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Rabbit action at October 25, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rabbit Around The World

Rabbits are members of the order Lagomorpha, commonly called lagomorphs. The domestic rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus, is descended from wild rabbits of Europe and northwestern Africa. There are many different breeds of domestic rabbits, ranging from the diminutive Dutch and Polish breeds weighing from two to four pounds to the large breeds like the Giant Chinchilla and Flemish Giant, weighing up to 14-16 pounds. Rabbits make good pets and can be house trained. Females are called does and males are referred to as bucks.

Older bucks and some does that have given birth to a litter of kits (baby bunnies) develop strong territorial instincts and may bite people, but usually only if provoked. Rabbits can also inflict painful scratches if improperly restrained or if naturally aggressive. Some breeds are more aggressive than others, with Dutch rabbits being more aggressive than New Zealand Whites and Lops. Rabbits thump using both hind limbs as an isolated response to a fearful or painful situation. Rabbits begin approaching sexual maturation when older than three months (depending on the breed, nutritional status and health) and at that time, they may begin attacking each other. So, once they reach that age, they should usually be housed individually. In some circumstances, female groups established before sexual activity begins may be housed together. Mature rabbits should only be paired at mating. Neutering will usually decrease aggression.

Characteristics and anatomy

Characteristics and anatomy
The long ears of rabbits are most likely an adaptation for detecting predators. In addition to their prominent ears, which can measure more than 10 cm (4 in) long, rabbits have long, powerful hind legs and a short tail. Each foot has five digits (one reduced); rabbits move about on the tips of the digits in a fashion known as digitigrade locomotion. Full-bodied and egg-shaped, wild rabbits are rather uniform in body proportions and stance. The smallest is the pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis), at only 20 cm in length and 0.4 kg (0.9 pound) in weight, while the largest grow to 50 cm and more than 2 kg. The fur is generally long and soft, and its colour ranges through shades of brown, gray, and buff. Exceptions are the black Amami rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi) of Japan and two black-striped species from Southeast Asia. The tail is usually a small puff of fur, generally brownish but white on top in the cottontails (genus Sylvilagus) of North and South America.