Sea bunny hiding on sand

Sea Bunnies: Are These Cute Sea Animals Poisonous?

When watching some marine life documentaries, you may have seen a little cute creature that looks quite similar to a fluffy rabbit. This creature is called “Sea bunny” following its appearance. However, don’t be deceived by their adorable look because they are more dangerous than you think! Let’s read on to explore the amazing wildlife of the sea bunny.

What is the sea bunny?

Sea bunny, whose scientific name is Jorunna Parva, is a species of sea slug in a group of marine invertebrates. They are classified in the family of Discodorididae. Kikutaro Baba, a Japanese marine ecologist, is the first one who described this fantastic species in 1930.

A few years later, sea bunnies became famous and their pictures were spread out on Twitter in Japan in 2015. People were talking about their resemblance to a tiny rabbit and were trying to discover what this species was all about.

There are how many species of sea bunnies?

Nowadays, marine biologists around the world have discovered 16 different species in the Discodorididae family. However, they still believe that there are more unknown species in nature that have not been found yet.

How do Sea bunnies look?

Sea bunnies have a very unique appearance that bears a resemblance to a tiny fluffy animal. Their body is not larger than 1 inch in length. There are black and white bunny ears situated on the head that make them look even more adorable. In fact, these ears are called “rhinophores”, the most important organ of the sea slugs. The latter are used for detecting the current movement, as well as chemicals in the water, and also help in finding food sources.

Best-known for its flamboyant color, the body is totally covered by fleshy protuberances that look similar to animal fur. We often find sea bunnies in vivid yellow or orange with black dots. In fact, the species really vary in colors, for example, white, brown, or even green.

Where are the natural habitats of sea bunnies?

Sea bunnies usually reside near coral reefs in tropical oceans, where there are plenty of sources of food as well as submerged vegetation. Many of them are found around the Japanese coastlines, especially in Kii province in the south of the country. Also, they are concentrated in the Indian Ocean, and many countries like the Philippines, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, etc.

What do sea bunnies eat?

Sea bunnies are herbivores. They like eating toxic corals, sea sponges, and hydrozoans with stinging cells. In addition, seagrass and algae are their favorite meals too. Since sea slugs have no teeth like other animals, they will swallow their whole prey instead, or, they will extract zooplankton from the water with their radula.

Besides, it is believed that their diets, especially made of sponges, increase toxins level in them and affect the coat colors as well.

How about the sea bunnies’ lifestyle?

According to marine biologists, sea bunnies can live around 3-12 months only and they mainly dedicated their whole short life to 2 missions. One is to find food and another one is to fertilize their eggs as much as possible.

Normally, the rabbit-like sea slugs are quite shy. They oftens hide near coral reefs and they tend to live alone. If they are not mating, what they do is search for food as if they are starving all the time. This is the reason why we usually find them around exuberant coastlines!

How do sea bunnies reproduce?

Sea bunnies are hermaphrodites. It means each sea bunny can produce both sperm and eggs. However, they are not capable of reproducing by themselves. A sea bunny still requires another one to be mated and generate offspring.

As we mentioned earlier, bunny-like slugs have a very short lifespan. Therefore, they become mature very quickly and work hard to reproduce. Firstly, sea bunnies find their potential partner by using their rhinophores. Once they mate, they are attached to each other while exchanging sperm. After that, the slug parents will lay eggs and wait from 10 to 12 days to hatch.

Are sea bunnies toxic?

The colorful body of the sea bunnies is a signal of danger! These tiny lovely animals feature a lot of poisonous stingers around them that you should be aware of. This property helps protect them from being eaten by sea predators such as crabs, sea turtles, and fish.

Therefore, although they look very fluffy and seem not dangerous, we suggest you do not hurt yourself by trying to catch and touch them. Moreover, sea bunnies are not edible since they are full of toxins in the body.

What are the natural predators of sea bunnies?

Owing to the fact that sea bunnies are incredibly toxic, there are not many animals that can eat them without being poisoned. When the predator comes closer to them, the sea bunnies will splash toxic chemicals to protect themselves from being eaten.

In case the fishes can bite these dangerous sea bunnies, they will get poisoned to death eventually. As a result, all sea predators always stay away from the cute sea slugs and find other safer things to eat!

Can we pet sea bunnies?

Having sea bunnies as a pet seems very difficult and impossible because of many reasons, except that you are a high-experience aquarist. Firstly, sea bunnies are sea animals so you will need a saltwater aquarium which is quite expensive and requires a lot of maintenance. Besides, they cannot live with other animals due to their poisonous property.

Another major problem is feeding them. Compared to their body size, the rabbit-like slugs consume a huge quantity of food and it is not easy to please their appetites. As a result, it is quite risky that you will starve them unintentionally.

Every wildlife is indeed amazing and always interesting to be explored. Now, you know everything about sea bunnies, one of the most adorable animals in marine life. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll have a chance to admire these fascinating tiny creatures and take many photos to share with your friends!

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