One morning, as I was busy in my office, I suddenly turned and noticed my rabbit was staring intently at the screen, clearly fascinated by the bubble-burst screen saver that had popped up.
I began to wonder, just how intelligent are rabbits? Was there a way to measure rabbit IQ, and why were some rabbits more interested in their world, figured things out, and showed some real smarts, while others were cute but thick thumpers?
How Smart Are Rabbits?
Rabbits are highly intelligent.
While they may not have the kind of intelligence that can solve mathematical riddles, rabbits can solve logical problems, remember words and sounds, love playing with new toys, and thrive on mental stimulation.
Rabbits may be as smart as other pets like cats and dogs, and a rabbit shows other signs of intelligence like jealousy, preference, and the ability to reason and choose.
Also read: Can a Rabbit Be an Emotional Support Animal?
What Are the Signs of Rabbit’s Intelligence?
Now, my bun wasn’t going to pass an IQ test, so I had to find other ways in which to measure intelligence.
Just how does one evaluate whether an animal is intelligent?
Discussing the idea of animal intelligence with my local animal trainer gave me these points to consider when deciding whether my bun was indeed clever or not.
Problem-Solving as a Sign of Intelligence
Being able to solve problems requires logic.
Obviously, a rabbit isn’t going to solve the problem of world hunger, but they can solve smaller micro problems like how to reach the carrot that fell under the table.
Rabbits can be trained to perform amazing feats like running agility courses, and they can figure out how to get to food or treats.
Some rabbits may even figure out how to open their pen or cage to get out if they are bored. These are all signs of logical reasoning, which is a parameter of intelligence.
Memory as a Sign of Intelligence
Being able to remember something means you are thinking about it. Rabbits can remember people, places, words, sounds, and even other rabbits.
Memory is a clear sign of intelligence.
This is more than a simple memory that is instinctual. Rabbits have the ability to remember steps on an agility course, and they can even recall people for several years.
Since they clearly don’t remember everything around them, they must then selectively form memories, which is a sign of intelligence.
Curiosity as a Sign of Intelligence
With human babies, we know a kid will be intelligent if they are constantly looking at things, noticing new things, and seeking out stimulation. The same applies to rabbits.
When a rabbit is instantly aware there is a new thing in their environment, it indicates they are aware of their environment.
Some thinking is required for this. Rabbits, like other pets, have a fondness for toys.
They are especially fond of toys that are mentally stimulating where they can pick up parts of a toy or chew on different textures.
They also develop a fondness for a favorite toy. These are all aspects shared with human children, making rabbits quite intelligent.
Social Skills as a Sign of Intelligence
Being able to socially adapt and make connections is also a sign of intelligence.
Rabbits bond with other rabbits and with their humans too. This bonding is a sign of social awareness and intelligence.
Attachment as a Sign of Intelligence
Rabbits develop a fondness for certain people.
I know my pet rabbits don’t always like all of my family members, and one particular rabbit may choose to spend time with my son but not like being petted by my daughter. The ability to choose is a sign of intelligence.
Rabbits Can Learn Languages
Okay, so if you’re expecting a rabbit to start speaking Russian or singing in French, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. But rabbits can learn many words.
I have trained my rabbits to respond to certain verbal cues such as “up” for them to sit on their haunches, “down” to lie down, and “over” for them to roll over for belly scratches (which only one of my rabbits are happy to do).
Being able to remember words is a huge sign of intelligence.
While there are no exact statistics on just how many words a rabbit can remember, they are really intelligent and can remember a large range of verbal cues.
With repetition and reward, rabbits quickly learn certain words and associate meaning or intention to these words.
Rabbits Are Fast Learners
When you consistently use the same word for a particular action, your rabbit will quickly cotton on and learn that word.
I start by using a specific tone of voice with the word to train a rabbit.
Something as simple as “ca-rrrrr-ot” can help a rabbit know you are ready with a treat for them.
Later, you can use the same technique to train your rabbit to know they should go to their cage, come out to play, or jump on the sofa for grooming sessions.
Since rabbits can learn these functional words and associate the desired action with each, they are undoubtedly intelligent.
Test Your Rabbit’s IQ
There are several tests that you can use to determine someone’s IQ.
Memory and association are some examples of characteristics of intelligence. If your bun can remember something, it shows they can reason.
IQ Test for Rabbits
Apart from being strange, you can test your rabbit’s IQ with this fun activity.
You will need:
- Three plastic containers of different shapes and dimensions
- Some rabbit-friendly treats
How to perform the test:
1. Place the three containers upside down in your rabbit’s enclosure.
2. Place the rabbit treats under only one container. Remember the specific container.
3. Let your rabbit investigate the containers. They will smell the treat but will obviously be unsure which container has the treat in.
4. When your rabbit upends the wrong container, make a soft sound like “uh-uh.” If they find the right container, reward them with praise and let them eat the treat.
5. Repeat this activity again, using the same shape container for the treat. Notice that your rabbit will remember and go straight to the shaped container where the treat should be.
6. You can stretch this by moving the game to a new area of your house or garden. Notice how your rabbit will go straight to the same shape container as before.
Note, don’t use colored containers as a way to tell the containers apart as rabbits don’t see the same color spectrum as we do. They won’t be able to distinguish between some colors.
Other Ways to Improve Your Rabbit’s IQ
Your rabbit will thrive on stimulation, which is why they love a wide range of toys.
Be sure to introduce your rabbit to new and exciting toys, play games with them, and find new and challenging ways to earn their trust and reward them for concentrating and showing focus.
Continue expanding your rabbit’s vocabulary with new commands and teach them tricks such as sit, roll, beg, and fetch.
Expose them to new places and things in a calm and responsible manner, and your rabbit will go from being fearful to being curious as they learn about their world.
Some FAQs about Rabbit Intelligence
Below are some common questions people have about rabbit intelligence and how smart rabbits are:
What level of intelligence do rabbits have?
Rabbits are surprisingly intelligent and they can play games, enjoy toys, and solve puzzles.
With their ability to remember things, they can be taught words, tricks, and phrases.
Are rabbits smarter than cats?
Rabbits can rival cats in intelligence, with the added benefit of actually wanting to please their fur parents.
Where cats are often disinterested, rabbits are naturally curious, which might invite the argument that rabbits may be more intelligent than cats—but then again, cats are simply arrogant too.
Do rabbits have good memory?
With their ability to recall things and places, rabbits have developed a great memory. They may have developed this skill in the wild.
Knowing and remembering where their burrow is helps them make a quick escape from a predator may have been essential to survival.
Memory is a sign of intelligence, so rabbits are quite clever since they remember so well.
How intelligent are rabbits?
There are a range of things that rabbits can do that point to a higher level of intelligence than some animals.
Rabbits can remember their name, they come when called, and they also associate people with emotions.
In addition to these signs of intelligence, rabbits are also very curious, which is another aspect of intelligence.
They can call you for attention by thumping or by staring at you.
If you ever thought that rabbits are stupid pets, you have been sorely mistaken.
Rabbits are highly intelligent, and while they won’t be able to have a verbal conversation with you, they do speak to their owners with unique mannerisms and skills.
The trainability of rabbits is also related to their IQ, and rabbits show a remarkable interest in interacting with their human owners.
The range of words they can remember and the tricks they can recall point to a desire to please their owner, which is another sign of evolved thinking.
If you are a rabbit owner, then it’s up to you to stimulate your bun, just like you would your human child.
Invest in toys, tricks, and time spent together, and you will soon have the rewards of an intelligent and social pet and friend.
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