Why are Rabbits So Amazing?
Understanding Rabbits ~ History ~ Genetics ~ Habitats ~ Behaviour ~ Training ~ Rabbit Facts
There are many facts about rabbits that will amaze you and some that, in my opinion are essential for you to understand if you already have rabbits or intend to have pet rabbits.
Did you know that rabbits are the third most popular pet after cats and dogs?
Yet I have come across many rabbit owners that just don't know the basic rabbit facts. Then when the going gets tough, they abandon the poor little things because they just can't cope. I'm hoping this information will change that!
Rabbits love attention!
They make perfect
companion animals -
here's a list of the
top 10 rabbits
First, Here's the Science Bit...
The following rabbit facts text is taken from Wikipedia - the links will open a new window if you would like to read more about each topic.
Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world.
There are eight different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), cottontail rabbits (genus Sylvilagus; 13 species), and the Amami rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi, an endangered species on Amami Ōshima, Japan).
There are many other species of rabbit, and these, along with pikas and hares, make up the order Lagomorpha.
The male is called a buck and the female is a doe; a young rabbit is a kitten or kit.
That should keep you going for a bit.
But here's some more interesting rabbity stuff,
broken down in to simple bite-sized mouthfuls :-)
Basic Rabbit Facts
What & Where
A rabbit is a small mammal known for their long ears and short
fluffy tails. They are found all over the world in meadows, woods, forests,
grasslands, deserts and wetlands. Rabbits are territorial animals which normally live in loosely organised
social groups. They live in warrens comprising of an intricate series of
underground tunnels with different entrances and exits. There are 50 known breeds of rabbit with over 100 different rabbit varieties in the world. Some reports say there are over 180 different varieties contained within the basic breed list.
- Colour & Size
Rabbits have fur ranging from pure white to black or grey and many more besides! Their size
can range anywhere from 8 inches (20 cm) in length and less
than a pound in weight to 20 inches (50 cm) and more than 15 pounds. There are over 150 recognized rabbit coat colours and varieties. Learn more here...
Third Most Popular Pet
Rabbits are popular pets because they are social and adapt to humans
well. North America has the largest domestic rabbit population. Keeping rabbits as pets at home is just as rewarding as a cat or dog - see why!
- Diet: They are herbivores that prefer green, leafy vegetation and feed
mainly at night. A rabbit will eat its own cecotropes (night droppings)- they are a valuable source of protein. Learn the importance of a good diet...
- Life: Pet rabbits tend to live to be much older that wild rabbits. They typically live in the wild for 10 years, but a domestic rabbit can live up to 12 years. How old is your rabbit? Find your rabbit breed and let us know!
Other Rabbit Facts
- Activity: Rabbits are popular prey and spent most of their day hidden in vegetation or in underground burrows. They are generally the most active during the evening and early morning
Speed: If spotted, they flee from prey in a zigzag. Their powerful hind legs can reach speeds of up to 18 mph (29 kph).
Ears: Rabbit ears can be as much as 4 inches (10 cm) in length. They use their ears to detect predators in their habitat. The longest rabbit ears ever recorded measured over 31 inches!
- Toes: A rabbit has five toenails on its front two paws and four toenails on its back two feet, that's 18 toenails per rabbit.
Breeding: Rabbits breed at least three to four times a year. Litters of three to
seven young are produced. Baby rabbits are called kits and are born
blind as well as hairless. The largest number of recorded kits ever born in a litter is 24!
Babies: Rabbits and hares may look alike but they are two different species.
The biggest difference between the two is what their babies look like at
birth. Newborn hares are born with fur and are able to move as well as
see shortly after birth.
- Luck: Rabbits are popular in mythology and culture. Many people believe carrying a rabbit’s foot will bring good luck. Not good luck for the rabbit though, hey?!
Bit like a meerkat, hey?!
- Danger: Rabbits stand upright on their hind legs to give themselves a better
vantage point to look for predators.
They alert other rabbits to the
presence of danger by thumping their hind legs.
They are also very territorial - their behaviour can be interesting to watch!
Amazing Rabbit Facts
The following rabbit facts are not only amazing but also VERY important to understand. The first one on this list is a passionate point of mine and one that is so often over-looked.
- Rabbits should be kept in pairs!! Companionship is key to the welfare
of rabbits – without the company of another neutered rabbit they get
lonely and bored.
In the wild, rabbits are social creatures, a fact that
doesn’t change just because they are kept as pets.
See why here...
Keep at least two rabbits,
they need company.
A rabbit's teeth never
Rabbits need to have
constant access to fibrous
food to grind their teeth
together, this keeps the
teeth from growing
too long and causing malocclusion.
- Teeth: Rabbits have four large incisors (front teeth) and two tiny incisors located right
behind the upper incisors, called peg teeth. In the back
of their mouth they have six upper and five lower cheek teeth on
Rabbit teeth are similar to horse teeth. They have to break down tough, fibrous vegetation, such as grasses, weeds,
twigs and leaves. To compensate
for this constant wear, rabbit teeth are open-rooted, which means
they grow continuously throughout their lives.
