Saturday, 5 January 2008

The Society of Rabbits

A good starting point for understanding the bunny hopping around your living room is to learn a little about wild rabbits, and how they live together.

Rabbits live in a structured society with a distinct hierarchy of rabbits. They look after each other, and all rabbits gain benefits from the group. They find food together, and warn each other of danger.

Grooming seems to be an important indicator of status in the rabbit hierarchy, with the top rabbit being groomed by rabbits that are lower down in the structure. Top rabbit expects to be groomed.

Signs of this behaviour can be seen in many domestic rabbits: does your pet rabbit sometimes demand to be groomed? Signs of this are nudging your hand with his or her head, or if you are sat on the floor, approaching you and putting his or her head stretched forward on the floor near your hand.

Although grooming your rabbit on demand may appear to be making rabbit into the most important one in your home (i.e. above you), it does not mean that the rabbit will expect to be dominant in other ways. Training dogs, for example, relies on you being the pack leader. Training rabbits does not. We rabbits are happy to (usually) do what you want, as long as we get lots of grooming from you!

Often, rabbits will do this back to you, maybe licking your hand or face. I think that you humans call it giving you a kiss x.

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