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Dieren en planten

Mammals   Lagomorphs   Hare   Rabbit   Predators   Fox   Ferel cats   

Rabbit

size:

up to 45 centimeters

weight:

up to 2.5 kilograms

color:

grey-brown, sometimes black

age:

up to 5 years

food:

grass, herbs, shoots from bushes and trees, bark

movement:

hoping, running

enemies:

land predators, raptors, people, diseases

reproduction:

mature: 3-4 months
litters: 3-7 per year
number of young: 3-12 young per litter

  • Dut: konijn (gewoon konijn, wild konijn)
  • Eng: rabbit
  • Fren: lapin (lapin de Garenne)
  • Ger: Wildkaninchen (Europäische Wildkaninchen)
  • Dan: Vildkanin
  • Nor: Kanin
  • Lat: Oryctolagus cuniculus
Wild rabbit, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

Rabbit

Every dune has its bunny! In reality, rabbits haven't been found in the Netherlands all that long. They were imported during the Middle Ages for their fur and meat. In 1950, rabbits were very common in Dutch dunes. But because they ate so much and dug holes, people were not thrilled with all those rabbits. They were hunted and combatted. However, when diseases such as myxomatosis and VHS practically decimated the population around 1990, nature managers suddenly realized how useful the rabbits could also be. They can keep grass short and thereby help to fight overgrowth in the dunes. Fortunately, rabbits are making a come back in many places.

  • Distribution and habitat
    Rabbit hole, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    Before the last glacial period, rabbits were very common in central Europe. However, they died out from the cold. They only survived in Spain and North Africa. The rabbit was imported into the Netherlands in the Middle Ages from southwestern Europe for the fur, meat and pleasure hunting. Rabbits were also imported onto the Wadden Islands, with the exception of Griend.
    These animals like grasslands, open fields, heathlands, open woods, the edge of farmlands and sandy dunes. They prefer dry, loose, sandy soils in order to dig holes, which they use to hide in. The more the hole is used, the  more tunnels are dug and the entire thing grows into a warren. Rabbits usually stay within 50 meters of the warren.

  • Black wadden rabbits
    black rabbit, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    Rabbits often have a deviating fur color; in particular, totally black is often seen. This occurs more often on the Wadden Islands of Texel, Vlieland and Schiermonnikoog than on the mainland. The probable reason is related to the lack of predators such as the fox and the polecat. On the mainland, color deviations in rabbits are noticed extremely quickly, making their chances of survival very slim. However, on the Wadden Islands, where these predators are lacking, the genetic deviation can continue to exist. Why the raptors have no influence here is still not clearly understood.

  • Myxomatosis
    Rabbit with Myxomatose, Johan Krol, Ameland

    When a population of rabbits grows too large, there is often an outbreak of the virus disease myxomatosis. This disease was purposely introduced in France in 1952 to decrease the rabbit population. A rabbit contaminated with myxomatosis usually dies a slow, painful death. The mucous membrane of the eyes, ears, genitals and anus become inflamed, causing blindness and making the animal very vulnerable. The infected rabbit dies after a week from a brain and lung infection. Myxomatosis is carried by mosquitoes, fleas and other blood-sucking insects. In South America, where the disease originated, practically all rabbits are immune for the sickness.

  • Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD)
    wild rabbit, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease was first discovered in China, in German-bred rabbits. In the meanwhile, the virus has spread over the entire world. When contamination takes place, there is a very large death toll (80-95% of the population). The virus can survive for three months at room temperature. Rabbits that suffer from the sickness do not show any visible signs of illness, as in the case of myxomatosis. Death occurs quickly, within 24 to 48 hours. Between 1985 and 2005, the rabbit population in the Netherlands declined by 70% due to diseases.

  • Hunt
    wild rabbit, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    It is permitted to hunt rabbits the entire year. However, there are areas where hunting is forbidden, such as around duck decoys and the dunes on Texel. Rabbits are favorite food for land predators such as fox and ermines as well as large raptors.

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