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Current situation of the rabbit

Originally the rabbit was very abundant throughout the Iberian Peninsula. However, the effect of two viral illnesses, the myxomatosis and the rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), greatly reduced the rabbit populations in Spain, going so far as even to detect local extinctions.

The myxomatosis is a viral illness that has American origin, deliberately introduced in France in the early fifties. It appears in Spain in 1954, causing a 90% reduction of the rabbit population. When it seemed that the populations were recovering from this epidemic disease, the rabbit suffered a new retrocession, at the end of the 1980s, with the emergence of the rabbit haemorrhagic disease, which produced a mortality of around 60%. In total the rabbit’s population may have been reduced more than 40% over the last 30 years.

The habitat degradation is another factor that has negative impacts in the rabbits’ distribution. Even before the emergence of the RHD, the changes in the use of the soil, like the abandonment of traditional practices of the scrub management, the intensification of the agriculture or the land lots concentration negatively affected its populations. At the moment, the recovery of the rabbit is still associated to factors that determine the quality of the habitat, including agricultural use.

In those zones where the rabbit densities have fallen below a certain threshold after the diseases, the hunting pressure to which has been subjected the rabbit due to the large number of species that prey on it can prevent the recovery of the rabbit. This is what is known as “predator trap”.


 Savage rabbit


The rabbit hunting is one of the most traditional activities in the Peninsula. This activity exerts an important pressure on many rabbit populations, already decimated by the previously described factors, which can’t support the hunting pressure, bringing them to the brink of disappearance.


Threat degree  

The rabbit occupies a great part of the national territory, and it can reach certain plenty locally. However, the most part of the populations follow a negative tendency.  According to the Red Book of the Spanish vertebrates the rabbit clearly fulfils the criteria to be considered as Vulnerable, having declined most of its populations more than 30% in the last decade.