Leporidae

Leporidae

Taxobox
name = Rabbits and haresMSW3 Hoffmann|pages=194–211]
fossil_range = Late Eocene - Recent



image_width = 230px
image_caption = Arctic Hare ("Lepus arcticus")
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Lagomorpha
familia = Leporidae
familia_authority = Fischer de Waldheim, 1817
subdivision_ranks = Genera
subdivision = "Pentalagus"
"Bunolagus"
"Nesolagus"
"Romerolagus"
"Brachylagus"
"Sylvilagus"
"Oryctolagus"
"Poelagus"
"Caprolagus"
"Pronolagus"
"Lepus"

Leporids are the approximately 50 species of rabbits and hares which form the family Leporidae. The leporids, together with the pikas, constitute the Lagomorpha order of mammals. Leporids differ from pikas in having short furry tails, and elongated ears and hind legs. The name "leporid" is derived from Latin "leporis", genitive of "lepus", a hare.

Members of all genera except "Lepus" are usually referred to as rabbits, while members of "Lepus" (which accounts for almost half the species) are usually called hares. However the distinction between these two common names does not map completely into current taxonomy, since jackrabbits are members of "Lepus", and members of the genera "Pronolagus" and "Caprolagus" are sometimes called hares.

Leporids are native across the world except Antarctica, and in Oceania where their introduction is a significant threat for the native mammals in Australia.

Characteristics

Leporids are small to moderately sized mammals, adapted for rapid movement. They have long hind legs, with four toes on each foot, and shorter fore legs, with five toes each. The soles of their feet are hairy, to improve grip while running, and they have strong claws on all of their toes. Leporids also have distinctive, elongated and mobile ears, and they have an excellent sense of hearing. Their eyes are large, and their night vision is good, reflecting their primarily nocturnal or crepuscular mode of living.cite book |editor=Macdonald, D.|author= Chapman, J. & Schneider, E.|year=1984 |title= The Encyclopedia of Mammals|publisher= Facts on File|location=New York|pages= 714–719|isbn= 0-87196-871-1]

Leporids range in size from the Pygmy Rabbit ("Brachylagus idahoensis"), with a head and body length of 25–29 cm, and a weight of around 300 grams, to the European Hare ("Lepus europaeus"), which is 50–76 cm in head-body length, and weighs from 2.5 to 5 kilograms.

Both rabbits and hares are almost exclusively herbivorous (with exceptions among the members of "Lepus"), [Citation
last = Best
first = Troy L.
last2 = Henry
first2 = Travis Hill
publication-date = June 2, 1994
title = Lepus arcticus
periodical = Mammalian Species
issue = 457
pages = 1–9
issn = 00763519
doi = 10.2307/3504088
oclc = 46381503
] [cite web
title = Snowshoe Hare
work = eNature: FieldGuides
publisher = eNature.com
date = 2007
url = http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/detail.asp?curFamilyID=556&curGroupID=5&lgfromWhere=&curPageNum=2
format = HTML
accessdate = 2008-03-23
] feeding primarily on grasses and herbs, although they also eat leaves, fruit, and seeds of various kinds. They pass food through their digestive systems twice, first expelling it as soft green feces, which they then re-ingest, eventually producing hard, dark fecal pellets. Like rodents, they have powerful front incisor teeth, but they also have a smaller second pair of incisors to either side of the main teeth in the upper jaw, and the structure is different from that of rodent incisors. Also like rodents, leporids lack any canine teeth, but they do have more cheek teeth than rodents do. The dental formula of most, though not all, leporids is:dentition2|2.0.3.3|1.0.2.3

They have adapted to a remarkable range of habitats, from desert to tundra, forests, mountains, and swampland. Rabbits generally dig permanent burrows for shelter, the exact form of which varies between species. In contrast, hares rarely dig shelters of any kind, and their bodies are more suited to fast running than to burrowing.

The gestation period in leporids varies from around 28 to 50 days, and is generally longer in the hares. This is in part because young hares, or leverets, are born fully developed, with fur and open eyes, while rabbit kits are naked and blind at birth, having the security of the burrow to protect them. Leporids can have several litters a year, which can cause their population to expand dramatically in a short period of time when resources are plentiful.

