Rabbits are a common species of mammal native to many temperate areas of Aloria, and closely related to the similarly populous Hare, which is more widely spread. The two, while related, are very different. Rabbits are known for their ability to be domesticated and general personification of being cute and cuddly. They are commonly seen as signs of springtime, and along with eggs, are frequently viewed as symbols of fertility by many commoners across all of Aloria.
Rabbits have long inhabited Aloria alongside their close cousins, Hares, and some believe that as recently as 2500 years ago they were the same species. Others suspect that even the Altalar were long convinced that Rabbits and Hares were the same species and only learned the truth during their high era of The Consolidation. Regardless, to track the history of the Rabbit would be almost impossible as they have existed across Aloria in multiple regions for centuries. However, it is generally accepted that they moved from temperate regions of the world outwards, carried by ships or ancient land bridges now long destroyed into more humid or chilly climates. In recent years, Rabbits have also increased in popularity as pets, in particular the Pygmy subspecies from Essalonia. Thanks to this spread and this popularity across Aloria, the animal is highly unlikely to go extinct anytime soon.
Rabbits are diminutive creatures, with a height ranging from half a foot to one and a half feet, and a weight of barely a pound. They have small, ovular heads with small mouths, a large nose, two eyes on either side of their head and a pair of soft, rounded off ovular ears sitting on the top of their head. Their head directly connects to their bodies, these bodies being fairly round, with a set of short front feet and a pair of more muscled rear feet. These rear feet are uniquely built and allow the Rabbit leisurely hop or dart away with fascinating, alarming speed. Their body ends in a short tail, with the hair found there usually coming to a slight point. The rest of their body is similarly covered in a layer of hair of varying colors, but is agouti in formation which allows for a level of camouflage.
Rabbits are highly diverse animals. In its spread across Aloria, a wide variety of subspecies have emerged on the various continents to suit a variety of different needs. In general, the population numbers between the sexes are equal and the species lacks any obvious sexual dimorphism. Below can be found a listing of the various subspecies of Rabbit in Aloria.
- Common Rabbit: The Common Rabbit is the single most populous subspecies of Rabbit in Aloria. They are average in size and can possess a range of eye and coat colors. They generally live in temperate areas of Aloria, and generally exist around swamps, marshes and forests, but also occupy plains or grain fields.
- Cottonfluff Rabbit: The Cottonfluff Rabbit is a subspecies native to Essalonia, but has spread beyond its natural habitat. Generally a large species of Rabbit, the creatures have a blended brown coat of various shades mixed with greys. Their one defining trait is their tails, which are fringed with white, while the animal also has a prominent white or offwhite underbelly.
- Daen/Striped Rabbit: The Daen or Striped Rabbit as it is known is the only Rabbit species known to have definitely emerged from Daen. Their coats are a unique blend of beige with markings of black or brown in large patches on the animal’s body. The subspecies also universally has green eyes. They were also once the rarest of all Rabbit subspecies, but the regrowth of nature caused by the Wildering has seen their population skyrocket once again.
- Pygmy Rabbit: The Pygmy Rabbit is the smallest subspecies of Rabbit in Aloria, and are native to Ithania. They are generally pale grey in coloration. Even though they are suspected to be an example of Altalar breeding practices, they exist in the wild just as much as they do in domesticated surroundings.
Life Span and Development
Rabbits are born in litters of anywhere from four to twelve kits and can be joined by brothers and sisters in as little as one month. Unfortunately, there is a high mortality rate as kits are born pink, hairless, blind and highly reliant on the parents for food and protection. From here, they rapidly mature, opening their eyes at least one to two weeks after being born, at which point their coats will have started coming in, and they can start leaving the warren on short trips to experience the outside world. By the age of one month, they are now juveniles and spend another month or two with their mother as they mature into full adults. At this point, they are generally full members of the warren and while some leave, others will keep closer to home. Mating between Rabbits can take place generally year round, with promiscuous males having several partners in a given lifetime. Their lives in the wild are short, numbering at most two years as they suffer from very high predation by carnivores but also hunters. However, in domesticated surroundings, Rabbits can live up eight to twelve years.
Rabbits are generally low in intelligence and complexity in terms of mental ability. However, they are not stupid prey animals, and have a number of responses when encountering predators. The first is that they will freeze, snuffling their nose to try and confirm what sight they see and if they smell a predator, they will tilt their head to try and see where it is. If surprised or approached, they will jump into action, somewhat literally as their back legs will propel them in a zig-zag pattern back toward their warren hole. If grabbed, those legs offer them the ability to kick while their teeth, suitable to their largely vegetation-based diets will also allow them to bite quite hard. Aside from these skills, and the general caring that a mother Rabbit shows toward her kits, the species is simple in its actions and motions on a daily basis.
Territory and Groupings
Rabbits live in warrens, which is often a burrow or hole in the earth where up to several families or groups of Rabbits can live together in chambers dug for that purpose. These groups are often called colonies or nests, and are only linked temporarily and for mutual protection from the elements. In domesticated surroundings most Rabbits live in cages, but caring and naturalistic Rabbit farmers sometimes build false warrens in the earth to help give the animals a more natural home environment.
- Rabbits made of sweet candy or chocolate are often formed in Genevaud Culture as a celebration of the coming of spring, where they are then eaten by all, but mostly children.
- Rabbit feet are seen as lucky by some superstitious folk.