Rabbits are mammals. Rabbits live on every continent except Antarctica. Only the wild rabbit lives in Europe. The domestic rabbit, which is also called a breeding rabbit, descends from him.
Rabbits have been popular pets since ancient times. Where the name came from is uncertain, but the Romans called the animal curriculum. The German word “Kaninchen” or “Karnickel” came from the French language “kanin”. In Switzerland, they are called “Chüngel”.
Seen from all over the world, science does not agree on what exactly rabbits and are hares. Both belong to the lagomorph family. The terms are often used interchangeably. Since only European hares, mountain hares, and wild rabbits live in Europe, the distinction here is easy. Rabbits cannot mate with hares because their genes are too different.
How do wild rabbits live?
Wild rabbits live in groups. They dig tunnels in the ground up to three meters deep. There they can hide from their many enemies: some red foxes, martens, weasels, wolves, and lynxes, but also birds of prey like owls and other animals. When a rabbit senses an enemy, it will pat its hind legs on the ground. At this warning sign, all rabbits escape into a tunnel.
Rabbits eat grass, herbs, leaves, vegetables, and fruits. That is why they are not popular with gardeners. It has also been observed that they eat leftovers from other animals. In addition, rabbits eat their own feces. They cannot digest food so well that one meal would suffice.
How do wild rabbits reproduce?
Rabbits usually mate in the first half of the year. Pregnancy lasts only four to five weeks. The female digs her own burrow to give birth. There it usually gives birth to about five to six young.
The newborns are naked, blind, and weigh about forty to fifty grams. They cannot leave their burrow, which is why they are called “nest stools”. At about ten days old, they open their eyes. They leave their birth cavity for the first time at the age of three weeks. Even then, they continue to drink milk from their mother for about a week. They are sexually mature from the second year of life, so they can then have their own young.
A female can get pregnant five to seven times a year. It can therefore give birth to over twenty to even over forty young animals in one year. However, because of their many enemies and some diseases, the rabbits always remain about the same. This is called a natural balance.
What do people do with rabbits?
Some people hunt rabbits. They like to shoot at animals or get annoyed with rabbits. The animals eat vegetables and fruits from agriculture or dig in the garden and in the fields. As a result, farmers and gardeners can harvest less. Also, stepping your foot down a rabbit hole is dangerous.
Some people breed rabbits to eat. Others are happy when a rabbit looks the way they think is beautiful. In clubs, they compare rabbits and organize exhibitions or competitions. In Germany alone, there are around 150,000 rabbit breeders.
Still, other people keep rabbits as pets. It is important that there are at least two rabbits in the cage, otherwise, they will feel lonely. Because rabbits like to chew, electrical cables can be dangerous for them. The oldest rabbit in captivity has turned 18 years old. However, most of them do not live much longer than those in nature, around seven to eleven years.