Oryctolagus cuniculus cuniculus

Common Name(s)

European rabbit




European rabbit can be found in most habitats, except of mountainous areas above an elevation of 1000-1200 m, dense shrub and indigenous forest. They feed on a wide range of plant species, including grasses, clover, foliage, seeds and flower buds.


European rabbits have a grey to brown coloured coat (seldom black, ginger), a narrow black rim on the tips of their ears and brown coloured eyes. Their have a bogging gait with their tail up showing the white underside. They are smaller than adult hares (Lepus europaeus occudentalis).

Similar Species

Brown hares (Lepus europaeus occudentalis)

Threat To Plants

Browsing of palatable species, which may alter the vegetation composition and regeneration of these species


Throughout New Zealand; extremely high rabbit densities in North Canterbury, Marlborough, the McKenzie Basin and central Otago.


Weight: 1,3-2,1kg; Length of ears: 60-70mm; Length of hind feet: 75-95mm

Year Introduced


Reason For Introduction

Food and game

Colonisation History

First introduced to New Zealand on Motuara Island, Queen Charlotte Sound in 1777 by Captain James Cook. Natural spread followed the development of farming as this modified habitat created favourable conditions for them and by 1948 most suitable habitat in the North and South Island was occupied.