The European rabbit is the only rabbit to be domesticated. Domesticated rabbits do not always look much like wild rabbits due to selective breeding to create morphologies from dwarf to giant sizes, various colour variations and fur length variations.
Origin – The European rabbit is native to southwestern Europe and northwest Africa. It has been widely introduced elsewhere, now being found in many countries. It is found on every continent except Antarctica.
Lifespan – 9 years
Diet – Wild rabbits graze and browse. Grass is their primary food source, however they also eat leaves, buds, tree bark and roots. If available they will also eat lettuce, cabbage and grains.
Description – The wild European rabbit is relatively small, between 34 and 50 com in length. It usually has greyish brown fur. They have four sharp incisor teeth (2 top, 2 bottom) that grow continuously throughout its life, but is worn down by gnawing. They have long ears and strong back legs; both traits to help avoid predators. They are social animals and live in groups called warrens.
Gestation– Although it varies, gestation of the European rabbit is around 31 days. Rabbits can give birth to litters of 2 to 12 offspring. Baby rabbits are called kittens and they suckle for 4 weeks. Rabbits reach sexual maturity at 3 to 4 months of age. Rabbits can have between 4 and 7 litters per year; that’s a possibility of around 70 kittens a year!
Conservation – While European rabbits are considered a pest and threat to biodiversity out of its natural range, within its natural range of southwestern Europe (Spain and Portugal) the population has declined by an estimated 95% since 1950. It is an important species within its native range and occurs in some protected areas in Spain. It is currently listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.