If you’ve approached your bunny bestie from directly in front of them, you’ll have noticed your rabbit acting more like the prey animal they are – scared, jumpy, deciding to flee or fight. But when you approach more from the side, your bun is the sweet rabbit you know and love. Why is there a difference in your rabbit’s behavior?
Does it have anything to do with how rabbits see?
Rabbits have two eyes that are located on the side of their head. This gives them a nearly 360-degree field of view, and they can see far and flee when they spot a predator. Rabbits see in shades of blues and greens, and any other color is seen as gray. They also see best at dusk and dawn.
Let’s examine in detail how rabbits see so you can understand your furry friend a lot better.
How Clear Can Rabbits See?
How clearly a person or animal sees depends on the rods and cones – called photoreceptor cells – in their eyes. Cones relate to photopic vision, while rods are related to scotopic vision.
The number of cones influences how detailed an image is, while the number of rods affects how you see shades of light. The cones also determine how well an animal or person identifies color in brightly lit environments.
The higher the number of cones, the more detailed the image. So a low number of cones correlate to a blurry, grainy image.
The higher the number of rods, the better a pair of eyes can see in low light conditions.
So how does a rabbit’s eye fare regarding cones and rods?
The eyes of rabbits have more rods than cones. A rabbit’s eye has 18,000 cones per square millimeter and 300,000 rods per square millimeter.
When compared to people, a human’s eye has 10 times fewer cones and half the amount of rods than a rabbit’s eye. This means that a rabbit’s eyes are much more sensitive to light (at least 8 times more).
The implication of this is that a rabbit can see crystal clearly at dusk and dawn when the light is dim. And this makes perfect sense considering rabbits are crepuscular animals.
How Wide Can Rabbits See?
A rabbit can see almost 360 degrees around them thanks to the position of their eyes. A rabbit’s eyes are located on the side of their heads instead of on the front of its head like a person’s.
You’ll find that prey animals’ eyes are located laterally on the side of their head to help them spot predators.
Without turning their head, a rabbit can see in front of them, to the left and right of them, above them, and behind them. The only blind spot is a small area directly in front of their nose.
And this is why when you walk toward your bun from in front of them they behave like a prey animal – because they can’t see you! To avoid startling your bun, rather approach them from the side.
However, if you have a rabbit with lop ears like a Mini Lop, they can’t see behind them – their ears are in the way! (And this is why lop-eared rabbits are a domesticated breed and rarely exist out in the wild.)
How Far Can Rabbits See?
Rabbits are farsighted, and even though they have a panoramic field of vision, a rabbit can’t see very well up close.
Their farsightedness is what helps keep them safe in the wild as rabbits can more easily spot predators and get away in time.
While wild and domesticated rabbits share similarities, a pet bunny does still have a farsighted vision. However, they don’t really need it because they have you – their fur-parent – to keep them safe.
You may find that your bunny seems skittish when you are playing with them in your yard.
This is because they can see a “predator” that’s far away – even if that so-called predator is just an airplane. It’s bound to look scary for your bunny – like a giant bird out to catch it.
Since your rabbit isn’t nearsighted, you may find that your bun is sometimes clumsy. Rabbits don’t have the depth perception we have or the ability to see objects in 3D to judge distance and size.
Your rabbit uses parallax to determine how far away an object is and how big or small it is. Parallax is when your rabbit moves their head back and forth to scan the landscape.
You’ll see a new bunny doing this much more often than a bun you’ve had for a while because your bun already knows where objects are located in your home.
Do Rabbits Use Binocular Vision?
Rabbits do have binocular vision, but it isn’t quite the same as a person’s binocular vision. A rabbit only has a binocular vision of fewer than 30 degrees when they look at something in front of them.
As such, rabbits mostly have monocular vision – they have a wide field of vision but they can’t interpret the distance, depth, or size of an object, as well as people, can. As such, rabbits see primarily in 2D.
Can Rabbits See in Color?
Rabbits can see in color, but they can’t see all of the colors that people can see. Technically, rabbits are a little color blind.
A rabbit can see blues and greens, and any other color is gray. This relates directly to what rabbits eat – they eat roots, grass, hay, and veggies, which are all in shades of green.
This allows rabbits to identify what’s safe for them to eat. A rabbit’s digestive system can’t handle digesting protein – which is mainly red – so a bun knows not to eat meat (unless it’s curious and takes a bite out of your hamburger).
The reason rabbits can only see greens and blue is thanks to the two kinds of functioning color receptors or cone cells they have in their eyes. As such, rabbits have a dichromatic color vision – seeing two primary colors.
Do Rabbits Have Good Vision at Night?
A rabbit’s eyes and a person’s eyes are similar when it comes to night vision. You can’t see clearly or at all when it’s pitch dark, and a rabbit won’t be able to see anything either.
Rabbits aren’t nocturnal animals, so their night vision is grainy at best. But a rabbit’s eyes were made to excel in low light conditions, and dusk and dawn are when a rabbit sees best.
My Last Bunny Thoughts
So now you know exactly how rabbits see the world. They have:
- Wide field vision – have almost 360-degree vision, so can see all around them
- Dichromatic vision – see blues and greens, and everything else is gray
- Mostly monocular vision, except for the 27 degrees of binocular vision
A rabbit can see most clearly in low light conditions, and they are farsighted.
Interesting, isn’t it? How your bunny sees things differently than you do.