Today we put our focus once again on another part of our rabbit’s anatomy, the whiskers. Whiskers add a layer to our bunny’s cuteness but did you know that whiskers are not just for show? Whiskers play an important part in a rabbit’s survival and work in a very interesting way.
Rabbit whiskers are like a second pair of eyes for rabbits. Rabbits don’t have great spatial awareness and they cannot see in the complete absence of light so their whiskers help them compensate for that lack of sharp eyesight. Rabbit whiskers also help rabbits to investigate objects that they are curious about.
I think that whiskers are the most interesting part of a rabbit’s anatomy. This is because these are such fine hairs that one would think that they would have no use at all.
But, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise as well because rabbits are prey animals hence, they need all the edge they can get to outsmart their predators and survive.
- 1 What are Rabbit Whiskers and Their Different Types?
- 2 What are the Different uses of Rabbit Whiskers?
- 3 How do Rabbits Whiskers Work?
- 4 Can I Cut my Rabbit’s Whiskers?
- 5 Are Bunny Whisker Spilt Ends Normal?
- 6 My Bunny’s Whiskers are Falling out, what should I do?
- 7 Conclusion
What are Rabbit Whiskers and Their Different Types?
Whiskers are also called vibrissae. These are long, thin, coarse hairs that can be found around a rabbit’s face. Rabbits are not the only animals that have whiskers you may notice this on cats and dogs as well.
For rabbits, their whiskers get longer as it fans across their cheeks. Whiskers are deeply set hair that is sensitive to touch and are the only hair in the rabbit’s body that they can move. You might notice your rabbit’s whiskers moving whenever they twitch their noses or chew.
There are different whiskers attached to different parts of the rabbit’s face. Rabbits have long whiskers over their eyes and they have long whiskers on their cheeks that are set in deep follicles. They also have short whiskers around their mouth.
All of these whiskers have a clear use for rabbits and don’t just exist for vanity.
What are the Different uses of Rabbit Whiskers?
There are different uses for rabbit whiskers. Some of its most common uses are detailed below:
1. Spatial Awareness
If you’ve ever tried to parallel park between two cars, then you would know how hard it is to park in a tight space. However, you might also know someone who can parallel park very easily.
This is mainly due to your spatial awareness difference. Your friend might have a more spatial awareness than you, so they can estimate the tightness of space and can come up with faster ways to park their cars.
Rabbits, without their whiskers, also lack a sense of spatial awareness. They might not use it for parking cars but it helps them measure if a hole or an opening will fit them.
The long whiskers attached to the rabbit’s cheeks are approximately the same width as their bodies.
When a rabbit enters a hole or a burrow, its whiskers will let them know if it will fit or not. A rabbit then will be able to determine that a hole might be big enough to fit its head but will not be wide enough to fit its body.
This is extremely important for a bunny’s survival especially in the wild because a rabbit who gets stuck in a burrow will make for easy prey.
2. Nighttime Sight
Rabbits can’t see in the dark of night but they can navigate in the dark thanks to their amazing whiskers.
Whiskers provide a perception of objects nearby so the rabbits will know what direction go to to avoid bumping into things. Also, their whiskers will help rabbits in sensing whether a predator is near.
However, it is also important to know that rabbits see best when the light is low this means during dusk or dawn.
3. Sensing objects that are too close
Did you know that rabbits have a blind spot in front of their face? This is because their eyes are located at the sides of their heads.
Rabbits cannot see well what is immediately in front of them. Also, rabbits are known to be farsighted. They need this to survive because they need to spot a predator that is far away so they can get out of its path.
Rabbits need the help of their whiskers to investigate things that are literally in front of their noses.
A rabbit’s whiskers are so special because not only do they give spatial awareness and nighttime navigation but it also helps rabbits get information on a nearby’s object texture.
Because rabbits have this capacity they then can determine if what’s in front of them is water or land. They will be able to assess as well if they are bumping into danger. Now that’s pretty amazing to me.
Rabbit whiskers can also be found above their eyes. These whiskers prevent fine particles or dust to get into their eyes. It’s a catch basin of particles or the rabbit version of goggles.
Different animals approach the same animal within their species differently. Dogs, for example, sniff each other’s bums as a form of social greeting. This activity allows the dogs to make inferences about where the dog has been, what it ate etc.
For rabbits, they approach other rabbits by touching their whiskers. Not a lot of studies have been made about why they do this or how these work. It’s assumed that since whiskers are so sensitive it allows the rabbits to also make inferences about their new bunny friend.
How do Rabbits Whiskers Work?
Now that we know what are the different purposes of bunny whiskers, it’s time to ask how exactly do they work? First of all, whiskers are not normal hair and are different from all the fur that grows along your rabbit’s body.
Whiskers are hairs that grow out of a special follicle that contains a blood sinus. These blood sinuses are packed with very sensitive nerves.
If you also observe closely the way rabbit whiskers are arranged, the shorter whiskers are closer to their noses and then it gets longer as it spreads across its face.
This is not just some random arrangement but also serves a purpose. Each hair follicle of whiskers is jam-packed with are called mechanoreceptors.
Every vibration or every movement can be picked up by these whiskers and they all contain information that your rabbits can use to navigate their surroundings.
Can I Cut my Rabbit’s Whiskers?
Cutting your rabbit’s whiskers doesn’t hurt. This is because the ends of the whiskers are made of keratin and do not contain any nerves. Your rabbit won’t probably notice it if you do decide to trim their whiskers a little bit.
Though you should know that cutting your rabbit’s whiskers is not recommended. Whiskers give an additional sense of perception to rabbits that are vital to their survival.
If you cut off your rabbit’s whiskers you will severely cut down your rabbit’s ability to navigate their way through their surroundings.
Are Bunny Whisker Spilt Ends Normal?
It’s normal for bunnies to have split ends on their whiskers especially when they are growing old. I suggest you leave these whiskers alone. Rabbit whiskers continuously grow so these split ends will fall away naturally.
But if you think they are abnormally overgrown and might be bothering your furry friend, then you can cut them but only trim them at the very end. Don’t cut big chunks of its whiskers as you wouldn’t want this to have an effect on your rabbit’s skills and independence.
My Bunny’s Whiskers are Falling out, what should I do?
Older bunnies also have their whiskers fall out due to age. This is normal but if you have a young bunny and its whiskers fall out then your rabbit might be suffering from a skin infection.
Fungal infection is one of the most common causes of whisker fall-out. If this is the case then you should get your rabbit assessed by a vet.
Aren’t whiskers amazing? It’s really great knowing that everything in our bunny’s body has its own uses it makes them all the more endearing. What’s your favorite bunny body part? Let me know through the comments below!