What Category Do Rabbits Fall Under?

Sometimes, people have trouble identifying what category a certain animal falls under. For example, some people may not be able […]

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Sometimes, people have trouble identifying what category a certain animal falls under. For example, some people may not be able to tell whether an animal is a mammal or reptile.

The same is the case for rabbits. Most people may ask the question “what category do rabbits fall under?” The answer is that of course, they fall under different categories as seen below:

  • Kingdom : Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Lagomorpha
  • Family: Leporidae
  • Genus: Oryctolagus cuniculus
  • Species: Oryctolagus cuniculus “European rabbit” or “O.C.” for short

In this article, we will delve into the question of, “what category do rabbits fall under”, their diet, behavior, and facts about them in a bid to clear up some common misconceptions about these fascinating animals.

Keep reading to learn more.

What are Rabbits?

Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world. There are seven different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including Pentalagus, Amami Rabbit, Bunolagus, Poelagus marjori, Pronolagus and Caprolagus.

One species that many people may be familiar with is Oryctolagus cuniculus or “O.C.” for short, which falls under the European rabbit category.

Rabbits and Hares-Is there a Difference?

Many people often get confused when it comes to the difference between rabbits and hares because they are very similar in appearance especially to the untrained eye.

The easiest way to tell the difference is by their ears since rabbits have short, fluffy tails while hares have long fur that sticks up on top of their head acting as an umbrella when they feel threatened or scared.

Other differences include:

  • How fast each species can run (rabbits can run faster but not for a long period of time compared to hares)
  • How long they live (hare generally live longer than rabbits)
  • Where they are commonly found in nature (rabbits are mostly found in forested areas)
  • Whether or not they make good house pets (in most cases, hares cannot be kept as pets and are definitely not recommended for children)

What Category do Rabbits Fall Under?

Rabbits definitely fall under land mammals just like humans because they have a spine and a skeletal system that support their body weight. They also breathe using lungs and have a heart that pumps blood throughout their body.

They are warm-blooded meaning they keep their body temperature at an average of 36 degrees Celsius (human’s average temperature is 37 degree Celsius). They also need to maintain a certain level of humidity in order to prevent dehydration (similarly, humans need to drink water).

However, they do not fall under the category of primates because they don’t have nails on all four limbs unlike primates which include monkeys, apes, lemurs and even us. Moreover, rabbits cannot produce sounds like other primates such as chimpanzees or gorillas can through their larynx.

There are different types of rabbits categorized by different names that tend to have different characteristics. These are the categories that can easily tell people what category do rabbits fall under.

European Rabbit: Oryctolagus cuniculus

© Damian Kuzdak

This is the most commonly known type of rabbit, which many people may think of when they hear the word “rabbit.” They generally live in underground burrows and tunnels in order to protect them from predators like humans, foxes, coyotes and other carnivores. Their way out is through a small entrance called an arch (also known as bolt hole) which is neatly covered by vegetation or debris in case any predator approaches.

Although it has brown fur on its back, their stomachs are white in color. The Oryctolagus cuniculus species is the only type of rabbit that is not able to reproduce on its own because it depends on its fellow female rabbits to give birth. They are herbivores, which means they feed on plants like grass, hay, and weed. This species has an average lifespan of about 2-5 years

Brush Rabbit or Swamp Hare: Sylvilagus bachmani

© Walter Siegmund

These types of rabbits are also called swamp hares due to their ability to swim in swamps and marshes. They tend to live near water bodies like lakes, rivers, and stream banks (despite their name “brush” they prefer vegetation rather than brush). Their fur color can be brown or reddish with dark spots on their back, which makes them look like tigers.

Cottontail Rabbit: Sylvilagus floridanus

© Gareth Rasberry

This type of rabbit species is often confused with the swamp hare due to their similar fur color and markings. The difference between them lies in the fact that they tend to live in open spaces like fields and meadows instead of swamps and marshlands.

Whereas brush hares feed on trees, shrubs and grasses, cottontails feed on leaves, fruits and vegetables (like lettuce and carrots) as well as other types of soft vegetation that is easy for them to digest.

Gunnison’s Cottontail: Sylvilagus gunnisoni

©  Howcheng

Another species within this genus is S. gunnisoni, which looks like a small version of a cottontail with a lighter-colored coat. Their fur color is mostly brown but tend to have gray spots on their backs and darker colors around their eyes. This species has similar characteristics as S. floridanus such as feeding on leaves, fruits, and vegetables, which makes them herbivores.

Pygmy Rabbit: Brachylagus idahoensis

© U.S. Government National Park Service

The pygmy rabbit is the smallest type of rabbit by weight and height out of all other types within this genus. They tend to inhabit open spaces in grasslands or sagebrush flats for example living near streams or lakes where they get at least some source of water since they need to drink every day to prevent dehydration.

They are considered endangered due to factors like habitat loss and fragmentation.

Domestic Rabbit: Oryctolagus cuniculus

©  Aiwok

One of the most common types of rabbits kept as pets is the European rabbit (also known as domestic rabbits). They are usually distinguishable by their long ears, short fur in comparison to other types of rabbits, cottontail appearance, and hopping gait when running where both hind legs move together instead of alternating like most other animals that run on all four limbs.

They are commonly used for laboratory testing due to their relatively lower emotional sensitivity compared to dogs or chimpanzees. Due to this reason, they are also kept as pets in many countries around the world despite the tradition toward keeping cats or dogs in some societies.

