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Amami Rabbit

Ashley Bates

May 25, 2021

The Amami rabbit is called a living fossil due to its ancient roots. These rabbits are an incredibly old breed, stemming from ancient ancestors on Japanese islands. They are considered critically endangered today, so they are not found in captivity situations of any kind unless they are under the direct monitoring of wildlife professionals.

These rabbits used to thrive on the Japanese mainland, but they have long since died out. Unless you are to visit their natural habitat, you will likely never see one of these creatures in your lifetime. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t learn about these incredible creatures and their contribution to island life.

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Quick Facts about the Amami Rabbit

Species Name: Pentalagus furnessi
Family: Leporidae
Other Names: Ryukyu rabbit, Amami hare
Temperament: Nocturnal
Color Form: Dark to reddish-brown
Lifespan: Unknown
Size: Up to 6 pounds
Diet: Herbivore
Environment: Mature and young forests
Population Status: Endangered

Amami Rabbit Overview

The Amami rabbit is a descendant of ancient rabbits found in China and Eastern to Central Europe. Unlike many wild rabbit breeds, Amami’s have incredibly dark fur—setting them apart from certain rabbit cousins.

Amami’s are found on two small islands in Japan between southern Kyushu and Okinawa—Amami and Tukunoshima. Their numbers are dwindling today due to population increase, natural predation, and the reduction of their natural habitat.

Wildlife specialists try to conserve these rabbits’ native environments so they can thrive accordingly. Although numbers are on the decline, hopefully, these rabbits can grace the earth for as long as possible—and even recover their numbers.

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How Much Do Amami Rabbits Cost?

You will not find an Amami rabbit for sale and anywhere. These rabbits are so rare that they are not in the trade industry whatsoever. Any remaining Amami rabbits need to be in their own habitat so they can thrive for as long as possible.

If you are lucky enough to live on one of these stunning Japanese islands, you may come across one at some point—though it’s unlikely. You should always take a hands-off approach in the event you ever spot one, leaving these creatures to live their lives in peace.

Unless they are directly under the care of a wildlife rehabilitation specialist, these rabbits should never be in captivity.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

Interestingly, this rabbit species is nocturnal, dwelling in forests, which is different from their Leporidae cousins. During daylight hours, these rabbits sleep in out-of-sight locations like burrows and caves. These rabbits raise their young in dug holes to provide hidden protection.

Appearance & Varieties

The Amami rabbit has a distinctive bodily structure that sets them apart from others of its kind. These rabbits have concise front and hind legs with much shorter ears than other rabbits and hares.

They have heavy, coarse fur that is wooly and dark brown—the fur down the sides into a reddish tone. The Amami’s eyes are much smaller than most as well. They are large in size, weighing up to 6 pounds.

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How to Take Care of Amami Rabbit

Because the Amami rabbit is so endangered, understanding their natural habitat is a perfect way to grasp the importance of land conservation. One of the biggest killers of the Amami is the development of human civilizations destroying necessary forests.

Of course, Amami rabbits aren’t the only animals who suffer from industrialization. Many species have decreased or gone entirely extinct due to modern advancements.

Habitat, Environmental Threats & Preferred Setting

Amami rabbits live in the quiet woodlands of these Japanese islands. They have a scattered population ranging across both islands, totaling numbers of an estimated 5,400 on both islands combined—and those numbers are on the decline.

Often, Amamis inhabit areas between young and mature forests. The dense foliage provides a natural hiding spot to protect their population, keeping adults and their young safe.

You can find them scavenging for food in thickets and herbaceous ground coverings.

Natural Predators

Amami rabbits can fall victim to small Indian mongooses, feral dogs, and feral cats. They might also fall victim to traps set by hunters.

Environmental Threats

Amami rabbits are most threatened by the reduction of their natural woodland homes. Due to modern civilization, many forest areas are destroyed, which decreases populations among many forest creatures.

Conservation Attempts

Wildlife rangers are attempting to create habitat restoration to up the numbers and preserve the species.

They are trying to preserve their living space, so that these rabbits can thrive as they should. They are also reducing the numbers of natural predators to give these creatures a fighting chance.

Captivity

Under professional guidance, when these rabbits enter captivity, they typically don’t handle it well. However, there is documentation of a pair of wild Amami rabbits that produced one offspring in captivity.

Amami Rabbit Diet

Amami rabbits are herbivores, eating over 29 species of plants in the area. They eat a combination of shrubbery and herbaceous plants, snacking on shoots, grasses, acorns, and sprouts.

During colder months, they will feed on bark and twigs to receive sustenance.

Amami Rabbit Health

Apart from natural predation, common health issues amongst these rabbits are unknown. Not enough scientific research has been conducted on the species to conclude any breed-specific health problems.

Breeding

Amami rabbits read between late March and May into September to December. Unlike certain other rabbit species, these rabbits only have one to two babies at a time.

Their young stay with them in a dug hole where they hide until they are self-sustainable—which is usually by the time the baby reaches 3-4 months of age.

 

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Amami Rabbits: Final Thoughts

The primitive and wonderful Amami rabbit is a rare and lovely species. Hopefully, with more information and education regarding wildlife, we can conserve the longevity of many endangered species—not just one. We all must do our part ecologically to ensure that numbers of these dwindling populations start to rise once more.


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Ashley Bates

Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is currently studying the art of animal therapy. A mother to four human children— and 23 furry and feathery kids, too – Ashley volunteers at local shelters, advocates for animal well-being, and rescues every creature she finds. Her mission is to create awareness, education, and entertainment about pets to prevent homelessness. Her specialties are cats and dogs.