Questions for “These rabbits can’t hop. A gene defect makes them do handstands”

Some rabbits walk on their front paws instead of hopping from place to place. The strange gait is the result of a mutation in one gene that helps rabbits coordinate their limbs.

Samuel Boucher

To accompany “These rabbits can’t hop. A gene defect makes them do handstands


Before Reading:

1.  Many animals that can walk use some other form of locomotion when they’re in a hurry. Can you give two or three examples?

2.  What are genes? And what does it mean if a gene is mutated?

During Reading:

1.  What’s so strange about how the sauteur d’Alfort rabbits hop?

2.  What about these rabbits makes them do this?

3.  According to Leif Andersson, what value — beyond satisfying their curiosity — might there be to scientists studying this strange behavior in rabbits?

4.  What are interneurons? In this story, what is the role these neurons appear to play in the rabbits’ unusual hop?

5.  What is RORB, and what question does Stephanie Koch express about its role in the sauteur d’Alfort bunny hop?

After Reading:

1.  As of 1996, the sauteur d’Alfort rabbits had almost gone extinct. Then some breeders decided to save these rabbits by raising them on a series of farms. How successfully do you think these rabbits would do if these escaped those farms? Explain your reasoning.