When held in captivity, they are sometimes fed cereal-based pellets for added nutrition. The domestic rabbit lives anywhere from 5-8 years depending on the breed, and can be kept as a house pet or an outside pet.

Rabbit Behavior, Diet, Habitat, and Reproduction

Now that we know the different types of rabbit categories, it is important to know their behavior and habitat as well as what they like to eat and how many babies they make at a time.

Rabbit Behavior

They tend to live in groups called warrens, which can have up to 10 rabbits. The rabbit is one of the most timid creatures that hide from predators such as foxes, dogs, and humans by burrowing into underground burrows or crevices.

They are nocturnal creatures so you will usually see them during the night since it is less likely for their predators to spot them during this time. Rabbit feet have long digits on each foot and large hind legs that help them move very quickly. This speed helps them escape from predators who approach too closely because they often die if not saved by another animal or human.

Rabbit Diet

They are herbivores and eat grass, weeds, and leafy plants such as clover and lettuce that grow in their natural habitat. If kept as a pet, they can survive on breads, fruits like cantaloupe (or muskmelon), carrots and pellets made of various ingredients such as soybeans, oats and alfalfa.

Rabbit Habitat

Similar to other types of rabbits within this genus, the cottontail rabbit is known for its speed, which provides safety from predators like foxes and coyotes. Cottontails prefer habitats like meadows with thick cover close to food sources such as logs where they can hide from possible threats.

Swamp hares are known for their large ears and they have an excellent sense of hearing that can detect predators approaching them before anyone else. They prefer habitats like wet grasslands with dense vegetation that provides many hiding places for these creatures to escape from any dangerous animals who attempt to hunt them.

Reproductive Behavior

A female rabbit is called a doe, and males are called bucks. The mother only mates once during the month but has several litters, which consists of 1-8 baby bunnies per litter on an average basis.

The gestation period is around 30 days, after which the mother gives birth to her new babies in a protected place within their habitat where she nurses them until they are old enough to leave this area on their own accord. This is usually around 2 months of age.

A baby rabbit is called a kit or kitten, and they are born blind and hairless. They nurse for several weeks until their eyes open and they can walk on their own.

Rabbit Lifespan

Since they are prey animals, it is almost impossible for them to have a long lifespan. On an average, their life expectancy ranges from 2-5 years, which is much shorter than dogs, or cats who live up to 10 years on an average basis.

Some breeds do live longer however, such as the giant rabbit breed that lives somewhere between 8-12 years if kept well.

A newborn rabbit’s life expectancy is short because predators like owls, hawks, coyotes, snakes and bobcats tend to kill them for food despite the mother’s attempts to defend her young ones from these animals.

What is the Ideal Rabbit to keep as a Pet?

Given the different types of rabbits, it is important to know the ideal rabbit to keep as a pet based on its behavior and habitat so you know what you are getting into if you choose this type of animal.

For instance, if you live in a place with many predators like coyotes or bobcats then it would be better not to own rabbits since they are defenseless creatures against these types of animals.

Another factor that will determine which category of rabbits you should keep as pets is whether they prefer grassy areas, meadows, or wet gardens as their natural habitats.

This information will help those thinking about owning a new bunny as a pet make an educated decision regarding this choice knowing how long they live and whether or not they can adapt to your environment.

In most cases, the preferred type of rabbit to keep would be a cottontail or swamp hare because both species prefer thick vegetation as their natural habitat. They are able to either survive on homegrown foods or store bought pellets and can even eat leafy vegetables from your garden without too many problems.

In contrast, if you were looking for a rabbit that will feel most at home in a grassy area then the ideal animal to choose would be a European rabbit who prefers this type of landscape. Unlike other types of rabbits, these animals do not burrow underground nor do they make nests.

They usually find a way to create an enclosed space under some sort of plant life where the mother only leaves the nest once every few days for short periods so she can feed the babies.

Other than these characteristics, there are not many differences in rabbits that will determine whether they are ideal for your home or not since they all enjoy spending time with humans and being held by them whenever possible. Instead of the average dog or cat most households have, why not try a pet rabbit instead? You might just find you prefer them!

General Facts about Rabbits

  • Rabbits, despite having large ears and being a type of rodent, are actually more closely related to horses than mice or rats.
  • Many people think rabbits only become sexually active during the fall but this is not true since they can breed year-round with no obvious pattern for when their mating seasons occur.
  • In most cases, swamp hares have been known to have one litter per month on average with anywhere from 3-5 babies at a time who will stay with their mother until they are months old before going off on their own.
  • Cottontail rabbits are known to have litters with an average of 5 members in them, but they can give birth up to 8 babies at a time.
  • The gestation period for cottontails is only 28 days while the swamp hare’s lasts around 32 days.
  • Once born, baby rabbits will nurse for several weeks until their eyes open and they can begin eating regular pellets like their parents do.
  • They usually become sexually mature when they are 5-6 months old which gives them plenty of time to reproduce before they die or get preyed upon by other animals since their life expectancy is pretty short.


At a glance, one is likely to classify rabbits wrongly. Some may confuse them with rodents, but as seen above in the taxonomic chart, they are actually mammals in the Order of Lagomorpha, Family Leporidae, Genus Oryctolagus cuniculus and Species Oryctolagus cuniculus “European rabbit” or “O.C.” for short.

It is also clear that they have different sub-species, which now refer to the different types of rabbits around the world. We have also seen the difference between hares and rabbits, further creating the clarity between these two terms.

Given this info, it is now easy to identify a specific rabbit, and even choose an ideal one to keep at home as a pet.

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