Rabbit Facts: Interesting facts about rabbit brains, their instincts, how they think, fear vs pain. Here are facts about rabbits that shed light on contentment in rabbits.
Take a peak into the first few months in the life of a wild rabbit.
Speaking of predation, let's consider the rabbit facts regarding the relationship between predator and prey.
No, and no, which requires rethinking this 'pain' thing.
According to animal behavioral expert, Dr. Temple Grandin*, in her book, Animals in Translation, prey animals (such as rabbits) have very underdeveloped or even nonexistent pain-sensing regions in their brains (ch.5). At the same time, rabbits instinctively know that everything out there wants to eat them. This awareness is part of their genetic code, resulting in their timidity and high alert (anxiety) levels. Rabbits are highly attuned to the possibility of threats in their environment.
Every rustle of the grass, uncertain sound or whisper of raptor wings shoots a rabbit’s anxiety level sky high. In fact, animals, especially prey animals, are far more terrified of anxiety and stress than they are of pain, according to Dr. Grandin.
If this doesn’t seem logical, we understand. We humans easily put up with high stress levels, aggravation and anxiety, at least for short stretches. But the thought of bodily pain wilts the best of us. Talk about cancer, and we go pale around the gills - terrified of the excruciating agony that often occurs in end-stage cancer.
*Dr. Temple Grandin is a brilliant scientist who has peered into animal minds to help the rest of us understand them better.
Rabbits are very different from humans.
Even as a predator rends a rabbit limb from limb, the rabbit may not feel much pain at all, at least, not in the manner that we humans sense it. The idea that rabbits experience 'untold pain and agony' during predation, or even during butchering by humans, is not supported by science.
While prey animals are no doubt capable of feeling pain, it is the anxiety and fear that keeps the rabbit alive in dangerous situations. Problem is, beyond a certain threshold of fear, terror can literally paralyze a rabbit, completely incapacitating it. A rabbit’s high-pitched scream is a response to terror , whether logical or not, not pain.
Young 2.5-week-old rabbits have occasionally screamed in terror in my hands, as a response to being gently and painlessly picked up for petting and socialization. Their fear got the best of them. They learned quickly, however, that being picked up was a good and gentle and welcome occurrence.
When you see caged domestic rabbits all stretched out comfy-like and relaxed in their cages, it is because their anxiety levels are hovering somewhere near zero. They’re content, relaxed. Many domestic rabbits, from a thousand generations until now, have known nothing but cages, runs and larger runs (sometimes called colonies).
Rabbits don’t think like people and don’t feel like people.
It is wise therefore to not "anthropomorphize," or assume a caged rabbit is miserable because you would be miserable in a cage. In their cages, there are no eagles screeching overhead, no coyotes chasing their back trails or ripping hungrily at their heels. In their cages, they get food and water delivered directly to their doors by a keeper that speaks softly, scratches their ears and rubs their fur.
If caring for pet rabbits means they’re stress-free and have all their physical
needs met, the rabbit facts studied by animal experts indicate that your pet rabbits will be truly content.