The wild rabbit, family name Leporidae, are made up of 8 different genera and many species. They are spread out over several continents. Where do rabbits live? Some rabbits are native to their habitats and others have been introduced to those areas. Rabbits prefer areas that are bushy, near the edge of forests or in fields with high grasses and brush so that they can hide from predators and be near their food sources. Wild rabbits can even be found in suburban and urban areas.
The European Rabbit (Oryctolagus) is the best known of the rabbit genera. It is the ancestor to the domestic rabbit. The wild European rabbit lives in grassland areas and is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. They have been introduced to areas of South America, Australia, and New Zealand. They live in groups called colonies and make underground homes called warrens. Warrens are made up of burrows or holes below the ground which are connected by tunnels. Warrens serve as living and sleeping quarters and a place for the rabbits to have their young.
The Cottontail (Sylvilagus) is probably one of the most common genus with 13 species. It is named for the fluffy white fur on its tail. The Eastern cottontail prefers edge areas between forests and fields. They inhabit grasslands, deserts and forests of eastern North America in both the U.S. and Canada as well as Central and northern parts of South America. The cottontail lives alone and builds nests above the ground that are made up of grass and rabbit hair. The nest may be hidden under brush, logs or in areas of heavy vegetative growth. Their nests can be found in fields and even lawns. Other rabbits in this genera include the Swamp, Brush, Marsh and Bush Rabbits. These names describe their preferred habitats.
The Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus) lives in the Great Basin desert area of the U.S. They build extensive burrow systems underground with several entrances.
The Volcano Rabbit (Romerolagus) is an endangered rabbit located only in dense underbrush in the pine forests of the Chichinautzin Mountain Range of extinct volcanoes south of Mexico City. Their habitat is being threatened.
The Sumatran Striped Rabbit (Nesolagus) is located only in southwest Sumatra. This rare rabbit prefers the rainforests of the region.
The Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus) lives in the dense vegetation along rivers in southern Africa.
The Amami Rabbit (Pentalagus) is almost extinct and only found in forested areas of two Asian islands.
The Bunyoro Rabbit (Poelagus) inhabits Central Africa. It lives in burrows.
Domestic rabbits can be purchased as house pets. Wild rabbits do not make good pets. Domestic rabbits require care similar to other house pets such as cats and dogs. Domesticated rabbits have to be protected inside and outside from things that can harm them such as other pets or animals, ingestion of vegetation that can harm them or dangerous areas. Pet cages can be used inside the home or rooms can be pet- proofed. Dog runs or jacket leashes can be used for safety outside. Domestic rabbits do not live long in the wild. To care for pet rabbits learn what do rabbits eat.