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A brown rabbin a green meadow

A wild rabbit


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The Rabbit (latin: Leporidae) is a small furry mammal, which can be found almost anywhere in the world. Its key characteristic are of course its long ears, which have the ability to sense potential approaching enemies. In this case, a rabbit can dash very fast, to one of several rabbit holes. A rabbit usually digs several holes, to prevent more clever enemies, such as foxes, from trapping them in one of them. Rabbits eat any kind of grass, leaf or vegetables, but also sometimes eat their own droppings to help them digest.
Rabbits are infamous for their fast rate of reproduction. A rabbit doe can already be pregnant at the age of six month. The pregnancy takes about one month, after which four to twelve babies are born. Rabbits are born naked and grow their hair within a few days. They change their fur twice a year. Rabbits are very popular as pets, but in domestication, they can only lead a good live, if kept in the garden, not in a flat. Rabbits can usually grow 9-12 years old, the eldest recorded age for rabbits is 18 years.

In China, the Rabbit has a special meaning, as it is considered one of the 12 animals of the chinese zodiac. Unlike the western zodiac, which is based on stars, the chinese zodiac is based on the succession of years. This assigns one of the 12 animals to every year. According to the chinese lunar calendar, 2011 is the year of the rabbit, as have been all years 12, 24, 36 and so on years before and as will be after.
For the chinese new year, Rabbit dolls and puppets are offered as gifts, in all kinds of shapes, sizes, materials and prices. Such rabbit dolls are traditionally red, as red is considered the most lucky colour. They are painted with ornaments and chinese characters (Hanzi). The most common character for this use is fu 福, which means happiness, and is also pinned on the doors of chinese homes for luck. Some rabbit dolls have a zipper at the bottom, which can be used to place a piece of paper with a wish in them.

This is a wooden rabbit statue, carved on the top of a railing

A rabbit figure in
a Daoist temple in Sichuan

According to chinese zodiac, the year in which they are born affects people’s personalities.
People born in the year of the rabbit are considered to be graceful and cultivated. They get along with everyone quite well, but are rather shy and reserved deep in their hearts. They are very sensitive to the world around them and like to learn more about everything. But when they are placed in a competitive or aggressive situation, they will feel uncomfortable and try to escape, just like a real rabbit would. Rabbit-born people are said to lead a very conservative, safe lifestyle and often choose safety and stagnation over risk and progress.

An interesting fact about the rabbit in the chinese zodiac is, that originally it should actually refer be a hare. Rabbits are not native animals in China, and were first brought there a long time after the zodiac must have been developed. Today, the zodiac is usually translated as Rabbit. This is not a mistake, as there is only one chinese character for both hare and rabbit, which is tu 兔.

A red rabbit softtoy with white patterns in a shop window

This is a typical rabbit doll as sold in China at the time of the new year 2011


Size: 20-50cm
Weight: 0.4-2kg
Ear length: <10 cm
Lifespan: 9-12 years

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