Bunnies, like most animals that are typically active when it’s dark, have long coarse hairs protruding from their face around their nose. You’ll notice they are pliable and they serve a very important purpose for a bunny.
Whiskers serve a vital purpose for bunnies. They help measure openings to burrows or other holes to see if the rest of the body can fit. The pliable characteristic of whiskers means they bend easily and don’t make any sound when feeling out space in the dark allowing them to steer clear of any predators.
Whiskers are just one part of a bunny’s ability to perceive space. While the eyes are used to navigate through sight, depth perception can be an issue. That is why whiskers are important for navigating closed spaces.
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Why Do Bunnies Have Whiskers?
Because a bunny’s eyes are placed near the sides of their heads, they have a blind spot right in front of their noses. You may notice this if you place a treat down on the floor or in their bowl right in front of them but they don’t know it’s there until they nudge it with their nose or smell it.
Their whiskers work as one of their five senses. Touch. Like you would walk around in the dark with your arms out in front of you to feel the walls or cupboards you can’t see, bunnies do the same but with their whiskers. Their blind spot from their sight is covered through their sense of touch by their whiskers.
To do this, sensory nerves are located on the follicle end of the whisker so they are extra sensitive to touch. They are approximately the same length as your bunny is wide allowing them to know if they can pass through an opening or not.
Once a whisker touches a surface, the bunny is able to figure out where the object or surface is and it’s texture and size.
Whiskers around the nose and mouth or a bunny aren’t the only whiskers present. There are also whiskers that act as eyebrows that are also touch-sensitive.
Just like in humans, they protect the eyes from dust and other small particles. They also protect the eyes from obstacles near their head. If you go to pet your bunny on the head, you’ll see they close their eyes. This is part of their protective mechanism.
How Many Whiskers Does A Bunny Have?
On average, bunnies have approximately 100 whiskers around their nose and mouth. These are all different lengths in order to orientate space and guide the bunny through spaces of any size.
The way whiskers are arranged is not random. In fact, whiskers are ordered in a grid format with long whiskers at the back and shorter whiskers at the front .
Can I Trim My Bunny’s Whiskers?
You should never trim a bunny’s whiskers as they are important tools used as part of their senses to navigate. However, you may accidentally trim them if you are doing some bunny fur maintenance on a very fluffy bunny. No problem, they will grow back.
Do Bunnies Whiskers Grow Back?
If you accidentally trim your bunny’s whiskers, they will grow back. But what if their whiskers fall out or are accidentally removed? Generally, they will grow back unless there is an underlying condition.
Severe or chronic loss of whiskers is very rare. However, some health issues can cause abnormal fur and whisker loss .
Several different kinds of mites can cause ear and skin problems. Fur mites look like dandruff and in more severe cases, fur may start falling out causing bald patches and whisker loss. Flea infestation can cause itching so bad your bunny scratches their own fur off and potentially the fur and whiskers around their nose.
Teeth issues can cause a bunny to drool. Bunny saliva is caustic so it burns the skin making the wet area under the chin and around the mouth itchy and sore. Eventually, this causes the fur and whiskers to fall out.
Bunnies that live in humid climates are prone to bacterial infections as the moisture sits in the fur, causing the skin to become crumbly.
This is a rare condition but can possibly cause fur and whisker loss in bunnies. You won’t know if this is a cause until you’ve had your bunny checked out by a vet.
Fighting With Other Bunnies
If you have more than one bunny, they may fight at some point in time. Fighting will cause loss of fur and whiskers and likely breaking of whiskers.
If your bunny is showing any signs of the above problems, then take them to the vet immediately to have them treated.
What To Do With Whiskers With Split Ends?
You may notice some of your bunny’s whiskers that have split ends. Your first reaction may be to trim them but they are something you shouldn’t worry about. Eventually, the whiskers with split ends will shed and new ones will grow back.