Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Rabbits were important to us as a source of food and clothing for many centuries after the Normans brought them to Britain. Although now we’re more likely to have them as a pet, they still have a significant role in many a food chain, a crucial protein source for a number of mammals and birds. Counter-intuitively, a rabbit’s bobbing white tail is actually a defence mechanism. The predator focusses on it, only to be confused when the rabbit turns and it disappears. The second it takes the predator to re-focus is valuable in the rabbit’s escape attempt, and in a darting run with several sharp turns the seconds add up. The position of their eyes in their skull gives them almost 360 degree vision, the one small blind spot being at the bridge of the nose. I like to simultaneously appal and delight my schoolchildren with the “fun fact” that rabbits eat some of their droppings in order to extract further nutrients. They go one step further than yesterday’s Mallard, and sleep with both eyes open.
Photo by Pixabay