Oryctolagus cuniculus

In this order we only have 2 species in the community (rabbits and hares), which are nevertheless key pieces in their ecosystems. The populations of many predators both terrestrial and birds of prey depend on these two leporidae.

European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus

The regression of european rabbit populations in recent decades is one of the greatest ecological problems facing Extremadura’s ecosystems. The high mortality rate due to disease, together with excessive hunting and/or predatory pressure means that today it has disappeared from a large number of territories, with very few populations in others.

Rabbits and hares
European rabbit, Isaac Fdez Galisteo

It has an incredible reproductive capacity so its populations are recovering in some areas. These areas are those where hunting pressure or predation is limited. Examples of this are the slopes of railways and highways, semi-urban areas, around large towns and cities…

Many efforts have been made to recover this species: habitat modification, repopulation, vaccination, predator control… Almost always with scarce results, which is why its distribution is very irregular. Even so, it is present in most of the region.

Iberian hare Lepus granatensis
Lepus granatensis
Iberian hare

Its ecological importance is less than that of its relative the rabbit, although it is increasing. Hare populations have not been so reduced, so it has been gaining importance in the diet of many predators, which used to eat rabbits and hares and now they do not find rabbits in many areas. Its large size and greater speed, however, do not make it an easy prey. Present in pastures, grasslands and other open spaces, it adapts to both large treeless plains and the typical Mediterranean forest, although it always prefers areas with not very dense trees.

With an exclusively herbivorous diet, it is capable of reproducing more than once a year if there is enough food. It is very typical to observe it on dirt roads, especially at sunset, as its habits are more nocturnal than diurnal.

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