More than half the world's rabbit population resides in North America. They are also native to southwestern Europe, Southeast Asia,Sumatra, some islands of Japan, and in parts of Africa and South America. They are not naturally found in most of Eurasia, where a number of species of hares are present. Rabbits first entered South America relatively recently, as part of the Great American Interchange. Much of the continent has just one species of rabbit, the tapeti, while most of South America's southern cone is without rabbits.Rabbits have a very rapid reproductive rate. The breeding season for most rabbits lasts 9 months, from February to October. In Australia and New Zealand breeding season is late July to late January. Normal gestation is about 30 days. The average size of the litter varies but is usually between 4 and 12 babies, with larger breeds having larger litters. A kit (baby rabbit) can be weaned at about 4 to 5 weeks of age. This means in one season a single female rabbit can produce as many as 800 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. A doe is ready to breed at about 6 months of age, and a buck at about 7 months. Courtship and mating are very brief, lasting only 30 to 40 seconds. Courtship behavior involves licking, sniffing, and following the doe. Spraying urine is also a common sexual behavior. Female rabbits are reflex ovulators. The female rabbit also may or may not lose clumps of hair during the gestation period.
The European rabbit has been introduced to many places around the world.
|TWO BABY RABBITS STAYING WITH|
Ovulation begins 10 hours after mating. After mating, the female will make a nest or burrow, and line the nest with fur from the dewlap, flanks, and belly. This behavior also exposes the nipples enabling her to better nurse the kits. Kits are altricial, which means they are born blind, naked, and helpless. Passive immunity (immunity acquired by transfer of antibodies or sensitized lymphocytes from another animal) is acquired by kits prior to birth via placental transfer. At 10 to 11 days after birth the baby rabbits' eyes will open and they will start eating on their own at around 14 days old.
Although born naked, they form a soft baby coat of hair within a few days. At the age of 5 to 6 weeks the soft baby coat is replaced with a pre-adult coat. At about 6 to 8 months of age this intermediate coat is replaced by the final adult coat, which is shed twice a year thereafter. Due to the nutritious nature of rabbit milk kits only need to be nursed for a few minutes once or twice a day.Rabbits are clearly distinguished from hares in that rabbits are altricial, having young that are born blind and hairless. In contrast, hares are generally born with hair and are able to see (precocial). All rabbits except cottontail rabbits live underground in burrows or warrens, while hares live in simple nests above the ground (as do cottontail rabbits), and usually do not live in groups. Hares are generally larger than rabbits, with longer ears, and have black markings on their fur. Hares have not been domesticated, while European rabbits are often kept as house pets. In gardens, they are typically kept in hutches — small, wooden, house-like boxes — that protect the rabbits from the environment and predators
The expected rabbit lifespan is about 9–12 years; the world's longest-lived was 18 years.