How does the wild rabbit live?
Wild rabbits and domestic rabbits are very similar in many ways. However, there are also things that differ significantly from each other. In this article we would like to give you an overview of how the wild rabbit lives.
Field hare or rabbit?
First of all, you need to know that the wild rabbit should not be confused with the field hare, because they are two completely different animals. It is also genetically impossible to cross the two animals.
While the field hare, as the name suggests, hops in the field and hides from its enemies in bushes or hollows, you will find the wild rabbit rather in forests. It lives there in packs and digs large rabbit burrows, which serve as a shelter from enemies and at the same time as a safe nest for the little ones. The brown hare, on the other hand, is a solitary animal.
Important facts about the wild rabbit
Rabbits living in the wild can live for up to ten years
They live in packs
The habitat of wild rabbits are meadows and fields, hedges and forests, as well as earthen mounds
They build sophisticated burrow systems, which can be up to 3 meters deep, to protect themselves from enemies.
Wild rabbits feed on roots, tree bark, branches, grasses or wild herbs
The habitat of the wild rabbit
Wild rabbits live mainly in the forest, but occasionally roam through meadows and fields. They can be found up to an altitude of about 500 meters.
To protect themselves from enemies, rabbits live as inconspicuously as possible, so that they can certainly be found among dense woods. They prefer sandy substrates, because wild rabbits also love digging.
If you want to observe wild rabbits, it is best to stalk them at dusk or at night. They usually do not leave their burrow until dusk to forage for food. This gives them the protection they need from predators. Nevertheless, rabbits act very cautiously and react with lightning speed when they spot an enemy.
To give a warning signal to the other animals living in the pack, the rabbit taps the ground with its hind legs.
What do wild rabbits eat?
Wild rabbits have a keen sense of which foods they can safely enjoy and which may be poisonous. Therefore, they will never carelessly gobble up anything, but will always check first to see if it is a suitable food. This is also important because wild rabbits feed exclusively on plants.
On the menu of wild rabbits are mainly tree bark, wild herbs, grasses and leaves. However, they prefer the juicy greenery, which is available in rough quantities during the summer months.
However, since they also consume tree bark and dry grasses, they usually survive the winter months, when food is scarce, without any problems.
Natural predators of wild rabbits
A rabbit living in the wild has various predators to watch out for. These include, for example, foxes and martens. Likewise, in some parts of the world, wolves are again among the natural predators of wild rabbits.
Lynxes, raccoon dogs, polecats and weasels, but also the raccoon, which is native to large parts of europe , hunt wild rabbits.
But danger threatens not only in the forest or on the meadow, but especially from the air. Large bird species, including hawks, buzzards and owls, are also predators of wild rabbits.
Other enemies of wild rabbits
Apart from the enemies found in the animal kingdom, rabbits are also exposed to hunting because, at least in Germany, wild rabbits are allowed to be hunted almost everywhere.
In addition, only a few animals reach the age of 10 years, as many die earlier from one of the diseases that occur in the forest. One of the worst diseases for rabbits, which has become widespread in recent years, is RHD.
RHD (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease), which is also known as “China disease”, can also occur in domestic rabbits. Therefore, you should have your rabbits vaccinated against this, because once the virus has infected the rabbit, you must unfortunately assume a one hundred percent mortality rate. Apart from that, the deadly virus can also spread to the other rabbits, so that they are also in danger.
Cohabitation and reproduction of wild rabbits
Rabbits always live in packs, because they feel especially comfortable in the company of other animals. Therefore, it is not uncommon for more than 10 adult animals to live in one group. If you get some rest, the rabbits may even cuddle with each other.
Their sexual maturity occurs at about eight months, so they can pursue their sex drive from this age. However, wild rabbits will reproduce primarily between March and August, and this usually only from the second year of life anyway.
Per litter about 5 young animals are born, which are lovingly cared for and also suckled within the first four weeks of life. Since most females are pregnant again shortly after (they can have up to 5 litters per year), the young leave the nest quite quickly. They are then cared for by the other older pack animals.
Good to know
Wild rabbit babies are blind and naked at the beginning, when you lie in the nest. They get hair only with time and see the world. On the other hand, baby rabbits are never naked after birth.
The life expectancy of wild rabbits
There are isolated animals that live up to 10 years. However, this is a rarity, because most young animals do not even survive the first year. They are often too small and too weak to prevail against predators and also in the cold winter many young animals leave their lives.
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