Science Questions

Fri, 21st Mar 2003

Part of the show Cambridge Science Festival - Virtual Anatomy

Question

Jonathan asked:

Why are some Animals Born with their Eyes Closed?

Answer

There are lots of examples of animals that are born with their eyes close - rabbits are just one example. It's all to do with whether animals need to be able to see when they are first born. Some animals, like horses or deer, are born with their eyes open because they have to be independent from birth. In the wild they have to be alert so that they can escape from predators or others dangers. But rabbits don't have to be able to see because they can rely on their parents looking after them until they are old enough to survive on their own. And since they are born in dark burrows anyway, there wouldn't be much point in them being able to see. Baby rabbits don't open their eyes for about a week after they're born. Kittens don't open their eyes for a week or so, and they can't see as well as a fully grown cat until they are several months old. Hares, though, are born with all their fur, and their eyes open !

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