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Rabbits have been domesticated since Roman times, and possibly even earlier.
Rabbits do breed like rabbits. Females are almost ready to breed at any time, and will give birth to a litter of young about 30 days after breeding. These bipedal herbivores eat mostly greens, but they are also opportunistic feeders, eating seeds, fruit and bark. They live in groups in subterranean tunnels known as "warrens", with roommates ranging from a few to dozens.
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Incredible Rabbit Facts!
1. Rabbits don't vomit.
2. A rabbit can see nearly 360 degrees around him.
3. Rabbits live in underground tunnels called "warrens."
4. Rabbits can jump nearly 10 feet in long jumps.
5. Rabbits grow teeth all their lives.
The scientific names of these animals depend on what kind of rabbit is in question. In general, they belong to the order Lagomorpha and Lagodae, while hares do not. There are dozens of rabbit names in the genus, including the scientific name of the rabbit as part of the classification.
The taxonomic list includes rabbits, such as Oryctolagus cuniculus, covering all pet rabbit scientific names. In this name, the word Oryctolagus stands for the genus name, and cuniculus stands for the species. Some other rabbits covered by the taxonomy here include the genus Nesolagus, which includes the Sumatran striped rabbit Nesolagus netscheri and the Annan striped rabbit Nesolagus timminsi.
It also includes the genus Pentalagus, which includes the Amami rabbit and Pentalagus furnessi, and the genus Poelagus, which includes the Central African rabbit Poelagus marjorita. Since we're talking over 300 breeds, there are many others, but these are some of the main breeds covered in the various taxonomic lists.
Rabbit Health and Recreation
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The oldest known fossil of a primitive rabbit dates back 55 million years. The ancestral name is Gomphos elkema . Based on studies of it, scientists believe that some early lagomorphs (including hares and rabbits) moved like rabbits, with their hind legs longer than their front legs. These hind legs can be used for jumping.
These early rodents had longer tails, molars and primitive jaws. In general, rabbits are distinguished from other modern rodents by having two sets of incisors, one behind the other. Rabbits were originally grouped with rodents in the class Glires, but were later separated because their many similarities were thought to be the result of convergent evolution. Recent DNA analysis and the discovery of a common ancestor support their idea.
The appearance of a rabbit is that of an animal with large hind legs and short front legs. This animal also has large ears, which vary in size depending on the type. Hares look like rabbits, but are different. These ears are used to dissipate heat into the air when the animal is constantly running or in other states of excitement, or when it lives in the wilderness and needs to use the ears for comfort. They can also turn to listen for sounds to determine where a predator might be coming from or to ensure an area is safe.
These animals come in all sizes. Dwarf rabbits grow to only eight inches long and weigh less than a pound, even when fully grown. Chinchillas are at the other end of the scale, weighing around 16 pounds. Most Flemish giants weigh around 22 pounds, but a rabbit, also a Flemish giant, weighed 49 pounds and was 4 feet 3 inches long, beating all the other giants.
A rabbit's behavior includes using its shape to escape danger when needed. Sometimes this means the animal needs to sit still, and sometimes it needs to run. Whatever they choose may also change as the rabbit is hunted, though it depends on the animal's needs at the time.
Rabbits hop and move quickly over terrain when they need to escape a predator. They can also be frozen in place when needed. This sometimes results in a failed chase, leaving the animal free for another day. It all depends on the situation at the time.
When a rabbit eats, it will usually graze heavily for the first half hour or so, and then switch to eating its own fecal pellets when defecating. They need to do this in order to benefit from the food they eat. Eating partially digested feces is an important way they accomplish this. They will often remove food from the anus and chew it again to benefit from it. These animals don't vomit, so if they eat too much of the wrong thing, they can end up dying from it.
To know if a rabbit is a rodent, read here.
The animals live in large groups called bunnies, in the spaces they carve out underground when they move in. They usually live with a group of other rabbits in meadows, deserts, woods, grasslands, wetlands or forests. Not all rabbits live in dens. Some species live outdoors instead.
More than half of the world's rabbit population lives in North America, but rabbits are also native to southwestern Europe, Sumatra, Southeast Asia, parts of Japan, and parts of Africa and South America. They are not usually found in much of Eurasia or South America, but in some cases they may be brought to these places and released.
Rabbits will eat a variety of soft grassy foods, including grasses, leafy weeds, and weeds. They also eat fruit, bark, and many other types of food that grow in the woods and meadows where they live. They digest food as best they can, then pass uneaten lumps in their stool. Soft pieces are usually dumped and eaten again before they are finished.
