European Rabbit

The European Rabbit, also popular as Coney is a species of rabbit, native to northwest Africa and southwestern Europe. They are known for being the most destructive environmental vertebrate pests.  Their browsing and digging results in loss of vegetation cover.

Small in size, they create a devastating impact on biodiversity. Let’s find out some more information about this invasive mammal.

European Rabbit

European Rabbit


European Rabbit Scientific Classification



Class: Mammalia

Order: Lagomorpha

Family: Leporidae

Genus:Oryctolagus Lilljeborg, 1873

Species: O. cuniculus
The scientific name of European Rabbit is Oryctolagus cuniculus.

European Rabbit Physical Description

These rabbits are identified by their long floppy ears, long jumping gait, and a short tail. Grey-brown in color, the underside of these rabbits are completely white.

Physical Description of European Rabbit

Physical Description of European Rabbit

They have small black color eyes that make them look adorable. Male rabbits weigh more than the female ones. Their usual weight ranges somewhere between 1200-2000 grams. Their length is not more than 16 inches and hindfoot stretches to a length of 8-10cm. The guard hairs of these rabbits are brown and black in texture. They also have long whiskers and a short tail that has a white underside.

European Rabbit Behavior

Let’s find out their behavioral traits;

  • European rabbits usually live in warrens, having 2-10 other individuals.
  • They are known to be gregarious species.
  • They prefer living in stable social groups.
  • European rabbits are capable of establishing in new areas because of their ability to reproduce quickly.

  • These rabbits are active from late afternoon to morning.
  • They usually stay above the ground during the night.


European Rabbit Diet

European rabbits need a high-quality diet that should comprise 40 percent fiber and 10-12 percent protein. They are known to be selective grazers, eating plants or parts of plants with a high level of nutritional content.

Diet of European Rabbit

Diet of European Rabbit

Unlike other rabbits, these species eat a wide variety of herbage, especially grasses and fescues. During summer, European rabbit feeds on grass swards. As they are a less fuzzy eater, when eating, they eat them whole. Although herbivorous, European rabbits are found eating snails. During winter, the species can even survive without food.

European Rabbit Habitat

They prefer staying in areas that provide them shelter from predators. Thus, they are mostly seen near scrub trees, boulders, and woodlands. The area should have soft soil so that they can dig burrows. The area they choose needs to be open for the foraging of grasses and cereals for food.

Habitat of European Rabbit

Habitat of European Rabbit

European Rabbit Distribution

European rabbits are mostly found in several parts of southwestern Europe including Portugal, Spain, and western France. Their population is also huge in northwest Africa including Algeria and Morocco.

Distribution Range of European Rabbit

Distribution Range of European Rabbit

Reproduction of European Rabbit

These rabbits are known for having a high reproductive capability.  Their population increases very fast. The breeding period starts in autumn and continues till summer. They become sexually active at the age of three to four years. They give birth to four-six kittens, born blind, deaf and naked. Babies are kept in nesting burrows till the period they start walking. One of the most interesting facts about their life cycle is that mating can start immediately after giving birth.

Reproduction of European Rabbit

Reproduction of European Rabbit

Life Span of European Rabbit

European rabbits can live up to 9 years in the wild.


European Rabbit Predators

The European rabbit is prey to many species like a fox, wolf, wolverine, dogs, etc. these predators can kill both young and adult rabbits by surprising them. European rabbits are smart enough to get caught by these species as they can run faster. Foxes and badgers even dig out kittens from burrows and kill them. Even brown rats are considered a serious threat to kittens.

European Rabbit Interesting facts

Take a glance at some of the interesting facts about this cute little mammal;

  • European rabbits are a threat to vegetation and local wildlife.
  • They are aggressive foragers.
  • These rabbits are good runners.
  • European rabbits are found throughout the United States.
  • They are been declared as pests of agriculture by Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007.

European Rabbit Conservation Status

In the year 2005, the Portuguese Institute of Conservation and Forests declared this species as “near threatened”. In the year 2008, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature reclassified this species as Near Threatened.

European Rabbit Video


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