2

I had an old bunny and one day it disappeared, we don't know if it ran off or if it was stolen. Today we were wondering if our old bunny might still remember its name if we ever saw it again.

3

Rabbits can remember things for years. We had a rabbit 'Harmony', who we adopted from the local shelter. A couple of years later we took her to the shelter for an adopted pet gathering. Her behavior was very different then other places we have taken her. She clearly remembered the place (she did not like it).

Sadly, the there is almost no chance your rabbit is alive. See our related question Can I release my pet rabbit in the wild? and this PDF at rabbit.org

1

I searched for a scientific reference, but there is not much specific about rabbits. Rats are well observed and tested, so maybe one can transfer some findings from them.

First: "name" against "sense"

Rabbits are able to learn their name. But this is not the direct way, they remember things. They identify rabbits/persons/things by its shape, sound and its smell. So I assume they would remember the shape, sound and smell of their owners for a longer time than the sound of their names.

Second: "active memory" against "association memory"

I assume rabbits have like other "elopement animals" (animals who run away to keep alive) a strong associating memory. There is not time to remember and reflect if you sit face to face to a predator! Horses are here well observed. They remember things (not only, but almost) just if they are confronted with same circumstances. They do not see in the future "if I led to the parking place there will be the hated transporter" or likewise. They remember the bad memory about last transport not until they stay at the same place as in this memory, and than act immediately (for example run away), to owners surprise.

So I came to the conclusion, the memory that will remain at last about its owner would be something like a ritual from formerly life, connected with shape/smell/sound of the owner.

How long this memory will remain, I can not assume. But I have read some stories about "owner recognition" after the period of one year.

  • +1 This seems like a well researched answer. Can you add links to some of the references you uses? – James Jenkins May 2 at 8:13
  • Like I wrote in the first sentence: I had no luck to find some sources about rabbits. The knowledge about horses came from some books from Monty Roberts and Andrea Kutsch. The "learn their name" comes from this Question from Reddit and "smell, shape and sound" from the "rabbits for beginners" book from the pet shop – Allerleirauh May 2 at 9:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.