There are a lot of fun things to learn about rabbits besides the fact that they are cute and fuzzy. For instance, did you know that the largest rabbit recorded was 26 pounds, 7 ounces? It’s true! That was one big bunny!
While rabbits usually produce litters of 6 to 8 bunnies, the largest known litter contained 24 bunnies. Not only did it happen once … it happened twice! The first time it was recorded in 1978. The second huge litter was born in 1999.
Mother rabbits can feed their whole litter in 5 minutes or less. They do not spend a lot of time with their babies like mother cats do. It is normal for them to visit their litter only for feeding once or twice per day. In the wild, this protects the babies by not attracting attention to the nest.
Baby rabbits are born without fur. Their eyes and ears are closed when they are born. Fur starts to grow almost immediately. Their eyes and ears open when they are between 10 and 14 days old.
If you look at your rabbit’s mouth closely, you’ll notice a tiny peg tooth behind each of their front incisors. Altogether they have 28 teeth. Another interesting anatomical point is that rabbits have 18 toenails; they have 4 nails on each hind food and 5 nails on each front foot. Do not forget to check your bunny’s nails occasionally to see if they need trimming. And did you know your rabbit can see behind him without turning his head?
Rabbits come in over 150 different colors, yet they only have 5 different eye colors: blue, pink, brown, blue-gray and marble. The American Rabbit Breeders’ Association recognizes 47 different breeds. These breeds range from the tiny Netherland Dwarf at 2.5 pounds to the Flemish Giant, which can grow 20 pounds or larger.
Rabbits can not vomit. When they get an upset stomach or develop a hairball, everything must work its way out the other way. Feeding hay will help things work their way out. Rabbits get hairballs like cats because they groom their fur by licking. Rabbits can even make a purring sound similar to cats.
Domestic rabbits do not breed with wild rabbits in the United States. They are actually different species. Our domestic rabbits are descended from European rabbits. The two species can not breed together because they have different numbers of chromosomes.
Rabbits have a unique digestive system. Food passes through their system once and comes out as soft, smelly droppings called cecotropes. Rabbits eat their cecotropes so the food goes through their system a second time, making sure they get every bit of nutrition possible. The dry bunny beans we think of as normal rabbit droppings occur after the food has passed through the second time.
If you’re not sure what to do with all those droppings your bunny makes, they’re great for the garden. Unlike many manures, rabbit droppings are safe for plants the moment your bunny gives them up. If you do not have a garden, ask your neighbors if they want to add it to their garden as natural fertilizer.