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Recently in chat Matt s. posted a link to this short gif

http://i.imgur.com/98DlknV.gif

Descritpion

A black and white dutch rabbit goes up to a hurdle with 4 bars, removes the second cross bar up with her mouth and walks through the hurdle, carrying the cross bar. She does not knock any of the other cross bars off. She carries the cross bar to the end of the runway and places it to the side, next to another spare bar laying on the floor.

The problem solving concepts implied here are huge.

  1. I don't want to jump over the hurdle, but I have to go straight ahead (there is a person behind the bunny) can I move one of those bars?
  2. Ok now I have a bar in my mouth, can I get through here without getting bonked on the head by the rest?
  3. I know the person is going to make me run down this runway, again, where can I put this so it is out of the way?

So how much of this is happenstance and how much is reasoning? How smart are rabbits?

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You can observe the rabbit's actions, but not its intent. Your interpretation of what happens assumes a lot more intelligence than necessary.

  1. We can observe the rabbit removed the bar, but there is not enough evidence to conclude that it did so in order to avoid jumping over the hurdle.

  2. Moving through an opening is something that many animals (even insects) can do instinctively and does not imply intelligence.

  3. We see the rabbit dropped the bar, but we cannot conclude that it did so with any thought of the future.

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    How does this answer the question "How smart are rabbits?" – James Jenkins Sep 9 '14 at 10:46
  • @JamesJenkins It addresses the more specific question: "How much of this is happenstance and how much is reasoning?" – augurar Sep 9 '14 at 16:13
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    But it does not attempt to provide an answer, it just says that "in your opinion no answer can be given". Which if that is what you to go with should probably include some references so it becomes more than just an opinion piece. – James Jenkins Sep 9 '14 at 17:26
  • I think it can be a sign of intelligence. Definition of intelligence: the ability to apply and acquire knowledge and skills. Removing the bar and moving through an opening may not seem it to US but its an acquired skill – Christy B. Aug 28 '17 at 6:45
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    @ChristyB. The point is, the OP witnessed one event, and then propopsed a theory that is consistent with the event. But for a single event, it's usually easy to propose any number of alternative theories that fit just as well. If you want to claim scientific justification for any particular theory, then you'll need to design and perform probably several experiments to test it. (P.S., If you're going to try that, you might want to set the bar a little lower (so to speak) because indisputable proofs of an animal's actual, conscious intent are mighty hard to come by.) – Solomon Slow Aug 29 '17 at 1:20
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There are a lot of people who swear their rabbits are smart as a dog.

Some training methods with rabbits you may know from dogs could flesh out this theory:

Clicker training

The sound of the clicker first will get paired with reward, for example favorite tasteful food. Then one can reward the rabbit with the clicking sound during an exercise and with food after the exercise.

Trick training

Here is the video I assume take place. For example with clicker training you can learn your rabbits actions and tricks. Like trick training by dogs there are very creative tricks.

Agility

Here the focus is more on sports side of the training. But also you can use clicker training to teach the actions.

All above mentioned methods need a good and close relationship between rabbit and owner! The rabbit should not be forced, pushed or punished to bring the actions. species appropriate is only the motivation trough rewards!

Logic games

You can build or buy the same as for dogs. One example is a board with holes. This holes are covered with flaps, caps and pusher gates. You give in some of the favorite food, close them and let your rabbit solve the opening.

Conclusion

Because there are a lot of well documented cases of the above mentioned activities, I follow up the theory, that rabbits could be smart as dogs. (But because they are smaller in most cases and are not predators, they do not act in the same ways like dogs do.)

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  • I normally compare rabbits to horses for trainability and smarts. Anything you can train a horse to do you can train a rabbit to do. unlike dogs, rabbits; don't fetch, and they don't track/hunt. Much of the rest you can teach to a horse or rabbit. Thought bathroom habits are more like a cat then a horse or a dog. P.S. I do appreciate you efforts to create good content about rabbits on the site :) – James Jenkins May 9 '19 at 17:15
  • I know about some rabbits who like to fetch very enthusiastic. But hunt and track are predators behavior, and so not in a rabbits possibility I think. (Good content: I assume the most amount of people on this site are from American continents. So additional perspectives for a wider range are an opportunity to learn from each other :) for example I am very interested in american predators and other circumstances, which seams to make the outdoor keeping of rabbits so frowned upon) – Allerleirauh May 9 '19 at 23:20

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