Did you know it’s all thanks to French monks in the 5th century that we can welcome rabbits into our homes as pets? Sophie Taylor guides us through a few facts you might not have known already about our bunny buddies.
No sick days
Due to the physiology of the rabbit’s digestive system, they are unable to vomit. Unfortunately, this can lead to serious problems ingesting fur, called wool block.
Their digestion can then slow if their diet is low in fibre. It is a common problem however that your vet will know how to prevent and treat.
Do the monk hop
During the 5th century, in the idyllic Champagne region of North East France, hungry Catholic monks found they couldn’t keep fish within the monastery for eating during Lent.
Pope Gregory I conveniently declared that baby rabbits were in fact fish which could then be raised and domesticated within the monastery walls.
Kept in a controlled environment, the rabbits were then selectively bred for size, shape and markings for the first time.
When stressed or excited, your rabbit’s nose can twitch up to 120 times a minute. They will also shed their hair if they are anxious or not comfortable with you holding them.
This is a survival method that helps them to slip free from predators.
If you’re wondering why your bunny manages to jumps away as you approach it’s all down to their crafty eyes. Rabbits cannot see directly in front, but can see behind them helping them seek out any danger.
They also sleep with their eyes open for similar reasons, but it certainly doesn’t look relaxing.
A giant leap for bunny-kind
Image via Japanese Mythology
In East Asian, Chinese and Japanese mythology, the markings seen on the moon’s surface represent a rabbit grinding herbs with pestle and mortar.
It is referenced in films, music and literature such a magical moon rabbit in Watership Down and English experimental rock band Happy Graveyard Orchestra’s song, The Moon Rabbit.
Just before the first Moon landing of 1969, the rabbit was discussed in a conversation between Houston and the Apollo 11 crew:
Houston: "Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, is one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-O has been living there for 4,000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported."
Michael Collins: "Okay. We'll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl."