Order: Lagomorpha Family: Leporidae
Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus

Lagomorphs are a small to medium sized herbivores, which like rodents, have a pair of large, chisel-shaped incisors separated by a long diastema from the grinding cheek teeth. In other respects they are distinct from rodents: cheek teeth as well as incisors grow continuously throughout life: there is a second pair of small, peg-like incisors directly behind the first pair: the Order Rodentia have neither features.


The world-wide family Leporidae contains one large genus, Lepus, the open country hares, and nine smaller genera of mainly burrowing rabbits, including Oryctolagus.

All have long ears large hind legs and feet. Two species of leporids are present in New Zealand. The genus Oryctolagus has only one species, the European rabbit and is clearly distinct from the hares, but superficially resembles the American cottontail (Sylvilagus).

Skull features, (1) diastema. (2) large orbits. (3) spongy matrix of bone lining the mandible. (4) short narrow nasal cavities. (5) slightly curved mandible. (6) large zygomatic breadth.


Dentition, (1) two sets of upper incisors. (2) teeth grow throughout the life of the rabbit. (3) teeth have an extremely hard outer layer of enamel, and a central less hard portion of dentine.


Skeleton, rabbits have characteristically well developed hind legs, with over-developed back feet and unfused back legs, indicating a ground-dwelling habitat, with running and jumping as their means of locomotion.