Mother-Young and Within-Litter Relations in the European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus

  • Amando Bautista
  • Margarita Martínez-Gómez
  • Robyn Hudson

The European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus, in its domesticated form, is an important animal in biomedical research and in a number of countries is of economic significance for the production of meat and fur. In the wild, it is an appreciated game species, and in several countries it is also a major agricultural pest. The rabbit’s long association with humans has resulted in a large body of information on its general biology and it is now one of the most studied mammals in the wild. In whatever context, however, the rabbit is best known for its remarkable reproductive capacity. This is due in large part to the reproductive efficiency of the female (Fig. 1), a notable feature of which is the brief time mothers spend each day even with their newborn young (reviewed in Hudson and Distel 1982; 1989). After giving birth to the altricial young in a separate nursery burrow or in a chamber in the colony warren, the doe leaves, closes the entrance, and only returns to nurse for a few minutes once approximately every 24 h. As for several other lagomorphs (see below), such limited contact between mother and young is thought to have evolved to reduce the possibility of predators locating the nest from the attendance of the more conspicuous mother (Zarrow et al. 1965).


Oryctolagus Cuniculus European Rabbit European Hare Newborn Rabbit Domestic Rabbit 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amando Bautista
    • 1
  • Margarita Martínez-Gómez
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robyn Hudson
    • 2
  1. 1.Centro Tlaxcala de Biología de la ConductaUNAM-UATTlaxcalaMexico
  2. 2.Instituto de Investigaciones BiomédicasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexico D.FMexico

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