Rabbits – Information
Rabbits are Lagomorphs, which has the following definition: plant-eating mammals with two pairs of incisors in the upper jaw specifically adapted for gnawing. Domesticated rabbits weigh typically from 5 to 25 lbs depending on the breed. The male is called a buck and the female is a doe; a young rabbit is a kitten or kit.
Rabbits are hind-gut digesters. This means that most of their digestion takes place in their large intestine and cecum. A rabbit’s cecum is about 10 times bigger than the stomach and it along with the large intestine makes up roughly 40% of the rabbit’s digestive tract. The unique musculature of the cecum allows the intestinal tract of the rabbit to separate fibrous material from more digestible material. The fibrous material is then passed as feces, while the more nutritious material is encased in a mucous lining as a cecotrope. Cecotropes 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. Basically, since rabbits are not able to regurgitate their food and chew their cud like other herbivores, they have to process their food stuffs twice by eating their “good” feces.
Rabbits demeanor can be understood based on the fact that they are prey animals and are therefore constantly aware of their surroundings. If confronted by a potential threat, a rabbit may freeze and observe then warn others in the warren with powerful thumps on the ground. Rabbits have a remarkably wide field of vision (they can see nearly 360 degrees around their heads – all but a small span above the bridge their noses) which primarily devoted to overhead scanning for predators. They survive by burrowing, hopping away in a zig-zag motion, and, if captured, delivering powerful kicks with their hind legs or biting with their sharp teeth.
Despite being prey animals, rabbits have been successfully domesticated as livestock – used for meat, fiber, pelts and even feet. Rabbits are a common exotic pet that can be housed in outdoor hutches or even kept indoors and trained like a cat to use a litter box.