Rabbits & Rodents
Rabbits are one of the largest members of the Rodent family.
Rabbit are NOT Rodents
• Once classified as Rodentia, but now classified as Lagomorpha.
• Rabbits have 4 upper incisor teeth arranged one pair behind the other
• How is this arrangement different from rodents?
• Like rodent teeth, rabbit teeth are open-rooted
• This means they are continuously growing
• They are worn down by abrasion of foods or grinding against opposing teeth
Species O. Cunniculus
• Lagomorpha fossils 30-37 million years old
• Very similar to modern rabbits
• Other wild lagomorphs = hares, American cottontail, pica, jackrabbit
• What does the fact that rabbits have changed little over millions of years mean?
• Rabbits domesticated from European rabbit ~1,400 years ago
• No interbreeding with wild lagomorphs
Uses of Domestic Rabbits:
• White meat; low in cholesterol, fat, sodium and fiber; high in protein. Easily chewed &
• Fur & pelts
• Angora fur • Laboratory testing
• Antibody production
• AIDS research
• Cosmetic testing
• Pets: Primary use in U.S.
Rabbits as Pets: Pros
• Can be trained to use a litter box
• Require little special care
• May live up to about 10 years
• Come in a variety of sizes, coat types & colors
• From dwarf to Flemish giant sizes
• From satin to angora coat types
• From albino white to black
• From solids to spotted to otter
Rabbits as Pets: Cons
• There are some negatives of rabbits as pets
• Powerful rear legs – can kick and inflict severe scratches with rear feet
• If picking up an adult or large rabbit by the scruff, without support underneath, they can kick
and break their backs
• May bite – use judgment where you put your fingers!
• NOTE: rabbits should never be picked up by the ears! (Scruffing is n