- Our domesticated rabbit breeds of today are
descendants of the wild rabbits of Western Europe.
- Species: European Rabbit or Oryctolagus
cuniculus. The species name means "rabbit who burrows."
Rabbits are mammals which
belong to the Lagomorph order that also includes hares and pikas.
There are over 67 recognized
breeds in England, 45 in the US, and 30 in Australia, and over 180 world-wide.
There are over 60 extinct breeds of rabbits. (2004 figure)
- Rabbits are herbivores.
- Are crepuscular; most active at
dawn and dusk.
- They are creatures of habit.
- A male is called a buck and a
female is called a doe.
- Babies are called kittens, kits
- Rabbits are induced ovulators.
They have no oustrus cycle.
- Gestation period averages about
- Weaning takes place at
about 6 weeks.
- Litter size is usually between
- Babies are born without fur and
- They open their eyes at about
- Females only nurse their young
once a day for about 15 minutes.
- Can't retrieve their young like
cats and dogs do.
- Rabbits can mate as early as 3
months of age.
- Most breeds are fully mature at
6 months; large breeds at about 8 months.
- Average lifespan is between 5
and 10 years of age.
- They are social and form bonds
with each other.
- Rabbits are nearsighted and
have a blind spot right in front of them.
- Have a light sensitivity 8
times greater than a human.
- Have 3 pairs of scent
glands--under the chin, anal, and inguinal glands.
- Have 28 teeth in total. Upper
and lower incissors can grow 1/2"-3/4" per month.
- Have 18 toenails; 4 on each of
the hind feet and 5 on each of the front.
- Heart rate is 120 to 300 beats
- Respiratory rate is 30 to 60
beats per minute.
- Body temperature range from
38.5 to 40.0 degrees Celcius.
- Ears are highly vascularized
and help regulate body temperature.
- Cannot vomit and hairballs can
- The gastrointestinal system is
adapted for the digestion of large quantities of fibrous food. Timothy or grass
hay should be fed daily.
- Healthy rabbits that eat a high
fibre diet will eat all their caecotrophs, which are a valuable source of
- Can go off feed due to an
imbalance of organisims in the cecum. The wrong food can kill a rabbit.
- Moulting in adult rabbits
follows a seasonal pattern and there are usually two complete coat changes per
- The skeleton of a rabbit,
especially the backbone, is very fragile and can break easily. Their bones are
only 8% of total body weight.
- Spinal disorders are common in
- Rabbits are inquisitive
and intelligent and can learn their names and simple words.
- Because they are prey animals
they hide injury or illness well.
- They are ground dwellers and
don't like being picked up. Many will struggle and kick violently to avoid
being picked up.
- Stress of handling can cause a
marked elevation of blood glucose levels.
- They communicate through a
variety of ways such as thumping their hind legs, biting, grunting, grinding
their teeth, grooming each other, and performing a series of jumps, twists, and
- Burrowing, chewing,
and climbing are natural behaviours.
- A rabbit chews 120 times per
minute and has 17, 000 tastebuds.
- Rabbits are territorial.
Territory can be marked by spraying urine or by depositing faeces.
- They also chin objects to mark
what is theirs.
Spaying (ovariohysterectomy) and
neutering (orchidectomy) helps prevent health problems, reduces aggression and
fighting, and helps control the crisis of overpopulation.
Rabbits commonly suffer from
osteoporosis if they don't get enough exercise. A minimum of 4 hours daily is
essential to physical and psychological well-being. They cannot lead a healthy
life shut in a cage.
If abandoned to the wild,
chances are they won't last long. However, enough of these prolific
breeders have survived long enough to reproduce and create colonies all over the
provided by the Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC
Should I get a pet
rabbit for my daughter?
The Province Thu May 28 2015
Page: A43 Section:
Byline: Drs. Oz And Roizen
Column: Health Tips Source: The Province
Q: My daughter is 12 and wants to get a pet rabbit. I don't want to discourage
her from learning about animals and having the responsibility of caring for a
pet, but don't rabbits carry diseases?
A: Generally, rabbits are good pets for kids, but all rabbits can carry diseases
such as salmonella (and wild rabbits can carry tularemia or rabbit fever). If
you have a pet rabbit, you want to make sure your daughter doesn't touch the
feces - or, if she does, that she washes her hands immediately afterward. You
also might want to check with your doctor (pediatrician) and possibly an
allergist before picking up Thumper. And make sure you purchase your rabbit from
a reliable source, so it isn't sick when you get it.
Rabbits should be vaccinated against two infectious diseases: myxomatosis (or
myxo) and viral hemorrhagic disease (VHD). Both can be fatal to your rabbit. Pet
rabbits can receive vaccinations at six to eight weeks; booster injections can
be given at six and 12 months.
But, so you know, all pets - from dogs and cats to rodents and birds - can carry
diseases that people can pick up. At last count, we saw there are around 39.
Reptiles and amphibians add a few more. So be careful when handling pets; even a
little cat bite can spell big trouble. Then you and yours will enjoy pet
People who keep pets feel less lonely and have lower blood pressure and folks
with dogs get more exercise. We both had pets as youngsters and so did our kids.
June 1, 2015 The Province
I would like to correct the misinformation in the
Dr. Oz column regarding rabbit vaccines.
While domestic rabbits are vaccinated in
Australia, and to a lesser degree, in the United Kingdom, they are not
vaccinated in North America. Just ask local veterinarians and others directly
involved in the rabbit rescue and advocacy network.
Please do your due diligence and ensure that your
material is accurate and applicable to our region.
Carmina Gooch, Rabbit Advocacy Group
Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease
(RHD) also known as rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD) or viral haemorrhagic
disease (VHD) only affects European (domestic) rabbits. The virus attacks the
cells of blood vessels and causes hemorrhages, and causes some pretty severe
death of cells in organs like the liver and the kidneys. So it basically attacks
everything at the same time, causes hemorrhages, and the animal dies very
The RHD virus is passed in large amounts in the droppings of infected rabbits
and can also be spread by contact with rabbit products, rodents, and
contaminated objects. It is very hardy, easily withstanding heat and cold.
The use of RHD as a biological control agent has been
used in Australia and New Zealand in efforts to reduce populations of European
rabbits. Not only is this dangerous, it is inhumane, unethical, and largely
British Rabbit Council: RHD-2 Facts Sheet
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Information Sheet for Shelters, Rescues & Sanctuaries
Vaccine for rabbit haemorrhagic
disease available from B.C. vets
other illnesses; food pyramid; 2018
deadly rabbit virus hits mid-Van. Island, spreads beyond; hits lower
mainland; April 2019 RHD hits Vancouver Island
again; June 2019 in Vancouver
Nanaimo feral domestic rabbits
abound, gov't "experts;" VIU study; Sidney & Saanich issues; breeder busted;
2018 deadly rabbit virus