The European rabbit or common rabbit (Lepus (Eulagos) europaeus) is a species of rabbit native to Europe and western Asia. It is not a rodent but a bivalve adapted to the open areas of temperate climates. It is similar to the wild rabbit, which has a different way of life (from breeding to escape, it is related to the dens it digs itself), while the rabbit never digs holes and relies only on speed in its escape. Rabbits are normally secretive animals, but they change their behavior in the spring when they gather for mating. The decline in rabbit populations in continental Europe is due, among other things, to changes in agriculture.
Smaller rabbits of southwestern Europe: Lepus corsicanus, Lepus granatensis, Lepus castroviejoi have recently been separated as separate species. Studies of the genomes of the European rabbit and the Cape rabbit (Lepus capensis) indicate their accelerated evolution after the not-so-distant geographical isolation of populations. Either way the European rabbit remains classified as a species until new research solves their taxonomic status.
The European rabbit is one of the largest bipeds, weighing usually 2.5-4.0 (maximum 7.0) kg and 48-75 cm long, tail 7-11 cm. Number of teeth: 28.
Fur yellowish brown or rusty brown, dense, curly on the back, belly grayish white. Unlike some other species, rabbits do not have a white color in winter. The ears are long with black tips, and the face is brown with a black ring around the eyes. He has long hind legs and hairy feet. The species has no significant sexual dimorphism.
Life expectancy is up to 12 years, in nature usually up to 4 years or less.
Distribution and habitat
They inhabit continental Europe to the Middle East and Central Asia. Inhabited in ancient Britain, and more recently around the world: eastern North America, South America, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and many islands.  In northern Europe, its range overlaps with that of the white rabbit (Lepus timidus).
It inhabits the entire continental part of Croatia, except for the highest mountains and some islands. They live in fields and meadows, or in open forests near agricultural areas.
Behavior and nutrition
Active mainly in the evening and at night, outside the mating season he lives a lonely life, during the day he hides in a hollow – “log”, in the furrow of the field or bushes. They have excellent hearing, sense of smell and field of view of almost 360 ° and run at speeds up to 72 km / h. When fleeing from predators, it can dodge and quickly change direction, and swim if necessary. Although usually silent, rabbits may grunt faintly, and the injured let out a scream. Females communicate with their young through a throat call. His natural enemies are some birds of prey (golden eagle, great owls) and beasts (fox, wolf, wild cat, lynx).
Diet mostly plant. In summer they eat grass, herbaceous plants and crops, in winter twigs, buds, bark of young trees. Like other bipeds, they have a simple digestive tract and eat their first green semi-digested feces (autocoprophagy).
Rabbits have extended mating times from January to August. Spring is the “race time” when rabbits chase each other and there are fights, kicking with the hind legs or “boxing” with the front paws. It has long been thought that these are male fights for the right to mate, but research has shown that females usually hit males if they are not ready. The young carry 41-44 days, the kittens from March to October several times, usually 2-4 (1-8) young who see immediately (unlike rabbits) and can leave the log in case of danger. The cubs are hidden during the day and go out at dusk when their mother feeds them. They are independent after one month and sexually mature after 6 to 12 months.
Rabbits and humans
Although widespread, population decline has been observed since the 1960s, perhaps caused by modernization toward intensive agriculture.
People hunt it like game. They are additionally endangered by diseases: coccidiosis, tularemia, pseudotuberculosis (Yersinia), pasteurellosis, hemorrhagic disease (EBHS), which are the main cause of death.
Several countries put it on the red list as an endangered species, including Croatia because its number was halved at the end of the 20th century and the spread of the disease was helped by the constant hunting practice of introducing foreign rabbits of different ecotypes from Eastern and Central Europe.
They are considered an invasive species and pest in Argentina, America and Australia. They do damage to crops, especially apple orchards.
In pre-Christian Germanic mythology, the rabbit is associated with the spring goddess Oester, for superstitious witches in animal form, which did not prevent him from being an icon of Christian Easter today as a symbol of fertility and spring. The character is from numerous fairy tales and fables (Turtle and Rabbit), proverbs and sayings (Rabbit is looking for a mother, In that bush lies a rabbit, A skewer without a rabbit). There are many jokes about honey and bunnies.
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