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Differences between domestic and wild rabbits

Difference between wild and domestic rabbits

Hi friends! Guest blogger Rocky Roo here. In today's blog, we're supposed to talk about the differences between domestic and wild rabbits. I know a lot about this topic as I spent the first year of my life at the Las Vegas Dumpsite. I saw a BUNCH of wild and domestic rabbits there. People say I even look a lot like a wild rabbit! 

Rocky and Sunny

Fortunately, the kind folks at Bunderground Railroad picked me up. I ended up at Colorado House Rabbit Society, now known as Rocky Mountain House Rabbit Rescue. Two years later, Sunny Bunny and my pawrents hopped into my life, and I've been at my furever home for three years. 

So let’s talk about the differences between domestic and wild rabbits!

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1. Hay vs. Grass

If you’ve been around bunnies for a while, you know hay is our diet mainstay…85-90% is the recommended amount in a healthy bun’s diet. Small Pet Select has TEN rabbit hay varieties to choose from. I heart my hay. Mom and Dad change our litter boxes every morning and fill them high with 2nd cutting and Oat. We also have a hay manger with extra, so we never run out. However, guess what wild rabbits don’t eat? Hay!

Really, it's the truth. Wild rabbits eat grass instead. Well, not wild baby rabbits. Those kits drink their mom's milk just like domestic rabbits. Wild rabbits also eat plants—including your yummy flowers and veggie gardens, twigs, and tree bark.

2. Life Expectancy

The typical lifespan of a domestic rabbit is 8-12 years. Fortunately, as there's so much more information regarding pet rabbit care, we've heard of many bunnies living longer than that. Unfortunately, as our wild friends live outdoors, their life expectancy is only 1-2 years. It’s so much more dangerous outside! Some predators need to eat my relatives to stay alive. Our front door has a lock, but my wild friends can't put one on their warrens. This leads me to the next differences between domestic and wild rabbits: housing.

3. Housing

I am a free roam house rabbit. We let mom work in our room, but the whole house is ours. Really. We are very trustworthy. Well, Pippi isn't. She loves to sneak into the closet, nibble holes in dog food bags, and make herself a snack. The minute that closet door is open, she goes flying in there. She lived outside, too, and she said she tried lots of things bunnies don't usually eat….definitely not vegan!!!

If you're not a trustworthy house rabbit or have a multi-species household where you need to be kept safe, there are other indoor options

Now, if you're a wild bunny, you live in an underground warren. A warren is a series of underground rooms connected with tunnels. These underground burrows provide protection from the weather and predators. In addition, Mother Nature loves wild bunnies as their 💩 makes excellent fertilizer and strengthens the soil.

Rabbit underground

4. Appearance

While it’s a misnomer that all wild rabbits look the same, depending on where they live, their fur blends in with their surroundings, so they're not as visible to predators. See what I mean?

Rabbit peeking out of burrow
Camouflaged rabbits

Also, wild rabbits have straight or “uppy” ears and thin faces.

Domestic rabbits are a variety of sizes, colors, and their ears can be floppy or straight. Found in at least 70 countries worldwide, in the US, they're the third most popular pet. However, that's a distant third behind dogs and cats, with only 1% of the population having domestic rabbits as pets.

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5. Companionship

Wild rabbits are exceptionally social and live in colonies. While you might not see more than one wild rabbit outside, when you see one, there’s definitely more close by. Domestic rabbits instinctively have a hard time living in large colonies. In fact, most domestic rabbits live in pairs, and some domestic rabbits don’t like other domestic rabbits AT ALL. Mom and Dad told me that Ears, who preceded Sunny, Pippi, and I, didn’t want to bond with Sunny. For that reason, when Pippi quickly became a foster fail, they asked one of their rabbit rescue friends to professionally bond her to Sunny and me…after she was spayed. Thanks to Aunt Katie, we are one hoppy trio.

Rocky, Sunny, and Pippi

After living outside for a year, I have the utmost respect for wild bunnies. While there are many differences between domestic and wild rabbits, their life is rough compared to ours. I bet their food isn't delivered on a schedule, or they have a bedtime snack. They don't have a trusted exotic vet who checks their teeth quarterly or pawrents who love them more than anything else. I am grateful to be a spoiled rotten free roam house rabbit.

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VETERINARY DISCLAIMERWe are not veterinarians, and none of our information should be construed as veterinary advice.  If your pet is acting unwell, you have concerns for their well being, or before adding any new product, please contact your veterinarian immediately.

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