Species of the Week: The Volcano Rabbit

Scientists believe the volcano rabbit (Romerolagus diazi) is the most primitive of all living rabbits or hares.  The volcano rabbit is so different from other species that it is the only in its’ genus, as well as one of the smallest rabbits in the world.

Another unique aspect of  this species is where it lives. It is only found on the slopes of four volcanoes near Mexico City. It lives between 2,800-4,250 m high in open pine forests with a dense undergrowth of zacaton (bunch grass) or in secondary alder forests with a heavy grass-shrub understory.  The dense zacaton or undergrowth help them hide from predators.

Volcano rabbits are mostly nocturnal, being the most active at just before dawn and after dusk. It lives in small groups and despite sometimes using borrows dug by other species they spend most of their time above ground.  When active they travel along well-maintained runways through the zacaton, feeing on green leaves, spiny herbs and the bark of alder trees.

Living so close to the largest city on the planet, the rabbit suffers greatly from the effects of habitat destruction, fires, hunting and pollution. Hunting of the species is now illegal under Mexican law and protected areas have been established in areas where the rabbits live (Izta-Popo and Zoquiapan National Parks). However, even in areas where it is protected, the species is suffering from the effects of illegal hunting and habitat loss.

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  1. kayo1111 said,

    on November 7th, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    What is the situation with the captive colonies in UK and Chapultepec Zoo, Mexico City and why they didn’t survive in Jersey Zoo?

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