There is no argument that rabbits are super cute, so if we see them as cute, what do they see? Can they see in the same “high definition” we humans can? And what about color?
Rabbits can see in shades of blue and green, and they can also see a bit of yellow. They can’t see red or shades of this color. So apart from when distinguishing blue and green, the rest of the colors appear gray to a rabbit.
Let’s explore how rabbits see their world.
Do Bunnies Have Good Eyesight?
Rabbits have excellent eyesight. This is mainly due to the fact that rabbits are prey animals and need to be on alert at all times to ensure they can survive. Predators actively prey on, hunt, kill, and eat rabbits as a meal or supplement to their main diet.
In general, predators have a greater depth of field. This helps them catch their prey. On the other hand, prey animals have a larger field of view so they can see all around them to help them spot predators and getaway.
When compared to people’s eyesight, a rabbit doesn’t have the best eyesight. They don’t have great up-close vision because they need a wider field of view more.
Rabbit Eyesight and Vision – Color and Lighting
Let’s examine a rabbit’s eyesight in more detail and see how it compares to that of people.
What Colors Can Rabbits See?
With dichromatic color vision, rabbit eyes have two types of cone cells or functioning color receptors. This means that rabbits can see blue and green, and the other colors are gray.
They can also see a bit of yellow with blue and green, and this is very helpful. Think of the kinds of food rabbits eat. Hay is yellowish-green, leafy green veggies are, well, green.
Being able to distinguish color lets rabbits know what is safe for them to eat. The same is true for people, however, we can see three main colors.
We can eat leafy greens. Together with blue and green, we also see yellow and red. Red, the color of red meat, and there are lots of veggies we eat that are red, yellow, and orange (the color when you mix red and yellow).
Rabbits experience a little color blindness because they can only see two main colors.
What Colors Can Rabbits Not See?
Rabbits can’t see red, the other primary color, and any color you’d mix with red to get purple, pink, brown, and so forth.
Similar to a human’s eyes, rabbit eyes also have two kinds of photoreceptor cells. These cells are called rods and cones.
The cones enable us to see color as well as more detailed images. Think of a computer. Back in the day, the images on a computer were very pixelated. You could almost see the dots that made up the image.
Fast forward to today, and most images have a high resolution, so there are more pixels. But because these pixels are so small, your eyes just see the whole image in crystal clear quality.
So similarly, the more cones an eye has, the more colors can be observed and the images can be seen in HD. Cones also help with a photopic vision: how well we detect color in spaces that are well lit.
Rods help us with scotopic vision so we can see shades of light. So the more rods an eye has, the better it can see in low light conditions.
Compared to the human eye, a rabbit’s eye has a higher ratio of rods than cones.
At peak density, rabbits have 18,000 cones per square millimeter, which is about 10 times fewer than people. Rabbits have 300,000 rods per square millimeter at peak density.
Rabbit eyes have twice the amount of rods more when compared to the eyes of humans, and their eyes are 8 times more sensitive to light.
This means that rabbits can see better in dim light like dusk and dawn, which is ideal for rabbits. They are crepuscular animals: most active during dusk and dawn when they socialize and go out of their underground burrows to eat.
How Wide Can a Rabbit See?
The eyes of a rabbit are located high and laterally on the sides of its head. Rabbits share this characteristic with other prey animals, such as deer.
With laterally positioned eyes, a rabbit has an almost 360-degree field of vision, which is very helpful to help a rabbit survive as they can spot predators more easily. Rabbits can see in front of them (except for the tiny blind spot they have), to the sides, above them, and also behind them.
A rabbit only has one small blind spot. It is right in front of their nose since their vision doesn’t overlap this far. So if you approach your bunny straight on they won’t be able to see you. So rather approach from the side to avoid startling them.
In the wild, a rabbit’s great hearing skill helps them to be observant in their environment, thus making up for the blind spot they have.
Do Rabbits Use Binocular Vision?
Rabbits do use binocular vision, but not quite like people do. In fact, when a rabbit looks at something right in front of it, they have a binocular vision of around 27 degrees, which is quite small.
Rabbits mostly use monocular vision. They can see from a wider angle but can’t interpret depth as well. Thus, bunnies see mainly in 2D, but the bit of binocular vision they have with more depth perception gives them the ability to see a little in 3D.
It is really interesting to know how your pet or domestic rabbit differs from their fur parents. In terms of vision, rabbits can’t see when it is pitch dark (similar to us people) but they can see much better in low light conditions.
Knowing how your rabbit sees enables you to take better care of your rabbit.
While rabbits need a dark space they can retreat to when they are tired or want to be alone, make sure the room where you keep your bunny isn’t bathed in full sunlight as your rabbit won’t be able to see well.
If you keep your bun outside, make sure the hutch and run share sunlight and shade so your rabbit can choose which works best for them.