Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More

What are Baby Rabbits Called?

Nicole Cosgrove

Baby rabbits are adorable. They are tiny, fluffy, and floppy-eared. Their fur is soft and they have little cotton-puff tails. Your first instinct when you see one is probably to exclaim over how cute the little bunny is. However, baby rabbits are not called bunnies!

Baby rabbits are actually called kittens! Sometimes they are referred to as kits or kitties, but the proper name for a baby rabbit is a kitten. Read on to learn more about where the terms rabbit, bunny, and kitten came from as well as more interesting terminology you should know when talking about rabbits.

Divider-rabbit2Where Did the Term “Bunny” Come From?

Young Bunny
Image Credit: Mondisso, Pixabay

Before the 18th century, rabbits were called coneys. The term for young coneys was rabbits. However, that name began to take over in popularity. By the 18th century, rabbit was the more widely used name for these creatures.

It is believed that the term bunny is a leftover mispronunciation of coney. The name bunny was also a popular name used to refer to a young girl.

Another tale of the origin of how the word bunny exploded in popularity relates to the Easter holiday. The tale of the Easter bunny laying eggs for children was originally referred to as an Easter hare. However, it was felt that the name Easter hare was not appealing or cute enough, so it was changed to the Easter bunny.

Whichever is the true origin, it is undeniable that the term bunny is much more widely used when referring to baby rabbits than the word kitten. Rabbits are considered kittens for the first 9 months of their lives. After this, they are fully grown adults.Divider-rabbit2

Interesting Rabbit Terminology

There are many interesting terms used to describe rabbits, hares, and their environments.

Some of these include:
  • Lagomorph – Rabbits are mammals that belong to the family lagomorph. Hares also belong to the same family.
  • Hare – A hare is not the same thing as a rabbit. Hares are larger and have longer ears. Their back legs are also longer than those of a rabbit. Interestingly, hares’ coats change color with the season. They are grey or brown in warmer months and white in the winter. Instead of burrowing into the ground like rabbits, hares prefer to stay on the surface and hide among the vegetation.
  • Doe – A doe is an adult female rabbit.
  • Buck – A buck is an adult male rabbit.
  • Dam – The dam is used when referring to the mother of a specific group of kittens.
  • Sire – The sire is the father of a specific group of kittens.
  • Warren – A warren refers to the connected series of tunnels underground where a group of rabbits lives. Within this series of tunnels are small pockets called burrows. The warren provides protection and a place to sleep for the group of rabbits. They spend the daylight hours here and are most active above ground at dawn and dusk. Warrens can extend as far as 10 feet under the ground and can be over 100 feet in width, depending on the number of rabbits in the group.
  • Burrow – A burrow is a small chamber in a warren that is connected to other burrows by tunnels. It is generally between 1 and 2 feet high. Rabbits use their burrows to sleep during the day. The dam will also nurse her kittens in her burrow. They will often line the burrow with hair plucked from their own stomachs and leave and grass carried in from outside.
  • Fluffle – A group of rabbits is known as a fluffle. It can also be called a colony or herd. These groups usually have between 6 and 12 fully grown adults and are led by one dominant male or female. The group is known to protect one another by alerting others about predators and other dangers. Depending on the species, they may have a distress call or may thump their back feet as a warning. Rabbits tend to remain close to the warren so that it is easy for them to run back underground when they sense danger.
  • Nest – A group of kittens is referred to as a nest, a kindle, or a litter. Most rabbits have 2 to 6 kittens per nest, but can have up to 5 nests per year! The rabbit has a very short gestation period of 28 to 31 days which allows for multiple nests each year.
Divider-rabbit2

Conclusion

The history behind how the baby rabbit got its name is interesting, if not entirely clear. After reading this article, you now know that the baby rabbit is called a kitten, not a bunny. You also know that it is part of a fluffle and has a dam and a sire. The kitten lives in a warren and sleeps in a burrow with its brothers and sisters. Now you can impress your friends at the next trivia night with your extensive knowledge of rabbit terminology!


Featured Image Credit: Kassia Marie Ott, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.