Tales About Tails – The Rabbit!

by, Jo Carol Hebert

Listen to this post as a podcast.

It’s All About Survival!

Rabbits are on the ‘special menu of the day’ for many carnivore predators. But, these cute and vulnerable bunnies do know some ‘sleight of tail tricks’ when the chase is on.

‘Flummoxing’ Flashes

Most rabbits (and some species of deer) have short tails with an underside of stark white. When resting or feeding, this white bunny ‘underwear’ is tucked in with the body, blending in with their motley-colored camouflage fur.  

But when danger appears, they react ‘in a flash’!  

They run-hop away, leaving their backside exposed to the predator. Then they flash their white underside towards the attacker. Not too bright, right?

Wrong. ‘Flummoxing’ means: to confuse, perplex, fluster, flabbergast, or be a mystery.  

The predator focuses on the small white part and loses perspective of the whole animal. The clever rabbit zig-zags, and zag-zigs, which changes the size and angle of its body. 

This rapid change of direction confuses the hunter so much that he doesn’t know what to do! He loses focus and has to re-adjust his attack tactics. That extra split-second gives the wily rabbit the edge to get away. 

(Maybe, you want to add ‘flummoxing’ to your other ‘superpower’ wishes!)

Friendly Warning to Other Rabbits

The agitated flashing white tail also alarms other rabbits in the social group. 

“Danger! Danger! 

Rabbits are darting in every direction to escape. Predators often throw up their ‘paws’ and give up in frustration. But they will return to try, try again. The next time, the ‘flashing tail’ may not win the day for ‘some bunny’.

The ‘Cute’ Bunny Tail

The bunny tail is ‘’cute’ for a reason’. Short and fluffy is better for rabbits that rest in warrens, or underground tunnels. When alarmed, they flee to the warrens. The stubby tail is the last of the body part to enter the safety of the hole. A long tail would be easier for a predator to grab onto and pull the animal back out.

Did You Know?

  • Rabbit tails are covered with the same fur as the body. This fur protects by deflecting claws from damaging the skin
  • Baby rabbit’s tails are soft at birth and harden at 2 weeks
  • Scientific studies of virtual ‘flashing’/’non/flashing’ rabbits shows that: the flashing tail technique greatly contributes to more escapes.
  • The tail bone is called the ‘caudal vertebrae’ – cats have 22 tail bones, rats have a whooping 31-36 tail bones and rabbits have only 15 tail bones.

Do you have a rabbit? We would love to hear a ‘tale’ about you and your ‘best bunny’!

Categories: Tales About Tails

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