Rabbits and bunnies are the same animal – there’s no difference in breed or species, just the word we prefer. We think of wild hunting animals when we say rabbit. Bunny is usually used to describe a pet rabbit.
Rabbits are born blind, naked, and remain in a fur-lined nest for the first days of their lives.
Stories about the rapid reproduction of rabbits have become a symbol of fertility in many cultures and religions. Christians have adopted the bunny rabbit for Easter signifying rapid reproduction.
Rabbits are very clean animals and are easy to house break and train. Much like a dog, a pet rabbit can be taught to come to his/her name, sit in your lap, and do simple tricks. They can also be very stubborn just like a cat or dog.
Happy rabbits practice a cute behavior known as a “binky:” they jump up in the air and twist and spin around!
A baby rabbit is called a kit, a female is called a doe, and a male is a buck. A group of rabbits is called a herd.
Rabbits are herbivores, eating a diet entirely of grasses and other plants. Unlike cows they re-ingest their food to get all the needed nutrients.
The average size of a rabbit litter is usually between 4 -12 babies, which results after a short 30-day gestation. Male rabbits can reproduce as early as 7 months of age, and females as early as 4 months. This means in one year a single female rabbit can produce as many as 800 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren! Now that is rapid reproduction.
A rabbit’s life span is about 8 years, though sterilized rabbits (those who are spayed/neutered) can live as long as 10-12 years. There have been many rabbits who lived way past the 8 years predicted life span. Vet checks and taking good care of your rabbit will result in a much longer life.
A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing! Many people believe they need to chew to keep their teeth short. While they do enjoy chewing, it’s the normal wear from where their top and bottom teeth meet that keeps a rabbit’s teeth short.
Bunnies cannot vomit, so it is super important to feed them only healthy, fresh, appropriate food.
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 3 feet high and 9 feet long.
- Rabbits are territorial animals which live in loosely organized social groups. They live in warrens; which are underground tunnels with different entrances and exits.
- When rabbits ‘binky’, this is an expression of joy. They will run, jump into the air, twist their body and flick their feet.
- Rabbits are affectionate social animals that enjoy the company of other rabbits. They will perform allogrooming where two individuals will simultaneously groom each other.
- Rabbits are mostly quiet, but they do communicate vocally, with varying types of vocalisations communicating different messages, e.g. low humming when running around an individual is a signal of affection.
- 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.
- For the last 60 years rabbits have been increasingly commonly kept as pets. After dogs and cats the rabbit is the 3rd. most popular pet today.
- Some people think rabbits are very easy to care for and that all they need to do is put them in a hutch in the garden and feed and clean them when needed. Rabbits need the same care and love as any other household pet.
- Rabbits thrive better in pairs just like other social animals. A single rabbit will get bored and lonely and often times become destructive.
- Rabbits need a good fiber enriched diet. Hay and grass will provide great fiber and is very important to include in their diet or they will probably die. While a small daily amount of green veg is good, a diet based solely on vegetables, fruit and carrots does not provide all the nutrients that rabbits need, leaving them malnourished.
- Rabbits kept as pets should be offered shelter and hiding places – rabbits confined to open spaces with no protection will feel threatened. Other pets may scare a rabbit without protection.
- In the wild, rabbits have plenty to keep them occupied, from foraging to reproduction to territorial defense. Pet rabbits often lack stimulation, which can lead to behavioural problems and poor health.
- 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.
- 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.
- Just like humans, rabbits become bored if their environments remain the same, so they 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.
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