As with the brown hare, rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are not native to the UK but originate from the western Mediterranean and were introduced in the 12th century for meat and fur. They are now widespread throughout Britain and Ireland.
Unlike the mountain and brown hares, they live in social groups and form burrows, known as warrens. These can be formed in many different habitats but locations near food supplies are favoured, such as woodland edges and hedgerows. They feed on grasses, cereal crops, root vegetables and wildflowers. As with the mountain and brown hare, rabbits are nocturnal, but will come out of their warrens during the day to feed if they are undisturbed.
The breeding season is January to August and females can produce one litter of 3-7 young per month. Young can start breeding at only 4 months old. They are preyed upon by badgers, buzzards, weasels, foxes, cats, stoats and polecats.
Why we're interested:
Comparing sightings of rabbits with those of mountain and brown hare may allow us to and whether rabbit distribution is changing. Rabbits are a species that could potentially be confused with mountain hares and brown hares and so have been included to make surveyors aware of the difference between these species.
Head and body size: Around 40cm
Coat: Light brown coat all year round.
Head: Ears same length as head. Dark brown eyes.