Why do rabbits have white tails?

by | Jun 28, 2017


Why would a rabbit, which is considered a delicious treat by many predators, have a white tail? Such a tail would seem to be a big disadvantage from a survival perspective. I’ve long considered this issue as I watch my dog every spring chase rabbits to no avail (on the other hand he catches a squirrel about every six weeks on average). The white bouncing tail certainly seems to make the rabbit more visible.

Research out of Germany has answered this long standing question.  The white tail causes predators to focus on the tail when chasing a rabbit.  When rabbits make sharp zig zagging turns the tail disapprears from view and predators often lose track of where the rabbit is.

The researcher tested this theory on humans playing a video game where they chased a rabbit.  Rabbits with simulated white tails had higher survival rates than those without white tails. Go figure.



  1. I’ve wondered the same thing about white tail deer. I can follow where they are running for a long time because I can see their white tail.

  2. I think there is a similar thing going on with humans.. Makes sense and clearly works….turn tail as they say

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