Merck Manual

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Overview of Rabbits

By

Joerg Mayer

, DMV, MSc, DABVP (ECM), DECZM (Small mammal), The University of Georgia

Last full review/revision Sep 2015 | Content last modified Oct 2015

The European or Old World rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is the only genus of domestic rabbits. Wild rabbits and hares include cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus) and the “true” hares or jackrabbits (Lepus). Rabbits have been bred for fur, meat, wool, exhibition, and for use as laboratory animals. The closest relative to the rabbit is the pika (Ochotona princeps), which lives in cold climates such as the Rocky Mountains. Rabbits are not rodents.

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