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Rabbit

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Rabbit
Cute rabbit 1.jpg
Scientific Classification
Genera
  • Aztlanolagus
  • Brachylagus
  • Bunolagus
  • Caprolagus
  • Lepus
  • Mytonolagus
  • Nesolagus
  • Oryctolagus
  • Pentalagus
  • Poelagus
  • Pronolagus
  • Romerolagus
  • Serengetilagus
  • Sylvilagus[1]

Rabbits are small mammals that comprise the family Leporidae. There are seven genera of rabbits which are found in many parts of the world. Domesticated rabbits were derived from the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus).[2]

Female Rabbits are called a 'Doe' and males are called a 'Buck'. [3] Rabbits usually live for about 4-10 years. Rabbits make nice house pets. They are usually kept in "hutches". [4] The hutch should be in a sheltered place. They drink lots of water; eat plants, special rabbit food, or vegetables.[5] Hairballs will develop frequently in the rabbit’s stomach. Unlike cats, rabbits cannot throw up these hairballs. So surgery is often needed because it clogs up the stomach, not leaving enough room for food. To prevent these hairballs it is suggested that you feed your rabbit fresh pineapple juice or papaya, which contains a digestive enzyme.[6]

Anatomy

Close up of rabbit

A rabbit is a very small Endothermic Vertebrate. They are covered in various colors of short fur, have big floppy ears, two large front teeth and a cute short fluffy tail. They have four legs which are made for lots running and jumping. Their nose is similar to a cat, with whiskers.[7] All rabbits must have a perfect "bite" so that their constant growing teeth wear down properly. But many rabbits have malocclusion (which is when their teeth are not aligned perfectly) in there two front teeth. This causes much pain when the rabbit chews. This is caused by having an irregular upper jaw. You must get their teeth periodically clipped by a veterinarian. Rabbits may die from starvation if they do not get treated. A rabbit's lumbar spine (lower back) is very fragile. When rabbits are not properly picked up or they are dropped, spine injuries will occur.[8]

Reproduction

Five day old bunny

Rabbits breed from February to October. The female will carry her young for thirty days. There are usually five to eight young in each litter. Baby rabbits are called bunnies, [9]and are born they are blind and hairless.[10]A mature female rabbit can be continuously pregnant for 6-8 months if conditions are favorable. As a result a single pair of rabbits can produce 30-40 young per year.[11]Uterine cancer is the most common tumor of domestic rabbits. This tumor can be spread to the lungs. Uterine cancer may cause a smaller litter. To prevent problems later in life all female pet rabbits should be sprayed when they are 4 1/2 months old.[12]

Digestion

Though cited as an example of “unintelligent design” by evolutionists , the rabbit's digestive system is largely responsible for its reproductive success. Rabbits are some of the few animals which practice caecotrophy, the ingesting of feces.

When a rabbit feeds, the plant matter is chewed, exposed to acid in the stomach and passed quickly to the colon. Muscles in the colon contract in waves and separate the fibers from the small particles and liquids. The fibers are expelled as hard faecal pellets. Though fibers contain nutrients, the are only released after more thorough mastication and fermentation. The liquid and semifluid parts of the plant are forced back up into the caecum, a pouch at the junction of the small and large intestine. In the caecum the pellets undergo bacterial fermentation before being expelled after three to eight hours. These pellets are soft and covered in a layer of mucus and are called caecal. The rabbit instinctively ingests these pellets directly from the anus. The caecal pellets are swallowed whole, preserving the mucus layer. The caecal pellets will sit in the stomach for up to six hours while further bacterial fermentation takes place. During this time the bacteria release more nutrients from the plant matter and produce amino acids, volatile fatty acids and vitamins B and K. The mucus layer protects the bacteria from the acids found in the stomach and when the layer dissolves the bacteria are killed. The material then moves into the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. Thus the rabbit moves food through its digestive system twice in a 24 hour period. Far from being crude or inefficient, this process confers many advantages to the rabbit. These include extracting more nutrition from a very fibrous diet, spending minimal time above ground, and keeping animal size small. The last two points are especially important due to the fact that the rabbit is a prey species, needing to move quickly and hide in warrens.[13]

Ecology

Rabbits in Australia

Rabbits can live in many places all over the world. All rabbits live underground in burrows and warrens.[14] Australia is an excellent example of the rabbit's ability to rapidly fill an ecological niche. In 1859, Thomas Austin released 24 English wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) for sport hunting on Christmas day. The rabbits population in the wild exploded and rabbits spread over the continent rapidly. Now rabbits are considered Australia's number one pest, estimating to cost farmers more than AU$100 million each year. Overgrazing by rabbits limits the raising of sheep, damages native vegetation and contributes to soil erosion.[15]

Many things have been tried to eradicate the rabbit including shooting, fencing, warren destruction, trapping, poisoning, and release of predators. In the 1950's authorities had great success with the intentional release of myxomatosis, a high-virulence virus. Rabbit population estimates went from 600 million to less than 100 million. But as in all populations, some rabbits were already resistant to the virus and the descendants of these rabbits continue to increase their numbers.[16]

Diseases and Infections

Rabbits can get many diseases and infections. And here are just a few of them.

A bacterial disease, Pasteurellosis, is found in the nose, lungs and eye membranes, jawbone, uterus, and in the middle ear. This disease is the major infectious agent of rabbits. It is transmitted between breeding or infected does and their litters. The rabbits' body fights back to the Pasteurella organism by invading with a large number of white blood cells. As a result of the dead white blood cells, pus forms on the infection. If these infections are not treated properly they may become incurable. Respiratory Disease is caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida. This disease needs to be treated with antibiotics.

Internal Bacterial Infections are common to rabbits. Many affected rabbits' organs are involved including the liver, kidney, brain, and more. he rabbits that suffer from these serious bacterial infections must be treated with proper care. It may take weeks for the rabbit to recover.

A fungal disease, ringworm is transmitted by direct contact of fungal spores on hair coats. This causes hairless areas on the head, ears, and limbs which are covered in crust. Rabbits can transmit this disease to humans. So you must be careful about touching rabbits. [17]

Gallery

References