- Vomiting? There are many rabbit experts out there, including vets who will tell you rabbits are unable to vomit because of anatomic arrangement of the cardia and stomach.
Indigestible food causes blockages and may cause fatal heart attacks.
Post-mortems revealed food obstructing the
larynx (airway) having passed from the esophagus.
can regurgitate food and vomit!
Rabbit's can't vomit -
or can they?
Rabbits have been observed gasping for breath
after eating too quickly.
Learn about some
safe foods for your rabbit.
His parents were
record breakers too!
Worlds Heaviest Rabbit:
Four-year-old Ralph, a Continental Giant from the UK, weighs a little over 53lbs!
He eats average of £50 worth of food a week.
In March 2013 he weighed a massive 3st 8lbs, which beat his nemesis Darius by 3lbs, who took the title off him in 2010.
- Overpopulation: Some places in the world have had serious trouble with rabbit
overpopulation. It has been estimated that in Australia rabbits destroy
around $600 million worth of crops each year. See more on habitat...
- Farming: A rabbit business is commonly called a “rabbitry”. Rabbits were an
important home meat supply during World War II. Millions of pounds of
rabbit meat are still consumed each and every year. Some rabbits are
raised specifically for their fur. See more on breeding rabbits...
Quick-Fire Rabbit Facts:
- The backbone of a rabbit is very fragile and can break easily when handled improperly or dropped on its back
- When rabbits grind their teeth it can sound like a purr.
- Rabbits are nearsighted.
- Rabbits are not rodents but can resemble them in appearance.
- Rabbits only sweat on the pads of their feet.
- Not all rabbits will “breed like rabbits”.
- In ancient Egypt rabbits were used as sport for dog racing.
- Rabbits can not interbreed with Hares.
Funny Rabbit Facts
- Rabbits ‘binky’ - This is an expression of joy. They will run, jump into the air, twist their body and flick their feet.
- Rabbits can talk - Although normally very quiet, rabbits do communicate vocally, with
varying types of vocalizations communicating different messages, e.g.
low humming when running around an individual is a signal of affection.
- Rabbits can be trained - Rabbits kept as pets
can really benefit from reward-based training. For example, they can be
trained to exercise and go over small jumps, which in turn is great for
their health. Being active reduces the risk of rabbits becoming
overweight and even obese, as well as providing physical and mental
More Amazing Rabbit Facts
- Rabbits have an excellent sense of smell, hearing and vision. They
have nearly 360° panoramic vision, allowing them to detect predators
from all directions. They can see everything behind them and only have a
small blind-spot in front of their nose.
- Rabbits have extremely strong hind limbs which allow them to leap
great distances. They can jump up to one metre high and three metres
- Rabbits are affectionate social animals that enjoy the company of
other rabbits. They will perform allo-grooming where two individuals will
simultaneously groom each other.
- In 2010 about 1 million rabbits were kept as
pets in the UK alone.
- Caring for a
rabbit is likely to cost more than £3,000 over the course of its
lifetime. See the costs here...
- Rabbits need a lot of fibre, in the form of hay and
grass, this is a very important rabbit fact and the most vital for rabbits – it’s essential for their
digestive health, and they can die without it. Find out more on hay & grass...
- Rabbits kept as pets should be offered shelter and hiding places -
rabbits confined to open spaces with no protection will feel threatened. Learn more on the importance of shelter...
- Rabbits get bored. In the wild, rabbits have plenty to keep them occupied, from
foraging to reproduction to territorial defense. Captive rabbits, on the
other hand, often lack stimulation, which can lead to behavioural
problems and poor health. Much like humans, they need to be kept
physically and mentally active. A rabbit’s natural environment can be
imitated by providing enrichment such as tunnels and platforms for
climbing, tree stumps, twigs, suitable toys, and places to hide such as
cardboard boxes. Here's some great, recommended boredom blockers...
- Just like humans, rabbits become bored if their environments remain
the same, so can benefit from variety and occasional change of scenery.
However, too much change can have adverse effects. A wild rabbit’s
survival depends on an intimate knowledge of its surroundings in order
to escape from predators, so structural changes to the “warren” of
a rabbit kept as a pet should be kept subtle, such as changing their
toys and regularly providing new ones.
- Digging is an innate and favourite pastime of rabbits, both wild and
domesticated. By providing digging substitutes, such as a sand or earth
pit, rabbits kept as pets will be able to dig away without damaging
your garden or escaping.
- It’s incredibly beneficial for rabbits kept as pets to start
interacting with people, other rabbits and also other pets such as cats
and dogs from an early age. Familiarity with other species will help
rabbits develop into friendly and confident adults. Exposing them to
normal everyday sights and sounds is also important, so they’re relaxed
and happy in their environments.
- The gentle timid nature of rabbits saw them used by many Renaissance
artists representing purity and the unquestioning faith in religion,
for example Titian’s Madonna with Rabbit (1530).
- Rabbits have been commonly used in mythology and religion.
- Rabbits have long been recognised as symbols of fertility and rebirth, hence their association with spring and Easter.
Learn more rabbit facts by visiting the Rabbit History page. There's some amazing little tit-bits of information there!
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