A wild Rabbit (genus Sylvilagus) is commonly misunderstood as a rodent; however, it’s not. Its cousin, the hare, and it are a member of their own order called lagomorphs. The fact that they have a second pair of teeth in their jaw and that they hop instead of walk makes them different, among other things. There are 14 species of true rabbits found in the United States — the most popular being the eastern cottontail. As a whole, rabbits are quite small creatures, weighing only a couple of pounds and stretching out to only a foot in length.
A rabbits’ eyes are positioned in a way that allows them to see on both sides. They also have an excellent sense of smell and hearing. Even more incredible is the rabbit’s ability to breed. One rabbit can birth up to three to four litters of three to five bunnies each year.
Most rabbits eat leafy plants and grasses and can be found doing so from dusk until dawn, saving their resting for daytime. They live in brushy areas, but suburban areas with lawns, gardens and shrubs also meet their needs. However, don’t mistake a wild rabbit for a pet rabbit. Not only are they not domesticated, the wild rabbit is actually of a completely different genus than the pet rabbit.
However, even wild rabbits are an animal of prey. They are so used to it, in fact, that they are one of few animals that can sit still in one spot for extended periods of time — they want to prevent predators from noticing them. Because there are so many of them, it is important for animals to prey on them in order to keep their population in balance, which is why the rabbit typically lives less than three years in the wild.
Fun Rabbit Facts
- If spotted, a rabbit will try and outrun its predator by speeds of up to 18 miles per hour.
- Only 15 percent of rabbits live through their first year.
- While many thing that rabbits and hares are the same, they actually differ in things like appearance, behavior and ecology. For example, rabbits are born naked and blind, while hares are born with fur and eyesight.