What Are Rabbits Classified As? Understanding Their Taxonomic Classification

What Are Rabbits Classified As?

Rabbits are small mammals that belong to the family Leporidae, which is part of the order Lagomorpha. Lagomorphs are a group of animals that also includes hares and pikas. These herbivorous creatures are known for their long ears, short fluffy tails, and powerful hind legs.

Rabbit - Wikipedia

Leporidae Family

The family Leporidae consists of over 60 species of rabbits and hares. These animals are found in various habitats, including forests, grasslands, deserts, and wetlands, across different parts of the world. Some of the most well-known rabbit species include the European rabbit, cottontail rabbit, and jackrabbits.

Order Lagomorpha

Rabbits are classified under the order Lagomorpha, which consists of two main families: Leporidae (rabbits and hares) and Ochotonidae (pikas). Lagomorphs are characterized by their unique set of teeth, known as peg teeth or double incisors. Unlike other mammals, lagomorphs have an extra pair of incisors located behind their front teeth, which help them efficiently chew tough plant materials.

Classification of Rabbits

Rabbits are further classified into different genera and species based on their physical characteristics, behavior, and habitat preferences. Some of the common genera of rabbits include Oryctolagus, Sylvilagus, and Lepus.


Oryctolagus is a genus that includes the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), which is one of the most widespread and well-known rabbit species. These rabbits are commonly found in grasslands, woodlands, and farmlands across Europe and other parts of the world due to human introduction. They are known for their burrowing habits and complex social structures.


The genus Sylvilagus includes various cottontail rabbit species that are native to the Americas. These rabbits are named after their fluffy white tails, which resemble cotton balls. Cottontail rabbits are primarily found in grassy areas, brushlands, and forests. They are known for their fast running speed and ability to evade predators by leaping and changing directions quickly.


Lepus is a genus that comprises various hare species, such as jackrabbits and snowshoe hares. Hares are larger and faster than most rabbit species, with longer and more powerful hind legs. They are well adapted to open areas and can reach incredible speeds when evading predators. Snowshoe hares, as the name suggests, have large hind feet that help them move efficiently over snowy terrains.

Physical Characteristics of Rabbits

Rabbits have several distinctive physical features that help them survive in their respective environments.

  • Ears: Rabbits have long and highly sensitive ears that can rotate independently. This allows them to detect sounds and potential threats from different directions.
  • Eyes: Their large eyes provide a wide field of vision, allowing them to spot predators even when grazing.
  • Teeth: Rabbits have four incisors, including two large front teeth and two smaller peg teeth behind them. These teeth continuously grow throughout their lives, and regular gnawing on tough vegetation helps keep them trimmed.
  • Hind Legs: Their powerful hind legs are built for hopping and leaping. Rabbits can cover significant distances quickly, which aids in escaping from predators.
  • Tails: Most rabbits have short fluffy tails, while hares generally have longer and bushier ones.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What do rabbits eat?

Rabbits are herbivores and primarily feed on plant materials such as grass, leaves, bark, and twigs. They have a specialized digestive system that allows them to extract maximum nutrition from fibrous plant matter.

2. How fast can rabbits run?

The running speed of rabbits can vary depending on the species. Generally, rabbits can run at speeds of around 25 to 45 miles per hour (40 to 72 kilometers per hour), with hares being faster than most rabbit species.

3. Do rabbits make good pets?

Rabbits can make wonderful pets for individuals or families willing to provide them with proper care, attention, and an appropriate living environment. It’s important to understand their specific needs and requirements before deciding to adopt a rabbit as a pet.

4. Are rabbits social animals?

Yes, rabbits are social animals and often live in groups or colonies. They form complex social structures and communicate with each other through various behaviors, body postures, and vocalizations.

Rabbits are not rodents but belong to the order Lagomorpha, which also includes hares and pikas. – Dr. John Doe, Wildlife Biologist

In conclusion, rabbits are classified as small mammals and belong to the family Leporidae within the order Lagomorpha. They can be further categorized into different genera and species based on their physical characteristics, behavior, and habitat preferences. Rabbits have unique features such as long ears, powerful hind legs, and specialized teeth, which help them survive in their respective environments. Whether as wild animals or pets, rabbits continue to captivate us with their adorable appearance and fascinating behaviors.

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