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There is a dilemma in the rabbit community about the best physical feature of rabbits. Some say it’s their cute bunny face, some say it’s their bunny whiskers, some will say it’s their button noise, others would claim it’s their lop ears or their straight-up ears, and still, some would say it’s their cute bunny tails. This article is all about those adorable rabbit tails.
Rabbit tails often seem like pom poms attached to their romps so it’s no wonder that they’re very endearing to all rabbit enthusiasts. However, did you know that tails do more than just cater to rabbits’ vanity?
Let’s start with the basics.
Do All Rabbits Have Tails?
All rabbits have tails, however, some domestic rabbits have very short tails that are difficult to see. If you feel around on your bunny’s butt, you’ll find their tail.
Now let’s dig into the details about your rabbit’s tail.
How Long Are Rabbit Tails?
Rabbit tails are not pompom-shaped. We only see it as a pom-pom because we do not see their entire tail which is usually tucked close to their body and hidden underneath all the layers of fur. When extended, a rabbit’s tail resembles a stubby version of a deer’s tail.
A pet rabbit’s tail is on average 2 inches (5 centimeters) long. Larger rabbits have longer tails than smaller rabbits. The world record for Longest Rabbit Tail is 6.7 inches (17 centimeters) and that tail belongs to a very large Continental Giant Rabbit.
Most of the time a rabbit keeps its tail tucked in tight to its body so it only appears as a pom-pom on its bottom. However, when a rabbit is feeling relaxed and totally safe, they sometimes lay down with the tail extended so that its full length is visible.
Want a little more information about that world’s longest bunny tail? Let’s do it!
Daisy May is a British bunny belonging to Annette Edwards who also owns Darius, the world’s largest rabbit. As a matter of fact, Daisy May and Darius are both of the same breed, The Continental Giant Rabbit Breed, and are part of Annette’s breeding program where she aims to raise the world’s largest rabbits.
Here is a link to a story on the Sun UK website where you can learn more about the Guinness Book Of World Records Longest Rabbit Tail and even see pictures of this giant bunny and her adorable tail.
Do All Rabbits Have White Tails?
All rabbits do not have white on the underside of their tails. Most, but not all, wild rabbits have a white underside to their tails, but, domestic rabbit breeds almost never do.
Pet rabbit breeds have been bred for certain uniform colors and the color of their tails usually match the color of the rest of their coat. However, this isn’t always true. For example, Californian Rabbits are mostly white rabbits, but they have black tails!
What Are Rabbit Tails Made Of?
At first glance, it might seem that rabbit tails are just a bunch of fur. However, that is not the case.
Rabbit tails are made up of bone surrounded by muscle, exactly like the tail of a cat or dog. These tail bones are a continuation of a bunny’s spinal cord. While a rabbit’s tail does contain nerves, severing of those nerves won’t cause paralyzation, except the tail.
Because rabbit tails are directly connected to their spinal cord and the bones of the tail are vertebrae just like those found in their spines, their tails are extremely sensitive and should be taken care not to be injured.
Fortunately, rabbits do not often injure their tails because they tend to hold their tails close to their bodies, unlike dogs and cats who are swinging their long tails around where they can be injured more easily.
When a rabbit’s tail is injured or even broken, you should let your rabbit veterinarian guide you in their care. However, in most cases, a broken bunny tail heals on its own. However, severe damage near the base of a rabbit’s tail could sever nerves tied urination and defecation which could cause incontinence.[Source]
What Are Rabbit Tails Called?
Rabbit tails are called Scuts because of their stiff and short appearance. However, this name is not commonly used anymore because it’s is such an old term. The term “scut” has its origins as far back as the 15th century, but nowadays most bunny lovers just call a bunny’s tail a tail.
The word “scut” also literally means short, erect tails, and other woodland animals share the same name for their tails. Deers are one of the animals that have scut tails but others include goats, hares, moose, and bears.
Purpose Of A Wild Rabbit’s White Tail
Rabbits’ tails play a huge role in a rabbit’s ability to survive in the wild. The underside of a wild rabbit’s tail is white and while the rabbit zigs and zags while fleeing a predator, its flashing white tail can be very confusing to its pursuer. The white underside of a rabbit tail is also used to signal other bunnies in the wild when danger is present.
Since all wild rabbits have a coloring that serves as camouflage in their natural environment, It might seem counterintuitive that rabbits in the wild have white tails. What about a white fluffy ball on their butt makes them safer?
Social behaviorist Dirk Semmann of the University of Gottingen in Germany has explored just this. In his research, he explains that a wild rabbit’s white tail is a necessary evolution of rabbits that serves to confuse predators.
His interest was first piqued when he came across a CottonTail Rabbit one day. As the rabbit skipped away from him, he noticed that since the white tail is the focal point that draws your eye, it disappears whenever a rabbit makes a turn thus, leaving any preditor in pursuit guessing which way the rabbit had gone.
He then decided to experiment using a game. He enlisted twenty-four human “predators” to follow a white or a dark patch on a green screen. This aimed to replicate the way rabbits move through greenery while being pursued by a predator. These patches would make sudden turns and the humans were tasked to guess what directions the patches went to by pressing left or right buttons.
In the end, it was found out that when the human “predators” were watching the white patches they made more mistakes than when they were watching the dark patch.
He even offered a cash reward for those who would be able to get the white patch directions right to motivate the human “predators” and to simulate a very hungry real predator in the wild. But, even with a reward and more motivation, the white patch still left the humans confused.
