A group of scientists is conducting a study about how rabbits and humans communicate with one another. Focusing largely in the UK, they hope that a greater understanding of people’s and bunny’s personalities will help stem the problem of rabbits being given up by their owners.
Here are details, as reported by Steven McKenzie of the BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands.
UK-based James Oxley and Switzerland’s Dr Elodie Briefer are working with a professor in Italy to try to better understand the significance of people talking to their pets.
Dr Briefer, an expert on animal behaviour, has an interest in how birds and mammals use vocal signals to send out information about their species, body size, age, dominance status and mood.
In collaboration with Mr Oxley, she has produced a questionnaire for rabbit owners.
Questions include how often do they talk to their pet and the tone they use, for example is it similar to the way people might speak to infants.
Other questions ask whether people have their rabbits with them while they relax in front of the TV, whether they believe talking to rabbits calms them down when they are stressed and how intelligent they think the animals are.
Mr Oxley said: “There is currently very little research which explores the area of human personality and what impact this has on views and interactions – talking and stroking – with companion animals other than dogs.
“Therefore, we decided to attempt to design a brief questionnaire which investigates this in both cats and rabbits.”
“We think that research could help understand how people and animal personality may aid in areas such as re-homing cats and rabbits with matching human-animal personalities.
“Understanding human personalities and views may also aid in a stronger human-animal bond.”
Re-homing of rabbits is a major issue for the SSPCA and an area of concern being highlighted during the charity’s week-long campaign.
The complete article is available online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-23005271
At Hoppington Post, we suspect that the people who spend the most amount of time interacting with their rabbits, both vocally and physically, are the ones who are least likely to abandon them, whereas families that keep bunnies locked away in cages or pens most of the time have less regard for their pets and would be more likely to surrender them.
We look forward to seeing the results of this study.
Photo by Msmornington