Bunnies are adorable and everyone will agree that their short and fluffy tails add to their charm. It is also because of the rabbit tail length that people wonder if it serves any purpose other than its aesthetic contributions. If you have similar questions, this guide to rabbit tails contains all the information about a bunny’s tail, its length, purpose, anatomy, and fun facts.
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Rabbit tails that are adorbs
From their cuddly fur to their velvety-smooth ears, everything about rabbits is cute. But the fluffy tail is the most endearing body part. Hence, it is natural to assume that the tail, looking like a cotton ball, is all about aesthetics.
If you have ever wondered why rabbits have such short tails, the answer will surprise you. Most domestic rabbits have tails that are at least 2 inches in length. The rabbit tail length also depends on the species of the bunny. Some rabbits naturally have big tails and others don’t.
What is a rabbit tail called?
Is there any term that denotes the tail of a rabbit? Ones of the most frequently asked questions on Google regarding rabbits is “what do we call a rabbit’s tail?” There is a word for it and that’s scut.
Scut means an erect and short tail and therefore, the rabbit tail length plays a key role in the nomenclature. So, you can use this term to address the tail of a deer, goat, hare, or bear.
It is derived from the term ‘scuttle’ and it means ‘to move quickly’. Now you know that the word is meaningful as rabbits are fast-moving animals.
While most people aren’t familiar with the term ‘scut’, they use the words scuttlebutt and cottontail.
Call it by any name and the fluffy tail will still be the cutest feature on a bunny.
Anatomy of a rabbit tail
The anatomy of a bunny’s tail is as complex as its other body parts. At a glance, it appears to be a small body part with no functionality. However, it is made of multiples nerves and muscle attachments.
It is composed of ligaments, blood vessels, nerves, and muscles. These things don’t just facilitate movement but also make the tail delicate.
The rail encompasses 15-16 caudal vertebrae which are called tail bones. The number of caudal vertebrae in the tails of cats in 22/23. Rats possess nearly 31-36 caudal vertebrae.
All these elements together contribute to helping the rabbit maintain balance. Its tail is also significant when it hops or runs.
Additionally, different kinds of rabbits possess diverse types of tails. Some tails are bushy and long and others are stumpy and short.
Scroll down if you are intrigued to more about a rabbit tail length and other features.
Do rabbits need their tails?
A rabbit’s tail is so short that people assume it has no purpose. You’ll be amazed to learn that even if the rabbit tail length is so short, it is necessary for a rabbit’s survival.
So, what are the functions of a bunny’s tail?
Domestic rabbits don’t need their tails to save themselves from sudden attacks by carnivores.
The scut is still important for it to communicate with humans and other rabbits. While a dog wags its tail to show affection, a rabbit wagging its tail communicates resistance.
When your bunny’s tail is down, it is symbolic of hesitancy. A raised tail, on the other hand, indicates confidence or aggression. You can also observe other body parts and gestures of a rabbit to predict its health or mood.
Angry or unhappy rabbits thump the hind legs. Additionally, if your rabbit’s head is tilted and the body appears tense, it might be sick or in pain.
The most critical function of a rabbit’s tail is to assist it in saving itself from potential predators.
When wild rabbits run, they follow a zig-zag motion with the help of their tail. Moreover, the white underside of the rabbit’s tail leaves the predator confused.
The animal trying to hunt the rabbit focuses on its tail instead of its body.
Dirk Semmann was a biologist at the Gottingen University. He based his research on the tails of wild rabbits. He discovered that a wild rabbit knows how to conceal the tail under its fur. The white underside is what attracts predators and rabbits use this feature to their advantage.
When the animal makes a quick turn, the predator becomes clueless. Watch your bunny play and you’ll notice that when it’s making a sharp turn, the tail always goes in the opposite direction.
Rabbits are territorial animals. Whenever they sense danger, they use their tails to alert other rabbits.
When you spot a rabbit flashing the white of its tail, know that it’s the bunny’s way of signaling. The poor animal does this as it thinks danger is approaching.
They also use their hind legs to thump the ground to warn others in their colony. Don’t you find this habit interesting?
When its life is threatened, a rabbit is more concerned about protecting other rabbits. A bunny does not bother if the signaling techniques will grab the attention of the predator.
The tails of rabbits have several other uses that include:
- Attracting mates
- Interacting with other bunnies
- Tell the owner about its mood
- Maintaining stability or counterbalancing while moving
Rabbit tail length
Now let’s find out how long a rabbit tail is.
Are bunny tails long? The Bushman’s Hare, popularly known as the Riverine Rabbit’ is a rare breed that possesses the longest tails. Its tail is so long that it can grow up to 3.2 inches.
The second longest tail belongs to the European rabbit. This breed has a bushy tail and its length can be between 1.5 inches and 3.75 inches. Some other large breeds include the Hungarian Giant, the Giant Papillion, and the British Giant.
