Are Bunnies as Smart as…?
By Jean Silva
Scientists spend a lot of time trying to measure the intelligence of animals. Animals are given the same tests given to babies and toddlers. For example a toddler sees a toy put in a box. Another person enters the room and is asked to find the toy. Will the toddler understand that the person does not know where the toy is? Will the toddler point to the toy?
But is this really the question? Perhaps each animal has all brains, skills and abilities it needs to to thrive. Dogs can be trained to smell cancer cells in human urine. They are very good at this. But do the dogs wonder why human doctors fail this simple test? Does a great sense of smell mean a dog is better than a doctor?
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.
We love our rabbits, but do we offer a world in which to use their gifts? Do we give them room to run? Do we give them opportunities to jump and climb. Can they sit above the world and observe? Do they have tunnels? Do they have things to chew? Do they have boxes or tunnels full of digging material? Is their some of their food in different places, so that they have to use their noses and eyes search for it?
Let your bunnies be bunnies. Ramps, tunnels, and tents allow your rabbits to explore, and climb. If you fill a tunnel, box, or tent with crumpled newspapers they can dig to theirs heart’s delight. Ramps, tables, stools, cinder blocks are all great for climbing and observing.
Baskets, wicker balls, apple, orange or other twigs are great for chewing. Lawns, wheat grass, gourmet hay are great for chewing. These wear continually growing rabbit teeth down.
Challenge your bunny’s instinct for browsing for food. Put sweet smelling hay, greens or herbs in different places in your bunny’s run. Let him find food on his own. A dusting or herbs or spices will give their nose a work out.
Fill your rabbit’s run with natural challenges and you will have a bright happy rabbit.