Rabbits digest most of their food in the cecum, which connects to the large intestine and makes up approximately 40% of their digestive tract. The cecum is even larger than the stomach. The cecum helps separate "good" stool from "bad" stool. The bad poop is passed out of the rabbit, while the good poop — called cecalin — is eaten by the rabbit, returning to the rabbit's body again before being passed out. While this may seem gross, it's important to the rabbit's digestive system and is necessary for the animal's survival.
For full details on what rabbits eat, be sure to read our full guide: "What Rabbits Eat."
Predators and Threats
Almost anything that eats meat will eat rabbits if they are big enough. This includes animals such as foxes, wolves, bobcats, hawks, owls and coyotes. Any of these animals and more are sure to eat bunny treats given the chance.
Rabbits will do what they need to do to survive, including thumping on the ground if they feel threatened. Their eyesight also has a large amount of vision dedicated to overhead scanning, helping them avoid birds. If they are encountered on the ground, they will hop into a burrow if necessary or use a zigzag pattern to hop out of the way. Their large teeth also help them bite if they can. If they can escape, they will have the chance to live to hunt another day.
Reproduction, Babies and Longevity
Breeding occurs almost any time two adults come together, as females can become pregnant almost as soon as they are breeding. The male simply climbs onto the female and mates with her, no introduction required. He'll breed as many females as he can, but it's best to give him a break between breedings so he doesn't burn out.
Once a male (called a buck) inseminates a female (called a doe), the female becomes pregnant and gives birth to a litter of babies, called kittens or pups, which last about 30 days. Mothers usually give birth to six children. Born naked and blind, the babies are completely dependent on their mothers at first, but after a few weeks they grow strong enough to run around on their own. They lived with their mother for about a month before they were ready to move. She would often get pregnant again by then. They are ready to have babies of their own when they are about three months old.
Pet rabbits can live a long life, and the oldest known rabbit died in Tasmania at the age of 18. In contrast, wild animals such as the eastern cottontail live for less than a year. Most captive rabbits live an average of 10 to 12 years.
Rabbits can have problems with this procedure, and pathogens such as Bordetella bronchiseptica and E. coli are common. They may also be infected with rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD), also known as myxomatosis. They are also susceptible to tapeworms and external parasites, including fleas and ticks.
It's unclear how many of these animals exist in the world today, but they are not threatened. They are listed as the least interesting animals on the A to Z Animals website because their numbers are stable in most of the places they live, and in many places their numbers are even increasing. They are able to live anywhere humans can live.
Despite human efforts to stop them, rabbits in places like eastern Australia continue to grow, and the more babies are released, the faster the population grows. Once they've started acting up, there's little you can do to stop them, so it's important to think twice before releasing rabbits into the wild.
Types of Rabbits
There are at least 305 species of domestic rabbits in the world. Below is a list of nearly 200 varieties:
- American – Native to USA Blue and white short hair, 9-12 lbs.
- american chinchilla
- American Fuzzy Lop – Native American Shorthair, Solid Color, Lop Ears, 3.5-4 lbs.
- american sable
- Angola – Native to Turkey. White angora, 4.4-12 lbs. One of the oldest domestic breeds.
- Argente Bleu – One of the oldest French show rabbit breeds. The silvery hair on top has silvery blue markings on the lower hair shaft.
- Argente Brun [UK] – One of the oldest French show rabbit breeds. Silver topcoat with Argente Brun markings on the lower shaft.
- Argente Brun [USA] – One of the oldest French show rabbit breeds. Silver topcoat with Argente Brun markings on the lower shaft.
- Argente Clair – One of the oldest French show rabbit breeds. Silver top hair with silver Claire markings on the lower hair shaft.
- Argente Crème [UK] – One of the oldest French show rabbit breeds. The silver hair on top bears Argente Crème markings on the lower hair shaft.
- Argente De Champagne [UK] – One of the oldest French show rabbit breeds. Silver top hair with Argente de Champagne markings on the lower hair shaft.
- Argente Noir – One of the oldest French show rabbit breeds. Silver hair on top with Argente Noir markings on the lower hair shaft.
- Argente St Hubert – One of the oldest French show rabbit breeds. The silver hair on top bears the Argente St Hubert markings on the lower hair shaft.
- armenian mink
- aurora black
- Baladi Black
- Baladi Red
- Baladi White
- Beige 【UK】
- Belgian Hare [UK]
- Beveren [UK]
- Beveren [USA]
- Great Silver Sable
- White Buscat
- Blanc de Hotot
- Popiorno white wine
- White Detmond
- ham blue
- saint nicholas blue
- bourbon gray
- Britannia Small [USA]
- british giant
- Chestnut of Lorraine
- California [UK] – Native to California. Short white hair with black spots and pricked ears.
