Bunny Seaslug: Why Do Predators Avoid This Cute Marine Animal?

The bunny seaslug, commonly called the sea bunny (Jorunna parva), is a marine animal and gastropod mollusk that is commonly found in the world’s Indo-Pacific Ocean region. It belongs to the family Discodorididae and order Nudibranchia.

Despite the sea creature’s appearance that resembles the fluffy, hopping terrestrial bunny, predators avoid the sea slug rabbit since it is incredibly toxic.

These adorable bunny-like, shell-less animals belong to a group of sea slugs called dorid nudibranchs, which are known for stealing toxic defenses from prey they feed on. The bunny slug and most members of its genus include in their diet toxic sponges.

It is due to the ability of J. parva to absorb and use toxins that its predators sometimes choose to stay away instead of eating the sea rabbit.

Are Sea Bunnies Sea Cucumbers?

Bunny Seaslug: Why Predators Avoid This Cute Marine Animal?

(Photo : Photo by Izuzuki Diver via Wikimedia Commons)

Sea bunnies are often compared with its seemingly land-dwelling bunny counterparts. However, they are also mistaken with the echinoderm sea cucumbers, which are completely different animals.

The world’s cutest sea slugs belong to the phylum Mollusca, while sea cucumbers that have leathery skin belong to the phylum Echinodermata, which also includes animals like sea stars, sea urchins, and brittle stars.

The two major features of echinoderms that sets them apart from other animals are; having a water vascular system and five-sided radial symmetry, according to the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Meanwhile, mollusks (which bunny seaslugs belong to) include familiar invertebrate animals like clams, snails, octopuses, and squids. The main characteristic of mollusks is having a mantle or mass of soft flesh that covers their body.

Also Read: Invasive Apple Snails Lay Thousands of Egg Masses in Man-Made Louisiana Canal

Are Bunny Seaslugs Safe?

Bunny seaslugs are carnivorous gastropods but consume seaweed occasionally, as well as algae, sponges, seagrass, and small invertebrates. The common predators and threats to the sea bunny are the following:

  •  Sea stars
  •  Crabs
  •  Shrimps
  •  Sea turtles
  •  Fish

Although humans can make the tiny bunny sea slugs as their pets, marine authorities do not approve of it, mainly due to their poisonous nature, making them very toxic. It is also for this reason that some of its predators are afraid to attack the cute yet ferocious marine animal.

The toxic biological makeup of the sea rabbit slug is made possible in several ways, including when it steals the stinging cells from jellyfish. Despite their toxicity, the sea bunny does not pose a threat to the public, especially beachgoers in coastal communities (unless humans hug or eat them).

Sea Bunny Slug Species

The sea bunny slug species was first described by Kikutaro Baba, a Japanese marine biologist. It has been reported that these fluffy white sea bunnies are mainly found off the coast of Japan, as well as in the Indian Ocean and in the waters off the Philippines.

Little is still known about the sea bunny, including the fact they only garnered fame in Japan and the rest of the world in recent years after becoming viral on the internet. The conservation status of the bunny sea slug also remains unknown as of January 2024.

Related Article: 7 Interesting Characteristics of Tiny Sea Bunny Slugs

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