Everyone knows that rabbits can jump. Although it's common knowledge, sometimes seeing a particularly impressive one can make you wonder just how high can a rabbit jump? What most don't realize is how much they can learn from this habit. It's a sign of their energy, a show of their happiness, and a defense mechanism too. There’s so much to learn about rabbit jumping!
Why Do Rabbits Jump?
To understand this quirk, we have to get to know their feet first.
While no rabbit lover likes the thought behind the lucky rabbit’s foot being used by gamblers and as car charms, rabbits undoubtedly benefit the most from it. Rabbit feet are strong and powerful, especially their hindlegs. When you’ve got feet as powerful as theirs, why walk?
Their powerful feet are also their way of communicating. One example of this is when they’re out gathering food and see a predator from far off. Instead of running back right away, rabbits first thump the ground as a warning. They also thump the ground when they’re displeased.
To express pleasure, rabbits jump around! This action is called a binky and only happens when they feel particularly safe, happy, and excited. You’ll know when a rabbit binkies when it jumps and twists around in mid-air, often landing back clumsily on the ground. A binkying rabbit is a great reflection of rabbit caregivers.
In the wild, rabbit predators are fast animals coming from all sides. Owls, eagles, foxes, feral cats, and wild dogs all rely on running to their prey in the fastest way possible. Their jumping power helps make them harder to catch, rabbits escape in a zigzag pattern at up to 18 mph, to constantly change their predator’s trajectory. Their powerful feet propel them in strong leaps and jumps to safety and is essential for their survival.
Rabbit Jumping, Hopping, and Leaping
Now that the strength of their feet has been established, what are the actual statistics? Luckily, the height of their jumps and the length of their leaps are all known factors, although it does differ from rabbit to rabbit.
In a domestic setting, rabbits tend to hop around calmly. Even in the wild, on the off chance that an untamed rabbit doesn’t notice you, they’ll be hopping around to gather what they need. It looks cute and is guaranteed to drive out a few coos from nearby children. However, just because they spend most of their time hopping, it doesn’t mean that their jumping and leaping abilities have slacked off.
Vertical jump height depends on how they were raised and on their weight. Domestic rabbits, who tend to be heavier and exercise their hind leg less often, can jump up to three feet high, with two feet being the average.
Wild rabbits tend to jump higher out of necessity. They’re known to be able to jump up as high as four feet tall— taller than some fences! This is because they tend to have leaner bodies and more exercised hind legs. This makes sense considering that these still use their legs to survive and run (or, more appropriately, jump) away from anyone hunting them.
Rather than jumping vertically, rabbits jump horizontally more often. Their horizontal jumps, also known as leaps, are not to be ignored. In one push off the ground, rabbits can lead forward up to nine feet away!
Unfortunately for many rabbit owner’s hearts, they not only jump up and jump forward, they also enjoy jumping off of things. Rabbits simply enjoy having a high vantage point. Even as members of the family, rabbits often relish in climbing things to satisfy their curiosity, and in response to their instincts.
This can be dangerous for them, especially if they roam around unsupervised. Their nature takes control and positions their body to land on their feet. That said, if you have a rabbit exploring your home, it’s best to ensure them with a soft landing using carpets, blankets, and even pillows.
If there are dog shows and horse shows, it’s only natural that rabbits have on too! Inspired by horse jumping, rabbit shows also feature show jumping, called Kaninhop.
This started in Sweden during the 1970s and has steadily grown in popularity in Europe and North America. Rabbits, often strapped with leashes and harnesses, are led around an obstacle course where they’ll be guided through each stage until the end. There are several courses with varying levels of difficulty, many of which require the rabbits to jump at a minimum height level.
Rabbit contestants have to go through four rounds of an obstacle course for judges to determine the winner. They’ll have to go through rails, barricades, ramps, and, of course, jumps. There are straight and crooked courses, as well as long and high-jump categories.
To get there, their owners will usually train them with positive affirmations. Rabbits are extremely intelligent creatures and these obstacle courses are a great way for them to burn off their energy as well. Rather than needing extensive training beforehand, these are activities that rabbits enjoy doing. The most important thing is for them to be guided through the right obstacle courses.
Kaninhop winners are the ones who showcased the highest level of agility, courage, and determination.
For some reference of what competition is like, the highest jump a rabbit has done in the competition is 39.2 in tall (just a little over three feet tall). For long jumps, the rabbit record measures almost 10 feet long (9 ft. 9.6 in to be exact). Both of these are long-standing records in the Guinness Book of World Records, since 1997 and 1999, respectively.
If you thought watching dogs and horses do a show was enchanting, just wait until you see rabbits in action!
Other Happy Rabbit Signs
The news that jumping, or binkying if we want to be specific, is a good sign of rabbit health, both in the physical and emotional sense. If this fact came as a surprise to you, it might be good to learn about other ways rabbits show their happiness.
Binkying is often accompanied by the Bunny 500. This is what it’s called when rabbits zoom around the room in explosive bursts of speed. Now and then, they’ll do a binky before running around again. This shows extreme excitement over something, be it a new toy, some treats, or when they see you returning home.
When people flop onto their beds, they usually feel worn out and tired. With rabbits, it's a different case. Flopping, for them, is a sign of extreme contentment and safety. This is their usual position as they rest and relax. It’s also a sign of vulnerability and trust since this position gets them off of their feet, which is their strongest defense against any danger. Flopping to the ground is the rabbit version of letting their guard down.
When rabbits put their faces near you by purring, licking your face, and rubbing their chin or nose on you, they’re trying to say they enjoy your presence. These actions signify them bonding with you and can also be an expression of curiosity, all of which are great behaviors to encourage.
If the rabbits start thumping their feet on the ground, making loud and aggressive noises, or digging and kicking up dirt, this could signify their displeasure. If you observe these in your rabbit, there might be a need to change the environment or switch up the way you are caring for it.
It’s no secret that rabbits like jumping but it’s less known why they do it so often. Hopefully, this has helped clear up some misunderstandings.
Next time you see them hopping, take it as a good sign of your care. When it’s time to repair or build new fences to keep them from wandering away from your property, make sure to build it at least three feet tall!
Now that you know all this, time to hop to it and do what you need to do! That's all folks!
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