Hopping is locomotive means for rabbits from one place to another. Unlike human beings who walk, they “hop using a gallop-style gait, during which the back paws land together in pairs forward of and outside of the front paws.”  They do this when moving rapidly or slowly.
Why do rabbits hop?
Bunnies use this way of movement due to some of their body muscular and skeletal system adaptations that make this mode of movement the most suited one.
It is their natural way to move from one place to another and some of these adaptational features include the following:
A spine with elongated abdominal bones
The elongated abdominal bones that their spine has enables them to compress as well as flex strongly as they bound. Without this, they will not be able to hop.
Long powerful hind legs
They have long and powerful hind legs as opposed to front ones to give them the thrust and forward push to enable them to move both slowly and very fast as well as make a very long jump (leap forward).
While in the wild “rabbits can easily leap almost four feet into the air and nearly 10 feet forward in a single bound”  However, most domestic and wild bunnies can jump up to two feet. Therefore, making a fence that is about three feet is sufficient to keep these animals away from areas you do not want them to go to.
Most of the length of their back legs is below the knee (on fibula and tibia bones) and has extremely powerful muscles attached to these bones and the femur.
Rabbits can run as fast as 50 miles per hour to escape from their predators. Besides being able to move fast, they will hop and dash in a zig-zag manner to confuse predators pursuing them as well as make it harder for their pursuer to follow their scent.
Besides helping them to hop, the long powerful legs are used for defensive purposes, i.e., to kick as well as send a signal to other rabbits of a threat they have sensed, seen or heard by stomping or thumping their hind legs.
A light skeleton
Their lightweight skeleton which is only 8% of their body weight as opposed to cats that have about 12% if same sized. This lesser skeletal weight makes hoping to be much easier and they can hop from the ground, gain speed and agility within a short time.
We have looked at some of the reasons why rabbits hop instead of walking like human beings or other animals. However, it is worthwhile to note that they have a very delicate and fragile back which can break easily.
Therefore, when handling them, do it carefully since while struggling to escape especially as they kick with their powerful hind legs, they can at times fracture their spinal vertebrae.
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