The animal kingdom features remarkable diversity, including the various types of rabbits. These adorable hopping animals are part of the Leporidae family alongside hares. They may be famous pet animals, but multiple kinds also live in the wild.
This article explores different species of wild rabbits and well-known rabbit breeds. Read on to explore the riveting rabbit world.
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Rabbits belong to the family Leporidae, a group widely known for its bounding and hopping mammals. However, not all Leporidae members are rabbits.
Out of the 11 genera of the Leporidae family, rabbit categorization includes eight of them: Bunolagus, Brachylagus, Pentalagus, Sylvilagus, Oryctolagus, Nesolagus, Romerolagus, and Poelagus.
Conversely, genera Lepus, Caprolagus, and Pronolagus contain the hares, with Lepus also encompassing North American jackrabbits.
Furthermore, all rabbit breeds originated from the genus Oryctolagus, specifically from the species Oryctolagus cuniculus, also known as the European rabbit. Today, the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) acknowledges over 49 distinct breeds of rabbits.
In this list, we will discuss a few species of wild rabbits in each genus and a handful of known pet rabbit breeds.
The Riverine Rabbit boasts a distinct appearance, with its well-fitted coat of brown and beige contrasting its white underbelly. They also have a black stripe that runs from the corner of their mouth to their large ears, typically around 4.5 inches long.
Primarily inhabiting South Africa, this rabbit favors thick vegetation near rivers for its home. It also avoids predation by being nocturnal and jumping high over tall bushes.
Regrettably, with less than 207 adults in the wild, Riverine Rabbits are considered critically endangered species mainly because of habitat destruction.
The Pygmy Rabbit is distinctively cute and incredibly tiny, with an average weight of just one pound and an approximate length of 10 inches, making it the smallest rabbit species in North America. It has a soft, gray-brown body, with small ears and short legs compared to other rabbits.
These petite creatures prefer habitats full of sagebrush where they dig extensive burrow systems.
Moreover, Pygmy Rabbits are the only American species that dig their burrows, spending most of their lives underground to stay safe from predators and extreme weather conditions.
The Amami rabbit, native to Japan, is a unique species with a stocky build and dark fur. Growing up to 20 inches long, this uncommon rabbit has small, rounded ears and a slightly elongated snout.
Primarily found in the dense forests of two small Japanese islands, the Amami rabbit prefers habitats with ample undergrowth for safety. Furthermore, they hide in burrows during the day and emerge to feed at night.
Unfortunately, IUCN declared Amami Rabbits endangered because of invasive predatory species and habitat destruction.
The Eastern Cottontail displays distinct grey-brown guard hairs and a signature cotton ball tail, earning its common name. Typically, their body measures 15 to 19 inches long, including their fluffy tail, and they weigh around 2 to 4 pounds.
These types of rabbits tend to settle in meadows and shrubby areas adjacent to forests, providing natural protection against predators. Moreover, they can run up to 18 mph in a zigzag pattern to evade their predators.
The Sumatran Striped Rabbit sports a unique coat pattern of dark brown stripes against a lighter base color. This animal is small, with an average length of about 17 inches, and carries its ears high above its head. These physical features make it easily distinguishable from other rabbit breeds.
This distinct rabbit species is primarily found in the dense equatorial rainforests of Sumatra and the Barisan Mountains. The Sumatran Striped Rabbit leads a nocturnal lifestyle, a behavior developed due to natural predators and the need for camouflaging during daylight.
Volcano rabbits are a sight to see, boasting a small size of about 12 inches with dense, short, and dark brown fur. They weigh between 1 to 1.5 pounds, making them one of the smallest rabbits in the world.
These creatures are uniquely habitat-specific in Mexico's high-altitude regions, especially areas with volcano slopes. They also communicate by emitting high-pitched sounds, an unusual trait among rabbits.
Unfortunately, IUCN listed these wild rabbits as endangered because of habitat destruction and climate change.
The Bunyoro rabbit is recognized by its cinnamon-brown coloration with a cream underside. It's a modestly sized creature, measuring about 20 inches long. High-set ears and round eyes provide them with an adorably alert demeanor.
This wild rabbit finds its home in the long grasslands and bushy areas of Central Africa, specifically Uganda and Congo. Moreover, they are nocturnal, evading predators and making them less visible to the human eye.
The subsequent ten types of rabbit are domestic breeds under European Rabbits of the genus Oryctolagus.
The American Rabbit originated in the United States during the early 20th century. They became famous for their docile and friendly nature, making them a preferred choice for families and rabbit breeders.