A domestic rabbit tail length is small and it does not generally exceed 2 inches. So, even rabbits can have long tails, as opposed to the round cotton ball you see in cartoon films.
Why do rabbits have short tails?
Can you guess why rabbits naturally have short tails? Their tails are not like the long tails of dogs and cats. The stumpy tail of a rabbit works in its favor.
When chased by predators, bunnies need something that won’t be easy for the predator to grab.
As the tail is stumpy, the rabbit can easily slip through the attacker’s grip. But if the tail is long, the predator will easily catch onto it and drag the prey down. So, the scut is immensely useful for wild rabbits and other animals with scuts.
As explained already, the tail of a rabbit is not as short as you think. Yes, they are shorter than the tails of dogs and cats, but they are bigger than what you notice at one glimpse.
Lesser-known facts about rabbit tails
Here is all you need to know those fluffy balls of cotton that rabbits have!
Tails of rabbits can be hairless
Losing fur is common if a bunny suffers from parasite infestation, skin disorders, dermatitis, or alopecia. In such cases, the fur on a rabbit’s tail tends to fall out completely or become patchy. When you notice something like this, don’t ignore it. Offer proper treatment after consulting a vet.
A rabbit’s tail may not always be white
It is a misconception that all rabbits have white tails, but this isn’t true. White the white color is common, domesticated rabbits can have tails in other shades.
All wild rabbits are born with tails that come with a white underside. If you see bunnies with totally gray, black, and brown tails, these are the outcomes of genetic selection.
A rabbit’s tail is not shaped like a cotton ball or a pom-pom ball
Contrary to people’s beliefs, a rabbit’s tail does not resemble a pom-pom. It is not shaped like a fuzzy ball either.
In reality, it appears like a spade that has rounded ends. Then why does it look like a cotton ball?
That’s because when it is not a long tail rabbit, the tail may seem round in shape from a distance.
It is attached to the body of the bunny in such a manner that only the tail’s tip is visible. Hence, you fail to notice that the remaining portion of the tail is tucked securely under the bunny’s belly.
A rabbit won’t die without its tail
A wild rabbit might get killed if it doesn’t have a tail, but domestic rabbits can survive without tails.
The wooly tail’s absence will not stand in the path of your pet rabbit’s survival. However, losing its tail can negatively impact a bunny’s temperament and long-term health.
So, you should not attempt to cut off your rabbit’s tail. Unless a licensed vet advices it, leave your bunny’s tail alone.
You should not pull a rabbit’s tail
Children often pull the tails of rabbits and other animals for the sake of fun. Pulling an animal’s tail is not appropriate behavior.
These are the reasons why you should not do it and stop others from doing it:
- It can cause extreme discomfort or pain to the bunny
- Just like its spine, the tail of a rabbit can be perilously fragile
- The pet rabbit might end up biting the person out of anger
- Pulling hard enough can lead to issues like breaking of the tail
- The rabbit can get seriously injured
- The bunny can lose control of its bladder or bowel movements
This explains that a rabbit’s tail is sensitive and the animal can get easily hurt. This doesn’t mean you can’t play with a rabbit.
Just refrain from touching its tail and be extremely careful when you are grooming your bunny.
Tails of rabbits don’t degenerate
If a rabbit has lost its tail due to an accident or health condition, it won’t get the tail back.
Studies have proved that once damaged, the tails of rabbits do not have degenerating qualities. Hence, all pet owners should be careful when playing with their rabbits to avoid injuries.
In case you have accidentally wounded your bunny’s scut, reach out to an experienced vet immediately.
Why do rabbits chase their tails?
Have you ever noticed your rabbit chasing its tail? What if you learned that it is indicative of boredom?
When a rabbit has nothing to do, it entertains itself by trying to catch its tail. This kind of behavior can also be because of arousal, stress, or lack of physical activity.
Note that they don’t do it intentionally and it can be due to a medical condition that might require treatment. So, if you are worried about your rabbit’s health, consulting a veterinarian is the best option.
So, the tails of rabbits are the ultimate symbol of fluffiness and cuteness. Now you also know that a rabbit tail does more than enhancing its beauty. Bunnies have highly sensitive tails and therefore, pet owners should not pull the tails.
You can witness the full length only when a rabbit is in a resting position. If you have brought home a cute rabbit bunny, this guide will help you understand rabbits better.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is a long tail an advantage for bunnies?
A long tail allows bunnies maneuver and balance themselves when running from predators. So, the longer their tail, the greater their chances of tricking the predator and escaping.
2. How long is a rabbit tail?
A rabbit tail length can vary depending on its breed. A European rabbit’s tail can be 4-8 cm long. 6.7 inches is the world’s longest rabbit tail.
3. What is the average length of a rabbit?
As rabbits are among the smallest mammals, their length can be 34-50cm/ 13-20 inches. They belong to the family Leporidae and have long ears which can grow up to 7.5 cm/ 3 inches. The average weight of a bunny ranges between 1.1 kg and 2.5 kg.