Riverine Rabbit, Bushman Rabbit, Bushman Hare
Facts about this animal
The riverine rabbit reaches a head-body length of 34-48 cm. The tail measures 7-11 cm. Males weigh about 1.5 kg, females up to 1.9 kg. This rabbit has very long ears, a soft and silky coat and a light brown woolly tail with a black tip. Distinguishing marks include a distinctive white ring around each eye and a black stripe running from the corner of its mouth over its cheek. The belly and throat are cream in colour and the short limbs have particularly thick fur.
The Riverine Rabbits is a habitat specialist that occupies a very restricted and specialised niche: the discontinuous and dense vegetation on soft and nutrient-rich alluvial soils associated with the seasonal rivers of the Karoo. Riverine Rabbits therefore function as a biological indicator for the river zones in the Karoo, which are of enormous economical value for farmers. The extinction of Riverine Rabbits in many areas of its former distribution range in the Northern and Western Cape is therefore indicative of the severe destruction, fragmentation and loss of this habitat.
90% of the rabbit's diet consists of Karoo shrubs and the remaining 10% of grasses.
The Riverine Rabbit is a solitary, nocturnal animal and rests during the heat of the day in shallow depressions scraped out under shrubs. The breeding rate is unusually low. Breeding occurs between August and May. Females dig stable burrows in the soft and deep soils in which they raise, after a pregnancy period of 35 days, one (rarely two) offspring per breeding season. The newborn rabbits are blind, hairless and completely dependent on their mother, whereas hare leverets can see and have fur at birth. The live span in the wild hardly exceeds 4 years.
Did you know?
That conversion of habitat for agriculture has been the major threat to the riverine rabbit? More than 60% of the original riparian vegetation where this species is found has been converted to cultivation.
|Name (Scientific)||Bunolagus monticularis|
|Name (English)||Riverine Rabbit, Bushman Rabbit, Bushman Hare|
|Name (French)||Lapin riverin, Lapin des Boschimans d'Afrique du Sud, Lapin hottentot|
|Name (Spanish)||Conejo Ribereño de Sudáfrica|
|Local names||Afrikaans: Vleihaas, boshaas, doekvoetjie or pondhaas|
|CITES Status||Not listed|
|CMS Status||Not listed|
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|Range||Karoo, South Africa|
|Habitat||Dense riverine scrub along the seasonal rivers|
|Wild population||2003: Less than 250 mature individuals (Red List IUCN 2011)|
In the Zoo
How this animal should be transported
For air transport, Container Note 79 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.
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Why do zoos keep this animal
There are currently no riverine rabbits kept by zoos. Several zoos support however an in situ conservation project for the species.