This rabbit breed has a strong, sleek, mandolin-shaped body with a slightly arched back. The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) recognizes two varieties: the Blue and the White.
This rare breed requires a secure and spacious living area to move around in. A balanced diet of hay, rabbit pellets, fresh vegetables, and occasional fruit treats is essential for their well-being.
While generally healthy, American Rabbits are susceptible to diseases like myxomatosis and Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD). Regular visits to a veterinarian are essential to maintain their health.
Furthermore, the American Livestock Breed Conservancy has labeled them a rare breed because of their declining population, partly due to farmers selecting other breeds for large-scale meat and fur production.
The Angora Rabbits are from the ancient city of Ankara, formerly known as Angora, in Turkey. They are known for plush, silky fur, often spun into yarn, a hypoallergenic alternative to regular wool.
Besides their beautiful coat, these domestic rabbits are friendly and gentle, thriving on social interaction with humans and other rabbits. They are also active creatures that require good exercise for their health and happiness.
However, their thick fur can cause overheating; they need a cool and comfortable living environment to maintain their well-being.
The Cinnamon Rabbit originated from a crossbreed of Chinchilla, Checkered Giant, and New Zealand White rabbits in the United States during the 1960s.
They have russet coats, which resemble the spice their name comes from. Their base coat is typically a vibrant orange or gentle fawn with speckles of smoky gray. Meanwhile, their ears, face, legs, and tail have darker points.
The Flemish Giant Rabbit originated from Belgium and is one of the oldest and largest rabbit breeds, often called the Gentle Giant. They have a thick coat ranging in color from black, blue, fawn, grey, steel grey, sandy, to white.
Furthermore, they are one of the largest rabbit breeds, weighing between 20 and 31 pounds. Despite their size, they are calm and patient, making them a popular pet choice for families with children.
Mini Lop rabbits are known for their compact and muscular structure, weighing between 4.5 to 6 pounds. They have a distinctive appearance: broad shoulders, deep chests, and a rounded back. Their ears hang down, measuring 5 to 6 inches long, lending charm to their overall demeanor.
Originating from Germany, this breed of rabbit was first recognized in the United States in 1980. A unique fact about them is their known affectionate and friendly nature. Exceptionally friendly, Mini Lops adjust well to varied living conditions, making them an ideal family companion.
With its small, compact body and distinct drooping ears, the Holland Lop is a charming rabbit breed. It typically weighs less than 4 lbs and showcases various coat colors.
Originating from the Netherlands in the 1950s, this breed was developed by combining Netherland Dwarf, French Lop, and English Lop genetics.
Holland Lops have ears measuring up to more than a foot long, usually drooping down alongside their small face. This trademark feature contributes to this breed’s endearing appeal, making it one of the most popular rabbit breeds.
The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit, as its name suggests, is one of the smallest rabbit breeds, typically weighing between 1.1 to 2.5 pounds, with a compact and rounded body. Its head is considerably large in relation to the body, accompanied by small, short ears that stand erect.
This dwarf breed originated in the Netherlands in the early 20th century. Unique to this breed is their coloration, with over 20 recognized coat colors by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, ranging from pure white to jet black and many shades in between.
True to their namesake, Chinchilla Rabbits display a coat resembling South America’s Giant Chinchilla, with soft shades of blue-grey fur. They typically weigh between five to seven pounds, and their compact, medium-sized bodies exhibit an appealing roll of flesh when in the correct form.
This breed originated in France and was primarily developed in the early 20th century for its pelts and meat.
Interestingly, their fur, through "ticking," displays multiple bands of color from base to tip, giving them their distinctive look. Each hair in their coat is layered with different colors, creating an overall silver-blue hue that has made them a favorite of furriers.
Distinguished by its characteristic two-tone fur, the Dutch rabbit stands out. This compact breed usually weighs in at 3.5 to 5.5 pounds, sporting vibrant colors – typically white mixed with black, blue, chocolate, or tortoiseshell.
Contrary to their name, Dutch rabbits originated in England, not the Netherlands. They gained popularity in the 19th century and have since been embraced globally.
Known for their calm and friendly temperament, Dutch rabbits are popular pet rabbits and common in rabbit show competitions, owing to their striking appearance and gentle disposition.
The Lionhead Rabbit, prized for its exceptional mane reminiscent of a lion, usually weighs between 2.5 and 3.75 pounds. This breed sports a dense and medium-length coat, adding to its charm and compact stature.
Conceived in Belgium, the Lionhead was specifically bred for its unique mane—a trait encoded by a specific gene not present in any other rabbit breed.
