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Beige Alert!
Easily distracted by shiny things
Bunny Savvy / holes in the floor 
2014-07-09 19:44
Recently I've been seeing little rabbits while out cycling. I'm pretty sure these are not members of a species of small rabbits, but rather regular rabbits who are still young. I say this partly because I don't see any little rabbits in winter, mostly because these little rabbits have no escape-savvy whatsoever.

Big bunnies, when they see me coming, immediately disappear into the tall grass. These little guys, they run directly down the center of the paved trail in the exact same direction I am traveling. It turns out, the top speed of a small rabbit is right around 22km/hr, plus or minus a few. After a few tens of meters, they realize that this is not working and veer off into the tall grass and vanish. In a few months, bigger rabbits will just vanish off to the side right away. I think those are the exact same bunnies, a few months older, bigger, and having finally learned something that seems obvious but evidently isn't.

Before you think, wow, rabbits are dumb, think back to the things you did in high school. You were really stupid, weren't you! I know I was! My classmates will all remember "I came here to work with the best kids in the state, and here you are burning holes in the floor!" That was us! Now that we're all 42 or 43 or so, it never enters our minds to burn an anarchy symbol into a carpet, but back then we were apparently as dumb as juvenile rabbits.
2014-07-10 01:58 (UTC)
I will make the case that as a first approximation, their initial reaction is optimal. They live by out-sprinting predators, and they want to sprint the same direction the predator is going because if they're off at an angle, the predator's speed to catch them is reduced by cos(angle). (we're assuming radians here.)
So, what they have to learn is that bikes aren't going to kill them but are going to go faster than them.
2014-07-10 12:34 (UTC)
My impression is that rodents and rodent-like animals don't ever learn to distinguish vehicles from other threats. I think it's just that the strategy of hiding takes longer to learn than running.

Turkeys, on the other hand ... They'll just cross the street at leisure, knowing that cars recognize them as a superior life form and will stop for them. This doesn't always work.
2014-07-10 13:32 (UTC)
It still beats what deer do, which is jump from a position of complete safety off the road directly to their deaths (and possibly some other deaths) in traffic.

Based on cycling down the hill past the off-leash dog park, where the dogs like to run along the fence barking at me (because dog!), dogs can run a lot faster than I've seen the little rabbits run.
2014-07-10 14:18 (UTC)
I'm a fast rider: I can generally hold 40k and for short distances get up into the mid-50's. There's a dog park in Boulder that runs beside a bike path for nearly a kilometer, and I was blazing by it at pretty high speeds. All the dogs came running over to try to race me and they dropped off pretty quickly, all except a greyhound that accelerated to my speed, looked over at me, and I swear it grinned, and then took off. I'm guessing it was over 60k. Just, vroom.
2014-07-10 06:18 (UTC) - bunny furr
reach for something that you can't see
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