Bunnies

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All were abandoned outdoors at a young age and adopted from shelters. Video by Elaina Kimes. Rabbits are the third most popular pet in America, after cats and dogs, according to the Humane Society of the United States—and the third most abandoned. Most Americans have a sense of how long cats and dogs live, the kind of care they need, their behaviors.


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But rabbits? I asked several of my colleagues how long they think domestic rabbits live. This disconnect appears to drive impulse pet rabbit purchases, says Anne Martin, executive director of the House Rabbit Society , the largest rabbit rescue organization in the U. This misconception may help drive a glut of baby bunny sales ahead of Easter—and a subsequent rise in rabbit abandonments.

1. Bunnies have lots of babies.

Jennifer McGee, co-manager of the Georgia chapter of House Rabbit Society, a shelter in the southeastern part of the state, says they normally receive one to two calls a week about abandoned rabbits. But in the six weeks after Easter, the shelter gets three to four calls a day. Vets and insurance companies consider them exotic pets, so medical care can be more expensive than for a cat or dog.

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This means they need to learn to use a litterbox yes, rabbits can be potty trained , which takes patience, just as it does for cats. Roger pops his head out of his travel carrier—he smells banana, his favorite treat.

Not cross bunnies: can a pet rabbit ever be happy?

Likely around four years old, he was rescued from a park in Washington, D. C, where he'd been left in a cage. Seemingly cute and cuddly, once baby bunnies mature, at between three and six months old, they can become aggressive and even destructive. In the winter, the rabbit does the opposite and folds its ears in order to decrease its surface area to the ambient air which would decrease their body temperature. The jackrabbit has the largest ears within the Oryctolagus cuniculus group.

Their large pinna were evolved to maintain homeostasis while in the extreme temperatures of the desert. The rabbit's nasal cavity lies dorsal to the oral cavity, and the two compartments are separated by the hard and soft palate. From there, the air moves into the nasal cavity, also known as the nasopharynx, down through the trachea, through the larynx, and into the lungs.

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The trachea then splits into a left and right bronchus, which meet the lungs at a structure called the hilum. From there, the bronchi split into progressively more narrow and numerous branches. The bronchi branch into bronchioles, into respiratory bronchioles, and ultimately terminate at the alveolar ducts. The branching that is typically found in rabbit lungs is a clear example of monopodial branching, in which smaller branches divide out laterally from a larger central branch.

Rabbits breathe primarily through their noses due to the fact that the epiglottis is fixed to the backmost portion of the soft palate. Further, the presence of a soft and hard palate allow the rabbit to breathe through its nose while it feeds. Rabbits lungs are divided into four lobes: the cranial, middle, caudal, and accessory lobes. The right lung is made up of all four lobes, while the left lung only has two: the cranial and caudal lobes. Rabbits are herbivores that feed by grazing on grass , forbs , and leafy weeds. In consequence, their diet contains large amounts of cellulose , which is hard to digest.


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Rabbits solve this problem via a form of hindgut fermentation. They pass two distinct types of feces: hard droppings and soft black viscous pellets, the latter of which are known as caecotrophs or "night droppings" [32] and are immediately eaten a behaviour known as coprophagy. Rabbits reingest their own droppings rather than chewing the cud as do cows and numerous other herbivores to digest their food further and extract sufficient nutrients.

Rabbits graze heavily and rapidly for roughly the first half-hour of a grazing period usually in the late afternoon , followed by about half an hour of more selective feeding. Hard pellets are made up of hay-like fragments of plant cuticle and stalk, being the final waste product after redigestion of soft pellets. These are only released outside the burrow and are not reingested. Soft pellets are usually produced several hours after grazing, after the hard pellets have all been excreted.

Rabbits are hindgut digesters. This means that most of their digestion takes place in their large intestine and cecum.

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Cecotropes, sometimes called "night feces", are high in minerals , vitamins and proteins that are necessary to the rabbit's health. Rabbits eat these to meet their nutritional requirements; the mucous coating allows the nutrients to pass through the acidic stomach for digestion in the intestines. This process allows rabbits to extract the necessary nutrients from their food.

The chewed plant material collects in the large cecum, a secondary chamber between the large and small intestine containing large quantities of symbiotic bacteria that help with the digestion of cellulose and also produce certain B vitamins. The soft feces form here and contain up to five times the vitamins of hard feces. After being excreted, they are eaten whole by the rabbit and redigested in a special part of the stomach.

