Every night when I pull into my driveway about 9:30 p.m., my headlights awaken a cottontail rabbit in the side yard that hops up and then away to the hole in our backyard fence. You’ve probably got rabbits in your yard, too.
That’s either a good thing or a bad thing. If you have a garden, you’re probably not too happy about it. Rabbits will eat just about anything people will plant in gardens, and they’re especially fond of tulips.
If you’re not a gardener, you’re probably fond of watching them hop harmlessly around your yard, occasionally munching on grass and weeds.
Most people think rabbits, and their cousins, hares, are rodents.
Not so. They’re certainly similar. But rodents, such as squirrels and mice, have a single set of incisors. Rabbits have two pair. A small difference, but apparently enough for biologists to place them in separate genera.
They also have different tastes in food. Most rodents are omnivores; they’ll eat anything. Most rabbits and hares are strict vegetarians.
Wild rabbits breed like, well, rabbits. That’s a good thing, because wild rabbits tend to pick up the Myxmatosis virus, which cuts their lives short.
Indoor rabbits, however, make good pets because they rarely come into contact with the disease, and quickly become tame in the presence of humans.
There’s some disagreement about the number of rabbit species, but the most common number is 16. But any bunny you see around here is likely to be the ordinary cottontail.
They make good, very tame pets. They are easily litter trained. But don’t let them outside. They are far too prone to infection.
For more information on rabbits as pets, visit the Rabbit Care Guide at About.com.