Where do rabbits originate from?

Last Updated on June 13, 2023 by Admin

I often get asked, where do rabbits originate from? Bunnies are descendants of the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) that originated from the southern European mainland. They were the only domesticated rabbits that lead to the rise of the current variety of rabbit breeds you see today. It’s worth pointing out, however, that cottontail and jackrabbits are separate species from the European rabbit.

Rabbit Origin

  • Who introduced rabbits to the UK?

According to a recent study, a rabbit’s bone structure fossil was discovered at a Roman palace. This implies that they were the first to introduce bunnies to the UK. The rabbit fossil dates back half a century ago, thus making it the oldest form of rabbit evidence in the united kingdom.


  • Are rabbits native to the Americas?

Where do rabbits originate from in the Americas? Over half of the entire rabbit population is located in North America. However, they’re also native to southwestern Europe, South America, Southeast Asia, Sumatra, some parts of Africa, and also on a few japan islands.


  • When did humans domesticate rabbits?

According to archaeological evidence, rabbits were domesticated during the Epipaleolithic period which was between 20,000 to 10,000 years ago. Records suggest that rabbits originate from France and Spain. They were bred during the timeframe between the Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic in the stone age era. Later during the middle ages, rabbits were a delicacy that later found their way across Europe.


  • What was the original purpose of rabbits?

Archaeological evidence indicates that during the Pleistocene Epoch prehistoric era they were hunted for their meat and fur. However, fast forward to the 1st century, Roman literature shows that rabbits were raised as livestock. Several centuries later, precisely in the 19th century, some Western nations began adopting them as pets.


  • How did European rabbits get to America?

European rabbits were introduced to America during the exploration era by ship crew. Official records in America show that the European rabbit was first domesticated in Washington state in 1929. However, it is believed that some breeds such as the Angora and Lop got to America way earlier, precisely around the 1840s.On the other hand, the Belgian Hare was introduced later around 1888 and many more breeds were adopted in the 20th century.


  • When were European rabbits introduced to Australia?

Oryctolagus cuniculus or European rabbits were introduced in Australia in 1859 for sport. A wealthy Australian settler who lived in Victoria brought various breeds from different parts of the globe. He then released them into his backyard to roam freely, multiply and make them sustainable for hunting. However, in half a century the European rabbits spread across the rest of the continent. Currently, there are over 150 million feral bunnies in Australia which have led to overgrazing, which has negatively affected agriculture.


  • How did rabbits get to Britain?


Rabbits were re-introduced to Britain by the Norman settlers, who got them from the western Mediterranean. However, historically Roman settlers were the first rabbit breeders in Britain.

There are no official records that specifically state when exactly rabbits were introduced in Britain. It’s believed to have occurred in the 12th century. Ancient records from the Isles of Scilly talk about rabbit warren as early as 1176. It’s worth pointing out that bunnies were known even during the pre-glacial era. However, they were widely accepted when the Norman settlers bred them around 900 years ago.

  • Why is a rabbit called a bunny?

Bunny origin is derived from the Scottish word (bun) which translates to rabbits, hares, and squirrels. The word bunny is also derived from the French word (Bon) meaning good. The name narrowed down to define female rabbits, then it graduated to small animals, and currently, it’s used to refer to younger rabbits.


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