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Weekly Wildlife: Rabbits

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

If I asked you to describe a rabbit what would you say? Big ears, long legs, and a fluffy tail - right? Well, rabbits can actually come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. I'm not only talking about domesticated rabbits, but wild rabbits as well. Explore some of these unique wild varieties below.


Antelope Jackrabbit (Lepus alleni)



Where in the world?

United States

- Alongside the Pacific Ocean

- Alongside the Gulf of California

- In the Sonoran Desert in Arizona

  • Habitat: Found in places where grass is growing well under moderately high and open desert shrubs

Mexico

- Along the western coast

  • Habitat: Open and low grassland and foothills with patchy grass and low bushes


What an interesting character

Distinguishing Traits

- Height/Length:

  • Body: 17-24 in (45-60 cm)

  • Ears: 5-7 in (14-17 cm)

  • Tail: 1-4 in (5-10 cm)

- Weight: 6-10 lb (2.7-4.7 kg)

- Coloring:

  • Body: White belly, light grey sides, speckled black back, and orange on the neck and chest

  • Ears: Long, pointed ears with white on the point and edges

  • Tail: Bi-colored black and grey tail


We are family

- Class: Mammalia

- Order: Lagomorpha

- Family: Leporidae

- Genus: Lepus

- Species: Lepus alleni


Facts of life

- Solitary and nocturnal - active at night

- Coprophagic - they eat their own feces)

- Ears are used for hearing and regulating body heat during hot conditions

- Use musky smelling pheromones to mark their territory

- Herbivores/Vegetarians - they eat leaves, grass, and succulents

- Get all of their water intake through their food

- Polygynous - one male will mate more than one female

- Males fight for mates using their hind feet to kick each other

- It only takes a few days after birth for young rabbits to become independent


Conservation Connection

- IUCN Red List Status: Least concern and stable

- Threats:

  • Habitat loss from housing developments, livestock grazing, and recreational trails

  • Non-native grass species that they can't eat

  • Hunting


European/Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus)



Where in the world?

- Distribution:

  • Northern Spain to Southern Scandinavia

  • Eastern Europe

  • Northern Parts of Western and Central Asia

- Habitat: Grassland and woodland edges


What an interesting character

Distinguishing Traits

- Height/Length:

  • Body: 24-30 in (60-75 cm)

  • Ears: 3.7- 4.3 in (9.4-11 cm)

  • Tail: 2.8- 4.3 in (7.2-11 cm)

- Weight: 6.6-11 lb (3-5 kg)

- Coloring:

  • Body: Golden-brown with a pale belly

  • Ears: Long, pointed ears with black tips

  • Tail: White tail


We are family

- Class: Mammalia

- Order: Lagomorpha

- Family: Leporidae

- Genus: Lepus

- Species: Lepus europaeus


Facts of life

- Nocturnal - active at night

- Can live groups and chase each other in fields

- Herbivorous/Vegetarians - they eat soy, clover, corn poppy, grasses, and herbs

- Polygynous - one male will mate more than one female

- Mating season is known as March Madness because the competition between males can become intense

- Females have 6 weekly reproductive cycles and only have a few hours to mate


Conservation Connection

- IUCN Red List Status: Least concern and decreasing

- Threats:

  • Hunting - more than 5 million shot each year

  • Disease - European Brown Hare Syndrome (EBHS), Pasteurellosis, Yersiniosis, Coccidiosis and turlaraemia


Amami Rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi)



Where in the world?

- Distribution: Islands South of Japan in the Ryukyu Archipelago

  • Amami Oshima

  • Tokunoshima

- Habitat: Forest dwellers

  • Dig burrows to use as dens and nests

  • Use passages in the undergrowth to move around at night


What an interesting character

Distinguishing Traits

- Height/Length:

  • Body: 16.5-20 in (42-51 cm)

  • Ears: 1.78 in (4.5 cm)

  • Tail: 0.4-1.4 in (1-3.5 cm)

- Weight: 4.4-6.6 lb (2-3 kg)

- Coloring: Bulky body with dark brown fur


We are family

- Class: Mammalia

- Order: Lagomorpha

- Family: Leporidae

- Genus: Pentalagus

- Species: Pentalagus furnessi


Facts of life

- Nocturnal - active at night

- Communicate with each other using clicking sounds - which is unusual for rabbits

