Are Rabbits Smart?


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Not sure if you can litter train the rabbits? Or make them play games? Wondering if rabbits can be taught tricks? Or whether they will respond if you name them? All of these questions can be answered with an answer to a single question: Is my pet rabbit smart enough to learn new things? So let’s find out are rabbits intelligent? If yes, then how smart are they?

Are Rabbits Intelligent Animals?

Yes, rabbits are quite intelligent creatures. They can be trained for a lot of things. They can be made to learn tricks and games. They do listen and respond to human words. The rabbit’s intelligence is comparable to other animals. All of these aspects are discussed in detail below.

What Can Rabbits Learn?

Now its time to answer how smart are rabbits? Can they solve problems on their own? Can you make them learn the rules? Can you play games with them? and above all, can you train them?

Can Learn Their Name

Rabbit lovers won’t let their bunny wander around the house without any name. In fact, naming a new pet is something we all enjoy and are happy about. But what’s the purpose of naming a bunny? Will he respond to you every time you call him by his name?

Yes, these little animals are clever enough to learn their names. Every time you approach your bunny with food, another treat, or a toy, call out his name. He will become habitual to listening to that name. As you only call him when you bring him something, his mind will automatically click that you have bought him a treat or something next time. It is also a way of strengthening the bonding between rabbits and humans.

Can Learn Games and Tricks

One can train bunnies to play games. Choose games that involve actions similar to their natural instinct, like hopping and running. Choose a large area for playing, like a backyard or a garden. Come down to the ground level so that you can interact more with him.

Before playing, say, “Hey, (rabbit’s name), let’s play.” This small sentence will serve three purposes in reality. Firstly, he will know its playtime. Secondly, he will become accustomed to his name. Last but not least, he will get used to some human words.

To check out his intelligence, don’t put his life in danger. Like, don’t ask him to jump off heights. He has delicate bones and might end up breaking them. Similarly, avoid games in which there might be a loud thud or anything with a loud noise. Rabbits are afraid of noises.

Besides playing with him, you can give him toys or make some exciting objects for him, like a huge box with holes cut out in the middle. Rabbit would love jumping through the hole, across the box.

Don’t force him if you think the rabbit is not responding well and is reluctant to play. He might be exhausted or sick. Visit a vet in case of any doubt to keep the rabbit healthy.

Can Be Litter Trained

Rabbits can be given litter training. Training a baby bunny for using a litter box is more beneficial so that when he becomes an adult, he will become more firm in his habit. But one can train a rabbit of any age.

All you need is a litter tray. Fill the lower part with pellets and use hay to make the bedding above. Rabbit’s favorite hay is preferable as it will encourage him to use the litter box—place in the corner of the cage where he used to excrete most of the time. Move the litter tray to that corner if he starts excreting waste elsewhere.

Tip: When rabbits become mature sexually, its better to neuter or spay them first. Un-neutered rabbit has a habit of marking his territory by chining or urinating. It will be difficult to give him litter training, and he can end up urinating around the entire home.

Can Groom Themselves

Rabbits are very clean animals as they constantly groom themselves. They wipe their body with their tongue. They lick their toes and wipe them over other body parts. They also bring their ears down to lick them off. This licking makes the coat look shiny. Whenever the fur overgrows, rabbits pull it out. All these actions show that rabbits are smart enough to keep themselves clean. Though humans do not give this training, they are coached by the nature.

With that being said, you don’t even need to bathe the bunnies. In fact, bathing can make them panic.

How to Train a Rabbit?

In order to be a proud mom of bunnies, you must know the key that will always help with the house training of the rabbit. Always instruct him through positive reinforcement. It includes giving him his favorite treats when he completes a given task. If you ordered him to bring something, and he does so, just feed him with a sweet treat, like banana bites, slices of apples, or a few blueberries. If you keep him feeding sweets two to three times, he will start practicing that act to get rewarded. Even if you stop feeding him, he will keep going just in the hope to get some sweet treat. You can use his favorite hay for the bedding and some toys to chew on during his rest time. Other than chewable toys, give him wooden toys to play with.

Even if the rabbit fails to accomplish the assigned task, never ever scold him, let alone smacking him. Bunnies get scared easily. Instead of bonding with you, they can distance themselves from you. They will see you as no less than a wild predator. These innocent souls are intelligent enough to learn human emotions. Your anger might end up ruining your bond with the bunny. If you want to stop him from doing something silly in the house, just say NO in a loud, firm voice. Your rabbit will soon become accustomed to this NO and will not repeat its actions.

Are Pet Rabbits Smarter Than Wild Rabbits?

