Rabbits are little furry mammals with fluffy, short tails, whiskers and peculiarly long ears. There are around 30 species of rabbits around the globe, and while they inhabit many different environments, they have a lot of things in common.
While many folks think rabbits are around the proportions of a cat, some rabbit types, such as the jackrabbit, can become as big as a small child. Small rabbit breeds can be as miniature as 8 inches (20 centimeters) in length and weigh less than 1/2 kilogram. Bigger rabbits grow up to 20 inches (50 cm) and more than 5 pounds (2.2 kilograms).
The world’s largest bunny clocked in at 4 feet 3 inches (~129 cm) and 48 pounds (21,7 kg). The largest rabbit breeds are a checkered giant, Flemish giant, French lop and giant chinchilla.
These animals are known for their reproductive habits. They reproduce three to four times each year. This is because hardly 15 % of those fur balls make it to their first birthday. So, to secure the population growth, rabbits have more young.
Every pregnancy delivers three to eight babies to this world, called kittens or kits. ( Actually, “Bunny” is just an affectionate word for a rabbit, young or old, according to Small Pet Select). After four to around five weeks, a kit can manage for itself. In two or three months the young rabbit is ready to start a family of its own. If there is a scarcity of natural predators, a location can quickly become overrun with the fur balls.
They are omnivores. In other words, they have a plant-based diet and do not consume meat. During warm months, they will nibble on herbs, peas, grass, clovers, lettuce and other goody greens. In the winter months, they chew on twigs, bark and buds.
While coming from Europe and Africa, rabbits now call a lot of places home. Domestic rabbits need a controlled environment to protect against heat exhaustion or hypothermia, because they are a little more than fragile. ( Well aren’t we all. ) Wild rabbits don’t have those kind of dilemmas and make their homes in various temperature extremes. Wild rabbits can be seen in woods, forests, meadows, grasslands, deserts, tundra and wetlands. ( So yeah, almost everywhere.)
Wild ones make their own homes by digging into the ground. The tunnel systems they make are called warrens and include (surprisingly) individual rooms for nesting and sleeping. They also create multiple entrances for when things get bad. Warrens can be as deep as 10 feet (~3 meters) underground, as stated in the Young People’s Trust for the Environment.
Domestic bunnies generally live in cages, though many owners let their fur balls run freely throughout their home for exercise and only place the animal in a cage for slumbering.
Rabbits are really social creatures and live in big groups called colonies. The busiest time of day for them is at dusk and dawn. This is when they go out to find food. The low light gives them the chance to hide from carnivores.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Lagomorpha
- Family: Leporidae
- Genera: Brachylagus, Pentalagus, Bunolagus, Nesolagus, Romerolagus, Oryctolagus, Sylvilagus, Poelagus
- Species: There is a large variety of rabbits with over 50 different species. The domestic one is Oryctolagus cuniculus.
They can be very crafty and agile. To save its hide from a predator, a cottontail rabbit can run in a zigzag pattern and reach speeds of around 18 miles ( ~29 km) an hour, according to National Geographic.
Their ears can reach around 4 inches (10 cm). This length gives them a better hearing in order to locate predators that may be approaching. It also gives them the nice bonus to stay cool in hot climates. Extra body heat is released through blood vessels in the ears. Their eyes are made for security too, since each eye can rotate 360 degrees. This gives them the option to look behind them without turning their heads in that direction.
Rabbits usually don’t get a lot of nourishment from their food. They frequently eat their own excrement to access any remaining nourishment that their system may have missed before. Rabbits and hares are two different species. ( Just to let you know ) The biggest difference between the two is how their young look like at birth. Newborn hares are delivered with fur and are able to move and see not long after birth. Rabbits have a near 360-degree vision and can even see behind them. They have just one blind spot right in front of their nose.
Rabbits are really famous in mythology and culture. Many folks believe that carrying a rabbit’s foot will bring them good luck.