Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Source of the photo: 
Author of the description: 
Szörényi Nóra

Taxonomic classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Subclass: Theria
  • Subclass-tine: Eutheria
  • Old Order: Euarchontoglires
  • Order: Lagomorpha
  • Family: Leporidae
  • Gender: Oryctolagus
  • Race: Oryctolagus cuniculus
  • Subraces:

Oryctolagus cuniculus algirusOryctolagus cuniculus brachyotus

Oryctolagus cuniculus cnossiusOryctolagus cuniculus cuniculus

Oryctolagus cuniculus habetensisOryctolagus cuniculus huxleyi

1. Occurence, habitat:

At quarter-age European rabbit occurs all over Middle-Europe. After the last glaciation, the spreading area drew back to Iberian Peninsula and North-West Africa. Some countries of Europe got back this race with settlement. In our days it only occurs in the Baltic region, Finland and Scandinavia. It was settle to North and South America, Australia and New-Zeland. Onto the big interest for the race and his setup mood feature, that at the first part of 1900’s  they reported in 52 shooting from 63 of historical counties of Hungary. At the first part of 20th century, in Hungary at Kisalföld and Nyugat-Dunántúl. At 1950’s: Kisalföld, Mezőföld and Duna-Tisza köze, at 1980’s: Duna-Tisza köze, at 1999 it turns out in force at Bács-Kiskun, Pest and Tolna countries.

His habitat considering on an European's spreading area on dry lawns, meadows, appears in loose forests with a substance construction, on the edge of a forest, along hedges. It avoids it 500 m space levels, highland pinewoods, generally the cold and wet habitat types. It likes the loose sandy soils primarily in Hungary. Since an edge, areas covered with lasting vegetation only because of this may come up in a underground burrow his habitat. These are not affected forests and bush ones because of the tillage on the sand country. The clearings trunk rows forming after follower trunks separating make way they report occur. It settles in sand-pits and pebble-pits with pleasure.

2. Conformation, morphology:

The male of the cony and his female do not differ from each other externally. His hair is greyish or yellowish-greyish, his nape and the neck reddish, the inner sides of his stomach, the feet and the lower part of the rumps off-white. The upper half of the rumps is black.
The colour of his ear is brown, his tip of the ear is different. The various shades are frequent.
The ears of the cony shorter, than that of the hare. On the forelegs 5, on the hind legs 4 fingers can be found.

His lower incisors grow all the time, so they have to fret it continuously. His trace and his trace formula resemble proportionally smaller than other rabbit species. It piles up it’s excrement on a place (7–9 mm diameter).

3. Nutrition:

The herbivorous rabbit consumes grasses, clover, bark, roots, herbaceous plants and cultivated grain and vegetables. The bark of young trees, especially in winter. The diet of adult specimens show a strong seasonality. Daily activity between 17–05 hours, during this period take up a diet. The mother's diet influences the subsequent feeding of the offsprings. The baby rabbits always preferred the food that their mothers consumed.This information is owned by the offsprings already before weaning, or get in the fetal age. The most realistic option is to learn from their mothers after weaning.The first information age through the bloodstream to the fetus through the placenta to the fetus is achieved. The second way is to follow and taste smells through information gathering. Since the mother does not offer any help at weaning the little ones, so only those individuals able to survive, which do not mistake in the choice of solid foods.

4. Reproduction and habits:

Of 40−45 g body weight babies, naked, blind, deaf are born. First coat 6–8 days old, they grow up with it starting to hear, eyes open on the 10th day. Four weeks of age breast-fed, the final coat develops on the 6−7. week, the age of a full body size is achieved. Both at birth and adult, the sex ratio is around 1:1 value. Young rabbits mature at the age of 6-8 months, which means that they have the potential to be propagated by the year of birth. However, only females, which of the body weight exceeds 800 grams are able to propagate.

The breeding season lasts from January to August, the beginning is influenced by the weather. On the last day of gestation, the female prepares an underground pit for calving.  The act of mating itself triggered by the detachment of the egg, after fertilization occurs. Pregnancy lasts 28−31 days.  Calving is continuous from March to October. The litter size is usually 5–6 individuals.

 A female  is looking up the kids once a day at the same time and is suckleing them for about five minutes. When the mother leaves the pit, always closes to the entrance  wrap. The first three weeks of their lives the little rabbits stay at the pit, isolated from the outside world. The mother does not provide any help for the little ones, not cleansing them. Before they leave the nest, the mother animal always leave excrements on a few places. The babies only sniffing it firts, but  by 10th day of age they consume it.

They are social animals, living in large communities. Usually a male holds a harem of several females. They protect the territory together against neighbouring families.Not only the family is characterized by a strict hierarchical order, but also the groups. The strongest males are at the most favorable place to settle in favor of the second-best team, and so on. The lower-ranked families must be satisfied with a less appropriate territory. Territorial behavior is most pronounced during the breeding season.

Their favorite habitat of the short grasslands, shrub grassland. They  Indicate a high degree of adaptability to airports and metropolitan parks.

Mostly at dusk and at night they move. If you do not disturb them, they sometimes come out during the day. Special glands and excrement help individuals to mark the border area of thir territory and also the prominent, frequently visited places. Although the rabbit  inquire first by smell, vision can play an important role as well. They have 360-degree field of view.  When escaping their tail thow high, showing the bottom white part, so others can easily follow. Zigzag line running helps escape from enemy.

5. Protection and place in the ecosystem 
The European rabbit’s dynamic substance cyclicity can be observed. The decline is usually associated with high density due to the onset substance controlling (mixomatosis). In recent years the Hungarian rabbit  population has almost collapsed due to RHD (rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus).
Their predators are prey fox, stoat, ferret, or ordinary cats, but the hawk and eagle can catch them too.

6, Relation to the soil and ground:
The rabbit  live underground, in warrens, which are digged in loose, sandysoil. It insists not only on the dry ground: it lives in wet places as well. In the swampy and hard to dig soil thay do not dig deeper,but they simply sit in the dense bush, or in the ground directly below the surface. They dig near-horizontal tunnels close to the surface.
They may undermined the fields, causing damage to the plantation, especially in the conifers.