Evolution

The oldest known leporid species date from the late Eocene, by which time the family was already present in both North America and Asia. Over the course of their evolution, this group has become increasingly adapted to lives of fast running and leaping. For example, "Palaeolagus", an extinct rabbit from the Oligocene of North America, had shorter hind legs than modern forms (indicating it ran rather than hopped) though it was in most other respects quite rabbit-likecite book |author= Savage, RJG, & Long, MR|year=1986 |title= Mammal Evolution: an illustrated guide|publisher= Facts on File|location=New York|pages= 128–129|isbn= 0-8160-1194-X] . Two as yet unnamed fossil finds—dated ~48 Ma (from China) and ~53 Ma (India)—while primitive, display the characteristic leporid ankle, thus pushing the divergence of Ochotonidae and Leporidae yet further into the past. [cite news
last = Handwerk
first = Brian
title = Easter Surprise: World's Oldest Rabbit Bones Found
work = National Geographic News
publisher = National Geographic Society
date = 2008-03-21
url = http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080321-rabbit-bones.html
accessdate = 2008-03-23
]

Classification

Family Leporidae: rabbits and hares
* Genus "Pentalagus"
** Amami Rabbit/Ryūkyū Rabbit, "Pentalagus furnessi"
* Genus "Bunolagus"
** Riverine Rabbit, "Bunolagus monticularis"
* Genus "Nesolagus"
** Sumatran Striped Rabbit, "Nesolagus netscheri"
** Annamite Striped Rabbit, "Nesolagus timminsi"
* Genus "Romerolagus"
** Volcano Rabbit, "Romerolagus diazi"
* Genus "Brachylagus"
** Pygmy Rabbit, "Brachylagus idahoensis"
* Genus "Sylvilagus"
** Subgenus "Tapeti"
*** Swamp Rabbit, "Sylvilagus aquaticus"
*** Tapeti, "Sylvilagus brasiliensis"
*** Dice's Cottontail, "Sylvilagus dicei"
*** Omilteme Cottontail, "Sylvilagus insonus"
*** Marsh Rabbit, "Sylvilagus palustris"
*** Venezuelan Lowland Rabbit, "Sylvilagus varynaensis"
** Subgenus "Sylvilagus"
*** Desert Cottontail, "Sylvilagus audubonii"
*** Manzano Mountain Cottontail, "Sylvilagus cognatus"
*** Mexican Cottontail, "Sylvilagus cunicularis"
*** Eastern Cottontail, "Sylvilagus floridanus"
*** Tres Marias Rabbit, "Sylvilagus graysoni"
*** Mountain Cottontail, "Sylvilagus nuttallii"
*** Appalachian Cottontail, "Sylvilagus obscurus"
*** Robust Rabbit, "Sylvilagus robustus"
** Subgenus "Microlagus"
*** Brush Rabbit, "Sylvilagus bachmani"
*** San Jose Brush Rabbit, "Sylvilagus mansuetus"
* Genus "Oryctolagus"
** European Rabbit, "Oryctolagus cuniculus"
* Genus "Poelagus"
** Bunyoro Rabbit, "Poelagus marjorita"
* Genus "Pronolagus"
** Natal Red Rock Hare, "Pronolagus crassicaudatus"
** Jameson's Red Rock Hare, "Pronolagus randensis"
** Smith's Red Rock Hare, "Pronolagus rupestris"
* Genus "Caprolagus"
** Hispid Hare, "Caprolagus hispidus"
* Genus "Lepus"
** Subgenus "Macrotolagus"
*** Antelope Jackrabbit, "Lepus alleni"
** Subgenus "Poecilolagus"
*** Snowshoe Hare, "Lepus americanus"
** Subgenus "Lepus"
*** Arctic Hare, "Lepus arcticus"
*** Alaskan Hare, "Lepus othus"
*** Mountain Hare, "Lepus timidus"
** Subgenus "Proeulagus"
*** Black-tailed Jackrabbit, "Lepus californicus"
*** White-sided Jackrabbit, "Lepus callotis"
*** Cape Hare, "Lepus capensis"
*** Tehuantepec Jackrabbit, "Lepus flavigularis"
*** Black Jackrabbit, "Lepus insularis"
*** Scrub Hare, "Lepus saxatilis"
*** Desert Hare, "Lepus tibetanus"
*** Tolai Hare, "Lepus tolai"
** Subgenus "Eulagos"
*** Broom Hare, "Lepus castrovieoi"
*** Yunnan Hare, "Lepus comus"
*** Korean Hare, "Lepus coreanus"
*** Corsican Hare, "Lepus corsicanus"
*** European Hare, "Lepus europaeus"
*** Granada Hare, "Lepus granatensis"
*** Manchurian Hare, "Lepus mandschuricus"
*** Woolly Hare, "Lepus oiostolus"
*** Ethiopian Highland Hare, "Lepus starcki"
*** White-tailed Jackrabbit, "Lepus townsendii"
** Subgenus "Sabanalagus"
*** Ethiopian Hare, "Lepus fagani"
*** African Savanna Hare, "Lepus microtis"
** Subgenus "Indolagus"
*** Hainan Hare, "Lepus hainanus"
*** Indian Hare, "Lepus nigricollis"
*** Burmese Hare, "Lepus peguensis"
** Subgenus "Sinolagus"
*** Chinese Hare, "Lepus sinensis"
** Subgenus "Tarimolagus"
*** Yarkand Hare, "Lepus yarkandensis"
** Subgenus "incertae sedis"
*** Japanese Hare, "Lepus brachyurus"
*** Abyssinian Hare, "Lepus habessinicus"

ee also

* Cecotrope

References


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