Domestic Rabbit Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Domesticated Rabbit

Scientific Name:

Oryctolagus cuniculus

Wild Status:

Near Threatened


Meadows, Forests, Grasslands


worldwide (originially domestictaed in Europe)



Life Span:

3 years in the wild, longer in captivity (around 6-12 years)


13-20 inches long, 2-5 pounds

Cool Facts:

  • Even though they are very similar to and often mistaken for rodents, rabbits belong to a different group of animals called lagomorphs, along with their relatives the hares and pikas. They differ in the structure of their teeth and in their ecological roles with the ecosystem.
  • Beginning in the 1500s, some people began training their rabbits to jump over hurdles. The sport is basically like a scaled-down version of horse-jumping. Competitions are held annually in the USA and Europe, where it is especially popular in Sweden.
  • There are about 50 breeds of domestic rabbit, including the Angora, the Belgian Hare, and the Flemish Giant.
  • Rabbits need to digest some of their food twice, so they will often eat their own waste in a process called coprophagy.


The domestic rabbit is a descendant of the European rabbit, which is native to Spain, Portugal, and some parts of France and northern Africa. The first records of rabbits being kept by humans date back to days of Ancient Rome, although it is not until the Middle Ages that one find records of selectively breeding for size and color.  Like most farm animals rabbits were initially domesticated for their meat, although they are also used for their fur, as research animals, and as pets.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Lagomorpha Family: Leporidae Genus: Oryctolagus Species: O. cuniculus

Conservation & Helping:

As is to be implied by the name "domesticated," these rabbits are commonly found in captivity. However, domestic rabbits have become established as an invasive species in a number of countries. In their native wild range, European rabbits are classified as near-threatened due to habitat destruction and disease.

For Teachers and Educators


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