To prove your intelligence, you took tests in school, but how do you know if your rabbit is smart? Is it in how well they respond to commands, how trainable they are, or something else entirely?
Rabbits are incredibly intelligent animals. They have the ability to see cues and react, address and overcome problems, and even memorize some things. They are trainable as well, much like other common household pets are.
While every rabbit is different, these animals are far from dumb. You may wonder, though, are they smarter than dogs or cats? Which rabbit breed is the most intelligent? Read on, as we’ll answer those questions and more.
How Smart Are Rabbits?
As we discussed in the intro, rabbits are intelligent animals, but just how smart are they? For one, they have the ability to adjust to your routine and notice if something is different. If you’re sick, you oversleep, or you change your schedule, your rabbit will react to it. That means they’re capable of understanding changes.
They can learn commands and phrases much like a dog would, too. Bunnies even grow to associate meaning with some words, such as maybe “treat” or “love.” They’re trainable and can obey, but they’re not blank slates. Rabbits have their own personalities and thus might not always listen to you. Sometimes rabbits can be self-serving and do what they want. That alone is a testament to their intelligence, as they can recognize their own needs and interests and then pursue them, at least to a degree.
According to University of Miami environmental biologist Dana Krempels, Ph.D, rabbits are quite brainy. “Their intelligence is very different from other species…but is just as adaptive and just as elegant,” she said. For a time, Krempels had 16 rabbits she cared for, studying them and their degree of intelligence.
Rabbits may have cute faces, cuddly bodies, and smooshy tails, but they’re so much more than just their looks. They’ve got brains, too!
Which Breed of Rabbit Is Smartest?
While you might select a rabbit based on its cuteness or temperament, there doesn’t appear to be any one bunny species that’s more intelligent than any others. That means if you already have a rabbit, it doesn’t matter what breed it is. He or she is probably already quite smart or has the potential to be. You just have to spend some time with them and work on it.
If you’re thinking about adding a bunny to your family, you don’t have to limit your search based on parameters like intelligence, either.
Are Domesticated Rabbits Smarter Than Wild Ones?
Once again, we’d like to reiterate that the intelligence of rabbits varies from one bunny to another. That said, we’d have to give this one to domesticated rabbits. These animals are intelligent by necessity.
Rabbits are small to mid-sized animals, making them the perfect prey for bigger creatures. To avoid those predators, rabbits have to be adept at running and have a good sense of direction. They also have to know how to make hiding places, such as their deep burrows. On top of that, they must possess the memory to know where their burrows are and how to get back to them. More still, they must be good at knowing how to catch food and bring it back to the burrow. That’s probably something they learn from their parents.
Domesticated rabbits don’t have the same troubles as their wild ancestors. They have an enclosure, so there’s no need to search for shelter. They’re provided fresh food and water, so they don’t have to forage, either. There are no predators around, so a rabbit can just relax and enjoy themselves and their life.
In terms of survival intelligence, it’s wild rabbits over domesticated ones all the way. Could these wild creatures be tamed or trained though like domesticated rabbits? That’s hard to say.
Are Rabbits Smarter Than Dogs or Cats?
While rabbit owners may believe the opposite, dogs are regarded to be smarter than rabbits. It’s not just that dogs are more trainable, but it goes back to the survival instincts and intelligence of predators. Dogs are larger animals, thus wild dogs may prey on wild rabbits. While it’s the prey’s job to outthink dangerous situations, the predator has to track down their prey and find ways to outmaneuver the smaller creatures.
There may also be a scientific correlation between brain size and intelligence. If that’s true, then dogs would be smarter for certain.
What about cats? Dogs have been proven to be more intelligent than cats. Again, the bigger brain comes into play, as does the sociability of canines. If dogs are smarter than rabbits and also smarter than cats, it would reason to assume that dogs are at the top of the intelligence totem pole. Next would be cats, and then rabbits.
Admittedly, there is a somewhat tighter debate about whether cats or rabbits are the more intelligent animal. Some people even believe the smarts between the two is comparable.
Are Rabbits Trainable?
What if your rabbit isn’t quite as bright as you wished it was? There is some basic training you can do, but don’t expect your bunny to learn a full list of commands like a dog would. Start with the basics. It’s important to train your bunny on how to use a litter box, for instance. You can also teach them their name. If they respond to it and come running, then you’ll know you’ve trained them.
Like with any pet, training your rabbit is very rarely an overnight process. You must dedicate weeks, sometimes months of your time before a rabbit will fully master a command. If you’re willing to put the time in, your rabbit could be trained for life.
Being able to train your rabbit to use a litter box will save you time and energy. You may be able to go longer between enclosure cleanings. You also won’t waste so much litter. Since your bunny makes waste in one spot, you can just throw that out and move on.
Teaching your rabbit some vocal commands will increase your bond. It’s also cool to be able to show some people who think rabbits are dumb just how smart these creatures can be.
Are There Toys to Make Your Rabbit Smarter?
If you haven’t yet trained your rabbit but want to, we still recommend verbal training above all else. Be sure to reward them with treats for a job well done.
You can also use toys to augment your bunny training. This logic snack board is available on Amazon for not that much. There are seven lids total. Put a treat in one or two of the cubbies and then let your rabbit figure out which hole houses the treat. This will get their brain working.
An activity toy for rabbits is another fun training option. It’s a little more expensive, but your rabbit can have hours of fun playing with the ropes, putting shapes back into the right holes, and moving, shaking, and pulling the wooden blocks.
Is Your Rabbit at Risk of Jumping out a Window or a Ledge?
While rabbits are quite smart, at the end of the day, they’re still an animal. That means they won’t act with the full range of intelligence that us humans possess. If you were to put your rabbit in a dangerous situation, such as being near an open window or ledge, then it’s hard to say what will happen.
Rabbits will not likely jump off these ledges in a suicidal or reckless manner, but they could definitely slip and fall. That’s why it’s always recommended you keep your rabbit in its enclosure. If you let the bunny out for some exercise, then you must supervise it the entire time.
Your bunny will not naturally gravitate to a window or ledge on its own. They’re smart, but not smart enough to open a closed window or a door latch. The only way they could realistically get in those risky situations in the first place would be if someone put them there.
Rabbits are indeed smart animals, with no one breed being more intelligent than others. Wild rabbits, thanks to their survival instincts, are likely smarter than domesticated bunnies, but they’re less trainable.
Even though you can train your rabbit to learn their own names as well as how to use a litter box, they’re still not smarter than dogs. Some people think the intelligence of a rabbit isn’t that much different than the smarts of a cat, which could be true. After all, there’s proof that brain size plays a role in intelligence, and the brains of these two animals are close in size.
At the end of the day, you love your bunny for more than its smarts, but for its looks, personality, and how much joy they bring you. Still, if you were curious about how smart your bunny may be, now you have a good idea!