THE VOLCANO RABBIT – WAIT…REALLY?
Seems like the two terms just don’t mix; volcano and rabbit. My interest was piqued, so this week I'm offering a bit of information about this very ancient and endangered species of mammal. There is no current fossil data to give exact dates as to how old this species is. However, most scientists agree that it is the most primitive of living rabbits and hares. The Volcano Rabbit is monotypic. This means that it is the only species of its genus.
The Volcano Rabbit is not only one of the oldest of the rabbit species; it is also one of the smallest. They average about one pound, and are about twelve inches long. It is related to the Pika, which is also a member of the rabbit family. You can certainly see the resemblance. The American Pika, pictured below, lives in alpine regions of southwestern Canada and the western United States. The populations of this animal are in trouble due to climate change.
So let’s get back to the Volcano Rabbit. It’s called the Volcano Rabbit because it lives exclusively on the slopes of four volcanoes in central Mexico, south of Mexico City (Popocatepetl, Iztaccihuatl, El Pelado and Tlaloc). The rabbit has short brown to black fur, short legs and rounded ears. This species of rabbit does not have any visible tail.
The Volcano Rabbit subsists entirely on zacaton, which is a family of stiff spiny grasses. Although they have been known to occupy the burrows of other animals, the Volcano Rabbit prefers to spend most of its time above ground hiding in the dense zacaton.
Photo credit: Alfred (Al) Toth (pbase.com)
The Volcano Rabbit has been declared ‘endangered’ by the IUCN*. Its current populations are not known. Habitat destruction, climate change, and hunting are primary reasons for declining populations. The areas in which they live have now been protected under Mexican law, and hunting the Volcano Rabbit is illegal.
Photo credit: Joel Sartore (Photo ark)
To learn more about the Volcano Rabbit, visit the following sites:
*IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature
My thanks to Arkive.org for some of the information, and to all of you who stop by on a weekly basis to support Australian Fantasy’s blog. Please come by again, leave a comment, and share this wildlife tidbit with your children.
Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!