Rabbits are known as prolific breeders, a survival trait which has made them one of the most common species of wild animal living in Scotland.

Whilst their domestic counterparts need a regulated environment to protect against heat exhaustion or hypothermia, wild rabbits don’t have this problem. Rabbits have adapted to living in many habitats around the world, from deserts to the tundra!

The busiest times of day for rabbits are dusk and dawn when they venture out to find food. The low light allows them to hide from predators.

Wild rabbits are usually brown but occasionally a genetic mutation can lead to a range of coat colours and markings.


Where do rabbits live?

Wild rabbits can be found almost anywhere from more rural settings like woods, forests, meadows, grasslands and wetlands to urban areas such as towns, parks and gardens.

They are very social creatures and live in large groups called colonies. Rabbits make their home by burrowing underground to create a complicated network of tunnels and chambers where they rest, sleep and nest. They have multiple entrances and exits for quick escape.


That’s wild

Rabbit warrens can be as deep as three metres underground!




What do rabbits eat?

Rabbits are herbivores meaning they enjoy a plant-based diet of grasses, crops and vegetables. They are opportunistic feeders and will also eat fruits, seeds, roots, buds, and tree bark.

To aid digestion, rabbits eat their food twice. After eating, they produce soft droppings called caecotrophs with a high nutritional value so rabbits eat these then produce hard, pellet-like droppings.


When are baby rabbits born?

Rabbits are known for their insatiable reproductive habits for good reason. Does (females) and bucks (males) reach maturity at around three months old and can have three or four litters each year, typically between January and August.

Gestation only takes around 30 days and each pregnancy produces three to eight babies, called kittens or kits. It is estimated that only 10% of kits will reach adulthood.

Baby rabbits are born in the warren and the mother rabbit will create a nest for her young. Mother rabbits are very protective as the kits are born completely helpless, naked and blind. After four to five weeks, kits can take care of themselves and will start breeding a few months later.


Baby Rabbits

Common problems


Sick or injured rabbits

Rabbits face a host of challenges from both nature and human activity. They can also carry a number of diseases, the most well-known being myxomatosis, a highly contagious and incurable disease. If you can see signs of injury or illness, please place a box over them and contact our helpline on 03000 999 999.

Signs to look out for include:
• Obvious injuries.
• Caught and injured by another animal.
• Lethargic or not moving.
• Tangled in litter.
• Surrounded by flies.
• Swelling, redness and/or ulcers.
• Discharge from the nose and/or eyes.
• Blindness.
• Breathing problems.

Any rabbit suffering from myxomatosis will be put to sleep to prevent further suffering.



Rabbits are under constant threat from predators such as cats, owls, other birds of prey and humans. Their long legs and ability to run for long periods at high speeds help them evade predators.


Lone baby rabbits

Baby rabbits should never be above ground. If you come across a kit or group of baby rabbits with no fur and closed eyes, and you are sure they are not leverets, place a box over them and call our helpline immediately on 03000 999 999. Our helpline team may advise you to lift the baby rabbits into the box and place them near a radiator to keep them warm.

Please be aware that baby hares (leverets) are often mistaken for baby rabbits and are brought into our care when they don’t actually need our help. Unless they are obviously ill or injured, baby hares should be left alone so they can be raised in the wild.

The key differences to be aware of between hares and rabbits are:

  • Hares are born fully furred, able to see and are capable of movement.
  • Hares are generally larger with longer hind legs and ears and have characteristic black markings.
  • Hares are born and live above ground.



Traps and snares

It is not illegal to use lethal methods of pest control to cull rabbits for the purposes of preventing damage to crops or property. Legal traps and snares will have an identification tag attached. To find out more about the rules around the use of snares and traps, click here.