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Baby animals are some of the most charming things you’ll ever see. So much so, that they have such a wide appeal. And often, we call them by their right name.
But there are animals, like rabbits, that have different official names for their offspring.
You’ve surely seen a baby rabbit and you’re wondering how should you call a baby rabbit?Well, in this post we will be walking through the terminologies used for baby rabbits, along with why they’re called these baby rabbit names and how they got their names.
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Rabbits and Their Babies
Rabbit babies, like all animals, have a distinct name. Most people are still unfamiliar with the name of a rabbit baby. Repeatedly, experts get asked what they’re called.
So, what are rabbit babies really called? Rabbits babies are termed kittens or kits. But most people haven’t discovered this term for a baby rabbit, yet. The most familiar term that is used for a baby rabbit is a bunny.
If you say “I have a baby bunny”, everyone will surely know what you’re talking about. But if you say “I have a rabbit kit,” more than likely, you’ll surely get a few confused looks.
The word “bunny” is deemed to come from the word “Coney”. Historically, even the word “Rabbits” was also used for baby rabbits.
What are Baby Rabbits Called?
The generally accepted official name for baby rabbits is “Kittens,” and it has given rise to other terms for baby rabbits like “Kits” or “Kitty”. But one of the most common names that people use globally for baby rabbits is “bunnies” or “bunny”.
While terms like “kitty” and anything that starts with “kit” come as a reduced form of the original name for baby rabbits, the bunny has quite an intriguing history to it.
They are fed by their mother twice a day, normally in the early morning and evening hours. At about two weeks of age, they start to nibble on hay and pellets in addition to their mother’s milk.
Kits can be taken from their mother around 6 to 8 weeks of age. Although some rabbit owners take them before this age, it’s still best to wait until the baby is older to ensure that he receives the important gut flora and nutrients from his mother’s milk.
At 8 weeks, kits can survive on their own, consuming only adult food. Moreover, rabbits are sexually developed at 10 weeks of age. So males (bucks) and females (does) must be separated before this age.
Rabbits have a very short gestation period of 31 days. This explains why rabbits have a reputation for reproducing fast.
Origin of the Term
We all know that the term “bunny” is a famous name used for baby rabbits, mostly used by children. This is the most popular and informal name baby rabbits are referred to.
But regarding where the word bunny came from, it was used to refer to a young girl (politely or otherwise). Over time though, it was accommodated to refer to young, adorable, and small animals like rabbits, and now baby rabbits totally own this name.
The term bunny also has another history. Back in the 18th century, “coney” was a generally accepted term for a rabbit, young or old. It is said to be misspoken as “cunny”.
This mispronunciation and the surge of a word that articulates similar to “Coney”, which was perceived as derogatory at that time, prompted the people to stop using it.
Eventually, people tried several rhyming and alternative names, and finally “coney” turned to “bunny.”
But during that time, “bunny” was in general applied to name both baby and adult rabbits. Whereas now it’s used largely for referring to baby rabbits. Still, there are those who use the word “rabbit” to describe a bunny and “hares” for the adult ones.
Along the way, these words have been known to change and now “rabbits” are the general terms for this animal, be it for adults or young ones.
Why are Baby Rabbits Called Bunnies?
Baby rabbits are frequently called bunnies. Bunny is an endearment term used for young rabbits for several years.
It was first linked with the Easter Bunny. For years, German children traditionally built small nests of clothing or rags the night before Easter so that the Easter hare could lay its eggs. Eventually, the word “hare” was succeeded with the cuter name “bunny.”
This isn’t the scientific name for rabbit babies, but a term that most people use.
The Difference Between a Bunny, Rabbit, and a Hare
Rabbits, bunnies, and hares are part of the same scientific group called Leporidae. But they are separate species.
Rabbits and hares are the same in looks: Long ears and long, strong back legs. Normally, hares are bigger than rabbits. Furthermore, hares don’t burrow like rabbits. Instead, they build their nests in grassy areas, deserts, or prairies.
Baby hares are born with their eyes open, and totally furry. Because of this, hares aren’t as reliant on their mother’s care as baby rabbits are at birth. Hares are well-known for their speed to avoid predators.
The term “hare” is originally a German word for “khasan” or Dutch for “hase”. Both languages interpret the word as meaning, “gray.” Baby hares are termed leverets.
Of course, the bunny is the fond name for a rabbit. The word “bunny” was originally indicated as a flop-eared animal. The European rabbit was also called a coney and sometimes pronounced as “cunny.” This word eventually became obsolete because of its negative connotation.
After a while, the word “cunny” was converted to “bunny.” Today, it’s a famous name for a rabbit. Sometimes it’s also used as an affectionate term for children.
When to Use “Rabbit?”
What does rabbit mean? The word rabbit is a noun. It is a class of mammals that are small and furry with long ears and powerful hind legs. You can see them hopping around in the plains in the springtime.
A rabbit is very different from a hare. While they look similar and belong to the same biological family, they are a very distinct species.
Here are some uses of rabbit in a sentence,
- “Yummy, I love rabbit stew!” declared the poor little orphan boy.
