Merck Manual

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Professional Version

Overview of Rabbits


Joerg Mayer

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

Last full review/revision Jul 2021 | Content last modified Jul 2021

The European or Old World rab`bit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is the only genus of domestic rabbits. Wild rabbits and hares include cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus spp) and the “true” hares or jackrabbits (Lepus spp). Rabbits have been bred for fur, meat, wool, exhibition (shows), and for use as laboratory animals. The closest relative to the rabbit is the pika (Ochotona spp), are two species which live in mountainous areas in Asia and in North America. Rabbits are classified as lagomorphs, not rodents.

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