10 fascinating facts about rabbits

While you’re tucking into your Easter chocolate, swat up on your bunny knowledge

1. Rabbits have almost 360-degree eyesight

Rabbits have developed powerful legs to run fast
and super senses to help them avoid their many predators, which include foxes, eagles, wild cats and stoats. When chased by a predator they will run to their warren, zigzagging as they go, and then hide underground until the danger has passed. Rabbits are also protected from predators thanks to their good hearing, excellent sense of smell and small blind spot in their all-around vision.

2. The total global rabbit population is estimated at 709 million, more than half of which are located in North America.

3. Their ears regulate their body temperature

Rabbits cannot sweat, so they lose heat from their body surface, particularly their ears. The size of a wild rabbit’s ears are therefore related to the climate it lives in. The Netherland dwarf rabbit has the smallest ears of the Lagomorphs at just five centimetres (two inches) long, while the ears of an English lop can grow to an incredible 81 centimetres (32 inches)!

4. A rabbit’s heart beats between 120–150 times a minute

That’s twice the speed of an average human heart and around six- to seven-times faster than the heart rate of a tortoise.

5. Babies are born blind and helpless

Baby rabbits are known as kittens or kits and are born with their eyes closed and without fur. There are usually between four and eight babies in a litter, but litters of over ten regularly occur. The mother may nurse her youngsters as little as once a day, but her milk is among the richest of all mammals. After a month the kittens will be able to look after themselves, and at five to six months old they are able to have their own babies.

6. 9 unique domestic rabbit breeds are recognised in America, with many more cross-breeds.

7. They have lots of babies

A doe is capable of getting pregnant again just four days after giving birth. With up to 12 litters a year and an average of six kittens per litter, it is easy to see why rabbits are commonly associated with population explosions.

8. The Easter bunny started as a hare

Our much-loved story of the Easter bunny delivering eggs to children originates from German folklore. It was transported to America in the
1700s by German immigrants spreading their custom of a hare called Osterhase who judged whether children had been good or disobedient when delivering eggs at Easter.

9. A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing

And they can grow an amazing 100 millimetres (3.9 inches) every year. Constant chewing and gnawing keeps their teeth ground down, and a pet rabbit needs a high-fibre diet with plenty of hay and wooden toys to keep the length of its teeth in check.

10. Their powerful legs help them jump

Rabbits can jump as high as 0.6 metres (two feet) into the air and cover up to 4.5 metres (15 feet) in a single bound. When they are content they sometimes jump and spin around in the air, a behaviour known as ‘binky’.