A-z - Animals

The Rabbit's Tail: Everything You Needed to Know

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"Here comes Peter Cottontail, jump down the bunny trail."

Growing up, we've all seen depictions of bunnies in the media and pop culture as cute little bunnies with fluffy tails that look like cotton balls. However, if you've ever looked at a live rabbit's tail, it doesn't look like a cotton ball at all. So why describe it?

The legend of the rabbit's tail may have come from generations before domesticated rabbits existed as pets in people's homes. Common cottontail rabbits have a white underside of their tail, which may look like a small pompom at the end when running.

Sure, all rabbits have tails, but if they don't look like cotton balls, what do they look like? Do rabbits have long tails? Do they have short tails? What is the average length of a rabbit's tail? We have all the answers and more below.

Some rabbits have short tails, some long, some are shaggier, and some are very coarse. It all depends on the breed, type and life of the bunny. Let's start by discussing some common topics about rabbit tails.

What does a rabbit's tail look like?

flemish giant rabbit
The tail of a rabbit is long and flat, called the tail

©Veroja/Shutterstock.com

So, as mentioned earlier, bunny tails are not fluffy white cotton balls. In fact, rabbits have very long tails. Rabbits tuck their tails on their hips most of the time, like deer. There is also a special name for rabbit tail: rabbit tail. Other shield animals include bears, deer, goats, and moose.

Scut specifically means "short, erect tail." This means they can reach out and control them like a cat's tail. This is more than just scratching the surface. A rabbit's tail is actually part of its spine. It's bone wrapped around muscle, then covered with skin and fur. They have complete control over it, just like we can control our fingers.

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The average tail length of a domestic rabbit is 2 inches, while a wild rabbit's tail can be up to 4 inches long. The longest rabbit tail in the world is 6.7 inches, just over half a foot.

What's the use of the hare's tail?

little jackrabbit
Rabbits use their tails to confuse predators.

© E Gate House/Shutterstock.com

You are right to ask this question, because there is a good reason for people to think that rabbits have furry tails. Tailoring isn't just about looking cute; it serves a purpose.

Wild rabbits and domestic rabbits are completely different species, so let's get that out of the way. They utilize their tails slightly differently, which we'll discuss.

The underside of the hare's tail is usually white. Not black, brown or other colors. It is important to know that they have purposely evolved in this way to distract predators.

Rabbits put up their tails to signal danger, and White tells the other rabbits to go home and hide. When running, they raise their tails to confuse predators that are chasing them. This has proven to be a successful measure to evade capture.

A scientist named Dirk Semmann conducted a study to figure out, through evolution, why white is the best color. He hired people to do a study, had them track black or white spots on a computer, and paid to chase the white spots.

It turns out they have a harder time tracking whites than blacks, even with the money to fuel their desire to win. They made more mistakes tracking the white spots, proving that the rabbits' whiteness at the base of their tails was a purposeful evolution.

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What is the use of a rabbit's tail?

Square Rhine Rabbit
Rabbits use their tails to communicate and help them maintain balance

© Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Apparently, avoiding predators is not a huge problem for domestic rabbits. Domestic rabbits are a different species whose sole purpose is as a pet or breeding rabbit. Compared with wild animals, they are plump and docile, and their survival instincts are weaker.

Some rabbits may have white at the base of their tails, but most do not. They didn't need to evolve in this way to avoid predators. However, domestic rabbits still use their tails for some purposes.

They often use their tails to convey emotion. If your pet rabbit raises its tail, it could be a sign of aggression. They are defending their territory and ready to fight, or you may be making them feel threatened in some way.

If they curl their tails, they feel wary, like when exploring a new room in the house. When rabbits tip over, their tails are usually extended in a relaxed state, which means they are comfortable and safe.

Another way rabbits use their tails is by wagging them. Tail wagging is similar to thumping of their feet. It means they are angry or contemptuous and you should probably give them treats or attention because they are unhappy.

It has also been suggested that rabbit tails help them maintain balance, much like cats or dogs, mainly because they hop around.

Why do rabbits have short tails?

Rabbits have short, short tails that wave like those of a cat or dog. Why are rabbits' tails so short? This is because rabbits need something more challenging for predators to grab, and thicker tails make it easier to evade them.

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Other scaly animals have them for the same reason. Predators can grab animals like this by their long tails and use it to drag them down. Having a shield means they can use it to warn other animals of imminent danger, and then confuse a predator without fear of being caught.

If their tails were longer, their warning would not be as adequate. Small, distinct white flashes are easier to see and easier to run around so they don't end up like the rest of the animal's dinner.

Rabbits are as cute and charming as they are not common household animals. As a result, knowledge about rabbits is not that common, so there are plenty of interesting facts about them to explore.

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rabbit tail

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about the author


Jude is a writer, both professionally and at heart. They have been writing since they were very young and have eight years of professional writing experience. Jude is passionate about animals, he has three birds and three cats.

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