Domesticated Rabbit History and the Modern Times

Before you decide on having a domesticated rabbit as pets, let us first give you a piece of the rabbit history so that you will be able to understand their origin and know them better as companion animals.  Like other domesticated animals, rabbits also have their own history, how they became available in different breeds and they became ideal as pets.

wild rabbit history feeding on the ground

Photo:  batwrangler| Flickr

Rabbit History of Different Breeds

All domesticated rabbits come from their wild ancestors (Oryctolagus cuniculus).  Based on the rabbit history, all the breeds that are present these days came from this little wild rabbit species, even the large breeds). During the Roman times, these wild rabbits were kept as they used for food supplies. Later on, during the middle ages, rabbits them became domesticated farm animals. As time goes by, they become tamer and tamer. In the 16th century, that was the era where these rabbits became available in different colors, sizes, and hair type.

Before, rabbits were considered as rodents because they were once considered as pests in vegetable and fruit farms. Their impressive ability to chew on woods is one of the reasons they are mistaken for rodents. Even though wild rabbits are the origin of the domesticated rabbits, you cannot be able to breed them together as they have different genetics.

Through selective breeding and influence of human, the wild rabbits became more and more changed in so many aspects. Their changes are not just limited o their outside physicality and behavior towards human but also their anatomical featured have changed over the course of years. Rabbits with longer fur are used for breeding domesticated rabbits.

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At the start of the twentieth century, Americans breed rabbits for specific genetic traits. So as of today, there are merely more than 100 of rabbit breeds.  The breeding are usually based in the hair type, the color, and the size.

Rabbits in Shows

The domesticated rabbits then became farm animals and endearing pets to humans. They are in fact number 3 on list of the most popular pets in the US and UK. They are well-loved and cared-for pets by humans because of their easy maintenance, and very gently affection and pleasing disposition. However, not all pet rabbits are lucky enough to be a part of a human’s household. Because of their mentality about how fast rabbits multiply, they seem to be a kind of disposable pet for them. Another reason is that rabbits are known as meat providing animal.

These days purebred rabbits are used in rabbit shows. Purebred rabbits are considered as the “standard” or the model of perfection when it comes to competition based on physicality. The judges based their decision on the relatedness of the rabbit in terms of the physical aspects. The closer they are on the standard purebred, the higher points they get. The American Rabbit Breeders Association heads this show competition.

The guidelines for standard rabbits are categorized first by their hair type—the normal type, shorthairs, and longhairs then their sizes are determined afterwards. The normal type hairs of the large breeds are the Giants, Spotted giants, and Lops. For medium, they are the New Zealand red, Belgian hares, and Thuringian. Small breeds include Saxony gold, dutch breed, silver, small chinchilla, and fawn. For the dward breeds, there are the dwarf lops, ermine, and dwarf. For Shorthair breed, the is the Rex and the dwarf rex. The Longhairs are the Angora, Fox, Jamora, and Dwarf fox.

Knowing the difference of the then rabbits from the rabbits now will help us analyze them better. The changes in their way of life, their physicality, and their behavior as companion pets through the course  of time is helpful to study them and come up with the best methods of how to care for them indoors.

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