- California [USA] – Native to California. Short white hair with black spots and pricked ears.
- Canadian Plush Eardrops
- carmagnola gray
- Cashmere Lop – Long-haired lop-eared rabbit native to the UK, weighing between 4.5-5.5 lbs.
- silver champagne
- checkered giant
- Totoro [UK]
- My Neighbor Totoro Giganta [UK]
- continental giants colored
- Continental Giant White
- silver frost
- Cuban brown
- czech red
- Czech solver
- czech spot
- czech white
- Dutch [UK] – Short-haired rabbit native to Great Britain with erect ears and "Dutch" markings, weighing 3.5-5.5 lbs.
- Dutch [US] – Native to the British Shorthair Rabbit, erect ears, "Dutch" markings, 3.5-5.5 lbs.
- Dwarf Holt
- Dwarf Lop [UK] – Native to Europe/Germany. A short-haired, drop-eared breed that comes in a variety of colors and weighs 4.25-5.25 lbs.
- enderby i.
- English Angola
- English Lop – A short-haired, lop-eared breed native to Great Britain that comes in a variety of colors, 10-11 lbs.
- English spot
- Brutalist Burgundy
- Flemish Gian [UK]
- Flemish giant [USA]
- florida white
- Fox-Silver [UK]
- French Angora – native to France. Long angora, pricked ears, 7.5-10.5 lbs.
- French lop rabbit – native to France. Short-haired, drop-eared breed in assorted colors, 10-lb.
- German Angora cat – native to Germany. Long angora, pricked ears, 5.5-12 lbs.
- Totoro [USA]
- giant havana
- giant marlborough
- Giant Papillon [UK]
- giant silver
- giant smoke bead
- Giza White
- golden glass
- Harley Gray Pearl
- Harlequin [UK] – Native to France. Ugly character with short hair and pricked ears.
- Harlequin [US] – Native to France. Japanese color, short hair, erect ears.
- Harlequin Rex – Native to France. Ugly character with short hair and pricked ears.
- Havana [UK]
- Havana [USA]
- Holland Lop [USA] – Native to the Netherlands. Short-haired lop rabbits of various colors, weighing 4-6.5 lbs.
- hungarian giant
- Japanese white
- Jersey wool
- Lilac [UK]
- Lilac [USA]
- Lionhead [UK] – Native to Europe. The face has a long mane, erect ears, and various colors.
- Lionhead [USA] – Native to Europe. The face has a long mane, erect ears, and various colors.
- Liptov Bald Rabbit
- Marburger Feh [UK]
- Mecklenburg piebald
- Meissner Roble
- Mellerud Rabbit
- Mini Lop [USA] – Native to the Netherlands. Drop-eared, short-haired, 5-6 lbs.
- Mini Rex [USA]
- Mini Satin [USA]
- Mini cashmere drape
- Miniature Lion Ear Cloth
- Mini Lop Ear Needle [UK/Netherlands]
- Miniature Papillon
- Mini Rex [UK]
- Micro satin [UK]
- Dutch Pygmy – Native to the Netherlands. Erect short ears, short coat, 1-2.5 lbs.
- New Zealand [United States]
- New Zealand [UK]
- New Zealand white [UK]
- Pannon White
- Plush drop ears (miniature)
- Plush drop ears (standard)
- Pointed Beveren
- Polish [UK]
- Polish [US]
- Rex [US] – Native to France. Rex rabbits have short fur, come in various colors, have erect ears, and weigh 6-10.5 lbs.
- rhine river
- SA Phendula
- Saxon Gold
- san juan
- Satin [UK]
- Satin [USA]
- Satin angora rabbit
- Schwarzgrannen [UK]
- siamese sable
- Silver [UK]
- Silver [USA]
- Silver Fox [UK]
- Silver Fox [USA]
- Silver Sable
- slovenian rabbit
- smoke beads
- spanish giant
- standard chinchilla
- stone rabbit
- swedish fur
- swedish hare
- swiss fox
- teddy dwarf
- Teddy Loop
- tricolor dutch
- tricolor english
- V line
- Velveteen Drape
- vienna colored
- vienna white
- wheat lynx
- white country
- Zika virus
Here are some species of wild rabbits:
- Marsh rabbit Sylvilagus aquaticus
- desert cottontail forest
- Brush Rabbit Sylvilagus bachmani
- Forest rabbit Sylvilagus brasiliensis
- Cottonceria mexicanus
- Diss' Cottontail Sylvilagus dicei
- Eastern cottontail Sylvilagus floridanus
- Tres Marias rabbit Sylvilagus graysoni
- Omilteme cottontail Sylvilagus insonus
- San Jose Brush Rabbit Sylvilagus mansuetus
- Yamao cottontail forest
- Marsh rabbit Sylvilagus palustris
- New England Cottontail Longtail Forest
- Volcanic rabbit Romeolagus diazi
- Sumatran striped rabbit Nesolagus netscheri
- Annamite Striped Rabbit Nesolagus timminsi
- Bushman rabbit Bunolagus monticularis
- European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus
- European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus
- Central African rabbit Poelagus marjorita
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about the author
Abby Parks is the author of novels, plays, short stories, poems and lyrics. She has recorded two albums of her original songs and is a multi-instrumentalist. She manages a folk music website and writes about singer-songwriters, folk bands, and other music-related articles. She is also a radio DJ for folk music shows. As well as being a pet parent to rabbits, birds, dogs and cats, Abby enjoys hunting for animals in the wild and has witnessed some of the more exotic ones such as Puffins in the Farne Islands, Puffins in Chiloe Southern Pudu (Chile), penguins in the wild, and countless wildlife of the Rocky Mountains (bighorn sheep, goats, moose, elk, marmots, beavers).
