Dog whistles are named so because dogs can hear the sound they make. Humans, however, usually cannot hear this sound. But many other animals can. What about rabbits? Can rabbits hear dog whistles?
Rabbits can hear dog whistles. Dog whistles usually produce a sound between 16 kHz and 22 kHz. Rabbits are able to hear sounds up to 42 kHz. That means they can hear sounds nearly as high as dogs, for which the whistles are actually intended.
So rabbits can hear dog whistles. But there is much more interesting to know about this topic.
For example, how do rabbits react to dog whistles? Or do they react to them at all?
Dog whistles usually produce sounds in the ultrasonic range. But what is ultrasound actually?
Which frequency ranges do rabbits hear and how do they compare to humans? Or compared to other rodents or other animals?
We will answer all these questions in this article. So read on, we have some unbelievable facts for you! I was amazed when I was researching for this article.
Rabbits and Dog Whistles
Dog whistles were developed to give dogs a signal tone that we humans cannot hear. This means that the tone must be so high that it is above the human frequency range but within the frequency range of dogs.
The upper limit of frequencies audible to humans is about 20 kHz or 20,000 Hz. So a dog whistle should emit a higher tone.
Often this is the case, but there are dog owners who want to hear the sound themselves at least very faintly. Therefore, there are also dog whistles that are a little below the limit of 20 kHz.
For rabbits, it does not matter whether the sound is just below or just above 20 kHz. Their frequency spectrum extends far beyond that. At a level of 60 dB, they can hear up to 32 kHz.
But rabbits can even hear up to 42 kHz! That’s almost as high as what dogs can hear. The limit of audible frequencies for dogs is 45 kHz.
So it is clear that rabbits can also hear these special whistles. But how do rabbits react to the sound of a dog whistle?
Well, for a rabbit, the sound is part of their normal hearing range. Unlike dogs, rabbits are also not so easy and successful to train.
But you can also test it yourself once. Dog whistles are not expensive, and it could be an interesting experience to find out how your rabbits react to them.
You won’t go wrong with this dog whistle*. It works in the ultrasonic range, so you won’t be disturbed by it yourself. However, your rabbits will definitely be able to hear it. See for yourself if and how they react.
After all, the dog whistle is used to condition the dog. Just as he learns to respond to the command “down”, he also learns that the dog whistle is a kind of command.
If you try to teach a rabbit the command “down”, he will stare at you without understanding. Or he will just continue to nibble on his lettuce leaf. Even though rabbits are intelligent and can even learn commands.
It is the same with the dog whistle. For the rabbit, it is not a command, but simply a medium-high tone. Maybe he will look with interest at the source of the sound, but maybe he won’t pay attention to the sound at all.
In any case, it will not happen that your rabbit suddenly learns to play fetch just because you play something for him on the dog whistle.
You will not see any noticeable improvement in your rabbit’s training with a dog whistle. If you want to train your rabbit at all.
How Is Ultrasound Defined?
Ultrasound is the term used for frequencies above 20 kHz. This corresponds exactly to the upper limit of the frequency range that humans can hear.
Everything below 20 kHz is called infrasound. The prefix infra comes from Latin and means “below”. So it is simply the frequencies below the human frequency perception limit.
The prefix “ultra”, by the way, also comes from Latin and means something like “beyond” or “above”. So this is the sound that is above the human frequency perception limit.
But what about dog whistles? What frequency do dog whistles commonly use?
Dog whistles come in different types. Most dog whistles have a tone that is somewhere between 16 kHz and 22 kHz. So there are actually dog whistles that we humans can hear as well.
Which Frequency Range Can Rabbits Hear?
Rabbits can hear a frequency range from 360 to 42,000 Hz. For comparison, we humans hear frequencies between 16 and 20,000 Hz.
So at the low frequencies, rabbits can’t hear everything we hear. They do not hear the very low tones. However, it is quite likely that they perceive the vibrations produced by loud low sounds.
