8

If you search for "rabbit herding sheep" you will find multiple links on YouTube and to news organizations like CBS showing a cute little brown (dwarf?) bunny, herding a small flock of sheep.

The flocking behavior of sheep is well known so there is no surprise that they stay together when chased.

Are there any known habits or behaviors of pet rabbits that would make this a semi natural event?

Presumably if it is semi natural behavior, it could be recreated with little difficulty. If not then this is one very special little bunny.

  • I do have a rabbit (or two) that would be good canidates for herder, if anyone lives within a couple hundered miles of Pittsburgh and has some sheep that have been herded by a dog... – James Jenkins Dec 13 '13 at 20:13
  • It is a learned behavior. Some rabbits, especially the larger ones, are pretty smart. – user9 Dec 14 '13 at 5:19
6

Rabbits by nature are actually quite pushy creatures (especially before they are fixed). Most rabbit owners have likely experienced a rabbit raming the owners leg in an attempt to clear a more direct path or move the owner of it's "territory", or had a rabbit shove a food bowl at them in an attempt to get fed.

Rabbits also happen to be extremely social, and from my observations seem to have proportionally higher number of mirror neurons than other animals (mirror neurons are what cause you to subconsciously smile when someone else smiles at you); if one rabbit starts grooming it self, others that see it can't help but do the same. For rabbits, this mirroring easily crosses the species barrier and all one needs to do to experience this is to comb their hair or apply lotion in-front of a rabbit, and it will immediately start to groom it self.

Thus a rabbit exposed to a non-threatening sheep herding dog will likely "learn" to herd sheep in a short amount of time as is pushy and mirroring instincts kick in.

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