Why Do Rabbits Run in Front of Cars?

Why Do Rabbits Run in Front of Cars
Why Do Rabbits Run in Front of Cars

Like any good rabbit owner, you like to get your bunny outside from time to time for some exercise. You never let them roam unsupervised, of course. One day, though, when you’re outside with your rabbit, you turn your head for a moment. When you look back, your rabbit is in the street, bounding towards a car. Why do they do this?

Rabbits will run in front of cars because they assume the vehicle is a large predator they have to avoid. Sometimes, the headlights can hinder their eyesight, making the situation that much grislier.

Knowing your rabbit might engage in this behavior doesn’t mean you can’t ever take them outside again. In this article, we’ll give you all the info you need to safeguard and prevent your bunny from rushing out into moving traffic.

Why Do Rabbits Run in Front of Cars?

Rabbits, even domesticated ones, have a certain set of instincts that drive some of their behaviors. Most of the time, these instincts relate to survival. Every rabbit wants to stay alive, which means getting away from larger predators.

If you recall from reading this blog, rabbits are prey animals. This means that when a predator approaches, they rely on one means of defense. They run. Their lean yet mighty legs allow them to gather speed and bound off easily.

Sure, rabbits have teeth and back legs that can kick quite hard, but they won’t use these immediately against a predator. Their first instinct, to get away, comes to mind before that.  

If you take your rabbit outside, they might be a little jumpier than usual. After all, when they’re indoors, there’s no predators around. Now, outside, there’s birds, foxes, and other creatures that could try to eat your bunny. Cars also abound.

Your rabbit shouldn’t randomly go running for every vehicle they see in the street. If they do, then you might want to schedule a vet appointment. However, if your rabbit is near the curb and a car spooks them, that might inspire them to run into the road. They see the car as a larger predator and their instincts to get away will kick into overdrive. Then, often, disaster strikes.

Can Rabbits See Cars that Well?

Rabbits have eyes on either side of their head. This might seem inconvenient, but it’s actually anything but. Such eye placement lets them detect predators coming from many directions. In fact, rabbits have the freedom to move their eyes 360 degrees. They have more trouble navigating and foraging with this eye placement, but it ensures their survival, so it’s not all bad.

The problem has to do with a rabbit’s quality of vision. Farsightedness commonly afflicts them. Also known as hyperopia, farsightedness means rabbits can’t see approaching people or objects in the distance very well. They have clear vision when it comes to what’s right in front of them, but not what’s far away.  

So yes, while we humanscan see it’s a car moving down the street, a rabbit can’t quite tell. Could that be a fox trying to chase them? A racoon? Maybe it’s even a bird. The bunny doesn’t know. What they do know is that big thing seems like it’s coming after them. That means they have to run.

Will a Rabbit Survive if They Run in Front of a Car?

The worst has happened. Your rabbit ran in front of a moving car. You know more now about why they does this, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s happened. What now? Will your rabbit survive the impact?

That depends on several factors. For one, how quickly was the driver going? Were they driving at speeds typical for a residential road, about 25 miles per hour (mph)? Were they speeding at 30 or 40 mph? The faster the car moved, the harder it hit your rabbit. That increases their chances of dying from impact.

Also, what kind of car hit your bunny? Some vehicles sit lower to the ground than others. Those that do have a better chance of killing your rabbit because your bunny will almost assuredly hit the front grille. Cars and trucks that ride higher might not cause as much damage to your rabbit. It’s possible your bunny can slip under the vehicle and come out unscathed.

That brings us to our last point, where did the impact occur? If the driver didn’t see the rabbit and went right over it with the car tires, then sadly, your rabbit is a goner. If the driver swerved, there’s a greater chance of survival.

If you’re ever in a situation where a car hits your rabbit, we recommend you take the animal to a vet immediately. They can’t always save your beloved pet, but a veterinarian can certainly try.

How to Keep Your Rabbit from Running out into the Road

The harrowing information in this article has you feeling rattled. How can you prevent your rabbit from taking off into the street when a car comes down the road?

Training, of course! Rabbits have an exemplary sense of hearing, so you might as well make the most of it by teaching them voice commands. Now, rabbits aren’t dogs, so you don’t want to waste time with extraneous commands like “lie down” or “roll over.”

Instead, you want to teach them the important stuff. In this case, telling them when to stop would really help. Some rabbit experts recommend ending all commands by saying the name of your pet. So yes, if you haven’t already taught them that much, then you know where to start.

If you train your rabbit well enough, you can shout at them to stop if they’re heading out into traffic. They should listen. You then avert a crisis.

Another means we recommend for keeping your rabbit out of the street? When you take them outside, keep an eagle eye on them at all times. Don’t turn around, don’t look at your phone, don’t let yourself get distracted by a bird in the trees or a cloud in the sky. Keep your attention solely on your rabbit.

If they start to edge too close to the street, then venture over and put them back up further on the lawn. You want to move slowly yet firmly. Running at your rabbit could freak them out and inspire them to bolt off into the street even faster.

Approach your rabbit and pick them up the same way you always do. Scoop one hand beneath their chest. Then cradle the rear as you lift them from the air. Hold your rabbit’s body to yours, keeping their feet tucked against you so they don’t kick or try to scramble out of your grip. You can then either let your rabbit run elsewhere or bring them back inside.

You have yet more options. Why not try moving your outdoor activities to the backyard instead of the front yard? There’s no traffic back here to scare your rabbit. Also, you could erect a fence for a bunny play area. Just make sure the fence is tall enough that a particularly determined rabbit couldn’t climb over it.

Conclusion

Rabbits don’t have the best vision, and they can’t often see what’s coming from far away. That means they can misinterpret passing cars as predators. To escape, they could run into the street, possibly to their own doom. By training your rabbit and supervising them when they’re outside, you can prevent such an unwanted fate.