Rabbit FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Where does the term "lucky" rabbit feet come from?
The idea of a "lucky" rabbit's foot has been around for a long time. The rabbit's foot has long been associated with witchcraft. In the 1800's they were often sold as wise talismans. In the 1930's they became a popular lucky charm in Britain.
Are rabbits omnivores, herbivores, or carnivores?
They don't eat anything that doesn't grow from the ground, unless each baby is given breast milk for the first month or so of life. Rabbits are herbivores.
is a rabbit an animal
Yes, a rabbit is an animal.
what is a group of rabbits called
A group of rabbits is called a colony or a den. A group of rabbits is also sometimes called a warren, but that name actually belongs to where they live, not to the rabbits who live there.
What breed of rabbit?
All you really need to know here is what kind of rabbit you are referring to. A rabbit can belong to many different species, depending on which particular rabbit you're talking about. Most rabbits belong to the Oryctolagus cuniculus group, which contains most pet species as well as European hares.
What is the Difference Between Rabbit and Hare?
In general, rabbits tend to be a little smaller than hares. Rabbits also have smaller ears.
How Long Do Rabbits Live as Pets?
Rabbits can live about 8 to 10 years when kept as pets, but some may live much longer.
Where can I buy real rabbits?
Most people get their bunnies at a pet store or directly from a breeder. Where you get your rabbit depends on the species of rabbit you're looking for and the time of year. Most baby rabbits are more likely to come to market in the spring and summer, with some coming in the fall and winter, but not in large numbers.
Which kingdom does the rabbit belong to?
Rabbits belong to the animal kingdom.
What door do rabbits belong to?
Rabbits belong to the phylum Chordate.
Which category do rabbits belong to?
Rabbits belong to the class Mammalia.
What family do rabbits belong to?
Rabbits belong to the rabbit family.
What order do rabbits belong to?
Rabbits belong to the order Lagomorpha.
What genus do rabbits belong to?
Rabbits belong to the genus Lagos.
What type of mulch do rabbits have?
Rabbits are covered with fur.
What type of habitat do rabbits live in?
Rabbits live in forest thickets, meadows and woodlands.
What do rabbits eat?
Rabbits eat clover, grass, and crunchy vegetables.
Who are the natural enemies of rabbits?
Predators of rabbits include foxes, wolves, bobcats, hawks, owls and coyotes.
What is the average litter size for rabbits?
The average litter size for rabbits is 6.
What fun facts about rabbits?
There are over 50 different bunnies!
What is the scientific name of the rabbit?
The scientific name of the rabbit is Oryctolagus cuniculus.
What's the Difference Between Rabbit Poop and Deer Poop?
The main difference between rabbit poop and deer poop is size, shape, and appearance. Rabbit poop is smaller than deer poop, with each particle less than a centimeter in diameter. The size of each particle of deer poop is between 2 cm and 3 cm, and the piles they excrete are larger, containing more particles per defecation.
What is the difference between a male rabbit and a female rabbit?
The main differences between male and female rabbits are appearance, temperament, and behavior.
do rabbits hibernate
Rabbits don't hibernate, they are cold weather adapted and love to forage year round!
Thanks for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.
- David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animals, The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife
- Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) Encyclopedia of World Animals
- David Burney, Kingfisher (2011) The Animal Encyclopedia of Kingfishers
- Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) Atlas of Threatened Species
- David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia
- Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Animal Encyclopedia
- David W. Macdonald, Oxford University Press (2010) Encyclopedia of Mammals
- Encyclopedia Britannica, available here: https://www.britannica.com/animal/rabbit
- Wikipedia, available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit