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Rabbits

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Lagomorpha 
Family: Leporidae 
Genera: Pentlagus, Bunolagus, Nesolagus, Romerolagus, Brachylagus, Sylvilagus, Oryclolagus, Poelogus

Basic Rabbit Information - Pikas, Cottontails, Hares, Jackrabbits

Rabbits, also known as “bunnies,” are found all around the world.  There are many species of rabbits along with cottontails, pikas and hares that make up the Lagomorpha order.  There are distinct differences between pikas, cottontails and hares.  Pikas, also known as the whistling hare because of the high pitched call it makes when scurrying to its burrow, are rock rabbits.  The most common species of pika is the Northern Pika which includes the Collared Pika and the American Pika. There are sixteen species of Cottontails.  Most have stub tails that are white underneath that shows when they are retreating from danger or running.  They live in burrows and have babies that are born blind, hairless and helpless.  
Hares and Jackrabbits are the fastest moving of all rabbits.  The most common are the Snowshoe Hare, the Black-Tailed Jackrabbit and the White-sided Jackrabbit. Their young are born in a shallow depression of flattened grass with their eyes fully opened able to fend for themselves quickly.  Hares are distinguished from rabbits by their longer ears, larger feet and longer legs for jumping.
Follow the links for listed below for brief description of the most common rabbits as well as those that are endangered and some interesting rabbit facts, including information on the Australian rabbit problem.

Pikas      Cottontails    Hares and Jackrabbits 

Did you know that…?
• The first interaction between humans and rabbits was recorded by the Phoenicians over 1,000 years BC during which they labeled the Iberian Peninsula “Land of the Rabbit.” 
• The pika species is over 15 million years old and came to North American by crossing the Bering land bridge.
• The European Rabbit is the only species that is domesticated, and includes all pet breeds like dwarfs and angoras. 
• Angora rabbits originated in Asia and are raised for their wool.
• Rabbits are used for food, usually hunted and raised for meat.
• The sun can fade a rabbit’s fur.
• The swamp rabbit made headlines in 1979 when one tried to board a boat that President Carter was fishing from on a pond near his home. 
• The Eastern Cottontail and Swamp Rabbits are two of the most hunted animals in the United States.
• The rabbit is often used for different symbols: fertility, associated with Easter as an animal to wish no harm; sexuality, because of its reputation as a prolific breeder (an example would be the playboy bunny;) and luck, the rabbits foot is considered lucky. The rabbit is also associated as a trickster based on Bugs Bunny and Br’er Rabbit using its abilities to outwit his enemies.

Rabbits as Pests

Rabbits can cause extensive damage when they adapt themselves to urban living. When introduced by humans into environments that do not have natural defenses against them, rabbits can cause enormous damage.  Those that cause the most damage are Cottontails, the Snowshoe Hare, the Black-tailed Jackrabbit, and the Brush Rabbit. I n urban areas cottontails and brush rabbits can cause damage to decks, sheds, rock and wood piles, and stacked building materials.  They also invade parks with low growing junipers.  The snowshoe hare is very destructive during the winter season on Christmas tree farms causing extensive damage to woody plants by gnawing bark and eating branches.  When domesticated rabbits are released in an area not far from their owners’ home, their eating habits are already established so naturally they invade urban area gardens and produce more babies.  
Jackrabbits are the most destructive because of their large size.  They inhabit urban and suburban developments, golf courses, parks, airports and farms.  When looking for food, rabbits can do a lot of damage to crops and gardens.  They destroy beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, peas, almond trees, apple trees, blackberry and cherry trees, citrus trees, plum trees, raspberry and strawberry bushes, cilantro, parsley and also gnaw and cut plastic irrigation lines.  Once eating habits are established, they are hard to change.  They will move from plant to plant, nibbling just a little bit before moving on to the next one.  The major way to determine if a rabbit is invading a garden is to look at the damaged area and look for paired tooth marks on plants. Rabbits use their teeth to cut vegetation at a 45 degree angle. Rabbit droppings will also be apparent.  If a fence is in place, keep in mind that cottontails and brush rabbits will not jump a two foot fence.  Jackrabbits normally will not jump a two foot high fence unless they are frightened or chased by dogs, coyotes or other such predators.
 

Pikas      Cottontails    Hares and Jackrabbits    Pest Management    Rabbit Information