One of the defining movement characteristics of rabbits is the rabbit hop. It is the main method for getting around. While rabbits can walk around, you probably won’t spot them doing it all that much. Let’s take a little look at why, shall we?
What is the Rabbit Hop?
You can think of the rabbit hop as sort-of a leap. As the rabbit pushes its back legs into the ground, they are catapulted forward. If you watch a rabbit hop around, it is almost as if they are doing a series of mini jumps.
As we said before; rabbits can walk around, but it is very rare that they will do so. Rabbits will start hopping as soon as they are old enough to move around (just under 2-weeks old).
If your rabbit doesn’t seem to be hopping, then this could indicate health issues. We will talk more about this in a short while.
Why Do Rabbits Hop?
Rabbits hop because it is the fastest way for them to get around.
Due to the way that their body is shaped, their back legs have a lot of power in them. This means that jumping around is going to be a lot faster for the rabbit. In fact, you will be surprised at just how far a rabbit can move with a single hop.
Now, it is unlikely that you will see it if you are raising domestic rabbits, mostly because they do not have much of a reason to travel huge distances, but rabbits are capable of hopping around 10-feet in one ‘bounce’.
The height isn’t going to be too shabby either. Many of them can hit heights of 4-feet.
Again, not something that you are ever likely to see. Rabbits will only really do this sort of hopping when they are under threat, but it does go to show the amount of power that they have in their legs.
The speed of the hop is massive too. In fact, rabbits in the wild can easily reach the speed of a vehicle traveling in a ‘built-up’ area.
At this point, it doesn’t even look as if rabbits are hopping, it is more as if they are doing a very fast run. However, if you look at their legs, you can see them pushing back onto the ground to give them the leverage.
Rabbits will likely hop if they ever feel as if they are under threat. In fact, their ability to hop is a defense mechanism.
The fact that they can move so fast means that they will not end up being a snack for a predator in the wild. This is why if you end up startling a domestic rabbit, it will bounce around quite quickly. It is just that defense mechanism coming into play.
When Does a Rabbit Start to Hop?
The second the rabbit can move about on its feet, it will start to hop. This is not a ‘learned’ behavior.
The rabbit will know instinctively how to start hopping. You can expect them to start doing this at 10-days of age, although some rabbits may start a little bit later than this.
If it goes much beyond 2-weeks, then you may find that there is a health issue with the baby bunny.
When Should a Rabbit Not be Hopping?
This isn’t really a problem for wild rabbits, because their bodies have pretty much been built for hopping around outdoors. However, if you have an indoor rabbit, then you may want to pay attention to where they are hopping.
The key to a successful rabbit hop is to ensure that the rabbit doesn’t slide when it does it. Since it is coming down with such power on front legs which do not have as much power, it can cause issues if the angle is a little bit off.
This means that you probably shouldn’t allow your domestic rabbit to have access to parts of your home with smooth floors. It is not uncommon, for instance, for a rabbit to injure themselves if it hops on a wooden floor.
Obviously, you can’t really tell your rabbit it can’t hop in certain locations, so you will just need to ensure they do not get into those situations in the first place.
What Does it mean if a Rabbit isn’t Hopping?
A lot of the time, it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong.
As we said before; a lot of rabbits will walk on occasion. They do not do it much, but they can do it. When a rabbit is walking around, it is often so that it can be a bit quieter. It may be unsure of the situation. You may spot this often in wild rabbits.
If they are a little bit new to a location and do not know whether there are predators there, then it will start to walk. If it spots something, then it can hop away at a moment’s notice.
The real problem will come if your rabbit never hops. At this point, it could indicate that there is an injury to the skeleton of the rabbit, or there may be a problem with their back legs.
In rare cases, there may be other medical issues. If you believe that there is something wrong with your rabbit, particularly with their skeleton or back legs, then it is important that you take them to a vet right away.
Do not let the injury try to heal itself. Rabbits move around far too frequently for that to happen. This means that the problem could be made a lot worse if you do not seek treatment for your furry friend.
Rabbits Hop Final Thoughts
Rabbit hopping is completely natural. It is the main way that rabbits move from point A to point B.
They will start hopping shortly after they are born. If your rabbit is not hopping, this is not normal. It is a problem that does need to be dealt with. A quick trip to the vet should be more than enough to help here.
See also: Albino rabbit – White rabbit with red eyes.