MSD Manual

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Pet Owner Version

Introduction to Rabbits


Diane McClure

, DVM, PhD, DACLAM, Animal Resource Center Veterinary Services

Reviewed/Revised Aug 2020 | Modified Oct 2022
Topic Resources

Rabbit breeds

Rabbit breeds

Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae. The European, or Old World, rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is the only genus of domestic rabbits. Wild rabbits and hares include cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus) and the “true” hares or jackrabbits (Lepus). In Western nations, rabbits have been kept as pets since the 1800s. As pets, they need a considerable amount of care and attention. Many different breeds of rabbits are available; common differences between breeds include size, color, and length of fur.

A male rabbit is called a buck, a female is called a doe, and a baby is called a kit. Rabbits are born blind and hairless. In the wild, they are usually born and live in underground burrows.

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