The difference between wild and domestic rabbits

Last Updated on March 25, 2023 by keno

Although both wild and domestic rabbits belong to the same species and the Leporidae family, they have fundamental differences. In other words, they differ in appearance, behavior as well as habitats. Wild and domestic bunnies also have different diets and life expectancies. It’s worth mentioning that some people often refer to wild rabbits as hares which is usually incorrect. On the contrary, the two are totally different species. With that out of the way, below are the five differences between wild and domestic rabbits in detail.


1. Appearance

In terms of appearance, wild and domestic rabbits differ in size. The latter which weighs between 2 to 3 pounds is generally small in size compared to domestic bunnies which weigh on average 6 pounds. Wild rabbits also have long and narrow face compared to domestic rabbit that has plumper cheeks. Compared to their domestic counterparts, wild rabbits have an agile and thin bodies better suited for running or dodging predators.

When it comes to coat color, wild rabbits’ coat comes either in a dark brownish gray or a light sandy color depending on their environment. In other words, wild bunnies living in wooded terrain have darker brownish-gray coats while those in desert habitats have the latter.

Domestic bunnies, on the other hand, have a wide variety of coat colors and patterns with some also having longer and fluffier fur compared to their wild cousins.

In short, the difference in appearance between wild and domestic rabbits is greatly influenced by their evolution as well as adaptation to different environments. Wild bunnies for instance have physical traits that are better suited for survival in the wild, while domestic rabbits have traits that make them great pets as well as more attractive to humans.


2. Behavior

The other main difference between wild and domestic rabbits is their behavior. Wild rabbits are usually more skittish and cautious around humans mainly because they’re well adapted to living independently in colonies away from other animals they consider a threat.

Domestic rabbits, on the other hand, are docile and friendly considering that they’re been domesticated for centuries as pets. As a result, these rabbits are more accustomed to human presence or interaction.


3. Habitat adaptability


Wild rabbits are more adapted to living in natural environments such as deserts, fields, grasslands, and woodlands. Woodlands. Over the years, they’ve learned to evolve and survive in these natural environments where they can dig burrows and also use their agility and speed to escape predators.

Domestic rabbits, however, have adapted to a household setup where they mostly rely on humans for survival. In short, a wild rabbit will hardly adapt to a domestic setup considering its, natural evolutionary history and lack of dependency on humans. On the other hand, domestic rabbits will less likely to survive in the wild considering that they lack all the survival instincts of their wild counterparts.


4. Diet

Wild rabbits’ diet includes a variety of plants which includes mainly grasses, flowers, herbs, and vegetables. Their digestive system is more specialized to allow them to extract the most nutrients from the food they forage. Domestic bunnies on the other hand, mainly feed on hay, substituted with vegetables and a small portion of pellets and fruits. In a nutshell, a wild rabbit’s diet is greatly influenced by its environment while domestic rabbits’ diet entirely depends on their caregiver.



5. Lifespan


Finally, in terms of life expectancy, wild rabbits more specifically cotton tails, have an average lifespan of two years. This is mainly because in the wild they’re below the food chain making them vulnerable to most predators. They also may also experience challenges such as food scarcity or exposure to elements. Domestic rabbits however have an average lifespan of 8 to 12 years with proper care. This entails providing your bunny with a balanced diet, a conducive living space, as well as regular medical checkups.


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