Don't Try to Stare a Rabbit Down (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Wed, 09 Feb 2005

Don't Try to Stare a Rabbit Down

We went for a short hike at RSA this afternoon. A flash of blue swooped showily past us and disappeared into the grass of the field ("What was what? that didn't look like a jay"), emerging half a minute later, a western bluebird with a big fat worm in its bill.

We saw the first wild turkeys of the year, a big flock of about ten. Some hikers scared them and they decided to cross the stream, but they did it in a very orderly fashion, one by one and single file. Obviously there was a wrenching conflict in the turkey psyche between not wanting to get one's feet wet, versus flying being a lot of work. So each turkey would trot down the slope to the stream, jump just before reaching the bottom, flap two or three times, land in the water then splash/trot the last couple steps to the far bank. Then the next turkey in line would follow the same procedure.

The last two turkeys said "Aw, to heck with it!" and trotted straight down the slope, getting wet feet.

Up the hill on the farm bypass trail, we came to a place where the grass was, evidently, greener. We saw one brush rabbit, then another, then a third, then a fourth, then some kind of mouse who vanished as soon as it spotted us (the rabbits were less concerned). We watched the fourth rabbit for quite a while as it munched the grass, and Dave noticed that it never blinked. Was it blinking too fast for a human to see, or do rabbits, somehow, not blink?

So I checked with Suzi. She says she's never caught her pet rabbit, Scamper, blinking -- and Scamper sleeps with both eyes open.

Dana found the answer. Rabbits apparently only blink once every six minutes. It's in the oddly titled study, Proliferation Rate of Rabbit Corneal Epithelium during Overnight Rigid Contact Lens Wear. Though I'm fairly sure the rabbit we saw on the trail was not wearing contact lenses.

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[ 21:36 Feb 09, 2005    More nature | permalink to this entry ]