- Wanda noticed a rabbit in her front yard while she was drinking her morning coffee.
- “Be very, very quiet,” cautioned by the woodsman. “I’m chasing rabbits!”
- When I lived in Paris about 10 years ago, a rabbit was constantly in the weekly dinner rotation. – The New York Times
Additionally, Welsh rabbit is a toast and cheese recipe that includes no rabbit meat, but it is common in some UK taverns.
No one knows why it is named like that. But one folk theory is that most Welsh were too poor to purchase rabbit meat, and they replaced it with toast and cheese, leading to the name Welsh rabbit.
When to Use “Bunny?”
What does bunny mean? Bunny is another term used for a rabbit, although it refers to a young rabbit.
The little bunny is unscientific and should be avoided in contexts that require taxonomical precision.
Here is a few examples where you can use the word ” bunny” in a sentence:
- “The Easter bunny came!” shouted by a four-year-old.
- Chelsea wants a pet bunny, a pet tarantula, a pet ostrich, and a pet camel, but her mother doesn’t want any of those things.
- “Your bunny just pooped in my living room,” complained Jared.
- A cement bunny arrived on the doorstep. A rusted baker’s rack formed on the patio. – The Wall Street Journal
Trick to Remember the Difference
Here’s a simple trick to remember the difference between rabbit from bunny:
A rabbit is a small class of mammals, and a bunny is a small rabbit. You can easily memorize this because bunny and baby both start with the letter “B.”
Bunnies or baby rabbits are normally small.
Rabbit is more taxonomically specific than a bunny, so you should use it in formal writing. Since rabbit and formal both include the letter “R,” you can use that letter as a note to use rabbit in formal writing.
Rabbits or Hares?
As we said earlier, both rabbits and hares are members of the Leporidae family. Nonetheless, they have their own characteristics.
Similar qualities that they both share are long ears, strong back legs, and a divided upper lip. However, hares are clearly larger than rabbits. And rather than creating burrows by tunneling into the ground, they opt to make nests in the grass.
This sort of exposed nesting hints at another significant difference, and that is the moment when they are born.
As opposed to rabbits, which are born naked, blind, and in significant need of their parents, hares are born with their eyes wide open and the fur has already grown in.
The two are also different when it gets to diet options. If the rabbits like to eat soft stems, vegetables, and grass, hares enjoy more hard food such as bark, buds, and small twigs. Also, hares are mostly individual animals, only coming together for mating purposes. As such, there is nearly no fighting between them, making them very separate from rabbits.
One last notable difference lies in their newborns’ names. If, as we said earlier, baby rabbits are termed kittens, newborn hares go by the name of leverets. If you believed that the kittens were independent just because they can live by themselves after a few weeks of life, leverets can certainly live on their own one hour after being born!
Therefore, their mothers feel fully secure in cutting off the proverbial parental assistance and hopping away soon after their baby is born. On the other hand, rabbit moms are much more cautious and protective of their offspring.
They will line a nest with objects such as bark, soft stems, and grass, putting a layer of hair plucked from their bodies over them. When the mother has to leave the nest, she will not do so until embracing the bunnies with more hair and dead plants to keep them warm and out of sight of any possible predators.
How are Rabbits Called for Different Ages?
A rabbit is still considered a baby until it turns around 9 months, after which it becomes an adult. Rabbits are considered adults for 4 to 5 years of age, and when they grow older they become, well, elderly rabbits.
On average, rabbits may live up to 10 to 12 years of age.
Female rabbits are called “does” while males are called “bucks.” When it is considered as parent rabbits, the mother rabbit will be called “The Dam” and the father rabbit will be called “The Sire”.
Consequently, a mother rabbit will produce a litter of kittens, giving birth to as many as 14 kittens in a litter. However, litter size varies on breed, with smaller rabbits only having four or five kits per litter and larger rabbits having between eight and twelve kits per litter. The smallest litter on record is one kit while the largest is 18 kits!
Are There Any Other Animal Babies Called Kits?
It’s not surprising for animal babies to be called the same term even though they aren’t really related in any way. There are several animals with babies called kittens or kits.
It’s difficult to have it all straight, but here’s a list of animal babies with the name kits just like rabbits.
Other important points you may or may not know about rabbit babies:
- They are herbivores-they only eat plants, fruit, and vegetables
- They are certainly not rodents even though they look like rodents at birth
- Their fur starts to grow when they are around 11 days old
- Once their teeth start to grow, which is almost shortly after birth, their teeth will keep on growing their entire life
- Rabbits love to jump, spin and flop on the ground. It’s called binky and it signifies that they’re happy.
Officially, baby rabbits are called kits. But a lot of people still like to call baby rabbits bunnies.
It may sound cute but that is not the proper term. Nonetheless, most people know what you’re talking about when you say “bunny,” unlike when you say “kit.”
But bunny is really just a nickname while the word kit is the term that serves as the scientific name.
Whatever you call a baby rabbit, they are still cute, soft, and cuddly. And maybe that’s the most remarkable thing to learn about baby rabbits.
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