Link #15: The Second-Smallest Rabbit in the World Is the Volcano Rabbit

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Link #15: The Second-Smallest Rabbit in the World Is the Volcano Rabbit

volcano rabbit
Image credit: Ratata Ergoter cc2.0

In our last post, we spoke about ice volcanoes (which are volcanoes that spew out ice and different types of hydrocarbons instead of molten rock). If the fact that ice volcanoes are real surprised you, consider the fact that there are volcano rabbits on Earth!

Volcano rabbits are the most primitive species of rabbits on Earth right now.

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What Is the Volcano Rabbit Like?

Pygmy Rabbit (Sylvilagus idahoensis)
Pygmy Rabbit (Sylvilagus idahoensis) on Seedskadee. By USFWS Mountain-Prairie cc2.0

The volcano rabbit is an extremely small creature. In fact, if it weren’t for the pygmy rabbit, it would be the smallest rabbit on the planet. It is covered in short but thick fur and it has short legs. The volcano rabbit can also be identified by its distinctively small and rounded ears.

They have a tendency to live in small groups of about two to five in underground nests and runways. They are not that unlike rats in that matter. They are unlike other rabbits though. They are different because they exchange warnings vocally, as opposed to making sounds with their paws.

Volcano rabbits are herbivores. This means that they survive on plants. They specifically eat grasses, and even use them to hide behind. They are also extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity and other aspects of the climate.


Where Does the Volcano Rabbit Live?

Popocatépetl
Popocatépetl from Puebla, Mexico. By Russ Bowling cc2.0

Unfortunately, volcano rabbits are an endangered species, which means that they are in danger of becoming extinct. They probably kept the Aztecs company when they were at their peak, because they are native to Mexico. In fact, they can only be found near four volcanoes located to the south of Mexico City.

This is possibly why they are named volcano rabbits. They like temperate climates and temperatures which range around 52 degrees Fahrenheit (11 Celsius). Moreover, volcano rabbits seem to like places with views, because them majority of them live at higher altitudes.


Why Are There So Few Volcano Rabbits in the World?

Volcano rabbits were abundant in Mexico at one time. However, over the years, their population has declined. The drop in their numbers is a result of a number of factors. These include the warming of the climate, changes in their habitat, and the growth of the human population.

First, because even the slightest of changes in temperature affects the volcano rabbit, the increasing global temperature has affected it severely. At the same time, the changing climate has caused the volcano rabbit’s habitat to shrink.

In addition to this, the volcano rabbit lives in the most populous region of Mexico. This means that the actions of the people there have also had an impact on the volcano rabbit’s habitat.

For example, the volcano rabbit is often used for target practice, by hunters in the region. Along with this, the people living in the region see the volcano rabbit as vermin that need to be removed. All of these things have combined to make volcano rabbits extremely rare and in danger of being destroyed as a species.




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Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcano_rabbit
http://www.animalinfo.org/species/romediaz.htm
http://www.arkive.org/volcano-rabbit/romerolagus-diazi/
http://www.edgeofexistence.org/mammals/species_info.php?id=41

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