Preschool Rabbit Fast Facts

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Rabbit usually refers to the European Rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus, a native of southern Europe. It is also widely introduced elsewhere in northern Europe and Australia (see also Rabbit (ecology) for details of it as a pest species in areas where it is not native).

Rabbits in the wild

The European Rabbit is a small grey-brown mammal, ranging from 34-45 cm in length, and are approximately 1.3-2.2 kg in weight. They have 4 sharp incisors (2 on top, 2 on bottom) that grow continuously throughout their life, and two peg teeth on the top behind the inscisors, dissimilar to those of rodents (which have only 2 each, top and bottom). Rabbits have long ears, large hind legs, and short fluffy tails. Rabbits move by hopping, using their long and powerful hind legs. To facilitate quick movement, rabbit hind feet have a thick padding of fur to dampen the shock of rapid hopping. Their toes are long, and are webbed to keep themselves from spreading apart as they jump.

They are well-known for digging networks of burrows called warrens, where they spend most of their time when not feeding. Unlike the related hares (Lepus), rabbits are altricial, the young being born blind and furless, in a furlined nest in the warren, and totally dependent upon their mother.

Related species & classification

A number of other species within the family Leporidae are also called rabbits, but usually with an additional distinguishing name, notably the cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus), a closely related American genus with thirteen species, the Amami Rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi), and the jackrabbits, which are actually hares, in the genus Lepus.

Rabbits and hares were formerly classified in the order Rodentia until 1912, when they were moved into a new order Lagomorpha. This order, in addition to containing rabbits and hares, also includes the pikas.

Rabbits as an exotic species

Rabbits have been introduced as an exotic species into a number of environments, with baleful results to vegetation and local wildlife. Locations include Laysan Island (1903) and Lisianski Island, parts of the Hawaiian Islands; Macquaire Islands, southwest of New Zealand; Smith Island, San Juan Islands, Washington (around 1900) later spreading to the other San Juan Islands; Australia and New Zealand. Rabbits were introduced to Australia in 1859 by Thomas Austin an estate holder in Victoria. They soon spread thoughout the country, see rabbit (ecology). During the 1950s experiments with introduction of a virus, Myxomatosis cuniiculi provided some relief in Australia but not in New Zealand where the insect vectors necessary for spread of the disease were not present.

Domesticated rabbits

The European Rabbit has been extensively domesticated for food or as a pet, and is the only rabbit which has been domesticated. Domesticated Rabbits have mostly been bred to be much larger than wild rabbits, though selective breeding has produced a wide range of breeds which are kept as pets and food animals across the world. They have as much color variation among themselves as other household pets. Their fur is prized for its softness, and even today Angora rabbits are raised for their long soft fur, which is often spun into yarn. Other breeds are raised for the fur industry, particularly the Rex, which has a smooth velvet like coat. and comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes.

In the middle-size breeds, the teeth grow approximately 125 mm (5 in) per year for the upper incisors and about 200 mm (8 in) per year for the lower incisors. The teeth abrade away against one another, giving the teeth a constantly sharp edge.

These fast facts were based off of a Wikipedia Document on Rabbit.

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