Rabbits have been around in most of the world since the
Pliocene era, supposedly ten million years ago. History says
that the Phoenicians introduced the rabbit to Spain in 1100
B.C., and Spain eventually introduced it to Europe during
the Middle Ages. History also says that the name for Spain,
(Hispania), comes from a corruption of the Phoenician word
The early French Catholic monks kept rabbits in large walled
gardens and used them for food. Their breeding efforts
resulted in the breed known today as Champagne De Argent. By
the Sixteenth Century there were a variety of breeds and
coat colors being bred for food, fur or skins. It is
believed that all or nearly all of our domestic rabbits are
descended from those first domesticated European rabbits.
European rabbits have been given the scientific name of
Oryctolagus cuniculus, which means "rabbit that burrows."
European rabbits build and live in huge warrens of burrows
and tunnels, unlike North American rabbits that normally
make grass nests in thick brush on top of the ground.
The instinct to make elaborate homes for themselves is one
of the causes of the curiosity and the energetic nature that
is so beloved by pet rabbit keepers. (But the same nature
means that domesticated rabbits that are kept in small
hutches and fed a monotonous diet are being treated
In the Nineteenth Century some people began to raise rabbits
not simply as food or pelts, but for show. Some began
breeding programs for particular colors or body shapes, and
the breeds we know today had their beginnings. During the
Victorian era rabbits began to be kept as household pets,
and they are still very popular as pets.
The first rabbit to be imported to North America for show
and pets as well as meat was the Belgian Hare breed, which
enjoyed a huge popularity as show animals in the United
States in the early part of the Twentieth Century.
Today there are many breeds of rabbits that are primarily
kept as pets, but there are some breeds that are still
popular as meat animal, the most notable being the New
Zealand and the Californian, which grow quickly and use feed
efficiently, and are ready for slaughter at fourteen to
sixteen weeks old.
The Angora breeds are raised for their wool, which is spun
into yarn for what is commercially called Angora Wool, and
is said to be much warmer than sheep wool.
Rabbit Shows across the United States now feature over
forty-five rabbit breeds and are usually managed and
regulated by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
Stuffed Plush Rabbits