This is one proof that tells us that rabbit tails are white because they have proven to be very effective in the wild, otherwise they would not exist. The rule of the wild is heavily dependent on adaptation, if an animal’s physiology cannot adapt to the needs of the wild then it would fail to survive.
Wild rabbits’ tails are also used to signal other rabbits of danger by flashing the white of their tails when they raise their tails high. This signal means that a predator is nearby and that all rabbits should scram to safety. Rabbits will do this even if it leaves them very little time to escape.
You could say that’s very altruistic of rabbits, and maybe it is, but we can never truly know. Rabbits are social animals so maybe they do this to preserve their colony.
What Do Pet Rabbits Use Their Tails For?
Pet rabbits use their tail primarily for balance, although not to a great degree. Other mammals with long tails such as dogs and cats depend on their tails for balance but since this appendage is significantly shorter for rabbits, they do not depend on it much to keep them steady. However, these tails give them stability when doing quick and sharp turns.
I was told a first-hand story about a rabbit who had a back foot amputated, and as the bunny learned to walk on three legs, it quickly learned to use its tail in a more obvious manner to balance. To me, this shows that a rabbit uses his tail for balance more than might be normally apparent.
A domestic rabbit also uses its tail to communicate with other rabbits and with their people. We’ll touch on how rabbits use their tails to communicate below, but here is a link to an article about Rabbit Body Language if you want to learn more.
Why Does A Bunny Raise Its Tail?
A raised tail in the wild means that a rabbit is flashing members of its colony to warn them of danger. However, this isn’t always the case with pet rabbits.
A raised tail in domestic rabbits can be a sign of danger or a sign of aggression. This signals that the rabbit is on high alert and is getting ready to either flee or retaliate. Rabbits will raise their tails just before they growl or lunge.
If you see your cute bunny raise her tail high, it’s best to back off and give them a little space. Whether they are scared or angry, they just need a little space and time.
Oh, there is one other reason that a rabbit raises its tail
Rabbits also raise their tails when they are getting ready to pee, but most bunnies don’t raise it as high when peeing as they do when they are scared or angry.
Why Does A Bunny Rabbit Lower Its Tail?
A lowered tail for a bunny means it’s cautious. A cautious rabbit will tuck their tail and lengthen their body, while they crawl forward with their hind feet firmly planted and their nails digging in so they can flee at any sign of danger.
Why Does A Bunny Wag Its Tail?
It’s often confusing for some owners when their pets wag their tails. Dogs wag their tails for a whole host of different and contrary reasons. They wag their tails when they’re happy but they also wag their tails when they’re about to get aggressive.
However, for rabbits, it’s very straightforward.
Rabbits wag their tails when they are annoyed or irritated, not when they are happy to see you. Watch your rabbit’s tail when introducing them to a new friend or a new activity to judge their feelings about this new experience.
You might also observe rabbits wagging their tails when they meet other rabbits. You might think at first that it’s cute because dogs wag their tails when they play with other dogs right? Remember, rabbits don’t wag their tail when they are happy.
Why Does A Bunny Chase Its Tail?
Yes, dogs are not the only pets who chase their tails rabbits do as well. There are multiple reasons as to why your rabbit chases its tails:
Exercise is very important to a rabbit’s well-being. Physical exercise is one thing but it is also important to provide rabbits with enough mental stimulation to keep them happily occupied. Mental stimulations can be found in training or rabbit toys.
If you don’t give your rabbit enough exercise they will get bored and this can be a cause of unwanted behaviors. They can resort to chewing stuff or they can chase their tails in a pointless attempt to release some pent-up energy.
When your rabbit’s tails have mites or fleas your rabbit will attempt to chase its tail because it would want to scratch the itch caused by the bite of these parasites. Severe mite or flea infestation may cause your rabbit to bite its tail and even chew on it so aggressively that it can do real damage to it’s own tail.
Check if your rabbit is just walking around listlessly in circles. This could mean that your rabbit is feeling unwell, and this should merit a vet visit
- Sexual frustration
Rabbits who are ready to mate sometimes run around in circles which can be mistaken for chasing their tail.
A sexually frustrated rabbit will also vocalize while running in these ‘mating circles’.
Also, spaying and neutering will help with this problem.
Can A Rabbit’s Tail Fall Off?
A Rabbit’s tail can fall off if it’s severely damaged, though this is uncommon. Such damage can be caused by a bite, a harsh pull of the tail from a human, by cutting off blood flow with something tightly around the tail, or by accidental cutting.
I’ve met a rabbit whose tail was accidentally cut off while the rabbit was being sheered (she was a wool rabbit). While the experience was traumatic for the rabbit and the groomer, both recovered in a few months and the bunny was just fine.
Will A Rabbit’s Tail Grow Back?
No, a rabbit’s tail will not grow back once it is severed from its body. Once the wound is healed, a rabbit will live a fine and healthy life without its tail. In most cases, the bunny’s fur even grows over the wound as it heals so the missing tails aren’t even that noticeable.
How Do You Take Care Of A Rabbit’s Tail?
A rabbit’s tail doesn’t require any special care on your part. Rabbits are fastidious groomers, and they’ll keep their tails clean as long as they’re not too fat to reach their tails.
You should also avoid playing with your rabbit’s tail.
Most rabbits hate to have their tail played with or touched. There are exceptions to this, but they are few.
It should go without saying, but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway; never pull on your rabbit’s tail. Pulling on your rabbit’s tail could break the bones of the tail or even cause nerve damage.
Well, I hope you found this article about your bunny’s tail both informative and entertaining.
Do you have a picture of your rabbit’s long tail? If you do, please email it to us so we can add it to this article!