European Rabbit Hunting – Where They Come From And How They Are Getting There
The European rabbit (Orycyclocudos cicranus) or more commonly known as the white-legged variety, is a native species of Europe. This breed originated centuries ago and is now widely praised as a competitive breed in many countries including the United States. White-legged rabbits have an increased amount of usable meat in comparison to other types of rabbits. Their meat is low in fat and cholesterol but high in protein. In fact, European rabbits are among the most vegetarian of all domesticated animals in the world.
The rabbit is classified by the International Rabbit Council as a medium to rare furriestock. It is distributed across most of Europe, except for a small area in Germany. Its natural habitats are mainly rain forests and mountainous areas with some lakes and oceans in the northern and western parts of the continent. It has adapted well to its particular habitat and the main predators of the European hare include foxes, weasels, owls, hawks, cats, and dogs.
There are two kinds of rabbits native to the European continent, the European rabbit and the oriental hare. The former is a nocturnal mammal that hunts its prey at night and the latter is only active during the day. Both belong to the families of rodents and omnivores. The European rabbit is slightly larger than its oriental counterpart, being two to three inches long. It has a thick, bushy mane which provides protection from harsh weather.
The European rabbit can be found in many countries of Europe and is widely hunted for its meat. It is a very popular delicacy in Australia where it is dubbed as “the most luxurious rabbit in the world”. Much of this is due to the land degradation that accompanies Australia. Much of the agricultural land in Australia is used for intensive farming which has led to the destruction of large areas of forest and grasslands. This habitat has been completely destroyed by the massive expansion of agricultural farming, and the main culprits behind this are land degradation and farming.
As if Australia wasn’t bad enough, the domestic rabbit is also suffering from land degradation in southern France. Savannas and thickets of grasses that once covered the country are now replaced with vineyards and agricultural farms. Some of these grasslands have been cleared and replaced by agricultural fields. It is hoped that the introduction of the European rabbit will help slow down the rate of land degradation in southern France but this has yet to materialize.
On a related note, another major threat to the European rabbit is the arrival of predators such as foxes, weasels and dogs. All of these apex predators hunt rabbits and rely on a solitary diet. The rabbits’ natural enemies, the larger arctic foxes and snow hares, have largely been displaced by introduced predators due to habitat loss. In addition, weasels have been known to prey upon young female European rabbits which become weak after breeding. The decline of the European rabbit has been felt worldwide, with many farmers struggling to keep their rabbit populations under control.
There is hope for the survival of the European rabbit though. Recently, a captive-bred population of wild European rabbits was brought into zoos in Japan and Korea. These rabbits were provided with nutritional care, which allowed them to recover much more quickly from the loss of their natural prey and habitat. It is not clear what impact if any, the recent introductions of leporids and weasels will have on the Leporidae population of Europe, but it is clear that they have yet to make a serious comeback. Many of the leporids that have been reintroduced are poorly suited for life in the wild and are unlikely to survive.
There are several proposals currently being debated as to how best to manage the European rabbit’s presence in the UK countryside. One of the most pressing proposals calls for all burrowing predators to be banned. If this were implemented, then surely these unwelcome additions to our landscape would disappear over the summer months? This is one proposal that is widely believed to be the most effective way to manage the European rabbit population.