|Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)|
Rabbits are mammals of the order Lagomorpha. There are about fifty different species of rabbits and hares. The order Lagomorpha is made of rabbits, pikas and hares. Rabbits can be found in many parts of the world. They live in families and eat vegetables and hay. In the wild, rabbits live in burrows, that they dig themselves. A group of rabbits living together in a burrow is called a warren. Rabbits are famous for hopping and eating carrots.
A male rabbit is called a buck, and a female is called a doe. A baby rabbit is called a kit, which is short for kitten. Rabbits have a gestation period of around 31 days. The female can have up to 12-13 kits, very rarely litters as big as 18 and as small as one. Some people have rabbits as pets. Rabbits are also raised for their meat. Rabbits are of a different biological classification than hares.
Since rabbits are prey animals, they are careful in open spaces. If they sense danger, they freeze and watch. Rabbit vision has a very wide field, including overhead scanning. Their enemies are foxes and dogs; also bears, raccoons, minks, weasels and snakes. Birds of prey sometimes take rabbits. People are also known to shoot rabbits, because they eat crops. Their escape method is to run for their burrow, where they are usually safe.
Rabbits have a complex social structure and, like dogs, they have a hierarchy. Rabbit ears probably have several functions. The main function is to give warning of predators, but they may be used for signalling, and temperature regulation.
Rabbits as pets[change | change source]
In the wild, rabbits have plenty to keep them occupied, from foraging to reproduction to territorial defence. Captive rabbits, on the other hand, often lack stimulation, which can lead to behavioural problems and poor health. The expected lifespan of a rabbit in the wild is about three years.
References[change | change source]
- "Irish Mammals – Rabbits". eircom.net. http://homepage.eircom.net/~edrice/mammals/rabbit.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-05.