Domestic Rabbit

Wayne & Gladys Valley Children's Zoo


In the Zoo

Scientific Information

Scientific Name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
Class: Mammalia
Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae
Genus: Oryctolagus




Length: 1.2 - 2 feet 1.2 -2 feet
Weight: 2-20 pounds 2-20 pounds
Maturity: 8 months 8 months

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Diet: Herbivorous
Activity Timeframe: Nocturnal
Interactivity: Social
Sexual Dimorphism: Yes
Gestation: 30 days
Lifespan in the Wild: 9 years
Lifespan in Captivity: 9 years

Geographic Range

Every continent except Antarctica and Asia.


Status in the Wild: Near Threatened


Domestic individuals may be larger than wild European rabbits. Rabbits have shorter ears and smaller, less powerful hind legs than hares.

Species Specifics

This species is the ancestor of all 80 varieties of domestic rabbits. Rabbits differ from hares in that hares are both with fur and able to move and see shortly after birth.

Physical Characteristics

Their large ears allow them to hear very well and also cool off in high temperature. The large size allows blood vessels to give off extra body heat and cool down the rabbit. Their eyes can move 360 degrees, allowing them to see behind them without turning their head. Their only blind spot is right in front of their nose. Males are slightly heavier and taller then females.



Dry areas near sea level, soft, sandy soil for burrowing


1-50 acres. Males cover twice as much territory as females and may cross boundaries with several females.


Will reingest feces (caprophony), possibility to obtain essential nutrients which were extracted during the digestion process (particularly in the caecum, attached to the intestine).

Ecological Web

This species is an important prey animal for over 40 species. Their burrowing and foraging is highly important for landscape shaping, creating habitat for invertebrates, increased soil fertility, and increased species richness.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

This rabbit spends most of the day underground in its burrow and forages from evening until morning.


These rabbits will run in a zig-zag, up to 18 miles an hour, to escape predation.

Social Behavior

Colonies of 6-10 adults of both sexes. Dominance hierarchies are very important during breeding season.

Reproductive Behavior

Most breeding happens Jan-Jun but they are capable of reproducing all year long. Females go through postpartum estrus which allows them to become pregnant very soon after giving birth.


5-6 in typical litter. Born blind. Mother visits the nest for only a few minutes each day to nurse, a very high rich milk. Weaned by 30 days old



Listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN, however only in its natural range of Spain, France, and NW Africa.


Historically found on Iberian peninsula, France, and NW Africa. Due to adaptability and humans, its range is now practically worldwide. The spread of agriculture and other human activities often helps this species to spread its range even wider.

Current Threats

Our Role

How You Can Help

Fascinating Facts

This species is a keystone species and provides the bulk of the diet for many predators in Spain. The decline of the rabbit population has led to a decline in the Iberian lynx and Imperial eagle.

Has both positive and negative economic effects on humans. Positive: meat, fur, medical testing. Negative: agricultural pest, ecological damage


"University of Michigan. Animal Diversity Web. ""Oryctolagus cuniculus European rabbit."""

Red List. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. "Oryctolagus cuniculus."

Live Science. "Rabbits: Habits, Diet & Other Facts."

Woodland Park Zoo. "Domestic Rabbit."

P.O. Box 5238

9777 Golf Links Road Oakland, CA 94605