A Wild Connection

FOR RABBITS USA MAGAZINE, SPRING 2013 PRINT EDITION

All rabbits have unique personalities, but there are a few common behaviors that can make rabbit owners cry, “Why are you doing this!?” When rabbits scratch, bite, dig on the furniture, or urinate on the carpet their owners can become frustrated. It turns out some bunny behaviors may be rooted in instinct. To decipher these problem behaviors we can look to the wild-rabbit family tree for answers.

Amazingly, there are 28 species of wild rabbits. There are cottontails, brush rabbits, swamp rabbits, pygmy rabbits and European rabbits, to name just a few. Wild rabbits live across all continents except Antarctica. In fact, no matter where you live, you are likely to see a cottontail or European rabbit in the early morning or late evening outdoors on any given day. The 28 species of wild rabbit do not even include hares (or jackrabbits). Rabbits and hares both belong to the scientific order Lagomorpha, but there are key differences between rabbits and hares in appearance and behavior. But how are these many species of wild rabbit connected to the domesticated rabbits we keep as pets?…

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