The world’s rabbits have been classified into eight distinct genera and while some are so common they’re considered pests, others are exceptionally rare and on the edge of extinction. The Amami rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi) is one of the rarest rabbits, rated “EN” or Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Restricted to just two small islands (Amami Oshima and Tokunoshima) in Japan’s southern Ryukyu archipelago, it’s estimated the current population of Amami rabbits is somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 with the vast majority living on Amami Oshima island.
Amami rabbits have dark brown fur that lightens to reddish-brown along their sides. Characterized by short hind legs, small eyes and short (for a rabbit) ears, the Amami rabbit is considered by some to be a “living fossil”, possibly a relict population of primitive rabbits that once ranged over wide expanses of the Asian continent. (images via Pink Tentacle and Herman Mays)
The Bushman rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis), also known as the Riverine rabbit, is the only member of the genus Bunolagus. It is one of the world’s most endangered species with as little as 200 individuals remaining, most of those in South Africa’s hot and dry Karoo Desert.
Like many desert-dwelling creatures, the Bushman rabbit is nocturnal, browsing on vegetation through the night before retiring to sleep in shallow trenches dug in soil beneath bushes. Among their distinctive visual features are a black stripe running across both sides of the face from the corners of the mouth over each cheek, and pale rings around the eyes. (image via Tony Camacho – iNaturalist – Wikimedia)
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the Pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) as “LC” or Least Concern, though several unsuccessful attempts have been made to legally compel the U.S. Federal government to classify these, the smallest of all rabbits, as an endangered species.
A distinct and isolated sub-population in the state of Washington known as the Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit, however, is listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Federal government and attempts are being made to re-introduce them to their home range. Besides their small size, Pygmy rabbits can be distinguished by their pale grey fur, small ears and the lack of any white fur on their tails. Found in America’s western Great Basin region, Pygmy rabbits usually weigh under one pound when fully grown and are one of only two rabbit species native to North America that dig their own burrows. (image via BLM Oregon and Washington)
Got something against bugs (and we don’t mean the bunny)? Check out The Verminators: 7 Amazing Amusing Pest Control Signs!