The riverine rabbit, aka bushman hare or bushman rabbit, is 1 of the most endangered mammals in the world. They can be found in the Karoo desert in South Africa. These critters prefer river basins and a specific type of shrubland. Riverine rabbits can also be found in desert, dune, and scrub forest biomes. Due to the constant threats of residential and industrial development; energy production; mining; agricultural development and use (in the form of extensive livestock grazing); hunting; trapping; invasive species, and with them disease; the potential for inbreeding (due to low and condensed populations); and climate change, these rabbits are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Their populations are also decreasing. As of 2016, there were only 207 mature individuals remaining in the wild.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Bunolagus monticularis
Weight: Up to 3.3 lbs.
Length: Up to 20.47 inches
Lifespan: Up to 4 years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) Riverine rabbits are nocturnal (active at night).
2.) They are solitary and territorial. Males only come together to mate with the females.
3.) A group of rabbits is called a colony or nest.
4.) During the day, these rabbits hide in a form (a shallow scrape, usually under a Karoo bush or shrub).
5.) They feed on various riparian vegetation, grass, and the saline (salt) loving salsola and lycium plants.
But wait, there’s more on the riverine rabbit!
6.) Like other coprophages, these rabbits consume their own droppings. This way they get all the nutrition they can in their diet. This aids in the consumption of phosphorus and calcium.
7.) Their predators include: falcons, black eagles, and domestic dogs.
Did you know…?
Riverines can jump up to 3.3 foot bushes, if being chased by a predator!
8.) Like other rabbits around the world, these critters are polygamous (1 male mates with multiple females).
9.) Females undergo up to a 35 day gestation (pregnancy) that yields a single kitten, aka kit.
10.) These rabbits are also called boshaas or vleihaas.
But wait, there’s still more on the riverine rabbit!
11.) These are the only known African rabbits to bear their young underground.
12.) The closest relatives of the Riverine rabbit are the European rabbit, Amami rabbit, and the Hispid hare.
13.) Riverine rabbits are the only known rabbit to construct a nest for their kit, rather than a burrow.
Now a Short Riverine Rabbit Video!
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Photo credit: Jacques van der Merwe