Animal-World’s Featured Animal of the Week: The Jack Rabbit

April 8, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Small Pets

Saltwater Crocodile
Animal-World’s Featured Animal for this week is:
The Jack Rabbit!

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Courtesy user:pschemp
Licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

I thought that an appropriate Featured Animal of the Week would be a Jack Rabbit – in the spirit of Easter! Jack Rabbits are not typically kept as pets, however they are widespread in their natural habitats. Many people probably associate a Jack Rabbit with the famous “Tortoise and Hare” tale, where the two animals race against each other. Ultimately the tortoise wins because he is “slow and steady,” whereas the hare uses all his energy up at the beginning of the race. Jack Rabbits are hares, meaning they do not build nests like other rabbits and their babies are born with all of their fur and eyes open. This is not the case with most rabbits. I am going to focus on the Black-tailed Jack Rabbit, scientific name Lepus californicus, because this one is the most common. The Black-tailed Jack Rabbit lives in the deserts of the 4 southwestern states and Northern Mexico. They are quite adaptable and can thrive in areas inhabited by humans as well.

These Jack Rabbits usually have a salt and pepper look with colors of brown and silver and very long brown ears. There is a black stripe going down the tail. Their long ears are to help regulate their temperatures by increasing or decreasing blood flow to them. This is helpful in the desert because of the very hot days and cold nights. They have a lifespan of approximately 1-5 years in the wild (somewhat longer in captivity) and breed prolifically. They usually have four to six litters a year, averaging 2-4 young, or leverets. The mother stops nursing them after 1 month of age. These babies reach sexual maturity by about 8 to 12 months of age and can start breeding soon after this. Males can reach up to 11 pounds and females can reach up to 13 pounds at maturity. Their lengths can reach 28 inches with 5 inch tails.

They have many natural enemies who will prey on them, including coyotes, foxes, hawks, snakes, bobcats, and even human hunters. Jack Rabbits are quite fast, reaching speeds of 36 miles per hour to escape predators. They can also leap about 20 feet into the air. These are just some of the many defensive tactics to help keep themselves safe. They prefer grasslands and large empty areas so they can spot enemies before the enemies spot them. They also spend most of their days crouched down with their ears flat against their backs which helps them to blend in. They mostly are active only at night as well.

Jack Rabbits are herbivores and eat only vegetables, fruits, herbs, grasses, leaves, and shrubs. They eat some of their poop as well, which helps them retain water and get the maximum moisture from their food. In this way they don’t have to drink much water, if any, at all. It is especially helpful in the desert where there often is not much water. Jack Rabbits are considered a problem in agricultural areas because they will snack on many crops and can make huge dents in them. Fences are put up to try and keep them out, however this often does not work and poison is used instead.

Although Jack Rabbits are not kept as pets, if you would like to read more about domestic pet rabbits, check out Animal-World’s World of Pet Rabbits!

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Sources Used

http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/jackrabbit.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-tailed_jackrabbit

http://www.desertusa.com/july96/du_rabbi.html

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Courtesy Jim Harper
Licensed under Creative Commons Share Alike 2.5 Generic.

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: Polish Rabbits

January 22, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, Featured Pets, Small Pets

Polish Rabbits

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Polish Rabbit!

Rabbits make the perfect pet for many people. There are so many different rabbit breeds which all have their own unique characteristics! This makes it easier to choose a rabbit that suits your particular needs and wants. I personally have had several Polish Rabbits, and I enjoyed them very much! They have one of the sweetest dispositions I have come across in all of my rabbits! One of their greatest attributes is that they are one of the smallest rabbit breeds out there (along with Netherland Dwarf Rabbits). This gives them the advantage of not needing as much living space. They can be kept in smaller areas and are better for apartment dwellers. They don’t need as much play room and are easier to pick up and handle than larger rabbits.

There actually are two different types of Polish Rabbits. They are the American Polish Rabbit and the British Polish Rabbit or the Brittania Petite. The British Polish Rabbit is the smaller of these two, with weights only reaching 2 ½ pounds! The American Polish Rabbit can reach 3 ½ pounds. However these are both very small rabbits! The British Polish Rabbit can come in many colors, however in the United States, the only color recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association is white with red eyes. The American Polish Rabbit has many more recognized colors, including chocolate, black, and blue with matching colored eyes, as well as white with either red or blue eyes.

Polish Rabbits have some other intriguing attributes. They are considered to be quite smart and can learn some simple tricks! This is mostly them learning to react to certain hand signals and voice commands by working with them repetitiously. These little rabbits also have great dispositions, making them ideal pets for young children – in fact they often love being pet by them! Their small size makes it easier for children to handle as well.

A little background on the Polish Rabbits. The British Polish Rabbit was first recognized as a breed in 1884 in Hull, Yorkshire. They were so small that they were the first rabbits considered “dwarf” rabbits. The American Polish Rabbits are descended from the British Polish Rabbits but are mixed with some other breeds of rabbit – such as the Netherland Dwarf Rabbit – which has caused them to be a little bigger than the British Polish Rabbits. Also, when you think of magicians pulling rabbits out of their hats, guess which rabbits are most commonly used?! Yes – the Polish Rabbits! Their size and disposition make them the perfect candidate!

Polish Rabbits can thrive if given basic rabbit care. This includes the proper diet, housing, and interaction. A proper diet includes grass hay, green vegetables, and cecotropes (which their digestive systems produce and come out as droppings, which they then consume). I would recommend buying a good commercially prepared rabbit pellet and giving them that along with some fresh green foods (fruits and vegetables) daily. As always, make sure they have access to clean, fresh water daily. Proper housing should include a cage large enough for the rabbit to have some maneuvering room. Give them daily access to an “exercise area” which could be run of the house for a few hours or a safe area prepared for them outside. Make sure to change the bedding regularly (a couple times a week) to keep them healthy. Remember to remove any uneaten green foods each day as well.

Rabbits in general are fairly hardy animals, however you do want to make sure to keep their cages clean. Ensure a proper diet and the correct housing environments to safeguard against them becoming sick. They can get respiratory illnesses, diarrhea, teeth problems, and many other illnesses if not taken care of properly.

Again, Polish Rabbits make great small pet rabbits and if you would like to read more about them and their care, please check out Animal-World’s Polish Rabbit page! Thank you!

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.