Merck Manual

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Description and Physical Characteristics of Rabbits

By

Diane McClure

, DVM, PhD, DACLAM, Animal Resource Center Veterinary Services

Last full review/revision Aug 2020 | Content last modified Sep 2020
Topic Resources

Rabbits are small, furry mammals with long ears, short fluffy tails, and strong, large hind legs. They have 2 pairs of sharp incisors (front teeth), one pair on top and one pair on the bottom. They also have 2 peg teeth behind the top incisors. Their teeth are specifically adapted for gnawing and grow continuously throughout their lives.

Breeds of Rabbits

Small (2 to 6 pounds; 0.9 to 2.7 kilograms)

  • American Fuzzy Lop, Britannia Petite, Dutch, Dwarf Hotot, Florida White, Havana, Himalayan, Holland Lop, Jersey Wooly, Mini Lop, Mini Rex, Netherland Dwarf, Polish, Silver, Tan

Medium (6 to 9 pounds; 2.7 to 4.1 kilograms)

  • American Sable, Belgian Hare, English Angora, English Spot, French Angora, Harlequin, Lilac, Rex, Rhinelander, Satin Angora, Silver Marten, Standard Chinchilla

Large (9 to 11 pounds; 4.1 to 5 kilograms)

  • American, American Chinchilla, Beveren, California, Champagne d’Argent, Cinnamon, Creme d’Argent, English Lop, Giant Angora, Hotot, New Zealand, Palomino, Satin, Silver Fox

Giant (more than 11 pounds; more than 5 kilograms)

  • Checkered Giant, Flemish Giant, French Lop, Giant Chinchilla

Using their powerful hind legs, rabbits move by hopping. They have 4 toes on their hind feet that are long and webbed to keep them from spreading apart as they jump. Their front paws have 5 toes each. Some species of rabbit can reach speeds of 35 to 45 miles per hour (56 to 72 kilometers per hour). Young rabbits seem to walk instead of hop.

Rabbits vary in color and size, ranging in weight from 2 to 16 pounds (1 to 7 kilograms), depending on breed. Pet rabbits that have been well taken care of and spayed or neutered early in life have a life expectancy of 8 to 12 years.

For More Information

Also see professional content regarding management of rabbits.

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