to detect predators from a long distance. Altogether, using these hyper-senses the rabbit can manage to escape predators and many times even avoid them completely.
All this constant scanning of the environment for danger and living on heightened alert makes rabbits easily over-stressed. To minimize stress, it is important to approach your rabbit in a calm, confident manner. Anxiety is particularly contagious to prey animals and if you communicate that you are anxious, your rabbit will respond accordingly. To ease your rabbit’s stress, speak to your rabbits as you approach so that they can identify you by the sound of your voice. Speak soothingly and in low tones. Place your hands where your rabbit can see what you are doing. Be careful about picking your rabbit up, making sure to support their hindquarters. Being picked up is frightening to most rabbits and many resist. In the wild if they are being picked up, most likely they are about to be eaten.
Here are the Rabbits senses
A rabbit spends his days eating, sleeping and staying away from creatures looking for a tasty lunch. For this reason, rabbits may not be able to focus as well as people, but they can pick up any movement and make a hasty retreat. A rabbit’s field of vision is immense. He has large eyes that are located on the sides and upper part of the head, enabling each eye to see more than one half of a circle. Together, they can see in every direction. Therefore, a rabbit can see an approaching predator and be on the lookout for an escape route simultaneously. The rabbit visual system is designed–not for foraging and locomotion–but to quickly and effectively detect approaching predators from almost any direction. Because the eyes are placed high and to the sides of the skull, This allows the rabbit to see nearly 360 degrees, as well as far above their head. Rabbits tend to be farsighted, which explains why they may be frightened by an airplane flying overhead (Thinking it is a predator from the sky). Despite their large field of vision, rabbits have reduced depth perception as well as a limited degree of close-up vision. If you think about it, rabbits don’t need to know exactly what is coming at them. Any sudden movement will elicit flight. Even though their close-up vision is not the best, rabbit eyes are designed to see moving objects far in the distance. This allows them to see a predator approaching at a great distance, and gives them ample time to run away. Most rabbits won’t hang around to fight. Intense light blinds a rabbit, as he has restricted contraction of his pupils. Rabbits have limited color perception, although it is widely thought that they can distinguish between red and green. Sunset is the optimal time of day for a rabbit to see.Rabbits enjoy being petted, but it is important to move slowly. Remember, they can’t see very well up close. Never approach a rabbit from the back, as this is reminiscent of being attacked by a predator.
Rabbits hear pretty much in our range but also hear much higher pitched sounds which include rodents, bats, bugs, some bird noises and lots of mechanical or electrical sounds we can’t hear. Hearing is a rabbit’s most vital sense, hence the large upright ears. The auditory system is used to detect predators, as well as to help a rabbit perceive the area around him. Acoustics help to overcome the reduced visual abilities by allowing the rabbit to navigate without difficulty. Sound waves bounce off objects, allowing the rabbit to recognize the arrangement of his surroundings. Most rabbits have large, erect ears. When alert, the ears move forward and backward as they attempt to pinpoint the danger. When the rabbit is relaxed, the ears lie along his back, but they are quite responsive to noise. The slightest sound can be detected from very far away. A rabbit’s sense of sound is vastly developed, far more finely tuned than his vision. They can hear even small noises from far away. When a rabbits ears are moving forward and backward that means their hearing senses are hard at work. Did you know they could move their ears independently of each other to help them hear if danger is approaching. It’s the rabbit’s own built-in radar system.The shape of a rabbits ears allow them to pick up sounds over 2 miles away. Rabbit ears are long so it can be down low in the grass but leave its ears sticking up to hear clearly. Lop-eared rabbits also have good hearing but do not do as well in the wild as rabbits with erect ears. Ear position is important in rabbit language, even in lop ear breeds–watch their ears carefully
The twitch of a rabbit’s nose is a very obvious characteristic, and very important to its survival. Not only does it draw air in to fill its lungs and breathe, in the same way as we do, but it also helps the rabbit detect danger, and identify friends and potential mates.
When we smell something, our nostrils expand, lifting upwards and outwards. The same thing happens in rabbits, but is more obvious because they are constantly sniffing the air, rather than just breathing it in. Rabbits have over fifty million receptor cells in their nose, compared to our meagre six million. These enable rabbits to detect predators well before they may even see them.
Rabbits, like many other animals, have two types of scent detection cells in their nose. Olfactory sensory cells detect ordinary airborne odours, while a specialised group, the Jacobson Organ, pick up heavy moisture-borne molecules and pheromones. Moist air carries more scent. . When rabbits breathe in, their split top lip parts and moistens the air as it passes. This enhances any scent and helps the rabbit discover more about the world around it – who is nearby, friend, foe or female ready to be mated, or any food source. As rabbits communicate mainly through scent, a good sniff of each other no doubt is a bit like a long human chat! Rabbits have 100 million scent cells, making for a very keen sense of smell, which they use to identify other rabbits and animals. The nasal membrane is very sensitive to perfumes, chemicals and dust, and these agents can cause upper respiratory problems for the rabbit. The rabbit’s sense of smell is far more developed than that of the human. Movable folds inside the rabbit’s nose assist in the detection of scent. The sense of smell in a rabbit is present at birth, allowing a newborn to find his mother’s teat. Rabbits shift their noses up and down when trying to identify a scent; this is called “nose blinking.”
The rabbit has 17,000 taste buds situated in the mouth and pharynx. They can distinguish between sweet, sour, bitter and salty. In the wild, rabbits can also differentiate between toxic and non-toxic plants. Some domestic rabbits lose this ability, making it important for people with rabbits to research this subject. Some rabbits have discriminating tastes, and because of this can be picky. They seem to tolerate bitter greens, such as dandelion, but they also enjoy fruits that are very sweet, these items often cause gastric upset and should be fed as a treat only.
Rabbits have whiskers that are as long as the body is wide. These help in measuring the girth of openings and passages in the dark. The whiskers are located on the mouth, nose, and cheeks and above the eyes. There are sensory nerves located at the follicle end of each whisker, enabling delicate awareness of orientation. The entire body also has nerve endings that are sensitive to touch. So always be gentle handing you rabbits