While primarily a show rabbit due to its unique features, Lionheads are also cherished for their excellent temperament and playful behavior.
The Tan Rabbit is a beautiful breed notable for its signature contrast of two colors in its coat. Characterized by a sleek, glossy fur, this rabbit is medium-sized, typically weighing around 4 to 6 pounds. Its eyes are bold and expressive, complementing the physique reminiscent of its wild ancestors from England.
Well-regarded for its active and playful behavior, this rabbit breed is an excellent pet and a show rabbit. This breed was initially bred for its soft fur but is now chiefly appreciated for its looks and demeanor.
Remarkably, Tans display a unique flyback fur type, immediately returning to its original position when stroked in the opposite direction.
The Himalayan rabbit, displaying a unique color point pattern, is typically white with dark-colored areas on their ears, nose, feet, and tail. These rabbits are small to medium, with adults weighing 2.5 to 4.5 pounds.
Originating from the regions near the Himalayan mountains, they're considered one of the oldest breeds.
These types of rabbit breeds are calm, friendly, and docile creatures, making them ideal as pets or show rabbits. Historically, they were bred primarily for their fur and meat.
Interestingly, they can change their colors with temperature, becoming darker in cold weather and lighter when it's warm.
Distinct for their coated white fur and dark-tipped ears, nose, feet, and tail, the Californian rabbits are medium-to-large, typically weighing between 7 and 10 pounds.
Developed in California in the 1920s, this breed successfully crosses Standard Chinchilla and New Zealand White rabbits, bred primarily to optimize the meat and fur industry.
This type of rabbit breed is known for its docile, friendly nature, making it an excellent choice for pets, particularly for families. They are also quite active, especially in the cooler parts of the day.
Furthermore, these rabbits' eyes are also particularly striking as they have a piercing, ruby-red gleam, a byproduct of their albinistic genes.
Despite its name, the Belgian Hare is a breed of domestic rabbit. It boasts of a slender and muscular physique, which provides the resemblance to hares. They possess a vibrant, rust-colored coat and long, elegant legs. These features strikingly mimic a wild hare's, resulting from careful selective breeding.
Hailing from Belgium in the mid-19th century, the Belgian Hare gained popularity in England and America. This breed is well-liked for its active behavior, often displaying spurts of energy.
Historically, they moved beyond being a primary food source and evolved into popular show animals and pets.
The Silver Fox Rabbit is a large breed, often weighing 9-12 pounds, distinctive for its thick, dense silver-black fur reminiscent of the coat of its namesake, the Silver Fox.
Originating in the United States in the early 20th century, it is a specimen of designer efforts in breeding created by Walter B. Garland of North Canton, Ohio.
Moreover, they have a rare "standing fur.” When their coat is stroked from tail to head, it stands straight up until smooth again.
The Silver Marten rabbit is truly a sight to behold, with its dark, silky fur highlighted by silver-white markings. Interestingly, their coat transforms from dark at birth to its silver-gleaming hue as the rabbit matures.
This breed, originating in the United States during the 1920s, was produced through selective breeding of Chinchilla Rabbits, with black and tan rabbits carrying the "silvering gene," leading to its distinctive coat pattern.
Though known for their energetic and engaged demeanor, Silver Martens are also fond of tranquility, making them suitable pets for active and quiet households.
They were initially bred for their fur, but their striking appearance and charming personality have made them famous show rabbits.
The Harlequin Rabbit originated in France during the 1880s, and its trademark is an appealing, multicolored coat of orange and either black, lilac, blue, or chocolate.
Weighing between 6.5 to 8 pounds when fully grown, this medium-sized breed showcases a distinctive checkerboard pattern, which earns it the name “Harlequin.”
Beyond their appearances, these types of rabbit breeds are known for their playful and gentle manner. This combination makes them excellent pets and show animals. They also have a "clown-like" personality, stealing the spotlight, whether it's a show pen or a family's living room.
The French Angora rabbit, originating from France, is one of the oldest types of domestic rabbits. They are revered for their soft, silky wool and distinctive appearance.
Typically, they weigh between 7.5 and 10.5 pounds and have a well-rounded body type. Notably, unlike other Angora breeds, their face and feet aren't covered in fur, giving them a unique look.
Regarding behavior, French Angoras are known for their calm, docile demeanor, making them an excellent choice as house pets.
They've also been bred for wool production, with their fur harvested and spun into yarn. A healthy adult French Angora can produce about 1 pound of wool per year.