- Herbivorous/Vegetarians - they eat pampas grass, sweet potato stems, bamboo shoots, nuts, berries, leaves, acorns and bark

- Have 2 litters of young each year - sometimes only giving birth to 1 baby at a time

- Considered living fossils - living remnant of the rabbits that once inhabitant the Asian mainland

- Identified as a Japanese National Monument

Conservation Connection

- Estimated that there is less than 5,000 remaining

- IUCN Red List Status: Endangered with a declining population

- Threats:

  • Habitat is being cleared for the paper industry to use

  • Hunting and trapping was banned in 1963

  • Predators such as mongoose, snakes, cats, and dogs

- Conservation groups are working on protecting their habitat


Volcano Rabbit (Romerolagus Diazi)



Where in the world?

- Distribution: Near Mexico City, Mexico

- Habitat: Around volcanoes

  • Tlaloc

  • El Pelado

  • Iztaccihuati

  • Popocatepetl


What an interesting character

Distinguishing Traits

- Height/Length:

  • Body: 9-12.5 in (23-32 cm)

  • Tail: 04-1.2 in (1-3 cm)

- Weight: 13.2-21.2 oz (375-600 g)

- Coloring: Short dense fur that is yellowish-grey with black speckled in


We are family

- Class: Mammalia

- Order: Lagomorpha

- Family: Leporidae

- Genus: Romerolagus

- Species: Romerolagus Diazi


Facts of life

- Emit high-pitched sounds and whistles to warn others of danger

- Live in groups of 2-5 individuals

- Active at dawn and during the evening

- Herbivorous/Vegetarians - they eat zacaton grasses, herbs and alder tree bark

- Their tail isn't visible to the eye

- Second smallest rabbit in the world


Conservation Connection

- If the active volcanoes they live near erupt the population will become extinct

- IUCN Red List Status: Endangered

- Threats:

  • Humans consider them as pests

  • Habitat fragmentation - habitat has been ruined by road, agricultural, and urban development


Annamite Striped Rabbit (Nesolagus timminsi)



Where in the world?

- Distribution: Annamite mountain range in Laos and Vietnam

- Habitat: Dense forests


What an interesting character

Distinguishing Traits

- Height/Length: 13.7-15.7 in (35-40 cm)

- Weight: 4.4-6.6 lb (2-3 kg)

- Coloring: Grey

- Markings: Black or dark brown stripes

- Other: Short ears, tails, and limbs


We are family

- Class: Mammalia

- Order: Lagomorpha

- Family: Leporidae

- Genus: Nesolagus

- Species: Nesolagus timminsi


Facts of life

- Little is known about them because they were just discovered in 1999

- Discovered by researcher Rob Timmins at a food market in Laos after being hunted

- Nocturnal - active at night

- They have short limbs and weak claws


Conservation Connection

- IUCN Red List Status: Critically endangered

- Threats:

  • Hunting by snare

  • Habitat loss



Antelope Jackrabbit
[Picture] Antelope Jackrabbit. (2018). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from http://animalia.bio/antelope-jackrabbit 
Antelope jackrabbit. (2020, April 8). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antelope_jackrabbit#Description 

Brown/European Hare
[Picture] European Hare. (2018). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from http://animalia.bio/european-hare 
European hare. (2020, April 13). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_hare#Taxonomy_and_genetics 

Amami Rabbit
Woodbury, C. (2013). Pentalagus furnessi (Amami rabbit). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Pentalagus_furnessi/ 
Amami Rabbit. (2014). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from http://theanimalfiles.com/mammals/rabbits_hares_pikas/amami_rabbit.html 
[Picture] Not Your Typical Rabbit - Amami Rabbit. (2015, January 16). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from http://www.wild-facts.com/2013/amami-rabbit/ 

Volcano Rabbit
Tabbey, M. (2011). Romerolagus diazi (volcano rabbit). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Romerolagus_diazi/ 
[Picture] Nithyak, B. (2010, March 1). Volcano Rabbit. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from https://itsnature.org/endangered/volcano-rabbit/ 

Annamite Rabbit
[Picture] Hoedl, A. (2012). Nesolagus timminsi (Annamite striped rabbit). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Nesolagus_timminsi/ 
Rabbit Breeds - Annamite. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from http://threelittleladiesrabbitry.com/annamite.php 
Annamite striped rabbit . (2019, December 24). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from https://wikimili.com/en/Annamite_striped_rabbit
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