How rabbits avoid olfactory fatigue: specialized flaps of skin inside their cute wittle lepine nostrils open and shut tightly, allowing short, quick sniffs for instant scent-readings, and avoiding fragrance overload.

Rabbits have us beat. They’ve evolved over millions of years as the consummate prey animal, so it is to the bunny’s advantage to keep a constant and accurate reading of theĀ olfactory environment. This allows them to stay aware of approaching peril, and a few hops ahead of dogs, wolves, coyotes and Elmer Fudd as they distribute jellybeans and colored eggs.

Olfactory fatigue. Remember the last time you had to run the holiday gauntlet through the fragrance counters at Neiman’s, desperately scouting for a cheapie GWP to give your cube-mate? The seasonal sprayers and spritzers are merciless, dousing you willy-nilly with aromas ranging from girly to manly to well, who can tell in the midst of all that mist? The fact is, our human noses can only take so much. And soon, we can’t smell a thing.

The reason: our olfactory sense relies on mass, not energy. By contrast, our eyes and ears rely on energy. This is why our ears and eyes do not shut down with intense, repeated stimulation. But our sense of smell does (temporarily).

Tips for avoiding olfactory overload:

1. Like our friend Bugs, take short, brief whiffs of whatever.

2. Alternate nostrils.

3. Don’t buy products which are perfumed with cheap, synthetic, artificial fragrances. Many things should not have an aroma at all, like cat litter. The perfume masks what nature intended, and may irritate your nose, and kitty’s. A better idea would be to clean the cat box.

Ditto for spray-on products which seem to be marketed as an alternative to doing laundry. If your socks smell like an unrefrigerated buttermilk fest, do the right thing and just wash them in unscented detergent– don’t mist them with a veil of petrochemicals and hope for one more wear.

Although, the above is one instance where our low human threshold for olfactory fatigue may be a blessing.