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Domestic Rabbits in the "Wild"

Why We Rescue...

Many people wonder why domestic rabbits need to be "rescued" from outside when they seem to be surviving just fine. This information is designed to explain why Archie's Angels (and many other rabbit rescues!) do what we do.

Domestic rabbits are of the genus species Oryctolagus cuniculus; they are also known as "European rabbits" because they are native to Europe. The 14 species of wild rabbits and the four species of hares in America, belong to the genus species Sylvilagus, which includes Cottontails, and Lepus, which includes Jackrabbits.

This means that, if released into the wild, domestic rabbits cannot cross-breed with wild rabbits or hares because they are an entirely different species. There is no such thing as a "half-wild/half-domestic" rabbit.

This also means that since domestic rabbits are 1) bred as domesticated pets, and 2) not native to this continent, they absolutely cannot survive long-term in the wild. PLEASE report any domestic rabbit sighting to your local rescue.

What happens to domestic rabbits who end up in the wild? Since they DO NOT have the same instincts as wild rabbits, bunnies who have been dumped/abandoned or have gotten loose from a backyard are subject to the following dangers:

  • Predators, including domestic dogs

  • Theft or teasing/torture by humans

  • Moldy or poisonous plants

  • Being hit by cars

  • Toxic pesticides or fertilizers

  • Exposure to sun, heat, wind, wet, or extreme cold

  • Bacteria contained in dirt

  • Dehydration

  • Diseases spread by flies and mosquitoes

  • Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease

Archie's Angels Rabbit Rescue encourages domestic rabbits to be kept as indoor house pets only. This ensures that they live longer, healthier, and happier lives with you. Safe, outdoor exercise is okay with supervision only.

Research credit: Natasha Spate


Archies Angels Rabbit Rescue will rescue wild rabbits if injured. You are welcome to report such cases.

This rescue is based out of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
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