August 02, 2015

The Mexican volcano rabbit has joined the list of critically endangered animals that are faced with extinction.

(image copyright Javier Lascurain)

The Volcano Rabbit lives in the highlands of Mexico, about 3,000 meters above sea level. They build their nests deep in the grass to keep it concealed as they raise their offspring.

Volcano Rabbits have always been considered troublemakers for crops in Mexico, which is why farmers often shoot them dead. Additionally, as the grasslands expanded into the highlands, other threats to their safety appeared. Herds of grass-eating livestock, cows and sheep, ate their food, and by doing so took away the camouflage for their nest holes.

What if the volcano erupts?

Another problem is that the Volcano Rabbits live on an active volcano! If this volcano were to erupt, it would wipe out their small population. So, zoos and preservation centers are working quickly to breed more Volcano Rabbits.

(source and more information here)

Other rabbit species facing extinction

A recent article on the BBC Earth website reveals that it is possible wild rabbits aren't doing what rabbits have a reputation for.... breeding like rabbits!

In fact in it's ancestral home of the Iberian Peninsular the European rabbit is now threatened with extinction.

(Riverine rabbit; source)

Several other breeds of rabbit are also on the danger list including the daintily eared Amami rabbit from Japan and the riverine rabbit from South Africa.

What is the impact?

Although many of us keep rabbits as family pets and others enjoy watching them in the wild there is no doubting that the rabbit is a food source for other animals. For example the Iberian Lynx relies on wild rabbits for one of it's main sources of food. 

This just goes once again to demonstrate how every piece of wildlife on Planet Earth is as important as another and they all play an integral role in the circle of life with many species of animal relying on another for it's own survival.

Read more on the BBC here.