Tuesday 21 May
Amami rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi)
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Amami rabbit fact file
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Amami rabbit description
The Amami rabbit is a unique member of the rabbit family, having evolved in isolation over the millennia. The dense fur is dark brown, fading to reddish-brown on the sides and underbelly (4). These rabbits have a heavy body with short legs and small ears; their lack of tail is particularly distinctive (3). The claws are long and curved, reaching between 10 and 20 mm in length (3).Top
Amami rabbit biology
Very little is known about this ‘primitive’ member of the rabbit family. Unusually, the Amami rabbit is nocturnal, spending the day in simple dens dug into the heavy forest soil (3). Females give birth to a single offspring, although they may have two litters a year. The newborn rabbit is sealed into its rearing den whilst its mother forages for food; she only returns every two nights, excavating the den in order to nurse her young before sealing the hole again (3). Around 4 – 7 weeks later, the den is no longer sealed and the young rabbit will accompany its mother on her feeding trips (3).
Amami rabbits feed on a range of plants and fruits; particularly pampas grass in the summer months (4). Individuals are predominantly solitary and follow well-worn tracts through the forest undergrowth on their nightly foraging trips (3).Top
Amami rabbit rangeTop
Amami rabbit habitat
Inhabits forested areas from dense old-growth forest to more disturbed areas (4).Top
Amami rabbit status
Classified as Endangered (EN – A2b, B1+2bce, C1) on the IUCN Red List 2002 (1).Top
Amami rabbit threats
Widespread habitat degradation has recently occurred on these islands and it is estimated that as little as 5% of the forest cover of 1981 remains (1). In addition, predation by introduced mammalian predators such as dogs, cats and mongooses poses a further threat to the survival of this species (4). Mongooses were introduced in the 1980s in an attempt to control the number of habu pit vipers (Trimeresurus flavoviridis) on the island; they have however, devastated other species’ populations instead (3).Top
Amami rabbit conservation
The Amami rabbit is classified as a Japanese National Monument and as such receives protection from hunting and capture (3). However, habitat loss is currently the major threat to the survival of this rare species and the protection of remaining forests will be the key to securing the future of both this unique rabbit and other members of Amami’s natural heritage (3).Top
Find out more
To learn about efforts to conserve the Amami Rabbit see:
EDGE of Existence:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Active at night.
IUCN Red List (June, 2003)
- Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Brazil, M. (2001) The rabbit that time forgot. BBC Wildlife Magazine, 19(2): 22 –28.
Animal Diversity Web (June, 2003)
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