Amami Rabbit

The Amami Rabbit, also known as the Ryukyu Rabbit, is a rare species found on two islands, Amami Oshima and Tokuno-shima, in Japan. The Amami Rabbit is an ancient breed that more closely resembles primitive rabbits than modern ones. It has short legs, round body, curved claws, dark fur, and is nocturnal. Also, the ears are significantly smaller than modern rabbits and hares. Unlike modern rabbits with litters of six or more kits, the Amami Rabbit rarely has more than one kit per litter and only breed twice per year. This makes it slow to reproduce. Unlike all but one of the 50 rabbit species the Amami Rabbit can make calling sounds, a high-pitched chirping similar to a pika.

The Amami Rabbit is endangered due to hunting, deforestation, and killing by domestic animals. The hunting has stopped because in 1921 the Japanese government gave the rabbit protection, and it is now classified as a Japanese National Monument. The major threat to it now is habitat loss due to deforestation for logging as the rabbit makes its home in the underbrush of forests. Domestic animals like cats and dogs, as well as mongooses are major predators of the slow-moving primitive rabbits.

In 2008 Amami Rangers for the Nature Conservation obtained a photograph of a feral cat carrying a dead rabbit in its mouth, fur and bones have been found in cat and dog droppings as well. This prompted discussions on how to better control these invasive species.

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