|The domestic rabbit belongs to the family Leporidae which includes around 50 species of rabbits and hares. They are a descendant of the wild European Rabbit and they were introduced to Britain by the Romans, who kept them in fenced off areas and used them as a source of meat and fur. |
Selective breeding of rabbits began in the middles ages, when they were first treated as domestic farm animals. By the 1500s, several new breeds of different colours and sizes were being recorded.
During the 1800s breeds were developed for the purpose of exhibition and rabbit fanciers began to attend rabbit shows in Western Europe and the USA. Rabbits began to be household pets during the Victorian era and today the domestic rabbit continues to be a popular pet and show animal.
Presently rabbits are also produced commercially for meat, skin and wool and they are used in laboratories, where their use has enabled scientists to develop life saving drugs and study medical diseases.