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2006-35

Dear Reba Rabbit

Do rabbits have poor vision? Sometimes Roscoe, my rabbit, doesn’t seem to recognize me.

Reba Responds

We rabbits don’t have the same vision you humans have, but ours works well for us.

We see best in dim light – an advantage for wild rabbits, because they are most active at dawn and dusk. In bright light, you look grainy to us.

We’re farsighted, which helps us recognize predators before they get near. When you’re close to us, you look blurry.

We have a small blind spot in front of the nose and below the chin, so we can’t see a treat placed there.

Another difference between us is our depth perception.
You humans have good depth perception – which makes you successful predators – because both your eyes face forward, and their visual fields overlap.

On the other hand, my wild ancestors were prey animals, so survival depended on spotting danger coming from any direction.

That’s why we rabbits evolved eyes on both sides of the head, giving us a field of vision of almost 360 degrees.
However, because our visual fields do not overlap, we have poor depth perception.

We make up for it by interpreting subtle clues, just as you humans do when you watch television.

For instance, we perceive a larger object to be closer than a smaller one.

We rabbits have one more technique to determine distance: head bobbing.

When I bob my head up and down, objects close to me appear to move more than distant objects.

So you see, Roscoe probably recognizes you more by your shape, movement and voice than the details of your face.

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