Here’s another animal not acting at all how I would expect it to. I love surprises, but this one turned out horribly.
Usually bunnies are nervous little creatures. So, how is this rabbit so relaxed that he can soak in the sink, spread eagled like a cocksure cowboy?
The truth is actually quite shocking. The owner of this rabbit obviously has no idea, and thinks the rabbit is loving it. There is a reason you never see rabbits reclining on their backs relaxing like you might see a cat or dog doing. They truly are more nervous creatures, and this rabbit is actually trancing, a.k.a. scared stiff.
Trancing turns out to be very bad for bunnies.
Some people call it hypnotizing, or bunny bliss. It sounds weird, but it’s a thing.
Here are the facts.
- Trancing is a state a rabbit will go into, better described as a combination of extreme fear and playing dead.
- This happens when a rabbit is forced to lie on its back. It’s a last resort instinct to escape a predator.
- During this time it’s eyes will close and limbs will go limp. A predator may then relax its grip on the “dead” rabbit, giving it a chance to flee.
- Because the rabbit is in an instinctual state of extreme fear, the heart rate and stress levels will be high.
- Rabbits can actually die from fear in this state, if it goes on too long.
- Scientists call it Tonic Immobility, or TI.
- People have been doing this to their pet rabbits thinking they like it and have fallen asleep—not knowing that the bunny is scared stiff.
Editors note on April 1, 2015: When we first published this story, we thought it was a cute and curious bunny moment, but rabbit lovers quickly pointed out that this was dangerous for the rabbit, and prompted further research, which resulted in the amended version of the article warning about the health risks involved.