The wild European rabbit is also known as the Common Rabbit. Its native range is southwestern Europe, particularly Spain and Portugal. The European rabbit was introduced all over the world, resulting in some devastating damages in places like Australia where the rabbit didn't have many predators. This species also became the basis for the many rabbit breeds we enjoy today as pets, show animals and meat rabbits.
Ironically, with all the success this species has had worldwide, it is listed as nearly threatened in its native area. Due to disease outbreaks of myxomatosis and rabbit calicivirus, the species is not doing well in the wild.
The European rabbit is where we get the idea of rabbits digging burrows. Unlike its American relatives, it spends a lot of time digging networks of burrows in the ground known as warrens. The warrens provide a warm and safe place for the blind and naked baby rabbits to develop after birth.
These wild rabbits range from 3 to 5 pounds in weight at maturity. They are known for their large ears, fluffy tails and powerful hind legs. They live in large colonies and are most active around dusk and dawn. These rabbits graze and browse, getting most of their food from grasses.
The social network in a warren is complex. The dominant male in the warren will breed with as many females as he can, while both males and females of lower status in the warren tend to form monogamous relationships. Wild rabbits can be very aggressive. Male rabbits may fight to the death.
The European rabbit can produce 6 or 7 litters per year if conditions are favorable. In fact, it only took 24 rabbits to multiply to over 600 million rabbits in Australia just under a century to dominate the landscape.
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