Three Little Ladies Rabbitry, Jersey Wooly
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What Do Rabbits See

Introduction

Ever wonder exactly what your rabbit see? I have heard some people say they are color blind. Why are their eyes on he side of the head?

Why on the Side of the Head

The rabbit is an animal in the wild that is prey for many predators. With eyes placed on the side of its head, rabbits can see nearly 360 degrees in any directions, including above it. This allows the rabbit to quickly see foxes, hawks, and other predators, and avoid being dinner.

The ability to see in all directions like this has two weaknesses for the rabbit. First there is a small blind spot of about 10 degrees directly in front of the rabbit’s nose and just under his chin. This is why treats placed directly in front of a rabbit can take some time to find. The other problem is with 3d vision also known as depth perception. The vision from our eyes overlap giving us a sense of how far away items are. Because of the placement of the rabbits eyes, only about 30 degrees of their entire field of vision overlaps, and 10 degrees of that is a blind spot. The result is very little three dimensional viewing for the rabbit. Rabbits will use parallax to assist in determining distance of an object. Similar to what birds do they will bob there head up and down when looking at a distant object. The further the object the less it moves.

Rabbit Vision - Color and Lighting

Within an eye itself are two items that help us see, they are called cones and rods. The specific role of cones is to receive different wavelenghts of color. The human eye has three different categories of cones, they receive varying lengths of red, blue and green wavelengths. Scientific behavioral studies on rabbits seem to indicate that rabbits have sensitivities to only two colors, blue and green. This would indeed leave them partially color blind.

The other item that assists in vision are called rods. Rods assist us in seeing clearly and in seeing in low light situations. Rabbits have a higher ratio of rods than cones. This would allow the rabbit to see in dim light situations. However, rabbits also have no tapetum, which is what many animals use for night vision. Combined these two would indicate that the rabbit can see well when they are most active, dawn and dusk, and cannot see well at night.

Clear Vision?

In the human eye there is an area called the centralis, which is slightly indented. Rabbits also have this area, however, in rabbits this area is not indented. The result is that rabbits vision tends to be somewhat grainy.

Conclusion

So with its limited vision, how can your rabbit identify you? They will use not only their vision, but also listen for your voice, pick up clues from your scent, and become familiar with your movements. Indeed they can recognize you, but the visual picture is not as clear as ours.

Rob Usakowski
Three Little Ladies Rabbitry


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