We can’t compare wild and domestic rabbits at the same level. Both of them are smart in their own way. However, rabbits are prey animals and almost all the time have the fear of being chased and eaten away by the predators. Rabbits in the wild have more capability to run faster and escape the predators as they have no other option to survive. But pet bunnies feel safe with their owners after some time, and most of them forget how to escape the predator. Just leave a pet rabbit in the wild, and it will be preyed upon by other animals in no time.

On the other hand, pet rabbits can be trained for excreting their pellets in a litter tray. They can learn tricks and games and a lot of other things. Wild rabbits don’t have the instinct to learn any of these. Try bringing a wild bunny home; he will pee around the home and won’t listen to you. Similarly, pet rabbits sometimes get attached to other pet animals like cats and dogs, but wild breeds will never bond with them. They will think of them as their predators for their whole life.

Are Rabbits Smarter Than Cats?

Rabbits’ and cats’ intelligence is comparable. In many aspects, they have got the same level of smartness. For example, a rabbit can learn almost all a cat’s tricks. But still, there are some points that can never be compared. For example, rabbits are of quiet nature; you can’t make them meow. Similarly, cats might not be able to acquire the amazing body language as that of rabbits.

Another major difference in their intelligence is from the ecological point of view. A cat and a rabbit relationship is that of a predator and prey. Cats hunt and have learned all the tricks gradually to capture prey. On the other hand, rabbits escape; they have learned almost all the tricks to dodge their predators. Both of them have adapted themselves in their own way to fit into the definition of the “Survival of the fittest.”

Are Rabbits Smarter Than Dogs?

Both the dogs and the rabbits are smart enough to be trained. But their level of training differs. As discussed above, in the case of the cat, you are not going to make the rabbit bark compared to your dog. However, you can teach him some things in similar, like asking him to bring a ball, ordering him to lay low or stand up, or making him respond to his name.

Having a pet dog as well as a pet bunny at the same time will make you realize that rabbits need more mental stimulation to remain active and smart. Like they always want a reward after accomplishing a task or at least a pat as a sign of encouragement. But dogs don’t always demand rewards. Instead, they will accomplish the task and act like nothing much has happened.

Which Rabbit Breed Is Considered the Smartest?

Every rabbit owner thinks he has the smartest animal on the Earth. However, rabbits’ intelligence varies from breed to breed. Some rabbit breeds are docile enough to follow their owners without a second thought; on the other hand, there are breeds that won’t listen to their owners and do naughty (yet cute) things. The Continental Giant turns out to be very intelligent and learns things pretty fast. If you teach a Mini Lop, you will get to know that it is gentle and very clever. Netherland dwarf is considered quite an intelligent bunny. Both the new and the expert owners seem to love him for no reason at all. Holland Lop and Harlequin can’t be taken out of the list.

Belgian hare is smart, curious, and an extremely active rabbit. Yes, a rabbit, though he has hare in its name, don’t consider him a different species. He is a result of the cross of two different rabbit breeds.

Besides the breed, individual rabbits differ in their level of smartness. Each rabbit has a unique personality and a unique level of smartness. Some rabbits have got more intelligence in their genes as compared to others.

Do Rabbits Understand Human Words?

Don’t you see those large bunny ears? They are definitely for listening. Not only do these little animals listen to their owners, but also understand certain words. For example, saying a firm NO every time he does something stupid will refrain him from doing these silly acts in the future. Similarly, saying “come” and “go” while actioning with your hands will make him understand these specific actions. Later on, you can check if he has learned these words or not by saying out loud these words from some distance and noticing if he obeys you or not.

Do Rabbits Respond to Human Words?

Without any doubt, rabbits won’t answer back in human language, but they will definitely respond in their body language. Most rabbits show similar signs, but there’s always room for exceptions. For example, a happy bunny will have a lot of energy (especially after eating food) and can be seen binkying around the house. Sometimes, the rabbit lays down with a relaxed body posture when happy and content. On the other hand, if a rabbit is angry with you (either you had not fed him or ignored him when he wanted attention and love), he starts thumping or nipping. Raised tail and ears turned sideways, or backward are also signs of aggression.

Downsides of rabbit intelligence

Rabbits are social animals. They live in groups and have a hierarchy among them. A doe is dominant among all the members most of the time. Though this behavior is often seen in the rabbits living in the wild, this instinct is also present in the pets. A single rabbit becomes bored easily and seeks attention all the time. He will get jealous of a human child getting more love than him. He can also get jealous of your partner. Loneliness and boredom can make him aggressive, so pet store owners always advise buying a pair of bunnies instead of one because they observe this behavior every single day.


Rabbits are intelligent animals. One can teach them their name, some games, and tricks. Rabbits groom themselves or get the litter training show they are clever enough. Reward them with treats and toys at the end of the training session. Treat them with love. They need mental stimulation to remain clever and smart. Their smartness is similar to that of cats and dogs. Rabbits become used to human language gradually and respond with their body language.

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