The pellets remain intact for up to six hours in the stomach; the bacteria within continue to digest the plant carbohydrates. This double-digestion process enables rabbits to use nutrients that they may have missed during the first passage through the gut, as well as the nutrients formed by the microbial activity and thus ensures that maximum nutrition is derived from the food they eat.

Rabbits are incapable of vomiting. The adult male reproductive system forms the same as most mammals with the seminiferous tubular compartment containing the Sertoli cells and an adluminal compartment that contains the Leydig cells. In an adult male rabbit, the sheath of the penis is cylinder-like and can be extruded as early as two months of age. Between 10—14 weeks, the testes descend and are able to retract into the pelvic cavity in order to thermoregulate.

These compounds includes fructose , citric acid , minerals , and a uniquely high amount of catalase. The adult female reproductive tract is bipartite , which prevents an embryo from translocating between uteri. Along with being bipartite, the female rabbit does not go through an estrus cycle , which causes mating induced ovulation. The average female rabbit becomes sexually mature at 3 to 8 months of age and can conceive at any time of the year for the duration of her life.

However, egg and sperm production can begin to decline after three years. The encounter lasts only 20—40 seconds and after, the male will throw himself backwards off of the female. The rabbit gestation period is short and ranges from 28 to 36 days with an average period of 31 days.

A longer gestation period will generally yield a smaller litter while shorter gestation periods will give birth to a larger litter. The size of a single litter can range from four to 12 kits allowing a female to deliver up to 60 new kits a year. After birth, the female can become pregnant again as early as the next day. The mortality rates of embryos are high in rabbits and can be due to infection, trauma, poor nutrition and environmental stress so a high fertility rate is necessary to counter this.

Rabbits may appear to be crepuscular , but their natural inclination is toward nocturnal activity.


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In addition to being at risk of disease from common pathogens such as Bordetella bronchiseptica and Escherichia coli , rabbits can contract the virulent, species-specific viruses RHD "rabbit hemorrhagic disease", a form of calicivirus [47] or myxomatosis. Among the parasites that infect rabbits are tapeworms such as Taenia serialis , external parasites including fleas and mites , coccidia species, and Toxoplasma gondii.

Encephalitozoon cuniculi , an obligate intracellular parasite is also capable of infecting many mammals including rabbits. Rabbits are prey animals and are therefore constantly aware of their surroundings. For instance, in Mediterranean Europe, rabbits are the main prey of red foxes, badgers, and Iberian lynxes. Rabbits have a remarkably wide field of vision, and a good deal of it is devoted to overhead scanning.

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Their strong teeth allow them to eat and to bite in order to escape a struggle. Rabbit habitats include meadows , woods , forests , grasslands , deserts and wetlands. A group of burrows is called a warren. More than half the world's rabbit population resides in North America. They are not naturally found in most of Eurasia , where a number of species of hares are present. Much of the continent has just one species of rabbit, the tapeti , while most of South America's southern cone is without rabbits. The European rabbit has been introduced to many places around the world.

Rabbits have been a source of environmental problems when introduced into the wild by humans. As a result of their appetites, and the rate at which they breed, feral rabbit depredation can be problematic for agriculture. Gassing , barriers fences , shooting, snaring, and ferreting have been used to control rabbit populations, but the most effective measures are diseases such as myxomatosis myxo or mixi , colloquially and calicivirus. In Europe, where rabbits are farmed on a large scale, they are protected against myxomatosis and calicivirus with a genetically modified virus.

The virus was developed in Spain, and is beneficial to rabbit farmers. If it were to make its way into wild populations in areas such as Australia, it could create a population boom, as those diseases are the most serious threats to rabbit survival. Rabbits in Australia and New Zealand are considered to be such a pest that land owners are legally obliged to control them.

In some areas, wild rabbits and hares are hunted for their meat, a lean source of high quality protein. A caught rabbit may be dispatched with a sharp blow to the back of its head, a practice from which the term rabbit punch is derived. Wild leporids comprise a small portion of global rabbit-meat consumption. Domesticated descendants of the European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus that are bred and kept as livestock a practice called cuniculture account for the estimated million tons of rabbit meat produced annually. The figure for the United States was 0.

In the United Kingdom, fresh rabbit is sold in butcher shops and markets, and some supermarkets sell frozen rabbit meat. At farmers markets there, including the famous Borough Market in London, rabbit carcasses are sometimes displayed hanging, unbutchered in the traditional style , next to braces of pheasant or other small game. Rabbit meat is a feature of Moroccan cuisine, where it is cooked in a tajine with "raisins and grilled almonds added a few minutes before serving".