However, at the high frequencies, rabbit hearing is far superior to our hearing. Rabbits can hear more than twice as high frequencies as we can.
But this also means that marten repellers or cat repellers that work on a UItrasound basis have no business being near your rabbits.
After all, the purpose of such devices is to scare off the appropriate targets, and they do that by causing stress. And it is also causing stress to rabbits when these devices are near them.
Therefore, refrain from using these things near rabbits. As far as I know, they don’t work anyway. At least, I’ve never heard of it actually driving away from a marten or cat successfully.
Which Frequency Range Can Other Animals Hear?
Do you think that rabbits or dogs can hear incredibly high-pitched sounds? Well, compared to us, you are right. Some other animals only have a weary smile for the hearing performance of rabbits.
Don’t get me wrong, rabbits can hear pretty high-pitched sounds even compared to many other animals. But there are animals that are just miles above that.
And even among rodents, there are big differences. Our rabbits tend to be in the middle of the pack among rodents.
But take a look for yourself. In the following list, we have written down the frequency ranges for some animals. The list is ordered by the highest audible frequency of the respective animal.
To make it easier for you, I have marked the rabbit in bold. And I marked other rodents in the list in bold italics.
- Parakeet: 200 – 8,500 Hz
- Owl: 200 – 12,000 Hz
- Chinchilla: 90 – 22,800 Hz
- Sheep: 100 – 30.000 Hz
- Horse: 55 – 33,500 Hz
- Cow: 23 – 35,000 Hz
- Rabbit: 360 – 42,000 Hz
- Dog: 67 – 45,000 Hz
- Guinea pig: 54 – 50,000 Hz
- Gerbil: 100 – 60,000 Hz
- Cat: 45 – 64,000 Hz
- Rat: 200 – 76,000 Hz
- Mouse: 1,000 – 91,000 Hz
- Bat: 2,000 – 110,000 Hz
- Dolphin: 1,000 – 150,000 Hz
- Greater wax moth: 20,000 – 300,000 Hz
Isn’t it fascinating that the greater wax moth can hear even much higher frequencies than a bat? And their frequency range only begins at 20 kHz, where the human frequency range ends.
I have no idea what it can do with that, but that may explain why these critters never fly away when you yell at them: “Get out of my house!”
But back to our rabbits and the other rodents.
We see that rabbits tend to be in the lower range of rodents as far as the highest audible frequency is concerned. Especially rats and mice can still hear significantly higher frequencies than rabbits. Still, they hear significantly higher frequencies than we humans do.
What we also see is that most animals and all rodents can hear dog whistles. Even cows and horses can hear them.
The only exception is parakeets and other birds. Their hearing is not designed for such high frequencies. And of course, our greater wax moth is also an exception. But the problem with her is that she can’t hear low-pitched dog whistles below 20 kHz.
However, we can note that the name dog whistle is actually very shortened. We should rather call them animal whistle because it works for almost all animals. But do not try to ask for an animal whistle in the pet shop. Probably they would not understand it.
Conclusion: Can Rabbits Hear Dog Whistles?
Rabbits can hear dog whistles because they are able to hear high-pitched sounds up to 42 kHz. But dog whistles usually only produce tones in the range of 16 – 22 kHz.
However, a rabbit will not respond to a dog whistle, at least not the way dogs are supposed to respond.
And rabbits are not alone in being able to hear dog whistles. Most animals can. Birds are a major exception, they do not hear such high frequencies.
But rabbits and also dogs are not the animals that can hear the highest frequencies. Bats, dolphins, and especially the greater wax moth can hear much higher frequencies.
Even among rodents, rabbits are not the ones that can hear the highest frequencies. Rats and mice, for example, hear even much higher frequencies.
But compared to us humans, rabbits are already doing quite well. On the other hand, do you want to be bothered by such high-pitched sounds? I don’t.